Candidate Profile

Adventure & Exploration
History - General
History - Military
Money, Property, Finance & Tax
Shore Excursion Escorts
Travel & Destinations
William Thayer received his BS in Math from Stanford, an MS in Aerospace Engineering from USC and an MBA from USC. He has spent 30 years in the aerospace industry in aircraft, missiles and spacecraft and 10 years in real estate/finance. In the financial area, he was a Series 7&63 Broker, Certified Financial Planner and IRS Enrolled Agent. As a private pilot, he flew around the USA.

Although he has a technical/financial background, history has always been his passion, and he has 6,000 hardcopy books and 1,500 ebooks. He enjoys lecturing on great human accomplishments and great historical events. Examples of great human accomplishment range from the pioneering flights of Amelia Earhart/Lindbergh to the voyages of discovery from Magellan to Cook to Amundsen. Scientific/Technological accomplishments include: Archimedes, Newton, Madame Curie, James Watt, Greek/Roman Architecture, how the Enigma machine led to the first computer and the amazing achievements of Space X. Great historical events include: the Russian Revolution, Baltic History, the Ottoman Empire, the Portuguese Empire and 1,400 years of Caliphates. In the financial/economic area, his lectures include the economic crash/recovery of Iceland, a comparison of Iceland/Greece and a History of the Euro.

William enhances his historical experience by actually traveling to where history happened such as Russian Revolution sites in St. Petersburg, the Kremlin, the Forbidden City in Beijing, the Ummayad Mosque in Damascus and Elephant Island (Shackleton). He has visited all 7 continents, over 60 countries and been around the world 3 times.

I have organized the talks by subject. These are 45 minutes talks which I have given on cruise ships. My talks are not Port Talks, but I do try to develop talks which are relevant to the itinerary which will enrich the passenger experience. I have listed 40 talks I have given.

In the future, I have scheduled cruises, and I am in the process of preparing for these 15 future talks which I identify as "Future". Additionally, I have listed three Antarctic related talks for a cruise I do not have scheduled (either an Antarctica or Cape Horn cruise).


1. Magellan - This intrepid explorer fought the weather, mutinies and the unknown but was steadfast in his determination to sail onward. Of the 5 ships of his expedition, only one returned with merely 17 men. But their round the world trip changed the world forever.

2. Christopher Columbus - This skilled mariner made four voyages of exploration. Until the end he believed he had discovered India instead of a New World.

3. Juan Cabrillo - He built his ships on the Pacific Coast and sailed north into unknown waters discovering California and Oregon. (We have a sailing replica of his ship in San Diego.)

4. Captain Cook (Australia/New Zealand) - After measuring the transit of Venus, he opened his secret orders to sail south and discovered and mapped the coasts of New Zealand and eastern Australia, and some of his charts are still used today. He made a remarkable recovery after running aground on the Great Barrier Reef.

5. Captain Cook (Antarctica) - The Royal Navy gave him the task of searching for the Southern Continent, and Cook made the closest approach to Antarctica for 50 years. He was the first to circumnavigate Antarctica and discovered the southernmost islands.

6. Captain Cook (Northwest Passage) - He attempted to find a Northwest Passage from the Pacific. On the way, he accidentally discovered Hawaii. His attempt northward was thwarted by ice, but he nearly reached the furthest point north on the North American continent.

7. The Mayflower - A small party of Pilgrims headed for the Virginia Colony, but were blown off track to Massachusetts. Half of the Pilgrims died in the first months of a brutal winter, but they persisted. The Mayflower Compact (consent of the governed) was the basis for the US constitution. (I am a descendant of Mr. Samson who was one of the 50 survivors.)

8. Amundsen - This remarkable Norwegian explorer was the first person to successfully sail the Northwest Passage after so many had tried for hundreds of years. Then he went on to the first person to go the South Pole. He was also the first to go to both the South and North Poles when he flew from Spitsbergen over the North Pole to Alaska in an Airship.

Future Exploration Talks for a Scheduled Future Cruise

9. Nansen - This remarkable Norwegian explorer was the first person to cross Greenland. Then he had a specially designed ship made, the Fram. He intentionally had his ship become trapped in the ice north of Russia with the idea of being carried by the ice to the North Pole in three years. He came close and became the person who went furthest north while nearly dying in the process.

10. Barentsz - This intrepid Dutch mariner attempted to sail the Northeast Passage in the late 1500s. He and his crew were trapped on the northern part of Novaya Zemlya for the winter. He died, but his crew made it back to Norway after a harrowing journey.

