Candidate Profile

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Destinations & Ports
History - General
History - Maritime
History - Naval
Travel & Destinations
Michael (Mike) Curtis is an ex Royal Navy Submariner Officer, who having joined straight from school as an Apprentice, served in the Surface Fleet on board Frigates and Destroyers before embarking on a career in Submarines after promotion to Officer. His Submarine operational career was with Diesel Electric Submarines, he has been to sea on Nuclear Submarines as a Trials Officer. Having joined his first Submarine as the Electrical Officer, a fundamental shift in engineering policy through-out the Royal Navy saw him converting to a Weapons Engineer Officer (WEO) and a more tactical role.

On leaving the Royal Navy, his career switched to the commercial world including; a manufacturing company, working for the defence research industry and running his own consultancy. He now spends his time as a guest speaker on-board cruise ships and to shore based clubs on a variety of subjects. Other interests include; supporting the A1 trust (builders of the Tornado Steam engine), model railways, gardening and green bowling.


1.1 Mediterranean.
A series of 6 talks, from the creation of the Mediterranean Sea to its present day.
1) Age of Empires. Mediterranean Sea is born. The early empires emerge and expand leading to conflict, worship of the gods and lasting monuments to this day
2) Quest for Power. Carthage and Rome and the Punic wars, Hannibal, how Rome gradually becomes master of the Mediterranean, Southern Europe and North Africa.
3) End of Antiquity. Julius Caesar and Mark Anthony, the rise of Christianity, the migration period of Northern tribes into Southern Europe and the Mediterranean basin, the decline of Rome.
4) Middle Ages and Renaissance. Stirrings in Arabia, age of Islam. The growth of Venice, impact of the black death, the Great Christian Schism, the Reconquista of the Iberian (Spanish) peninsula, the Crusades, the Ottomans, Renaissance in Europe.
5) Early Modern. Venice continues to dominate, the Ottomans grow, the islands of the Mediterranean, the Spanish Hapsburgs, religious upheaval, French domination and the French revolution.
6) World at War. The age of Napoleon, the scramble for Africa, Ottoman Empire stalls, the British are coming, World War 1 and 2, the Mediterranean of today.

1.2 Mediterranean Islands
A series of 4 talks examining the history of the major islands in the Mediterranean Sea.
1) Western Mediterranean. How the Mediterranean Sea was formed, dried out and was reborn. Gibraltar; arrival of the Moors, Spanish/English rivalry. Balearic Islands; Crusades, Kingdom of Majorca, spoils of war.
2) Northern Mediterranean. Corsica; Famous son – Napoleon, Rome and Carthage struggle, Maritime Republics. Sardinia; mineral riches, Vandal Empire, Kingdom of Sardinia, War od Spanish succession.
3) Southern Mediterranean. Sicily – Mount Etna and Tectonic Plates, classical period, Archimedes, Byzantine and Muslim conflict, Napoleon and the British. Malta – Romans and Christianity, Normans and the Knights of Malta, siege of Malta, 2nd World War and the George Cross
4) Eastern Mediterranean. Cyprus; Copper bonanza, Holy Crusades, trade wars, Greek war of independence. Crete; Knossos and early settlers, Muslims and siege of Candia, strategic location for WW2

1.3 History of Greece
Talks associated with Greece from Neothilic times to modern day
1) Ancient Greece. How Greece and the Mediterranean were created, early empires, Trojan war, classical Athens, birth of the Olympic Games, Alexander the Great, arrival of Rome.
2) Modern Greece. Birth of Christianity, Roman Empire split and the Byzantium Empire, Great Schism of the Christian Church, the Crusades, Ottoman Empire, Greek war of independence, WW1 and 2.

