PEEL Talent specialises in arranging Guest Speaker and Enrichment Programmes for many of the world’s leading Cruise Lines, drawing from our database of over a thousand speakers, art tutors, crafts instructors, bridge directors and choirmasters.
Bob Collins (B.SC, MBA) is a graduate metallurgist and businessman with over thirty years professional experience working in the UK and internationally. Bob initially worked as a metallurgist in the energy sector including working on the James Fisher Fleet of ships based in Barrow and supporting the nuclear industry. Subsequently Bob transitioned into commercial roles including sales and marketing before focusing on strategy and business planning as a Vice President in the Westinghouse Electric global nuclear business. During this time Bob worked with the Devonport Dockyard in the UK. Bob finally set up his own business providing consultancy on strategy, business planning, acquisitions and corporate alliances. Bob has extensive experience speaking to audiences large and small on cruises, at universities or local groups and at business events such as conferences and exhibitions.
Bob has developed his portfolio of talks based on a deep interest in both maritime history and the influence of materials on the world of today. Bob has the knowledge to develop a wide range of talks on these topics which can be targeted at most cruise itineraries.
Talks for UK Cruises
A set of talks looking at maritime aspects of the history of the UK
Talk 1 - The Tides - What causes them and their importance in British History
Tides are an every-day part of the maritime world but few people truly understand why they happen and the effects that they can have on our world. This talk looks at the science behind tides and considers important British historical events that have been influenced by tides.
Talk 2 - The British East India Company - Now that was a big company!
This talk walks through the history of the East India Company, from its’ foundation, through empire building to a difficult end. The history of the company is closely associated with the growth of the British Empire and the history of India and other parts of the far east.
Talk 3 - The Blue Riband - Across the Atlantic at speed
From the early days of regular Atlantic crossings from the USA to the UK the speed at which a ship could cross the Atlantic was the focus for the marketing of scheduled transatlantic passenger services and it soon developed into a race to win the ‘Blue Riband’ for the fastest crossing. This talk looks at the history of the ‘Blue Riband’ from when 8Knots was considered a high average speed through to the most recent crossings at over 50Knots – though some may question if these more recent crossings should qualify for the riband!
Talk 4 - Common Words and Phrases with a maritime origin
Common words and phrases with a maritime origin. There are many phrases in common use in the English language today where we all understand the modern meaning, but the origin has been lost in time. Some of these have a maritime origin and they have a connection to our naval history – but it can be hard to know when that connection is true!
Talk 5 - The Vikings in the British Isles
This talk explores the history of exploration and discovery by Viking seafarers through the North Atlantic with a focus on exploration and settlement in the British Isles. The talk includes discussion of the type of ships used in this exploration.
Talk 6 - A short history of Iron & Steel in Shipbuilding
Beginning with an introduction to the subject by using the cruise ship as an example of the modern-day use of steel these talks discuss how we have progressed from all wooden boats to huge ships where steel is all around us. Using some iconic example ships this talk illustrates how steel came to be the dominant material in ship building and how steel making technology has evolved and continues to evolve to meet the needs of naval architects. The UK features heavily in this story.
Talk 7 - The Hanseatic League – including their presence in the UK
The Hanseatic League was a major maritime commercial influence throughout the Baltic Sea in the period from the 13th to the 17th century. This talk discusses the development and growth of the League from its’ origins in northern Germany to becoming an international force that fought sea battles and wars and influenced the development of London as we know it today.
Talks on the Atlantic Ocean and Atlantic Islands
This set of talks discusses how crossing the Atlantic has developed over four thousand years from exploration to mass transport.
Talk 8 – The Atlantic Challenge
This first talk of the set focuses on the geography and climate of the Atlantic, considering wind patterns, sea currents, hurricanes and icebergs, including a discussion of the Sargasso Sea and the Bermuda Triangle. Through this we can see why the ‘Western Ocean’, as early sailors knew it, was such a challenge to early explorers and why it continues to demand respect from travellers today. The talk includes a look at how the Atlantic Ocean has changed over time and how man might be influencing this today.
