Candidate Profile

Author / Writer
Destinations & Ports
History - Aviation
History - Military
History - Naval
Travel & Destinations
An experienced cruise speaker (12 years & with over 90 cruises under his belt) Wing Commander Bill Simpson enjoyed a 25-year career in the Royal Air Force and following a 2-year operational tour in Northern Ireland responsible for air transport operations, was awarded an MBE. Bill later commanded RAF Stations Hendon & Stanbridge, tours capped by receipt an OBE in the 1988 New Year's Honours List.

Bill also received the Honorary Freedoms of the London Borough of Barnet in 1987, the Town of Leighton Linslade in 1988 and the City of London in 1994 and then embarked on a career in commerce in India, Russia and the USA, before writing his first book ‘The Prince: The Secret Story of the World’s Most Intriguing Royal, Prince Bandar bin Sultan.’ This biography about the enigmatic Saudi Ambassador to the US required Bill to interview many contemporary political figures, including Presidents George H W Bush, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Nelson Mandela, and Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger & Colin Powell.

Published with much acclaim in 2006, The Washington Times wrote of Bill's book: "highly recommended...the best street-smart assessment of the art of diplomacy…since Henry Kissinger's famous work on the same subject." Bill has since written 4 historical novels.

An accomplished Enrichment (Historian) and Port/Destination Speaker, Bill's speaking style, talking to audiences without notes, but supported by innovative PowerPoint presentations laced with video, music and vibrant, relevant images, is much enjoyed by cruise passengers.

In early 2017, Bill was invited by Viking Ocean to take up the role of Viking Ocean Resident Historian, a position he thoroughly enjoys.

Click here to visit Bill's website >>

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Viking Ocean Iconic Lectures

1. Cuba: Colonisation, Independence & Revolution
2. Explorers & The Age of Discovery
3. Greek Civilization: Achievement & Legacy
4. History of Egypt: From Ancient to Modern
5. History of India: From Moguls to Magistrates
6. Imperial Russia
7. Pirates & Treasure Hunters: Myth & Reality
8. Pre-Columbian Civilizations
9. The Bayeux Tapestry: Historic & Artistic Treasure
10. The Hanseatic League: Prosperity & Trade
11. The History of Southeast Asia: A Continual Tug-of-War
12. The Italian Renaissance: Creativity & Innovation
13. The Romans: Rulers for Almost a Millennium
14. The Venetian Republic: A Maritime Powerhouse
15. The Vikings: Explorers & Settlers
16. The History of Brazil
17. The History of Argentina
18. The History of Chile
19, The History of France
20. The American Revolution
21. Pacific Exploration: Migration, Discovery & Identity
22. History of the Amazon
23. Early History of China
24. Later History of China
25. The History of Japan
26. Islands in History
27. Oceans in Context—History & Inspiration
28. History of Navigation
29. Western Canada Exploration
30. Indigenous People of North America
31. History of the Netherlands
32. History of Spain
33. History of New Zealand
34. Vikings on the Move
35. History of Australia - up to 1850
36. History of Australia Post 1850
37. History of Indonesia
38. History of Southern China (Hong Kong)
39. Gallipoli: Dawn of the ANZAC Legend?
40. William Dampier: Buccaneer or Scientific Exploration Pioneer?
41. Captain Cook: Heroic Explorer or Colonial Bogeyman?
42. Was the Era of Colonization Beneficial to South Pacific Island Nations?
43. Vasco da Gama: The Bringer of Cruelty?
44. Warbirds of WWII: The Carrier War in the Pacific.
45. The Marine Corps and the Pacific Offensive.

New Talks for 2020

Operation Double Cross: The Misfits and Moral Bankrupts Who Fooled Hitler.

As the Allies prepared to launch D-Day, five elite yet astonishingly unlikely double agents deflected Hitler’s attention from the beaches of Normandy, persuading Germany that the main attack would explode at Calais, in the war’s most complicated and successful ruse.

Mata Hari: Exotic Dancer, Courtesan, Traitor, Spy, Double Agent or Victim?

Mata Hari’s name is synonymous with espionage, but was she really the femme fatale of legend who deserved death by firing squad?

Siren of the Resistance: The Artistry and Espionage of Josephine Baker.

An iconic Jazz Age entertainer famous for her risqué performances, why did Josephine Baker - the Creole Goddess of France – become a spy for the French Resistance?

Codename Cynthia: Betty Pack ‘Used the Bedroom Like Bond Uses a Beretta.’

Learn how American-born agent and seductress Betty Pack used her stunning natural beauty to embark on numerous affairs with enemy commanders, stole Vichy Papers that helped Allied landings in North Africa and obtained information that helped crack the Enigma code.

Virginia Hall: The Limping Lady and Most Dangerous Allied Spy.

Known as the ‘One-Legged Spy’, Virginia Hall was the most decorated female spy in U.S. history and is a clandestine legend. But why did the Nazis fear the ‘Limping Lady’ so much?

Kawashima Yoshiko: Manchu Princess and Far Eastern Mata Hari.

Executed by the Chinese as a traitor, yet extolled by the Japanese as a spy, what triggered the rise and fall of Kawashima Yoshiko, a narcissistic, cross-dressing princess who became a commander in the Japanese Kwantung Army?

Secret Agents in Hoop Skirts: Women Spies of the Civil War.

The Civil War’s most successful spies were women who flirted, cajoled, and tricked men into giving up top-secret information, stitching top secret letters into their corsets and concealed swords and pistols in their petticoats.

Why are Women Spies Better Than Men?

Spies have always fascinated us – and a Secret Intelligence Service officer has claimed women are ideal for espionage. A review of history’s most famous spies reinforces that view.