2.0 The Americas

2.1 West Across the Atlantic
A series of 4 talks covering the history of North America with the arrival of the Europeans and the English
1) The Making of America. How the continent was formed, ice age and early migration, Native Americans, the arrival of European explorers, start of the Anglo colonies, religious persecution and the Pilgrim Fathers, great migration.
2) Colonial Survival. Start of the British colonial grants, contact with the; Dutch, French and Spanish colonists, Anglo – Native American wars, slavery and servants, economics of the colonies.
3) Taxation without Representation. Conflict with the French – 7 years war, further Native American wars, 18th century colonial life, British taxation of the colonies fuels resentment, Boston Tea party and consequences.
4) Fight for Independence. Colonial leaders and Congress, battle of Lexington and Concord begin the war, Declaration of Independence, British surrender at Yorktown, Peace Treaty of 1783, 1812 war, peace at last.

2.2 Caribbean
A series of 3 talks charting the birth, discovery and settlement of the West Indies
1) West Indies Discovered. Continental shifts shape the islands, native islanders arrive, search for North West passage, Christopher Columbus voyages, search for gold - Aztec and Inca Empires, religious turmoil in Europe.
2) Treasure and Pirates. Spanish conquests and the Conquistadors, Aztec and Inca treasures, Queen Elizabeth 1st and the English Sea Dogs, Pirates and Privateers, the Golden Age of Piracy.
3) British Caribbean. Early years of Bermuda, Barbados and sugar cane plantations, invasion of Jamaica, Cromwell’s “Western Design”, Trinidad and Tobago, Admiral Lord Nelson in the Caribbean.

2.3 South America.
A series of 3 talks exploring the continent and its history.
1) Land of the Condor. Explore how the continent was formed, the bio-diversity of the Andes, dry and wet, together with the Amazon rain forest. Unique animals and flora of the land.
2) Early Civilisations. Migrations from the north, early peoples of the mountains and rain forests. The Inca Empire and how civil war started its downfall.
3) El Dorado. Portuguese and Spanish European voyages of discovery. Spanish conquest and the conquistadors. Portuguese colonisation. Fight for independence.

3.0 Northern Europe

3.1 Baltic
A series of 5 talks exploring not only the history of the Baltic Sea but some of the countries, capitals and cities of the Baltic region. Talks can be reworked dependant on specific cruise destinations.
1) History of the Baltic. Travel back in time over 200m years, tectonic plates, last glacial period, migration of early humans to Northern Europe, Viking colonisers.
2) Denmark and Copenhagen. Early Danes and Harald Bluetooth, Hanseatic league and the black death, early Copenhagen growth, Denmark/Norway alliance, Danish overseas colonies.
3) Sweden and Stockholm. Swedish Vikings and Goths, trade routes to the Black Sea, Northern Crusades, Swedish Empire, Stockholm and the age of Liberty.
4) Estonia and Germany. Country of Reval, Tallinn old town, Livonian War, conflict with Russian Empire. Magna Germania, Franks, Kingdom of Germany, Prussian Berlin, Berlin wall and reunification.
5) Russia and St Petersburg. Byzantine Empire, Mongol invaders, rise and fall of Kiev, Neva river and early St Petersburg, revolution and civil war, WW2 and the siege of Leningrad.

3.2 Defence of the British Realm.
This series of 4 talks will look at how the British Isles coped with early invaders and beyond, including the gradual formation of the; Royal Navy, Army and the RAF to defend its islands.
1) Open Borders. How the British Isles was created geographically, Romans and northern tribes invade, early Kings Army, Scotland and Ireland.
2) Royal Conflict. Gaelic Ireland, post Roman Scotland, Normans and 1066, the holy crusades, Welsh rebellion, Scottish wars of independence.
3) National Forces. Royal union of England and Scotland, English civil war, beginnings of the Royal Navy, Elizabeth 1st and Armada, Cromwell’s new model Army.
4) Rise of an Empire. Founding and loss of the American colonies, rise of East India Company, Napoleonic wars, Pax Britannica, aircraft invented, WW1 and 2.

