Posted by Harry Mueller
John Roberts (RCFC member and past president, 2005 – 06) regaled us with highlights of his trip (with his friend Kathleen) around the world from December, 2017, through May, 2018.  His cruise on the maiden voyage of a new Viking Cruise Line ship started in Miami, FL, and, going the opposite direction from Phileas Fogg, ended in London, England.  The ship had some 930 passengers and some 437 staff, so it was by no means a huge cruise liner.   During a voyage of 34,715 miles, they experienced only one day of rain, but did experience 50-foot waves south of Australia. 
He started his presentation by outlining the itinerary.  Countries/ports visited, in order,  included Cuba, Jamaica (Bob Marley was proud), Panama (and the Panama Canal), Costa Rica, Mexico, Los Angeles (the local Target store loved it), Tahiti, Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, New Zealand, the east coast of Australia, Indonesia, the Philippines, China (Shanghai), Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, India, Oman, the Red Sea (both the Bab al-Mandeb Straight and the Suez Canal), Jordan, Egypt, Italy, Algeria, Spain, Portugal, and London.  This was followed by a slide show with some 100 slides, presented in order of visitation, showing high points of the trip. 
Finally, John summarized his impressions from the trip.  In spite of the huge diversity of languages, English is the most common language.  Of the religions of the various cultures, it seems that Christianity is losing ground (many churches in Europe are now museums) whereas Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism are growing.  Globalization is seen mostly as a benefit, with all ships going up on a rising tide.  The influence of China is extensive and growing, on the one hand building infrastructure but on the other hand increasingly developing surveillance of the Big Brother type.  China may be over-built, but loans are available, there are hundreds of 130 story buildings, and bullet trains cross the country.  The current Chinese building spree follows a long history of mega-projects, including the Great Wall, the Yangtze to Yellow River Canal, and the recently completed Three Gorges Dam with its huge electrical generation capacity.  This compares with an erosion in respect for the U.S., arising at least in part from actions of our own government, our internal polarization, and our gun culture.  There is a widespread loss of trust in the U.S.
On the light side (or, at least, the ironic side), John pointed out that there were a number of people on this round-the-world cruise who were serious members of the Flat Earth Society.