Historian Forum Discussions

1. “Blackbeard: Truth, Legend, Fiction or Myth?” Examine the spellbinding tales about the notorious pirate who sailed the waters of the West Indies—are they true?
2. “Buccaneer Henry Morgan: ‘poacher turned gamekeeper?” Find out how privateer Henry Morgan became acting governor of Jamaica and why he helped prosecute pirates.
3. “Christopher Columbus – Saint, Charlatan or Sinner?” Why do doubts over Columbus’s identity parallel stories of extreme brutality to Caribbean natives?
4. “Copenhagen: Admiral Nelson’s Hardest Battle?” Ordered to disengage, Nelson used his ‘blind eye’ to press on; but why did England attack Denmark?
5. “Did Prince Henry the Navigator trigger city-state Venice’s decline?” Was Prince Henry’s legacy - the opening of new trade routes - the trigger for the demise of Venice?
6. “Florence Nightingale was known as a Crimean War heroine; why?” History depicts Florence Nightingale as a Crimean War heroine; but was it an accolade she deserved?
7. “How Did Legendary Hannibal Barca Defeat Rome’s Mighty Legions?” Discover how the Carthaginian general inflicted successive defeats on the previously invincible Rome.
8. “Malta George Cross—Was It Critical to Allied Victory in WWII?” Find out how the island’s defense against a long Axis siege was crucial to the outcome of WWII.
9. “Napoleon’s War in Italy—Platform for a Military Genius?” With a starving, near mutinous army, Napoleon defeated Austria & Piedmont; but was he a military prodigy or an egomaniac?
10. “Napoleon—The World’s Greatest Art Thief?” Consider the question of whether France’s first emperor should be likened to an amoral bandit.
11. “Neutrality in WWII: an effective defense strategy?” How effective was a strategy of neutrality for Norway, Denmark, Finland & the Baltic States in 1940?
12. “Outnumbering the Royal Air Force 6-1, Why did the Luftwaffe Lose?” Discover how, against all odds, the RAF defeated the German air force and won the Battle of Britain.
13. "The Bermuda Triangle: Fact, Fiction or Fantasy?" For 70 years, a slice of the Atlantic Ocean has spawned conspiracy theories about disappearing planes & ships; but what is the truth?
14. “Pope John-Paul II’s papal conspiracy – the truth?” Did Reagan, Thatcher, CIA Director Bill Casey, & Saudi King Fahd receive the Pope’s blessing to subvert Italian democracy?
15. “Rasputin: Separating fact from fiction.” The enigmatic mad monk Rasputin is shrouded in myth; was he mystic healer, political saboteur or….?
16. “Secession—Spain’s ‘Achilles’ Heel’?” Discuss why recent calls for Catalonian independence highlight a possible fragmentation of Spain.
17. “The Crimean War: a mismanaged & futile campaign?” A clash of Empires; why was the Crimean War called a bungled, brutal & avoidable conflict & what were its consequences?
18. “The First Gulf War; the truth? Kuwait overrun; Saudi oilfields next?” How did key players - Bush, Baker, Scowcroft, Powell, Thatcher & Saudi Royals – react to the threat from Saddam Hussein?
19. “The Saami People: A Nation within Nations?” How do the Saami people manage to exist across national boundaries from Russia to Norway?
20. “Turning cannon on civilians, did Napoleon reveal an innate flaw?” Napoleon used cannon against a royalist rebellion in Paris; was this lack of scruples a persistent trait?
21. “Vasco da Gama: Explorer & Tyrant?” In opening a sea route to India, Vasco da Gama proved he was a great explorer, but was he a flawed legend?
22. “What 20th century lessons might be drawn about partitioning nations?” The aftermath of Partition had appalling consequences for India, but when has the splitting of nations – such as in Korea, Ireland, Germany & Vietnam - ever been successful?
23. "The Truth About Che Guevara?" Argentine guerrilla and Cuba’s co-founding father has been portrayed as counter-cultural hero, anti-establishment rebel, and champion of the poor: the truth?
24. “Why did Portugal emerge as the world’s leading maritime power?” How did tiny Portugal master the seas & develop new trade routes to India?
25. "Sir Francis Drake: The Queen’s Pirate?" He circumnavigated the globe, plundered the Spanish Main & defeated the Spanish Armada; but was he hero, explorer, privateer, pirate or slave trader?
26. "The Spanish-American War: A Splendid Little War?" Was the Spanish-American War about Cuban independence, US empire building, yellow journalism, or a stepping stone to the US presidency?
27. "Simón Bolívar, Esteemed Liberator or Infamous Dictator?" Bolívar played large in the emancipation of Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela; why then is he revered by some but despised by others?
28. "Lord Thomas Cochrane, a.k.a. 'The Sea Wolf'. Naval captain, mercenary or liberator?" A brilliant naval captain whom Napoleon called Le Loup des Mers (The Sea Wolf), did Lord Cochrane’s exploits in Chile, Peru & Brazil echo a life of adventure, adulation and scandal?
29. "Bernardo O'Higgins; Chilean patriot or egotistical dictator?" Bernardo O'Higgins is revered as the liberator of Chile and father of the nation, but has history overlooked his time as Chile’s dictator, when he clung too tightly to power?
30. "The Battle of the River Plate; analyzing the options." The sinking of the German pocket battleship Graf Spee ended the threat of German surface raiders in the South Atlantic; but was it a naval or intelligence victory?
31. "The Battle of the Falklands – a forgotten war?" After the Battle of Coronel, Britain’s worst naval defeat for a century, a triumphant German fleet headed for the British Falklands coaling station; how would Britain respond?
32. "South American liberators; who was the greatest?" Latin American independence was fought by patriots determined to achieve liberty or die trying, but who stood out from the pack?
33. “Uruguay’s Struggle for Independence—Enter the Lion.” Learn how freedom blossomed unexpectedly when a former adversary brokered the country’s conception.
34. “Tokyo Rose – Patriot or Traitor?” Convicted of treason for her infamous Tokyo Rose propaganda broadcasts during World War II, did she deserve her reputation for anti-U.S. radio propaganda?
35. “The Russo-Japanese War: Detonating a Revolution?” Fought between the Empires of Russian and Japan over rival imperial ambitions in Manchuria and Korea, how did Japan defeat a major European power?
36. "Danish Explorer Vitus Bering: A Forgotten Pioneer?" Commissioned by Peter the Great, why has the world seemingly overlooked Bering’s Kamchatka expeditions and their contribution to history?
37. "President Theodore Roosevelt - Pragmatist, Visionary or Opportunist?" Theodore Roosevelt was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize; but was this his only legacy?
38. “Alaska & the Crimean War: Seward’s Folly or a Spoil of War?” Described as Seward's Folly, some praised Alaska’s purchase for weakening UK and Russia, rivals to US commercial expansion in the Pacific; the truth?
39. Australia’s Peacekeeping Missions Under the Microscope. This revealing talk analyses Australia’s often vital contribution to peacekeeping over 60 years.
40. Time to Bury the Ned Kelly Myth? Australian history has many sacred cows, none more so than Ned Kelly; is it time to oust the legend?