11. Nordenskiold - He came from a Finnish-Swedish family and was exiled from Russian controlled Finland to Sweden. He participated in Arctic expeditions. In 1878, he was the first to sail a ship through the Northeast Passage to the Bering Straits.

12. Peary - He persistently explored the Arctic becoming the first person to cross Greenland in the north. On his sixth expedition, he made it to the North Pole in 1909 despite having most of his toes amputated on an earlier try. This feat was not repeated for nearly 60 years.

Three Future Exploration Talks for hoped for Antarctic/Cape Horn Cruise

13. Shackleton - Ernest Shackleton was nearly the first person to travel to the South Pole. Later he tried to be the first to transit the Antarctic continent. But his ship became trapped in ice, and he made an epic trip back to South Georgia island (a la “Men against the Sea”).

14. Scott - Robert Scott was an Antarctic explorer. He nearly became the first person to travel to the South Pole, but was beaten by Roald Amundsen. Tragically, he and his team died on the return journey.

15. Sir Francis Drake - He was the first Englishman to sail around the world and the second to make this trip since Magellan. (I’ve been on a replica of Drake’s ship, the Golden Hinde.)


16. Russian Revolution - There were actually three Revolutions. Lenin defeated the Provisional Government headed by Alexander Kerensky to win the third Revolution and establish Communism in Russia. (I met Alexander Kerensky in 1961 at Stanford.)

17. Peter the Great - He modernized Russia and turned its orientation to the West. He defeated Charles XII of Sweden in the Great Northern War and moved the capital of Russia from Moscow to St. Petersburg.

18. Baltic History - The three small Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have been at the mercy of their larger neighbors for much of their existence. Yet, at one time, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was the largest country in Europe and influential in the selection of the Czar of Russia.

19. The Fate of Canada - Britain and France struggled for mastery of the North American continent with the final decision being made on the Plains of Abraham at Quebec. Captain Cook (then Master Cook) played a vital role.

20. Halifax - This city was long a vital port, especially for the Royal Navy. During WWI, it suffered tragic losses of perhaps 10,000 when a munitions ship collided with another ship in “The Narrows” creating the largest man made explosion prior to the first atomic bomb.

21. The Rise of the Ottoman Empire - It started with a small nomadic group of Muslim raiders and ended with the Siege of Vienna in 1683.

22. The Fall of the Ottoman Empire - The Siege of Vienna was lifted by King Sobieski of Poland and German troops. Attacks by Austria, Russia and Britain finally resulted in the demise of the Ottoman Empire and the last Caliphate.

23. The Byzantine Empire - Emperor Constantine split the Roman into West and East parts. The West fell in 475 while the East continued until 1453. The story of this Empire is one of near defeats followed by an amazing recoveries.

24. The Portuguese Empire - This Empire really began with Vasco da Gama reaching the riches of India. Almeida and Albuquerque vastly expanded the Empire, and Portugal greatly contributed to European awareness of the world and its oceans.

25. The Dutch Golden Age - The Dutch Empire came 100 years after the Portuguese, and they brought superior ships. In addition to becoming enriched on trade, they also contributed to science/technology particularly with the invention of the telescope and microscope.

26. The Hanseatic League - This was a league of northern German cities on the Baltic. They dominated trade in this area from 1200-1530 and some cite it as a predecessor to the EU.

27. 1,400 Years of Caliphates - After Mohammed died, his followers realized that they needed a successor which they named the Caliph. For 1,400 years various Caliphates expanded and contracted throughout the world.


28. Venetian Empire - This was an Empire of islands and ports based on trade. Venice made the best ships of the day and utilized them to create trade, particularly with the East.


29. Panama Canal (French) - After their success with the Suez Canal, De Lesseps attempted to create another success in Panama. It was a failure. Bunau-Varilla engaged in intrigue to sell the French concession to the US. (I’ve been through the canal 3 times.)

30. Panama Canal (US) - The US approach to the Suez Canal was entirely different than the French. They realized that locks were needed. The US Army completed this difficult construction while US Army doctors eliminated Yellow Fever and reduced Malaria in the Panama Canal Zone.

31. Suez Canal - DeLesseps, a private citizen, was the driving force behind the construction of the Suez Canal. As a private citizen he even raised the necessary money for the project. This story is one illustrating the impact a single individual can have. (I’ve been through the canal once.)

