Candidate Profile

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Anthropology & Cultural Studies
Astronomy & Space Science
History - Art & Culture
IT, Computing, Internet & Social Media
Travel & Destinations
Wildlife & Nature
Dr. Dave Roberts holds a BA in anthropology/cognitive science from Southern Illinois University and a doctorate from United States International University. He worked in the field of applied anthropology for over thirty-five years, both in the laboratory and in country. Dr. Dave's area of expertise included Central and South America from 1986 to the present with over forty transits of the Panama Canal.

Since retirement in 2010, Dr. Roberts has worked as a docent, photographer, and curator at several museums in the San Diego area (Museum of Man, Natural History Museum, and Heritage of the Americas Museum) designing new exhibits, giving tours of the museum, and functioning as the museum’s event and curatorial photographer. Dr. Roberts speaks at local museums, senior centers, universities, and on cruise ship, on various topics including anthropology, and local and global historical events.

Click here to visit Dave's website >>
Over forty talks are offered for ship-board presentation, to include: the Panama Canal, Anthropology, Astronomy, Navigation, Native People of the Americas, and General Interest talks and games.

A complete listing is at


1. The Panama Canal: The First 400 Years (Note: The series can be done in any number of presentations as permitted by the schedule from one to six lectures)
The largest engineering project ever attempted by man at a cost of tens of thousands of lives, and the untold stories of the people and politics behind the effort (developed for the 2015 San Diego Balboa Park Centennial Lecture Series). Materials for the presentations include original photographs, lithographs, film clips, and life stories from the author’s three years as a scientist in Panama.

2. The Panama Canal: The French Effort
The French effort was heroic and fresh from their success at Suez, how could they fail? They struggled from 1881 until the money and men just ran out. What happened? Why was their effort doomed from the start? What went terribly wrong?

3. The Panama Canal: The America Effort
The Americans were a different lot… they did everything on a gigantic scale and accomplished the impossible, the Panama Canal.

4. Panama after the Canal: the 1920’s and 30’s
TR would have is fleet in two oceans and Panama would be transformed into a modern, healthy business and vacation destination. The canal would transform the country into one of the most important commercial locations in the world.

5. A Modern Day Journey through the Canal and a video of one of my transits through the Canal in 2013 (and that’s me on the bridge with the microphone)
Take a modern day journey through the Canal just as if you were on the bridge. See what goes on behind the scenes from the orange box (communication with Marine Traffic Control) to spotting the crocs of Gatun Lake.

6. The Suez Canal: One Hundred Miles of Waterway through the Desert
Follow the progress of the historic waterway from its ancient Egyptian and Persian roots to the French genus, Ferdinand de Lesseps, to its central role in world politics. The Canal was the dream of Pharaohs, the engineering feat of its day, and the modern crossroads of world powers.

7. Great Canals of the World
Moving materials by water always made sense but sometimes there were obstacles. But there were no obstacles that could stop the engineering marvels of the Grand Canal of China (7th Century BC), the American engineering wonder (Erie Canal), or the great canals of Europe and the Americas. Follow the struggles and stories of the canal builders, and the technologies that changed our world.

8. The Real Pirates of the Caribbean
The stories behind the Golden Age of piracy are explored without the Hollywood hype or inventions. From Drake the explorer turned pirate and then back to knighted gentleman, to the feared Captain Roberts, aka, Black Bart. Yes, a direct descendant (Dr. Roberts) of the infamous Pirate Roberts tells the “other side” of the story behind the history books.

The West Coast Series offers an insider’s view of the West Coast of North America from the tropics to Alaska, from helpful directions in major cities, to “must see” attractions.

9. Costa Rica (Either West or East Coast)
Find out the “real deal” about Costa Rica with our walk through jungle and urban centers. Separate the tourist myths from reality and enjoy a fun and safe visit. And too much guaro is never a good idea!

10. Balboa Park: Gem of San Diego
Balboa ParkThe park is what has been “left over” from two world expositions (1915 and 1935) and is a marvel of gardens, historic buildings, walkways, and museums, and the San Diego Zoo! See for yourself the gem of San Diego, and plan your next trip.

11. Urban Hiking in San Diego
Urban HikingUrban hiking is a low stress way to see the city either on foot or using local resources. See all the sites, beaches, and attractions for free or less than $4 a day! And make sure you bring a notepad to write down all the details.

