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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.’