32. Norwegian Oil/Gas - Norway supplies about 1/3 of the oil and natural gas for Europe which has to import nearly all the rest. It is critical to Europe, but the industry has also greatly enriched Norway with a Sovereign Wealth Fund totaling approximately $1 Trillion.

33. Denmark Wind Turbines - Denmark is in a favorable position to exploit wind energy. It is doing so with excellent engineering. It produces nearly 50% of its electricity from wind turbines. How they operate is explained (I am an aerodynamicist and wind turbines are propellers.)

34. US Transcontinental Railroad - This amazing project was completed in only 4 years and connected California with the rest of the US. A journey to California which used to take months now took days. There were colorful stories from the wild towns along the rail line. (I’ve been to Promontory Point, the meeting point of the East and West efforts.)

35. Greek/Roman Architecture - The Greeks developed classical architecture that we emulate today. The Romans took architecture much further with their arch and concrete.

36. Roman Roads and History - The Roman Empire connected Europe with first class roads and many traces remain today. The history of Rome is entwined with its roads.


37. Archimedes - He wanted to be known as a great mathematician which he was. But he did so much more including the Archimedes Principle (buoyancy), explaining levers and developing technological devices we use today.

38. Madame Curie - She remains the only person to be awarded a Nobel Prize in both Physics and Chemistry. Her discoveries of Polonium and Radium lead to intensive study of radiation. She used her practical skills to X-Ray thousands of wounded French soldiers during WWI. Her daughter also received a Nobel Prize.


39. Leonardo Da Vinci - This was truly a renaissance man. His accomplishments ranged from art (Mona Lisa) to anatomy to engineering invention. He even proposed a helicopter.

40. Isaac Newton and the Royal Society - This brilliant man brought the world the field of mechanics in physics and calculus in the field of math. He was the head of the Royal Society which promoted the pursuit of knowledge. (I have visited the Royal Society and seen Newton’s Mathematica Principia and other writings. I studied math and physics.)

41. Michael Faraday and The Royal Institution - This incredible man discovered electromagnetic induction which is the basis of power generation and electric motors today. He was a member of the Royal Institution which was devoted to the pursuit of knowledge and members of the Royal Institution discovered 10 of the 63 elements in Mendeleev’s Periodic Table.

42. Cambridge Scientists discover the electron, proton and neutron - JJ Thompson discovered the Electron. Rutherford discovered the Proton. Chadwick discovered the Neutron. It is simply amazing that the scientists of just one university discovered the make-up of the atom. Of course today, we live in the world of quarks.

43. Enigma and the first computer - In WWII, it was vital for the British to break the secret Enigma coding machine. This required great mathematicians such as Turing and a brilliant circuit design engineer named Tommy Flowers which resulted in the first computer. (I have been to Bletchley Park many times and seen the reconstruction of the Colossus computer).

44. Arkwright and textiles - Arkwright took textile manufacture from the loom to the factory and dramatically reduced costs introducing the Industrial Revolution. (I have seen both of Arkwright’s factories).

45. James Watt and the steam engine - James Watt didn’t invent the steam engine but he greatly improved it with his condenser and planetary gear. His engines helped begin the Industrial Revolution. (I have seen his factory in Soho and seen a Watt engine that has been continuously operating for nearly 200 years at the Water/Power museum in London.)

46. The Stephensons and the railroad - Coal was hauled from the mines near Darlington to the ships by horse drawn wagons running on rails. A mining engineer named Stephenson envisaged doing the task with a steam engine and invented the first locomotive. He and his son ushered in the age of railroads, and the world was never the same. (I’ve been to the museum in Darlington and seen the first locomotive as well as the national rail museum in York.).

47. Darby/Bessemer and steel - The Darbys made iron and even constructed the first iron bridge which revolutionized construction. Bessemer took iron and turned it into steel. (I’ve been to Coalbrookdale and the Steel Museum in Sheffield.)

48. Brunel the Builder - He finished the first tunnel (started by his father) under the Thames in London which is still used by the Underground today. He finished it and went on to great construction projects in railways and ships. In particular, he did pioneering work in steamships which crossed the Atlantic.


49. Find the Bismarck - In WWII, Britain was dependent on the North Atlantic convoys and the largest battleship in the world threatened them. It was essential to find the Bismarck and sink her. Luck played an important role in the search and battle.

50. Berlin Airlift - Stalin tried to starve West Berlin into submission, but the Allies answered with an airlift that Stalin thought would fail just as the Stalingrad airlift failed. But it didn’t. The Berlin Airlift was a pivotal moment in German history and the Cold War. (My father was a design engineer on the DC-4 aircraft which was the backbone of the airlift.)