4.0 East of Suez, West of the Rockies
A series of 5 talks covering; Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Indian, Pakistan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Burma and their involvement with the British Empire..
1) New Holland. This was the island’s original title. How Australia was created millions of years ago, initial European contact and the impact of James Cook, first circumnavigation of the land mass, Port Jackson penal colony and the early conflicts.
2) Australia and Vanuatu. This starts with the gold rush, explorers opening up of the interior, early sporting prowess, move towards federation status, new parliament in Canberra, WW1 and the ANZAC campaign, 1930’s depression and WW2, post WW2 immigration and the Pacific Alliance. A brief look at the Vanuatu islands.
3) New Zealand and Fiji. Early history and Polynesian migration. James Cook exploration of New Zealand, British Sovereignty, 19th century declaration of independence, colony and self-government status, WW1 and ANZAC campaign, full independence, post WW2 development.
4) India and Pakistan. Early history – BC and AD. Early European settlements, British India and the East India Company, Anglo/Indian wars, birth of the railway system, the British Raj, the history of partition and final award of full independence. Conflict between the 2 nations.
5) Hong Kong, Singapore and Burma. The story lines follow similar format of the previous 4 talks, early history, how the British arrived, developed the colonies and finally departed.
Maritime History

World of Submarines.
These are a series of talks centred on all aspects of Submarines.
1) History of Boats. Submarines are referred to as boats; this talk takes us through the history of their development from very beginnings through 2 World Wars to modern day Nuclears.
2) Warhorses of the Deep. We look in depth through the compartments of a diesel- electric Submarine, and learn how Submarines are built
3) Life in a Submarine. Living and working conditions in a Submarine, how Submariner’s are trained.
4) The Attack. How the Submarine and the Command Team would set up an attack on a battle group containing a carrier.
5) Silent Strike. Submarine types, propulsion including how a nuclear system works, weapons available, how does a Submarine defend itself?
6) Looking and Listening. How does a Submarine use its sensors to gather information and intelligence and use it; on the surface, at periscope depth, when deep
5) Ready for Sea. Repair and maintenance required to keep a Submarine at sea, preparing for sea and loading weapons, watch keeping and being an Officer of the Watch.
Most popular talk is number 3, Life in a Submarine. This is a light hearted look at life in a submarine and how Submariners are trained.

Russian/Artic Convoys of WW2.
This series of 4 talks will examine the need of these convoys through building a convoy to their success or not?
1) The Beginnings. Why the need for the convoys, WW2 the early years, impact of 1941, the big three – Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin, convoy codes and details.
2) Tactics and Conditions. How a convoy is formed, protecting the convoy, the enemy forces ranged against the convoy, conditions within a convoy.
3) Tragedies and Triumphs. Prelude and changes in Northern Europe during the early years of WW2, PQ series of convoys including the infamous PQ17, restarting of convoys with the JW series, decisive sea battles on the convoy routes.
4) Turning the Tide. What happened in Europe after 1941, the battle for Murmansk – one of the destinations, how the wolf packs were tamed, and Red Army resurgence, in hindsight and in memory.

Special Interest
1. Switzerland in Winter. This is a single talk based on a rail tour called “The Glacier Express”. It covers; how the Alps were formed, how the country of Switzerland was created, photos and videos of the snow covered Alps and spectacular scenery during the various train journeys, and places visited; St. Moritz, Zermatt, Kandersteg etc.
2) From Dream to Steam. This talk cover’s the project to build the 1st steam railway engine from its inception, Tornado, in Britain for the last 50 years; also some early progress on the next project “The Prince of Wales – a P2 class locomotive”.
3) A1 and P2. This is a combined talk, covering how we have operated Tornado, an A1 Pacific since starting her main line career in 2009; together with more detail on the background and the current build of the Prince of Wales, a Mikado P2.
4) Lions in New Zealand. This talk covers places visited during a rugby tour of New Zealand following the British and Ireland as the play against the mighty All Blacks. Includes the early history of both North and South Islands.
P&O, Princess, Celebrity, CMV, MSC, Saga.
The following recent Cruise History has been recorded for this candidate.
Balmoral L1608 Old England to New England 34 Southampton Saturday, April 16, 2016
Saga Pearl 11 P2142 A Grecian Odyssey 25 Southampton Monday, October 5, 2015