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Every week on the Viking Heimdal we have this outstanding trio onboard our ship in Southern France. Nathalie, Pedro and Tony are from Arles and perform music of Gipsy Kings. As a matter of fact, Tony is a former member of this group. One day I asked if I might join for one song, and they agreed. The next week they brought me a guitar; after rehearsing a little, we performed “Bamboleo” together. Since then I have played the guitar with them every week and they even taught me two more songs, which we are doing together as well: “Moorea” and “Bem, Bem, Maria”. You cannot imagine how honored I feel and how much I enjoy playing with them. After I bought the guitar I play from Tony, he signed it. I call it my Gipsy Princess.

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When I was working in the GOP Variety Theatre in Essen, Germany in 1996, Director Andrej Belinskiy and I quickly became friends. Afterwards we kept in touch, and when my wife and I were married in Rome three years later, Andrej and his future husband Rainer Koch were our best men. Later Andrej became the cruise director on a ship, the Mona Lisa, and in 2009 asked me to perform onboard. Instead of paying me money, he invited me (along with my wife and two children) to join the cruise and its excursions without charge. We embarked in the German port of Kiel and had a great time visiting Norway—Nordcap, Bergen, Svalbard, and the awe-inspiring fjords. Impressed and inspired by Andrej’s outstanding job being the face and voice of the ship, I began to think about the future possibility of doing something similar myself. He helped me get in contact with Nicko Tours, a German tour operator, and in 2011 I started working for this company as a freelance cruise director on European rivers.’