The profession of interpretation has long been a function of museums, art, archaeological or natural resources. Interpretation of history, cultural sites, science, and the arts is now a profession of cruise lines.
You must bring history, art and science alive with information or interpretation that stimulates and satisfies people. This mind set goes way beyond relating facts.
In 1920 Enos Mills wrote the training guide, The Adventures of a Nature Guide. Enos Mills owned a resort in Colorado on the edge of public land that is now Rocky Mountain National Park. He guided his guests on hikes through the country of the Rocky Mountains. He told stories of the animals and plants they saw along the way. His stories or “lectures” around the lodge fireplace connected the people to his home in the mountains. Enos Mills did what we as speakers aboard the cruise ships should strive to do: weave a story that connects us to the resource, cultural site, history or science.
It would behoove all those known as presenters or speakers on cruise ships to take on this cloak of interpretation. The passengers are spending their leisure time on cruises to learn new facts, see new sites and participate on a historical tour in port. Passengers will spend their time and money to do so. They also come to listen to a presenter or speaker. Why? They get benefits. They value that benefit or experience. They come voluntarily! Hopefully the process of gaining knowledge is an enjoyable one. Pleasant experiences make life more enjoyable. Translate that into pleasant experiences make happy cruisers, which make happy cruise lines, which makes awesome opportunities for interpreters of the enrichment programs. You are signed on to enrich the cruise experience. Interpreters seek to enrich experiences. They add value to leisure time and recreational activity (Knudson, Cable, Beck, Interpretation for the 21st Century, 2003)
Freeman Tilden, one the groundbreakers in the area of interpretation stated: Information as such, is not interpretation. Interpretation is revelation based upon information. They are entirely different things. However, all interpretation includes information… Information is the raw material of interpretation. (Interpreting Our Heritage, 1967)
Information is the ethical, professional part of your presentation, but interpretation is the art of adding value to passenger’s leisure time. The art of interpretation will be explored in the next posting.