Talk 9 – Who was first? – Exploring the Atlantic
There continues to be debate about who was the first to cross the Atlantic and discover ‘The Americas’. This talk looks at the early explorers who may or may not have been the first to reach the Americas and what we mean by ‘the first’, ranging from Thor Heyerdahl and his reeds boat theory through to the origin of European influence in the Americas. This talk includes discussion of the type of ships used by the early explorers, from reed boats through Viking long boats and the ships of Christopher Columbus.
Talk 10 – Empires and Pirates
The Americas rapidly became an extension of the battlefields of Europe for the great maritime nations of the 15th and 16th Centuries as well as potentially sources of great wealth. And great wealth at sea would lead to the development of the tradition of pirates and privateers that is now looked back on with such an air of romance. This talk explores how England, France, Spain and Portugal sought to exploit the newly discovered territories as both new places of empire and finance for their ongoing wars in Europe and looks at the development of piracy, particularly in the Caribbean. To conclude at the time of the American War of Independence. The talk includes discussion of the ships used during this period of maritime history.
Talk 11 – The Blue Riband
From the early days of regular crossings, the speed at which a ship could cross the Atlantic was the focus for the marketing of scheduled transatlantic passenger services and it soon developed into a race to win the ‘Blue Riband’ for the fastest crossing. This talk looks at the history of the ‘Blue Riband’ from when 8Knots was considered a high average speed through to the most recent crossings at over 50Knots – though some may question if these more recent crossings should qualify for the riband!
Talk 12 – Travelling in Style
Today the ‘Atlantic Crossing’ is synonymous with fine dining and the highest of luxury travel, but it wasn’t always this way. This talk looks at the conditions of the journeys of the early colonists, the first wave of emigrants and concludes with what is often called the golden age of the transatlantic liner, including the wave of emigration from Europe to the USA from the late nineteenth century through a large part of the twentieth century.
Along the way the talk looks at how the design of ships has changed and how changing materials and technology has enabled faster and bigger ships to travel more safely, though nobody today would describe a ship as ‘unsinkable’.
Talk 13 – Mail, Trade and The Wireless
By the 18th Century travel across the Atlantic had increased substantially but it was still quite an adventure and transatlantic communication was slow at best. This talk looks at the development of mail services across the ocean, how this was followed by scheduled cargo transport and the development of the telegraph and radio across the Atlantic.
Talk 14 – The Atlantic at War
The major powers have used the Atlantic as a battle ground almost from the time that the first explorers and colonists arrived on the ‘other side of the pond’. This talk discusses the role of transatlantic shipping and warships in the World Wars I and II, but drawing lessons from the naval warfare that preceded it.
Talks 43, 44 and 45 can be adapted to specific cruise itineraries to develop a significant portfolio for a longer cruise.
Talks on the Caribbean Sea
Talk 15 The Caribbean Sea – BC to AD/Origins
This talk looks at the formation of the Caribbean Islands, how they were first populated and the first European arrivals.
Talk 16 Empires and Pirates
This talk explores how England, France, Spain and Portugal sought to exploit their newly discovered territories in the Caribbean as both new places of empire and finance for their ongoing wars in Europe and looks at the development of piracy throughout the Caribbean and across to West Africa.The talk includes discussion of the ships used during this period of maritime history.
Talk 17 The Development of Caribbean Cruising
This talk explores how the Caribbean Sea became the birthplace of the modern cruise industry after the transatlantic trade began to reduce.
Talk 18 A Short History of the Panama Canal
Addressing the history of crossing the Panama Isthmus from Atlantic to Pacific Oceans from the early days of the Spanish Main, through the story of first building the Panama Canal to how it is today.
Talk 19 A Short History of the Caribbean Sugar Trade
This talk looks at how and why the sugar trade developed in the Caribbean, why it subsequently declined and the legacy it has left.
Talks 40, 41 and 42 can be adapted to specific cruise itineraries to develop a significant portfolio for a longer cruise.
Talks on the Pacific Ocean and Hawaii
Talk 20 - A Calmer Ocean - How did the Pacific Ocean get its’ name and is it right?