12. The Mexican Riviera with a stop in Los Cabos and Puerto Vallarta
Ride a wild ponga out to the Arches, or shop at upscale shops minutes from the ship, or golf at world class courses along “the Corridor”… Cabo has it all. The mainland (Puerto Vallarta) is a touch of the tropics with miles of beaches and centuries of history. From a leisurely stroll on the boardwalk to exploring jungle hide-ways, Puerto Vallarta offers a unique experience.

13. Cruise from the US West Coast to Hawaii -- Part 1
In Part 1 of this presentation, we will cover the sights and places to visit in the Hawaiian Islands starting with the capital, Honolulu and continuing on to Maui. And there will be time for the local coffee and pineapple.

14. Cruise from the US West Coast to Hawaii -- Part 2
In Part 2, our tour continues from Maui to the big island, Hawaii, docking in Hilo and journeying up to the mouth of an active volcano. And why not visit an orchid farm and other local sights?


The following presentations are part of the To the Museum and Beyond Series. Visit world class museums, and learn what it takes to envision and build exhibits and go beyond the museums for the “back stories” and unpublished tidbits.

15. Beer: The Story of Us
Beer is the story of us: How we became modern humans and learned to domesticate the world around us. From the millet (bird seed) beer of China to Egyptians paying their workers in beer, it was all about the beer. This exhibit has been held over in San Diego because of popular demand.

16. The Maya: Myths and Realities
The story of the legendary race is told through stone monuments and artifacts that surround the myths and legends written in the sky. Part two of the presentation is a public viewing of the movie, “Breaking the Mayan Code” (licensed for this lecture) with an accompanying question and answer session.

17. Footsteps of Man: 65 Million Years of Human Evolution
Follow the human journey through 65 million years of adventures and learning the hard way. From our very lucky mishap with an asteroid, to our walking the African savanna, our story has been one of “making it” by the narrowest of margins, to become the dominant species on the planet. And if our past is any indicator, our future will also be a testing of the limits, and playing with fire.

18. Past Meets Present
Learn what it takes to put together a museum exhibit of 100 year old photos compared to current images, and telling the thoughtful and sometimes humorous history of San Diego’s Balboa Park. The exhibit was sponsored (2012 - 2014) by the San Diego Museum of Man (Smithsonian affiliate) and curated by Dr. Roberts.

19. The Moche, Warrior Kings and Queens
The Moche pre-dated the Inca by hundreds of years and ruled a kingdom of hundreds of miles along the coast of Peru from 100 to 800 AD. Follow the excavation of three undisturbed tombs, and thousands of objects brought back from 1912 and 1914 Smithsonian expeditions to Peru, and learn about this amazing culture.

20. The Inca Empire, Before and After
The Inca ruled much of what is modern day Peru, but for less than one hundred years. Follow their rise to power and their fall at the hands of the Spanish. Their story is not a simple one, but one filled with strange twists of fate. And what happened after the fall?… another story we will explore.

21. Tutankhamun, the Boy Pharaoh
The current traveling Tutankhamun exhibit offers a rare glimpse into the glories of an ancient civilization, but we will follow the objects from their days in the hands of skilled artisans to their final journey and learn the story behind the story. Tut’s father was one of the greatest heretic of ancient Egypt, while his mother was the model for Egyptian beauty and brains.

22. Monsters Among Us: From our Deepest Fears to Reality
From the plains of Africa 3.2 million years ago our hominid ancestors feared the night and unseen things, to our modern-day hunts for swamp creatures and big foot, monsters have always been part of the human experience. Follow Hollywood memories, and take a tour that will leave you questioning the dark.

23. Thirty “Museum Worthy” Places to Visit
It’s a global game of guessing the locations of some of the greatest “museum worthy” places in the world to visit. There will plenty of hints and history to add to the fun. See how experienced you are as a world traveler! Bring a pencil and paper if you want to keep score, but everyone will be a winner.

24. Coming to America: The First People
This is the story of the first people who entered the Americas. Who were they? What were the dangers and obstacles that they overcame? We will unravel myth from fact and use the latest science and field work to tell the story of the First Americans.

25. The Spanish Main to Modern Times
Following in the footsteps of Columbus, explorers, and pirates, and hear the stories that shaped the Caribbean. Rum, sugar, and the search for gold all played a part in the history of our destinations but you will hear the real facts not in history books.

26. The Saint Lawrence: Part of the Great Waterways of the Americas
The Saint Lawrence is part of a greater story of the opening of America to settlers and commerce. Together we will turn back the pages of history and learn the real story of the settling of the East, and understand the struggles and hardships that were overcome.

27. New York from the Beginning
The ice sheets have retreated and the climate was returning to what we see today. Learn about the flora, fauna, and finally the people from the distant past into historical times, to one of the great cities of our age.

