Former Teacher Enjoying Life As A Cruise Lecturer

Darryl Woodson

Editor's note: This story appeared in the Feb. 13 issue of The News-Gazette.

Retired school teacher Shelby Glass Dodd is traveling to places and doing things she never even dreamed of while growing up in Buena Vista.

Dodd, who divides her time between homes in Reston and Newport News, has spent the past 15 years as a cruise ship lecturer traveling the world.

She was interviewed about her experiences for a story that recently appeared in the VRS (Virginia Retirement System) Retiree News.

“Seeing the breathtaking view of the Egyptian pyramids at sunset and the grand palaces in Russia, canoeing the Amazon, walking the same streets as Paul in Ephesus and Malta, feasting on rabbit with the locals in the hills of Tuscany and relaxing on a ship’s deck observing not only bald eagles in Alaska but watching sea planes take off at rush hour are just a few of the amazing experiences I have enjoyed,” she said in the story.

On more than 100 cruises so far, she has introduced the next day’s port of call three times a week with 40-minute talks.

“Giving talks while we’re at sea leaves me free to tour and explore in port,” Dodd said in the article. “My life has been enriched by learning about the culture of the places I have visited and meeting people from many backgrounds. I am at ease negotiating with a cab driver in Istanbul or haggling over prices in Casablanca.”

After growing up in Buena Vista, Dodd graduated from Trinity University, Midwestern University and William and Mary College. She taught school in England, Texas and Virginia before becoming a school psychologist. While working as a school psychologist for Newport News Public Schools, she started an evening private counseling practice for adults. She continues to see a few clients for therapy and hypnosis.

She explained to The News-Gazette last week that when she first starting lecturing on ships, she gave talks on such topics as hypnosis, stress management and “happiness busters.”

“I decided to reinvent myself after noticing that speakers who talked about the ports had larger audiences,” she said. “I had visited many countries and began giving PowerPoint presentations about the people, their history and legends. This has been an amazing opportunity to enrich the travel experiences of audiences while I saw the world.”

Now, her job is not technically a paying one; her pay is her cruise – and, of course, all the food she can eat. But it’s a job she clearly loves.

“As a child growing up in Buena Vista, a trip to the state capitol building in Richmond was a big deal,” she said in the VRS article. “I loved reading about the great explorers who rounded Cape Horn, never dreaming that I too would one day round that Cape. I had never heard of Machu Picchu or seen pictures of the amazing Inca architecture or glaciers of South America. Now, I’ve seen all of these places.”

Dodd told The News-Gazette she still has family in Buena Vista and returns for Parry McCluer High School reunions.

And, as she noted in the VRS article, she cherishes time with her son Brian, his wife Allison and granddaughters Kelly and Sophie.




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