This first talk of the set focuses on the geography and climate of the Pacific Ocean, considering wind patterns, sea currents, how the many islands may have developed and will evolve and how these factors have influenced the development of sailing around and across the Pacific Ocean. This talk will consider influences such as the ‘Pacific Ring of Fire’, how it differs from the Atlantic Ocean and how unique aspects of the regional geography influence the climate for sailing.
The talk includes a look at how the Pacific has changed over time and how man might be influencing this today. Itinerary Focus: A look at the geological aspects of the development of the islands of Hawaii.
Talk 21 Early Explorers
In Europe the history of exploration of the Pacific usually starts with Ferdinand Magellan, the first European to enter the Pacific by rounding Cape Horn in November 1520. However, by this time all of the Americas and most of the islands of the Pacific were already populated and trade was well developed. This talk considers theories of how populations spread throughout the pacific region, including Australia and New Zealand, at a time when ship designs were basic and navigation techniques were only just developing.
Aspects considered include the development of the marine compass, the voyages of Zheng He, how Polynesians navigated island to island, how the Bering Straight may have been the route for population of the Americas, and how other countries, such as Japan, participated in the growth of trade. Itinerary Focus: Particular focus on theories of how the islands of the Pacific were populated.
Talk 22 The Europeans Arrive
Maritime history in the Pacific Ocean changed with the arrival of European explorers and traders. This talk looks at the first European traders to explore the region, such as Magellan and Sir Francis Drake through to the journeys of Captain Cook and the scientific explorations of Charles Darwin. This talk will consider aspects such as the type of ships used in these voyages, improvements in navigation and living conditions aboard early sailing ships. Itinerary Focus: Who were the first Europeans to arrive in the Pacific Ocean and discover islands such as Hawaii? And what happened when they did?
Talk 23 The Development of International Trade
This talk looks at how International trade on the Pacific Ocean changed after the arrival of the Europeans, leading on to the emergence of the Pacific as the new hub of international trade in the last century as the economies of Japan, Singapore, Indonesia, China and other Asian countries have grown. Aspects covered will include the development of the Portuguese empire in the pacific and Indian Oceans and the arrival of the east Indian companies of the Netherlands and England. Itinerary Focus: An indication of how the worlds centres of trade have changed from the Mediterranean Sea to the Atlantic Ocean and then to the growing hub of Pacific Ocean Trade.
Talks on the Mediterranean Sea
Talk 24 Challenges of Sailing the Mediterranean Sea
This talk looks at the oceanography of the Mediterranean Sea with a focus on winds, tides and currents as they have influenced the history of sailing and exploration of this ‘inland sea’.
Talk 25 The Age of Exploration – How Portugal and Spain led an age of ocean exploration
The period of the 15th to the 18th Centuries covers a time when European countries explored the oceans of the world. This was led by Portugal and Spain who explored the Atlantic Ocean and discovered routes to the Indian and Pacific Oceans.
Talk 26 The Roman Empire at Sea
Although Rome was not initially a sea going power it became the dominant naval power of the Mediterranean Sea. This talk looks at the history of how this happened and the types of ship that they used to achieve this.
Talk 27 Pirates of the Mediterranean
Piracy, as seen in the Pirates of the Caribbean, has become romanticised over the last two hundred years but it was prevalent throughout much of the nautical history of the Mediterranean Sea. This talk looks at key developments in the history of piracy in this region.
Talks related to Scandinavia and the Baltic Sea
Talk 28 – Viking Explorers
This talk will explore the history of exploration and discovery by Viking seafarers through the North Atlantic with a focus on the discovery of Iceland, Greenland and being the first Europeans to reach North America. The talk will follow the family of Erik the Red and will also include discussion of the type of ships used in this exploration and how the destination ports were involved.
Talk 29 – The Vikings go east
This talk explores the history of how the Vikings of Denmark and Sweden in particular traded with and influenced the history of large parts of Northern Europe and Russia
Talk 30 – The Hanseatic League
The Hanseatic League was a major maritime commercial influence throughout the Baltic Sea in the period from This talk discusses the development and growth of the League from its’ origins in northern Germany to becoming an international force that fought sea battles and wars.
Talk 31 - Challenges of Sailing in The Baltic Sea
This talk considers how the oceanography and climate of the Baltic Sea has influenced maritime history of the sea. Includes discussion of historic ship wrecks found in the region.
