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Tapping the universal cruise mania to promote geological heritage

Published:Mar 21,2008
A. Donaldson
Ottawa-Carleton Geoscience Centre, Department of Earth Sciences, Carleton University, Ottawa, ON, K2C 2J9, Canada

Keywords: cruise ship, lecture, geoscience

When in 2005 I was asked to give a series of lectures on geology aboard a cruise ship, I took up the challenge and found a receptive audience for a series of six lectures among 110 of the 500 passengers ("guests" in cruise-word parlance). Since then, I've joined three additional cruises, and have two more lined up. Geoscientists elsewhere in the world should seize this phenomenal opportunity to promote the geosciences in general and geoheritage in particular.

Cruise participants are almost exclusively well educated, and come from a wide range of professions, but most lack formal training in geology. They are eager to learn, and if their interest is caught during the first lecture, a captive audience will follow for the balance of the cruise. On an extended trip, the audience will grow as evaluations of earlier presentations circulate, drawing others from concurrent activities such as art auctions, spa treatments, bingo, and lounging in deck chairs by the swimming pool; committed gamblers, alas, are unlikely to be dislodged form blackjack tables and one-arm bandits in the omnipresent casinos.

Lecturers are placed aboard ships through land-based organizations run by people with little understanding of the sciences. As a result, many lecturers are selected from professions in liberal arts, business and economics. Rosters of such organizations invariably also list "naturalists, but such lecturers turn out to be almost exclusively that geology is an essential component of nature... and with more than 400 cruise ships afloat, each carrying 100 to 3500 passengers, the potential for expanding geoheritage support is obvious. Let's move swiftly to take advantage of this largely untapped opportunity for world-wide geoheritage promotion!