28. The History and Cultural Roots of the Land We Call Cuba
From its volcanic beginnings, Cuba has always had a fiery history. Even before the Spanish, the native populations fought for control of the jewel of the Caribbean. Our story will follow native people, explorers, missionaries, pirates, and common folk building a rich culture unique to the island. And we may even head to the hills to investigate some local myths and legends… glowing eyes and smell of sulfur?

29. The Tastes, Sights, and Sounds of the Island (Cuba)
Eat, tour, and dance like a native! From the tasty to the colorful art, we will take a modern journey on routes less traveled and share some gems along the way. And we will include a list of things to do, and not do on your explorations ashore… and shopping will be permitted.

30. The Cuba of the 1950’s -- Playground of the World
It was the playground of the rich and famous. A fast boat across the straits or a few minutes by air, Cuba was “the” destination for nightlife, or just having a rum drink and relaxing on a white sand beach. And why not relive some of that history with an exploration of modern Havana?


The following presentations are part of the Home and High Tech Series -- learn how the “rest of the world” cooks dinner or navigates without modern tools. And connect up to the Internet like a pro.

31. How to Take Better Photos
What makes a good photo? What are the secrets and “short cuts” to kick your photos up to the next level? In one fun session will be revealed all you need to know to be shooting like a pro… and it doesn’t matter if you use a digital or film camera. (Part of the UCSD Summer Lecture Series)

32. Cook like a Native!
Learn the how native cultures prepare food and use the resources around them, and in the process learn some cooking tips to spice up dishes at home! Our food exploration will follow tasty dishes from Central America, the Pacific Northwest, and even back in time to Paleolithic Europe… cooking like a Neanderthal.

33. Navigate using the Stars, Like a Native
Not every culture and time in history saw the sky the way we do. Learn how the Maya, Kumeyaay, and Pacific Islanders saw the sky and navigated using the stars. You will never see the sky the same way after our journey.

34. Using Facebook, Word Press, and Twitter, to connect you up
Yes, you can become the master of the Internet, and it’s easy! From posting your ideas, photos, and videos, to linking your blog to Facebook, to doing shout outs to your friends and family, or to the world. In one session you will be an expert, or at least know more than any of your neighbors.

35. Build Your Own Web Site like the Major Corporations, for $10 a Month
Yes, you too can look like a corporate giant (on the web), and for less than $10 a month, and no need to learn fancy computer languages. Learn the web site secrets of the industry “big guys” and in one easy lesson. And explore Dr. Dave’s web site/blog in some detail and learn how to post your own videos, photos, and even host your own private and public forums.

36. Survival Navigation: Depending on the Stars
Knowing how to navigate, or at least find your way, could be a useful skill and maybe even save your life. Learn how to identify celestial objects and locate Polaris (the North Star) using the planetarium software, Stellarium. And all attendees will be offered a free copy of Stellarium… to practice at home, or during the cruise. (Note: A “Star Party” to use newly acquired skills can be a planned evening activity.)

37. The Stars Along Our Journey (with an evening Star Party)
Learn to identify objects in the night sky and see the sky as the ancient Maya did. And as a bonus, learn the basics of celestial navigation and show up at an evening Star Party, complete with sextants and star maps (free planetarium software will be available for use during and after the cruise). (Note: Similar content to talk #30, but specific to the itinerary of the the ship).

38. And How Did That Work Out?
We will take a technology romp through inventions that changed our world, or not. From a new way of seeing the world around us, to ideas that beg the question, “And how did that work out?”… followed by a good laugh. Sit back and enjoy our bumpy ride.


The Traveling with Great Artists Series brings the artists’ imagination into inspiring locations around the world and even beyond the stars.

39. The Journey of Joseph Pennell through Panama in 1912
Follow the tracks of the famous architectural artist through his lithographs and original photographs of 1912 Panama. He was afraid that he was too late to capture the greatest accomplishment of his age, but he was wrong! Free downloadable lithographs of Joseph Pennell can be found on the Gallery Page.

40. Journey through the Cosmos with the Art of NASA
Take a journey of time and space from the beginnings of space flight to distant times and worlds with the art of the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Your guide will add the details and insider back-stories to bring everything back to earth.

41 – 42. David Roberts’ Journey through Egypt (part 1) and the Middle-East (part 2)
In 1838 the Scottish painter, David Roberts, captured moments in time and monuments in his travels through the lands of the Pharaoh and the Middle-East. Re-live his journey and past, and compare them to the modern locations. Your guide will reveal the real stories not written down in the history books.