Pivotal Moments in History

As a guest speaker, Bill entertains audiences with riveting and often hilarious stories taken from his meetings with Presidents Nelson Mandela, Bill Clinton, George Bush Snr, Jimmy Carter, Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger, Jim Baker and Colin Powell, FBI Director Louis Freeh, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and members of the British and Saudi Royal families. However, he has also developed a range of exciting talks to introduce cruise passengers to intriguing and absorbing facets of port-related history.

In this first talk programme - informative, dynamic and entertaining PowerPoint presentations - Bill Simpson selects pivotal events in history, spanning the Napoleonic era, the Crimean War and World War II, but concludes with new insights into contemporary history.

1. "Napoleon - Master of Italy"
When a young Napoleon Bonaparte took command of the 'rag-tag' French Army of Italy, he defeated much larger Piedmont-Sardinian and Austrian armies, before subduing the Papal States. After a stunning series of victories, he compelled Austria to sue for peace. Bill Simpson describes how Napoleon displayed his military genius despite overwhelming odds, and how his political influence enabled him to launch a coup d'état that would see him become Emperor of France, heralding years of bloody conflict in Europe.

2. "Empires Clash - The Crimean War"
A watershed in world history, the Crimean War (1853–1856) was the most mismanaged, brutal and futile campaign ever fought, a conflict between the Russian Empire and the French, British and Ottoman Empires. In a revealing talk, Bill Simpson examines the complex causes of the war and concludes his talk with the chaos behind the ill-fated heroism of the Charge of the Light Brigade.

3. "London Aerodrome and the Birth of Aviation"
The cradle of British aviation history was the first London Aerodrome which became RAF Station Hendon in 1927. Wing Commander Bill Simpson, Hendon's last Station Commander, speaks about the aerial firsts and breath-taking aerial displays of the 20s & 30s by an embryonic Royal Air Force that prepared for WWII. Closing Hendon in the presence of The Queen Mother, Bill received the Freedom of the London Borough of Barnet on the same day that Hendon closed.

4. "The Balkans - The Tinderbox of Europe"
Long known as the "tinderbox of Europe" the Balkan Peninsula has been an area of conflict for centuries and small local incidents in the Balkan Peninsula have often escalated into large international crises. Indeed, WWI started as a small local struggle between Austria-Hungary and Serbia over Bosnia. The assassination of Archduke Francis Ferdinand was the trigger and Bill Simpson examines the causes of that war: Europe's political instability; rivalries and alliances between countries; the conflict between large empires and finally emerging nationalism. A small spark in the "Tinderbox of Europe" was all that was necessary.

5. "The Battle of Britain - A Close Run Thing"
"Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few." When Winston Churchill spoke those words in 1940, Fighter Command was close to withdrawing Spitfires and Hurricanes from the skies over London. In a revealing talk, Wing Commander Bill Simpson exposes the true facts of a momentous struggle that became the legend known as the Battle of Britain.

6. "Malta George Cross - Faith, Hope & Charity"
From 1940-1942, the Luftwaffe and Italian Air Force bombed Malta and vital Allied shipping convoys, including "Operation Pedestal" the largest and most heavily defended British convoy ever assembled. Field Marshal Erwin Rommel warned "Without Malta the Axis will lose control of North Africa." Bill Simpson describes how the RAF defended Malta as Axis aircraft tried to bomb and starve the island into submission; they came close to succeeding. For its courage, King George VI awarded Malta the George Cross.

7. "Talking with Presidents"
Bill Simpson describes how writing the biography of Saudi Arabia's National Security Adviser opened the doors to Presidents Jimmy Carter, George Bush senior, Bill Clinton & Nelson Mandela, and to Dr. Henry Kissinger & General Colin Powell. Revealing secret stories from the Cold War, Iran-Iraq War & First Gulf War, Bill's talk also features a personal video from Nelson Mandela. Finally, Bill explains why Bill Clinton lost his temper during his interview with the president, heaping invective on former FBI boss, Louis Freeh.

Talks Designed to Intrigue, Excite and Entertain Audiences

8. "A Morning with Mandela"
An entertaining and humorous account of Bill Simpson's meeting with former President Nelson Mandela at his home in Cape Town and the raft of stories arising from that amazingly candid encounter.

9. "Reach for the Skies - Glamour v Humour"
Travel by air has long been considered glamorous, and as airlines compete for market share, that glamour is often their marketing focus. In contrast, faced with regulations requiring passenger briefing on safety, with the clever use of humour, some airlines have turned a potential negative into a distinct asset. In an often-hilarious talk, Bill Simpson contrasts these differing approaches.