Note: I am quite familiar with military history from the Punic Wars to Napoleon to WWII. I could prepare a number of talks quickly. For example, I have given a talk on “The Charge of the Light Brigade” and “Project Azorian” in San Diego. Project Azorian was the raising of a sunken Russian nuclear submarine by the CIA.


51. Iceland’s Boom, Bust and Recovery - Prior to 2008, Iceland had an unwarranted economic boom due to the Viking Raiders (financial raiders). Then the economy crashed within 2 weeks of the 2008 Subprime Crisis. However, Iceland has subsequently recovered.

52. Iceland and Greece - In 2008, Iceland had its economic crash. In 2010, Greece had its economic crash. However, the paths of the two countries diverged subsequently. The value of Iceland’s Kroner dropped in half while the Greeks were stuck with an unchanging Euro.

53. History of the Euro - The goal of the Euro was to bring prosperity and unity. For many countries, this isn’t happening. Why?

(I was a private pilot, flight test engineer and aerodynamic design engineer)

54. Amelia Earhart - This remarkable woman had 29 different professions and did them all well. She was a fearless aviation pioneer and airline executive. Sadly, she was lost on an attempt to fly around the world. What probably happened?

55. Lindbergh - He wasn’t the first across the Atlantic. But he was the first to fly between two major cities. He had no radio and no navigator. His journey was filled with exciting moments.
(The Spirit of St. Louis was built in San Diego. The docents in our museum have every detail.)

56. Wiley Post - The US Army with four planes was the first to fly around the world although two planes crashed enroute. Wiley Post flew around the world as an individual in a wooden plane. Two years later, he repeated the same flight solo. Incredible story.

57. Howard Hughes - He ran a lucrative drill bit company for the oil industry. Then he went into movies and dated nearly every movie star in Hollywood. One of his passions was flying, and he flew around the world setting a new record. He owned TWA airlines and was in other businesses. After being saved from an aircraft crash, he left his aviation company to medical research, and the Hughes Medical Institute has produced 17 Nobel Prize winners. (I used to work for Hughes.)

58. Space X (Elon Musk) - This Silicon Valley Billionaire went into the space business and developed a radically new launch vehicle which could return from space and land on its tail to be re-used. This has the potential of cutting launch costs by 90%. Falcon Heavy has the capability of placing the largest payload in orbit today (more than double its rivals). Musk plans to put 11,000 satellites in orbit (there are 1,167 today) and go to Mars. History in the making.
(I worked in the space business for 25 years.)
The following recent Cruise History has been recorded for this candidate.
Viking Sea SE210721 Malta & Adriatic Jewels 10 Valletta Wednesday, July 21, 2021
Viking Sea SE210711 Malta & Greek Isles Discovery 10 Valletta Sunday, July 11, 2021
Viking Jupiter JU200227 South America & the Chilean Fjords 17 Valparaiso (for Santiago) Thursday, February 27, 2020
Viking Sky SK191106 Cities of Antiquity & the Holy Land 14 Civitavecchia (for Rome) Wednesday, November 6, 2019
Viking Jupiter JU190714 British Isles Explorer 14 Bergen Sunday, July 14, 2019
Viking Sun SU190622 Into the Midnight Sun 14 Bergen Saturday, June 22, 2019
Viking Sea SE190523 Viking Homelands 14 Bergen Thursday, May 23, 2019
Viking Sun SU190212 World Cruise 2019 Sector 3 31 Valparaiso (for Santiago) Tuesday, February 12, 2019
Viking Sky SK181016 Mediterranean Odyssey 12 Barcelona Tuesday, October 16, 2018
Viking Sun SU181006 Trade Routes of the Middle Ages 14 Bergen Saturday, October 6, 2018
Viking Sun SU180714 Viking Homelands 14 Bergen Saturday, July 14, 2018
Viking Sun SU180627 Scandinavia & the Kiel Canal 10 Copenhagen Wednesday, June 27, 2018
Viking Sun SU180616 Majestic Fjords & Vibrant Cities 11 Bergen Saturday, June 16, 2018
Viking Sky SK171005 Eastern Seaboard Explorer 12 New York Thursday, October 5, 2017
Viking Sky SK170909 In the Wake of the Vikings 14 Bergen Saturday, September 9, 2017
Viking Star ST170701 Viking Homelands 14 Bergen Saturday, July 1, 2017
Viking Sea SE170611 Viking Homelands 14 Stockholm Sunday, June 11, 2017