43 – 44. Art through the Ages: Paleolithic to the Modern Age (Two Part Series)
Why did the artist leave a “record” of the world around him or her? What is the message that is being communicated across the ages? From the “playful script” of Maya scribes, to hand prints on an ancient cave, our journey will begin 35,000 years ago in Southern France and end with the folk art of the Mingei International Museum.


The Naturalist Series -- Travel the world and learn not only how to identify flora and fauna, but also learn about their unseen world and lives.

45. What to See at Sea
From San Francisco to Fort Lauderdale we will explore the “laundry list” of all the possible sea life along our journey. See how the oceans, currents, and land masses impact life in the sea.
Note: This talk can be modified to match the itinerary of the ship from Alaska to Australia to Antarctica.

46. Flora and Fauna of the West Coast of North America and the Caribbean
From wildlife of Baja to the jungles of Costa Rica and Panama learn about the wildlife and plants that range from the beautiful to the dangerous.
Surf in the Pacific and swim in the Caribbean, with very different environments, and the flora and fauna reflect those differences.

47. The Native People of Central America
From the Olmec and Maya to the current indigenous people, separate fiction from fact and learn the real stories not written down in history books. Note: Ship Shore Excursions offer several tours of native people along our journey.

48. Alaska: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know
From the Ring of Fire to some of the most remote locations on earth, we will explore the land, sea, and people of what was called Steward’s Folly, and see for ourselves a land of beauty and rich resources.

Destination and Special Interest speaker on cruise ships since 2013. Prior speaking engagements from 2000 include conferences, university symposiums, and lectures series throughout the US.

2018 and 2017 bookings are listed as follows:

22 October 2018, Guest Speaker on the Celebrity Reflection from Rome to the Caribbean

17 September 2018, Guest Speaker on the Viking Sky from Montreal to New York

10 May 2018, Guest Speaker on the Norwegian Bliss from Miami, transiting the new locks of the Panama Canal to Seattle.

18 April 2018, Guest Speaker on the Norwegian Pearl from New Orleans, transiting the Panama Canal to Miami.

20 February 2018, Guest Speaker on the Azamara Quest, from San Diego to Miami via the Panama Canal

8 February 2018, Guest Speaker on the Azamara Quest, from San Diego to Mexico and returning to San Diego

7 January 2018, Guest Speaker on the Viking Sky with a partial transit of the Panama Canal and exploring the Caribbean

24 December 2017, Guest Speaker on the Viking Sky with a partial transit of the Panama Canal and exploring the Caribbean

23 November 2017, Guest Speaker on the Celebrity Infinity from Fort Lauderdale, FL to Valpraiso, Chile

23 October 2017, Guest Speaker on the Royal Caribbean Empress of the Seas from Tampa, FL to Havana, Cuba

19 October 2017, Guest Speaker on the Carnival Paradise from Tampa, FL to Havana, Cuba

23 September 2017, Guest Speaker on the Viking Sky from Montreal to New York

9 July 2017, Guest Speaker on the Celebrity Equinox exploring the Eastern Caribbean

21 June 2017 Guest Speaker at Osher, Carlsbad, CA talking on the "Moche: Warrior Kings and Queens, and the Inca: Before and After"

29 April 2017, Featured speaker at the Spring Garden Festival at the Heritage of the Americas Museum, talking on "Journey through the Cosmos with the Art of NASA"

2 April 2017, Guest Speaker on the Azamara Quest, from Miami to Barcelona, Spain

14 March 2017, Thar be more Pirates coming to the Anthropology Club at Cuyamaca College, and ye be warned!… 11:00 am, at the Student Center, 1-207

7 March 2017, Thar be Pirates coming to the Continuing Education Center of Rancho Bernardo, and ye be warned!… 10:00 am, at the Remington Club II at 16916 Hierba Drive

26 January 2017, Guest Speaker on the Azamara Quest, from Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica to San Diego

15 January 2017, Guest Speaker on the Azamara Quest, from Miami to Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica
The following recent Cruise History has been recorded for this candidate.
Viking Sea SE180918 Eastern Seaboard Explorer 12 Montreal Tuesday, September 18, 2018
Viking Sky SK180107 Panama & Central America 14 Miami, Florida Sunday, January 7, 2018
Viking Sky SK171224 Panama & Central America 14 Miami, Florida Sunday, December 24, 2017
Viking Sky SK170923 Eastern Seaboard Explorer 12 Montreal Saturday, September 23, 2017