10. "Christopher Columbus – Saint or Sinner"
Christopher Columbus' voyages to the New World are well documented. However, Bill Simpson reveals the influence of the island of Porto Santo, and the Canary Islands of La Gomera, Gran Canaria & La Palma on the world’s most famous explorer. But in his contentious talk, Bill poses some questions. Was Columbus really the Italian son of a Genoese wool weaver? Was he perhaps a noble Catalan privateer? Or was he simply an opportunistic charlatan who subsequently became a ruthless slaver? Bill argues the case for and against, as well as revealing a surprising royal connection.

11. "A Pub Crawl through History"
The history of the English pub can trace its roots back to pre-Roman times. In a fascinating and often humorous talk that trawls the length and breadth of Britain, Bill Simpson reveals how the symbol of pubs and taverns throughout the land - the traditional illustrated pub sign - can capture the essence of English history.

12. "Victoria Cross Heroes - Their Remarkable Stores"
The Victoria Cross is Britain's supreme accolade for courage, awarded for "most conspicuous bravery, or some daring or pre-eminent act of valour or self-sacrifice or extreme devotion to duty in the presence of the enemy." Bill Simpson charts the illustrious history of this unique symbol of courage, a medal that has only been awarded 1,356 times since the Crimean War.

13. "Ultimate Courage - Victoria Cross & Bar"
Since its creation, Britain's Victoria Cross has long been recognised as the ultimate award for courage. However, three remarkable men have won this coveted medal on two separate occasions and were thus awarded the rare bar to the Victoria Cross. Bill Simpson tells the stories of these exceptional individuals, men whose tales of bravery eclipse a dazzling roll of honour.

14. "The Story of the Animal VC - the Dickin Medal"
The Dickin Medal was instituted in 1943 to honour animals that displayed "conspicuous gallantry or devotion to duty." Known as "The Animals' Victoria Cross," this medal was awarded 54 times between 1943 and 1949. In charting the history of animals in war, Bill Simpson explains how the medal was recently revived and tells the compelling stories behind its award in recent conflicts.

15. "Beyond Mach 10 - NASA's Experimental Aircraft Program"
"The difficult we do immediately. The impossible takes a little longer." NASA has achieved unparalleled success in the field of aviation and in a dynamic talk spanning 6 decades as man reached for the impossible, Bill Simpson charts NASA's stunning successes and gut-wrenching failures, as it relentlessly endeavors to advance man's ability to fly faster and further than ever before.

16. "Fortress Alderney—Utopia?"
Bill Simpson describes a hidden paradise; one of the smallest of the Channel Islands. With 13 fortresses, Alderney has a fascinating history & with just 2,000 inhabitants, its own government. A Crown Dependency, it is loyal to the Queen as the "Duke of Normandy." Invaded by Hitler in 1940, Alderney was a concentration camp, but today this quirky little island is unspoiled and virtually crime free.

17. "Diamonds, Despots & Dictators"
Bill Simpson describes a chilling collection of history's despots & dictators hidden in a shadowy glade in Dallas.

18. "Unsung Heroines - Camp Followers and Cantinières"
The Crimean War was the last war in which wives accompanied British regiments on campaign. Barely tolerated by the British Army, only 4 wives per 100 men travelled to the Crimea where they suffered appalling privations during a brutal campaign, while. In contrast, the French Army valued women in theatres of war, and dressed "cantinières" in attractive, quasi-military uniforms. Bill’s talk describes on this stunning episode in military history, telling the story of the unsung heroines of their day.

19. "Paris, Rebellion and Napoleon’s Whiff of Grapeshot."
In August 1793, Royalist rebels supported by an Anglo-Spanish fleet seized Toulon and destroyed or captured half of the French Navy. In a display of military genius, young Corsican artillery officer, Napoleon Bonaparte, recaptured Toulon and drove out the Royal Navy. Two years later in Paris, as Royalists threatened the Revolutionary government, Napoleon’s well-placed artillery defeated the rebellion, a bloody episode known as the “Whiff of Grapeshot.” In a compelling talk, Bill Simpson explains how that momentous event triggered Napoleon's meteoric rise to power.

20. "Prince Henri and the Age of Discovery."
In a compelling talk, Bill Simpson describes how Prince Henri the Navigator’s remarkable vision forged the "Age of Discovery" in the 15/16th centuries. His dedication and foresight enabled Portugal to become the world’s foremost sea-faring nation, a period of history characterized by maritime pioneers such as Vasco da Gama, Bartolomeu Dias and Ferdinand Magellan.

21. "Nelson’s Blind Eye & the Battle of Copenhagen."
In a riveting talk, Bill Simpson highlights an oft over-looked episode in Horatio Nelson's career. On 2 April 1801, a British fleet under the command of Admiral Sir Hyde Parker defeated a Danish-Norwegian fleet at Copenhagen. However, it was Vice Admiral Horatio Nelson who led the attack, famously disobeying Parker’s order to withdraw by holding a telescope to his blind eye. In pressing home his attack, a grinding, pulverizing engagement considered by many to be Nelson’s hardest battle, he destroyed much of the Dano-Norwegian fleet before a truce was finally agreed.

22. "Nelson and the Battle of Santa Cruz de Tenerife"
In this revealing talk, Bill Simpson highlights an episode in Horatio Nelson's career that history has largely forgotten. After victory at the Battle of Cape St. Vincent in 1797, Nelson was repulsed at great cost at Cadiz and as fleet morale collapsed, he attempted to capture Santa Cruz in Tenerife, a stopping point for Spanish treasure ships. But the British Navy was beaten back once again. Worse still, Nelson lost his right arm. In a vividly illustrated presentation, Bill analyses the impact of this failure on Nelson.

