About Aaron Saunders & FTDC

Aaron onboard Silversea's Silver Explorer, at anchor off Portrush, Northern Ireland, in 2012. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

Aaron onboard Silversea’s Silver Explorer, at anchor off Portrush, Northern Ireland, in 2012. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

Or, how I gave up a career in film to focus on the cruise industry

I started From the Deck Chair in September 2009 because I was disappointed in how many cruise sites focused on the same ships doing the same old itineraries.   There’s a sea of unique, interesting and fantastic ships out there that are deserving of as much attention as the big newsmakers like Oasis of the Seas and Norwegian Epic.

I also started this site as a way to share my cruise photography and interest in the interior design of cruise ships, which I am extremely passionate about, with a wide array of readers.

Because everyone asks, and in the interest of full disclosure, I do tend to cruise for free, or almost free. It is a responsibility I take very seriously. No one ever tells me what to write, or how to write it, nor am I ever paid to write something. Everything published here represents my own personal thoughts and opinions.  (the flip-side: I spend an ungodly amount of time in airplanes, taxis, and nondescript airport hotels. Have you seen Taken 2 ten times on an airplane? I have.)

I am invited, from time to time, to experience a particular ship, itinerary or cruise line, and to report honestly on it. It’s the same courtesy afforded to many travel writers, and even writers who cover other products. Unless there really is some poor guy out there with every copy of Microsoft Office ever produced sitting on his bookshelf – which there isn’t.

Sometimes, I do make the occasional typo or mistake, which I do correct (usually, readers spot it long before I do!) I never edit reader comments and I don’t shy away from negative comments, but I do reserve the right to remove any comments that are vulgar or offensive.

If there’s something wrong on a cruise that poses a significant issue, you’ll know about it. If the cruise line doesn’t deliver what it promised, you’ll hear about it on my Live Voyage Reports.

On the flipside, I don’t believe in being negative just for the sake of it, nor do I believe that every positive must be countered with a negative. This isn’t some black-light 60 Minutes special where they start moving the furniture around. I’ll always tell you what the product is like, who would enjoy it, and what to look for. You can make the decision whether or not it’s right for you – a system I believe is fair and more trustworthy than relying on star rankings. But, I should add that I will champion the ships, sailings and lines that I like. Simple as that.

Believe me, I have a great time on any cruise – but unlike most passengers, I am up at 5:00am most mornings taking photographs, in order to showcase public rooms when most people are still asleep.  I make a point to experience as much as I can, and then write my thoughts and observations down that day.  Which means I spend a good two-to-three hours each evening with my laptop open, writing.

Which means I’m not just cruising, I’m also working – usually until 2 or 3am. Then rising at 5 or 6am. Relaxing, it’s not. Rewarding? Amazingly so.

So what did I do before this? Well, I worked in the animation industry in Vancouver as an offline editor, delivering 75 episodes of Atomic Betty, 52 episodes of Captain Flamingo, 13 episodes of Click & Clack’s As the Wrench Turns, 52 episodes of  My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, and most recently, 13 episodes of the new animated series, 1001 Nights. And when I wasn’t doing that? I’ve been cruising – since my parents got me hooked on it in 1998.

I also found the time to direct and edit a feature-length documentary, Return to Antarctica, that was purchased by Norway’s NRK broadcaster in 2011 and aired in 2012. It is based on the 2009 book of the same name by author Adrian Raeside.

One thing that has always driven me nuts about mainstream “print” travel writing is that there has to be an angle.  Often, this deals with food or wine and concentrates very little on the cruise experience itself.  Articles like that bore me very easily, and I make every attempt on this site to concentrate on the actual cruise, with all its many facets.

And isn’t that what we’re all here for – the cruise experience?

Stay tuned to From the Deck Chair, where the focus is always on the joy of being at sea.


Aaron Saunders |  aaronpsaunders@gmail.com

He’s also in Print!

GIANTS OF THE SEAS, Aaron's first book, was published in late 2013 by Seaforth Publishing.

GIANTS OF THE SEAS, Aaron’s first book, was published in late 2013 by Seaforth Publishing.

Aaron regularly contributes  articles and original photography to the following publications:

  • C Magazine
  • Canadian Traveller
  • Cruise & Travel Lifestyles
  • World Traveler
  • Shippax CFI
  • Shippax GUIDE

Aaron writes every Sunday about the cruise industry in The Vancouver Provincenewspaper, British Columbia, Canada’s second-largest daily news source, which are then syndicated in other PostMedia papers across Canada. He also writes and oversees day-to-day operations for River Cruise Advisor.

His first book, GIANTS OF THE SEAS, a coffee-table work on the history of modern cruising, was published in the UK, Europe and Australia by Pen & Sword Publishing in October 2013.

My second book: Stranded. Cover image courtesy of Dundurn Press.

My second book: Stranded. Cover image courtesy of Dundurn Press.

My second book, Stranded: Alaska’s Worst Maritime Disaster Nearly Happened Twice, was released in October 2015 by Dundurn Press. Detailing the 1918 grounding and subsequent sinking of the S.S. Princess Sophia, it juxtaposes Alaska and British Columbia’s worst maritime disaster with a contemporary angle: the 1995 grounding of the Star Princess on Poundstone Rock. It’s the story of two ships, two very different times, and the men who misjudged North America’s deepest fjord.

My third book will be published in October 2016. More details to come!

Photography and Video Services

The unpredictable nature of Safaris makes this cruise very repeatable. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

On safari in Richards Bay, South Africa. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

Aaron offers a complete array of professional photography and video production services. Email him for additional information.

To date, Aaron’s photography has been utilized professionally by AmaWaterways, Cuba Cruise, Louis Cruises, Silversea Cruises, and Windstar Cruises.

Fun Facts

Hurtigruten's Midnatsol on a brilliant winter's evening in Norway. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

Hurtigruten’s Midnatsol on a brilliant winter’s evening in Norway. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

  • In 2012, Aaron narrowly escaped both Hurricane Isaac in Florida, and Hurricane Sandy in New York aboard Queen Mary 2.
  • The worst storm at sea he was in, in March 2000, featured 34 foot seas and was severe enough to destroy an entire shipboard gift shop, a show lounge, and lodge a Baby Grand Piano down a staircase.
  • Aaron is proud to have slept in everything from a traditional, single-bunk berth on a sailing schooner to a 1,300 square foot Grand Suite on a luxury ship. As nice as both of those were, he still loves Inside Staterooms. If only they came with Bvlgari toiletries…
  • A budding aviation nut, his favorite airplane to fly on is a tie between the Airbus A330 and A340. He won’t set foot in an MD-80 again.
  • He can’t stand bees and wasps, but he’s getting better after nearly falling into the water in Olden, Geiranger, Staffa, and Amsterdam trying to avoid the little devils.
  • Some of his more memorable experiences: drinking liquor infused with Cobra blood in Vietnam; being chased by an elephant while on safari in South Africa; and getting two ladles of ice water down the back while crossing the Arctic Circle.

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