Talks related to the Indian Ocean
Talk 32 – The Indian Ocean – A Short History
This talk looks at the origin of the Indian Ocean and the challenges for travellers when they are sailing through it, whether they are natural geographic hazards or those caused by the climate. Includes a look at how the Indian Ocean could develop with Climate Change.
Talk 33 – The British East India Company
This talk walks through the history of the East India Company, from its’ foundation, through empire building to a difficult end. The history of the company is closely associated with the history of India and other parts of the far east.
Talk 34 – The Portuguese Age of Exploration
Portuguese explorers were the first Europeans to sail round the southern tip of Africa, into the Indian Ocean and onward to India and the far east. This led to a golden age for Portugal, opened the ocean to European trade and changed world history. This talk considers why the Portuguese wanted to develop this market, who were the navigators that opened the routes and how clashes with other seafaring nations changed the maritime world.
Talk 35 – The Voyages of Zheng He
This talk looks at the seven voyages of the Chinese explorer and trader Zheng He during the 15th Century. His voyages opened trade routes from the South China Seas to many parts of the Indian Ocean, from East Africa to Ceylon and India. The talk also looks at the fleet and type of ships he sailed in.
Talks on Materials Science and Ship Building
Talks 36 and 37 on the subject: ‘A Short History of Iron and Steel in Ship Building’ . Particularly relevant if planned excursions include shipbuilding yards or if the cruise line has new ships in construction.
Talk 36 – Before the Industrial Revolution
Beginning with an introduction to the subject by using the cruise ship as an example of the modern-day use of steel these talks discuss how we have progressed from all wooden boats to huge ships where steel is all around us.
This talk is focused on the growth of iron and steel use in wooden ships. The talk concludes with the development of iron and steel on an industrial scale and the first all iron boat.
Talk 37 – Steam and Steel
Using some iconic example ships this talk illustrates how steel came to be the dominant material in ship building and how steel making technology has evolved and continues to evolve to meet the needs of naval architects. The talk concludes with a discussion of materials in use in ship building today, using superyachts as an example of how steel continues to be important but there are more options to choose from now.
Itinerary Focus: Can be adapted to suit many regions where there is a strong maritime history.
Note: If required Talks 36 & 37 can be combined to one 45min. talk.
Talk 38 - From the Stone Age to Superconductors – How Metals Changed the World
This talk illustrates how the production and use of metals has been a driving force in the development of the world as we know it today. The beginnings of the Bronze Age are explored, as are each of the next major steps in civilization from the Iron Age through the Industrial Revolution and on to the third industrial revolution that we are in today. The technology of metals is further explored through major failures such as the Titanic, the BEA Comet and Liberty Ships.
Itinerary Focus: Can be adapted to ports which are sources of materials.
Talk 39 – Magical Materials - From Ancient Greece to Avatar
This talk begins with the study of Alchemy, with Aristotle in Ancient Greece, and progresses through the development of the modern Periodic Table to present a story of how materials from the worlds of science fiction and fantasy, such as Unobtanium in Avatar, are not so strange as they might at first appear.
Other Maritime Talks
Talk 40 – Common words and phrases with a maritime origin.
There are many phrases in common use in the English language today where we all understand the modern meaning, but the origin has been lost in time. Some of these have a maritime origin and they have a connection to our naval history – but it can be hard to know when that connection is true!
Itinerary Focus: Will be relevant to any cruise and can be adapted to focus on specific ports of call.
Talk 41 – The Tides – What Causes them and their impact on history
Tides are an every day part of the maritime world but few people truly understand why they happen and the effects that they can have on our world. This talk looks at the science behind tides and considers some of the historical events that have been influenced by tides.
Itinerary Focus: Can be tailored to consider the tidal effects in particular regions or ports.
Talk 42 - A Short History of cruising – From Education to Destination
This talk discusses the history of cruising as a vacation from the early days of adapted steam ships of the 19th Century focused on antiquity to todays’ cruise liners that are destinations themselves.
Port Talks – Qualified for Port/Destination Talks – focused on the Mediterranean, the Canary Islands and the Caribbean