23. "Rome: Plundering Rome's Riches - Napoleon's Greatest Bluff"
Given command of the 'rag-tag' French Army of Italy, during his dramatic Italian campaign in 1796-77, Napoleon Bonaparte defeated the much larger Piedmont-Sardinian and Austrian armies, before subduing the Papal States. In an enlightening talk, Bill Simpson describes how Napoleon's army threatened Rome in a monumental bluff that forced Pope Paul VI to surrender the papal territories of Bologna and Ferrara, together with 100 fabulous works of art and 21 million livres - $60 million today.

24. "Toulon: Napoleon's Path to Emperor."
In August 1793, Royalist rebels, supported by an Anglo-Spanish fleet with 13,000 troops, seized Toulon & 70 French ships. The Royal Naval fleet bolstered Toulon's defences, transforming the city into an impregnable fortress. However, a Corsican artillery officer, Napoleon Bonaparte, demonstrating exceptional leadership skills, propelled him onto the world stage, recapturing Toulon and driving out the Royal Navy. Bill Simpson explains how that momentous event triggered Napoleon's subsequent meteoric rise.

25. The Battle of Britain: New Zealand’s Vital Role. 135 New Zealanders, including some great “aces”, were entitled to the Battle of Britain clasp, awarded to those who flew at least one operation during the battle; 20 died, 16 of them pilots. Forty New Zealanders also crewed the Blenheims and Defiants during the Battle of Britain. But the most prominent New Zealander in the Battle of Britain was Air Vice-Marshal Keith Park who directed Fighter Command’s 11 Group and who, tasked with the defence of London and south-east England, played a vital role in the RAF’s success.

26. Charles Upham VC and Bar: New Zealand’s Greatest Hero. The Victoria Cross, Britain’s premier medal, is awarded for valour "in the face of the enemy." But on just three separate occasions - out of the 1358 individuals who have been awarded the Victoria Cross - a bar has been awarded to this most prestigious award. Charles Upham, serving with the 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force, won a Victoria Cross in Crete in WWII and despite being wounded in action in the Western Desert, pressed home an attack following which he was awarded a bar to his Victoria Cross. This is his remarkable story.

27.. Abel Tasman: The Man Who Discovered Tasmania But Missed Australia. Dutchman Abel Tasman was seeking the mythical “Terra Australis” when he discovered the west coast of Tasmania which he christened Van Diemen's Land. Driven by the Roaring Forties, Tasman allowed the wind to take him east, away from his discovery until he arrived on the South Island of New Zealand. However, how would history have changed if Tasman had turned North after discovering Tasmania, thereby missing the island continent of Australia?

28. Tasman Empire Airways: A Remarkable History. The inaugural service of Tasman Empire Airways Limited was flown from Auckland to Sydney on 30 April 1940 by one of its two Short S30 flying boats. TEAL operated flying boats until 1960 including the famed ‘Coral Route’ to Tahiti. The airline became Air New Zealand in 1965 and was ranked the safest airline in the world in 2014. However, it also has an enviable reputation for highly creative and amusing contemporary marketing clips.

29.. Aboriginal Art Explored. Aboriginal Art, the oldest ongoing form of artistic expression in the world, has been described as the ‘last great art movement of the 20th Century’, and likened to other ground-breaking art movements such as the impressionists in Paris. Indeed, the growth of Aboriginal art shows no signs of abating today. Its remarkable history, traditions and styles are reviewed in this fascinating talk.

30.. The Rise and Fall of the Dutch East India Company. At its height, the Dutch East India Company established headquarters in many different countries, had a monopoly over the spice trade and had semi-governmental powers in that it was able to begin wars, prosecute convicts, negotiate treaties and establish colonies. Charting its rapid rise to become a highly successful global corporation, this compelling talk examines its spectacular demise.

31. The Battle of Peleliu and Bloody Nose Ridge. One of the costliest operations of the Pacific War, the Battle of Peleliu saw Allied forces suffer severe losses by attacking an island that ultimately possessed little strategic value and was not used to support future operations; this lecture analyses that epic battle in the context of the Pacific Campaign.

32. Radio Propaganda in War: A Story of Honeyed Voices and Deceit? "Why has the female voice been such a powerful and effective tool during wartime radio broadcasts?"

33. Partitioning Nations: A Failed Strategy? What happens when countries divide, what has been the aftermath and has partition ever succeeded?

34. The Battle of Manila: A Legacy of the Spanish-American War? The Filipino-American War arose when the First Philippine Republic objected to US possession of the Philippines; true?

1. "Bilbao & The Basque Region; Yesterday and Today."
The Basque nationalist movement has often brought the Spanish Basque region to prominence. In a compelling talk, Bill Simpson explains how the Bilbao, the city where the Spanish Civil War hostilities began, and the unique Basque autonomous community in northern Spain, have played prominent roles throughout early-modern and modern history.

2. "Vigo: From Roman Settlement to Sculptural Tour de Force."
Attacked during history by Romans, Vikings, Normans, French, and English and Dutch naval fleets, for centuries Vigo was nothing more than a collection of villages and parishes. But proving that in history nothing is inevitable, Bill Simpson charts Galician Vigo's rise from an insignificant Roman settlement to one of Europe’s largest fishing ports, and throwing focus on Galicia’s unique character, describes Vigo’s emergence as a magnet for contemporary art with a stunning sculptural heritage.

3. "Lisbon: Vasco da Gama and the Age of Discovery."
One of the oldest cities in Western Europe, Lisbon's history stretches back to Iberians, Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans, Visigoths & Moors. Bill Simpson tells how Lisbon prospered during the "Age of Discovery," characterized by maritime pioneers such as Vasco da Gama and although destroyed by earthquake in 1755, Lisbon rose phoenix-like from its ashes.

4. "Valencia: From Charlton Heston and El Cid, to George Clooney and Tomorrowland."
Bill Simpson reveals the history of a great city that ebbed and flowed under Roman, Germanic & Muslim rule, before the 15th century Valencian Golden Age. Culture and the arts flourished as the city became a centre for painting, sculpture, literature & architecture. In a compelling talk Bill Simpson describes how today Valencia leads the world as a centre of architectural innovation and excellence.

5. "Cadiz: From Phoenician Port to Columbus and the Golden Age."
Thought to be Europe's oldest city, Cadiz (called Gadir) was founded by the Phoenicians in 1100 BC. Bill Simpson charts the city's historical highlights including its development as a Roman naval base and Muslim port until recaptured in 1262. Bill also explains how Cadiz enjoyed a boom period with the discovery of America, as Columbus sailed from this port on his New World voyages, and describes its golden age in the 18th century, then one of the wealthiest and most cosmopolitan cities in Spain.

6. "Malaga: A Remarkable Historical and Cultural Heritage."
In a fascinating talk, Bill Simpson throws light on romantic Malaga, one of the world's oldest cities, charting its remarkable history stretching back 3,000 years from its foundation by the Phoenicians, to its occupation by Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans, Visigoths, Moors and during the Napoleonic era, the French.

7. "The Azores: The Black & The White."
The stunning capital of the Azores, a Portuguese Archipelago of nine islands, Ponta Delgada is located in the North Atlantic some 1,500 miles from Europe. Its atmospheric streets are characterised by wonderful black and white traditional architecture and in introducing this fascinating destination, Bill Simpson will enthral you with gems from its unique history.

8. "Gibraltar: The Cradle of History"
From its origins as a Pillar of Hercules through to colonial outpost, the story of Gibraltar has amazing chapters that Bill Simpson vividly describes in a "not to be missed" talk in which he highlights "The Rock's" fascinating heritage in legend, myth and battle.

9. "Cartagena: A Vibrant City with a Rich Cultural Tapestry."
Cartagena has a large natural harbour and over the centuries, this thriving city has been one of most important naval bases in Spain. Founded by a Carthaginian general in 227 BC, it later captured by Rome and renamed Carthago Nova. In an absorbing talk that throws new light on Cartagena's vibrant history, Bill Simpson examines the city's annual battle between Carthaginians and Romans; the haunting spectacle of Semana Santa; the city's artistic legacy, and finally, the impact of the Spanish Civil War.

10. "Barcelona: Gaudi's Legacy - Beautiful or Grotesque"
Antonio Gaudi’s work echoes his four passions: architecture, nature, religion and love for Catalonia. He didn’t just design buildings; he created strong emotions with his integrated visions. "The straight line belongs to men, the curved one to God", said Gaudi, and his stunning and imaginative work incorporates nature into every little architectural detail. However, it is Gaudi’s everlasting legacy – the Sagrada Familia - that ensures that his history is permanently intertwined with that of the city he so loved, Barcelona.

12. "Madeira & Porto Santo: Isles of the Blest with a Chequered Past."
Madeira has a fascinating history embracing "White Gold", slavery and wine. Its smaller neighbour, Porto Santo, is a beautiful island that was subjected to frequent raids by French, Moroccan, English, Turkish & Algerian pirates, and was sacked and pillaged over the centuries. But the "Isles of the Blest", have had a magnetic attraction for many and in a spellbinding talk, Bill Simpson reveals why King Ladislaw III of Poland settled here; Emperor Charles I of Austria fled here; Columbus married here and Churchill holidayed here.

13. “Agadir – An Exhilarating Cultural Bridge”
Agadir is a vibrant, bustling Moroccan city and tourist resort that has a tangible French/Berber heritage. Bill Simpson describes its history from Roman beginnings to its role in an incident in 1911 which many historians regard as a preliminary to WW1, and how in 1960, a devastating earthquake destroyed over 80% of the city in just 15 seconds, killing over 50,000 people. Today, Agadir has removed those scars and Bill will walk you through this captivating city highlighting its "must visit" features.

14. "Gran Canaria and Lanzarote - Beauty and the Beast"
Gran Canaria is frequently called a continent in miniature; a reference to the extremes of landscape & climate that are found on this island of stunning beauty. It also has strong links with Christopher Columbus and Bill Simpson guides you through this fascinating island's history, cultures and unmissable features. In complete contrast, Lanzarote has a savage beauty and breath-taking landscape. Ripped apart by volcanoes in 1730, it is often referred to as the ‘Island of 1,000 volcanoes.’ In his talk, Bill features the "must see" elements of an island that is unspoiled thanks to the efforts of Lanzarote’s most famous son, the artist Cesar Manrique.

Port / Destination & History / Culture Talks

1. Agadir – An Exhilarating Cultural Bridge
2. Aviles: A Celtic Heritage
3. Beautiful Honfleur & Normandy
4. Bergen: Home to Fjords, Trolls & Vikings
5. Bilbao & The Basque Region; Yesterday & Today
6. Cadiz: The Little Silver Cup
7. Cape Verde (Cabo Verde): Discovering Africa’s Atlantic Archipelago
8. Cartagena: A Rich Cultural Tapestry
9. Copenhagen: City of Spires
10. Eidfjord: Heart of the Hardangervidda
11. Exploring Kirkwall & The Orkney Islands
12. Falmouth, Cornwall
13. Fort William: Outdoor Capital of the UK
14. Fortress Alderney: Utopia?
15. Fuerteventura: Strong Fortune or Strong Winds?
16. Galicia: Compostela & the Way of St. James
17. Geiranger: Waterfalls, Fables & Vertigo
18. Gibraltar: Cradle of History
19. Gran Canaria & Lanzarote: Beauty & the Beast
20. Guernsey, Sark & Alderney in Profile
21. Hammerfest & Honningsvåg: The Edge of the World
22. Hellesylt – Norway’s Hidden Treasure
23. Helsinki: White City of the North
24. Holy Loch & Glasgow Explored
25. Invergordon & the Highlands
26. La Coruña: The Crystal City
27. La Palma & the Dancing Dwarves
28. Le Havre, Normandy
29. Leknes & the Lofoten Islands
30. Lisbon & Age of Discovery
31. Lochs of Scotland
32. Madeira & Porto Santo: Isles of the Blest with a Chequered Past
33. Madeira: Pearl of the Atlantic
34. Malaga: From Russia with Love
35. Marseille: Home of the Marseillaise
36. Olden: Entryway to the Glaciers
37. Orkney & Kirkwall
38. Oslo: The World’s Winter Capital
39. Ponto Delgado Unveiled
40. Portimão: Gateway to the Algarve
41. Portree & Scenic Isle of Skye
42. Royal City of Gdansk
43. Scenic Skye
44. Skjolden: A Jewel in a Fjord
45. St Petersburg: Russia’s Versailles
46. St. Mary’s & the Isles of Scilly
47. St. Peter Port, Guernsey
48. Stavanger: Petropolis of Norway
49. Stockholm: The Venice of the North
50. Tarbert, Loch Fyne
51. Tenerife: Island of Eternal Spring
52. Terceira: The Isle of Many Chapels
53. The Azores: The Black & the White
54. The Canary Islands: Home to Kings & Amazons
55. The Royal City of Gdansk
56. Tobermory & The Isle of Mull
57. Tromsø: Paris of the North
58. Trondheim: City of Kings
59. Valencia: From El Cid to Tomorrowland
60. Vigo: From Roman Settlement to Sculptural Tour de Force 
Saga Pearl II 25 nights Sailing from Southampton 22 November 2013
Fred Olsen Braemar M1302 7 nights Sailing from Southampton 6 January 2013
Bill holds worldwide Travel Insurance as a Cruise Ship Speaker.

Bill can also react to short notice cruise assignments as both guest enrichment speaker (historian) or Port/Destination Speaker.
The following recent Cruise History has been recorded for this candidate.
Viking Sky SK240131 World Cruise 2024 Sector 2 14 Auckland Wednesday, January 31, 2024
Viking Sky SK240106 World Cruise 2024 Sector 1 25 Los Angeles, California Saturday, January 6, 2024
Viking Star ST231110 Grand Hawaii & Polynesia 32 Los Angeles, California Friday, November 10, 2023
Viking Mars MA230418 Across the Bay of Bengal 15 Bangkok (from Laem Chabang) Tuesday, April 18, 2023
Viking Mars MA230406 Bangkok, Bali & Beyond 12 Bali Thursday, April 6, 2023
Viking Star ST230307 Panama Canal & Central America (part transit) 14 Fort Lauderdale, Florida Tuesday, March 7, 2023
Viking Star ST230221 Panama Canal & Central America (part transit) 14 Fort Lauderdale, Florida Tuesday, February 21, 2023
Viking Star ST230211 Classic Panama Canal Passage 10 Fuerte Amador Saturday, February 11, 2023
Viking Jupiter JU230104 South America and the Chilean Fjords 17 Buenos Aires Wednesday, January 4, 2023
Viking Jupiter JU221218 South America and the Chilean Fjords 17 Valparaiso (for Santiago) Sunday, December 18, 2022
Viking Jupiter JU221201 South America and the Chilean Fjords 17 Buenos Aires Thursday, December 1, 2022
Viking Orion OR220920 North Pacific Passage 22 Vancouver Tuesday, September 20, 2022
Viking Orion OR220910 Alaska & the Inside Passage + Glacier Bay 10 Seward (Anchorage), Alaska Saturday, September 10, 2022
Viking Orion OR220831 Alaska & the Inside Passage + Glacier Bay 10 Vancouver Wednesday, August 31, 2022
Viking Jupiter JU220730 Viking Homelands 14 Bergen Saturday, July 30, 2022
Viking Jupiter JU220718 Iceland's Majestic Landscapes 12 Reykjavik Monday, July 18, 2022
Viking Jupiter JU220706 Iceland's Majestic Landscapes 12 Bergen Wednesday, July 6, 2022
Viking Jupiter JU220622 Viking Homelands 14 Stockholm Wednesday, June 22, 2022
Viking Star ST220511 Viking Homelands 14 Bergen Wednesday, May 11, 2022
Viking Star ST220422 World Horizons Cruise 2022 Sector D 18 Piraeus (Athens) Friday, April 22, 2022
Viking Star ST220110 World Horizons Cruise 2022 Sector A 59 Los Angeles, California Monday, January 10, 2022
Viking Venus VE211125 Ancient Mediterranean Treasures 7 Istanbul Thursday, November 25, 2021
Viking Venus VE211118 Ancient Mediterranean Treasures 7 Athens (from Piraeus) Thursday, November 18, 2021
Viking Venus VE211108 Greek Odyssey 10 Athens (from Piraeus) Monday, November 8, 2021
Viking Venus VE211030 Empires of the Mediterranean 9 Venice Saturday, October 30, 2021
Viking Venus VE211018 Mediterranean Odyssey 12 Barcelona Monday, October 18, 2021
Viking Star ST210821 Scenic British Isles 7 Portsmouth Saturday, August 21, 2021
Viking Star ST210814 England’s Scenic Shores 7 Portsmouth Saturday, August 14, 2021
Viking Star ST210807 England’s Scenic Shores 7 Portsmouth Saturday, August 7, 2021
Viking Sky SK210717 Iceland's Natural Beauty 7 Reykjavik Saturday, July 17, 2021
Viking Sky SK210710 Iceland's Natural Beauty 7 Reykjavik Saturday, July 10, 2021
Viking Sky SK210703 Iceland's Natural Beauty 7 Reykjavik Saturday, July 3, 2021
Viking Sky SK210626 Iceland's Natural Beauty 7 Reykjavik Saturday, June 26, 2021
Viking Sun SU200211 World Cruise 2019 - 2020 Sector 10 27 Sydney Tuesday, February 11, 2020
Viking Sun SU200128 World Cruise 2019 - 2020 Sector 9 14 Auckland Tuesday, January 28, 2020
Viking Sun SU200104 World Cruise 2019 - 2020 Sector 8 23 Los Angeles, California Saturday, January 4, 2020
Viking Sky SK191106 Cities of Antiquity & the Holy Land 14 Civitavecchia (for Rome) Wednesday, November 6, 2019
Viking Sky SK191030 Iconic Western Mediterranean 7 Barcelona Wednesday, October 30, 2019
Viking Sky SK191018 Mediterranean Odyssey 12 Venice Friday, October 18, 2019
Viking Sky SK191006 Mediterranean Odyssey 12 Barcelona Sunday, October 6, 2019
Viking Sky SK190922 Trade Routes of the Middle Ages 14 Bergen Sunday, September 22, 2019
Viking Orion OR190605 Alaska & the Inside Passage 10 Seward (Anchorage), Alaska Wednesday, June 5, 2019
Viking Orion OR190526 Alaska & the Inside Passage 10 Vancouver Sunday, May 26, 2019
Viking Orion OR190505 North Pacific Passage 22 Tokyo Sunday, May 5, 2019
Viking Jupiter JU190406 Venice, the Adriatic & Greece 7 Piraeus (Athens) Saturday, April 6, 2019
Viking Jupiter JU190323 Cities of Antiquity & the Holy Land 14 Civitavecchia (for Rome) Saturday, March 23, 2019
Viking Jupiter JU190316 Iconic Western Mediterranean 7 Barcelona Saturday, March 16, 2019
Viking Sun SU190125 World Cruise 2019 Sector 2 18 Buenos Aires Friday, January 25, 2019
Viking Sun SU190103 World Cruise 2019 Sector 1 22 Miami, Florida Thursday, January 3, 2019
Viking Sky SK180623 Into the Midnight Sun 14 Bergen Saturday, June 23, 2018
Viking Sky SK180609 Viking Homelands 14 Stockholm Saturday, June 9, 2018
Viking Sky SK180526 Viking Homelands 14 Bergen Saturday, May 26, 2018
Viking Sea SE180205 South America & the Caribbean 10 San Juan Monday, February 5, 2018
Viking Sea SE180126 West Indies Explorer 10 San Juan Friday, January 26, 2018
Viking Sea SE180116 West Indies Explorer 10 San Juan Tuesday, January 16, 2018
Viking Sea SE180106 West Indies Explorer 10 San Juan Saturday, January 6, 2018
Viking Sun SU171215 The Viking World Cruise 2017 - 2018 140 Miami, Florida Friday, December 15, 2017
Saga Pearl 11 P2186 Jewels of the Canary Islands 18 Southampton Monday, November 20, 2017
Viking Star ST171026 Cities of Antiquity & the Holy Lands 14 Piraeus (Athens) Thursday, October 26, 2017
Viking Star ST171019 Venice, The Adriatic & Greece 7 Venice Thursday, October 19, 2017
Viking Star ST171007 Mediterranean Odyssey 12 Barcelona Saturday, October 7, 2017
Viking Star ST170923 Trade Routes of the Middle Ages 14 Bergen Saturday, September 23, 2017
Crystal Symphony V7218 Across the Bay of Biscay 12 Dover Friday, August 25, 2017
Crystal Symphony V7214 Baltic Reflections 12 Copenhagen Tuesday, July 4, 2017
Saga Pearl 11 P2176 North Cape Adventurer 2017 15 Dover Sunday, May 28, 2017
Viking Sky SK170415 Barcelona, the Baltic & Beyond 21 Barcelona Saturday, April 15, 2017
Saga Pearl 11 P2164 Cape Verde Discovery 19 Southampton Wednesday, October 19, 2016
Boudicca D1618 Lochs of Scotland 8 Liverpool Thursday, September 22, 2016
Saga Pearl 11 P2161 Bank Holiday Escape 5 Dover Sunday, August 28, 2016
Balmoral L1612 Fred's Favourite Fjords 7 Newcastle Saturday, June 11, 2016
Balmoral L1610 Norwegian Festival & Fjords 5 Newcastle Thursday, May 26, 2016
Balmoral L1609 Five-Night Fjords 5 Newcastle Saturday, May 21, 2016
Boudicca D1602 Canaries, Cape Verde & the Azores 21 Southampton Monday, March 21, 2016
Balmoral L1601 The Canary Set 14 Southampton Tuesday, January 5, 2016
Saga Pearl 11 P2144 Colours of the Canary Islands 14 Southampton Wednesday, December 2, 2015
Explorer of the Seas RCEX150918 Canary Islands and Madeira Cruise 14 Southampton Friday, September 18, 2015
Viking Star ST150903 Mediterranean Odyssey 12 Venice Thursday, September 3, 2015
Viking Star ST150822 Mediterranean Odyssey 12 Barcelona Saturday, August 22, 2015
Boudicca D1507 Tipples and Tapas 7 Dover Tuesday, April 7, 2015
Braemar M1333 Morocco & Canaries Cruise 11 Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands Saturday, December 27, 2014
Boudicca D1408 Undiscovered Adriatic 14 Avonmouth (Bristol) Saturday, May 17, 2014
Voyager VGR130408 Islands of the Atlantic 22 Montego Bay Monday, April 8, 2013
Black Watch W1215 Ancient Monuments of the Mediterranean 14 Istanbul Wednesday, October 10, 2012