1. Life of Iris Paul C. Thornton 1:12:35

This week I am delighted to welcome to The Joy of Cruising Podcast Iris MacBeath creator of the blog Life of Iris. Iris is a longtime staff member for Holland America Line, most recently as a Media Manager. I wrote the story of Life of Iris in the just-released The Joy of Cruising Again amzn.to/3lAfyON in a section called “Shiplife,” which followed the career of four past and present crew, staff, and officers from three different cruise lines.


In the community that comprises onboard life, Iris is a dual member: first, not only is she a longtime crew member on various ships for HAL (before assuming her role as Media Manager, Iris worked in a series of youth activities positions.) Secondly, Iris is what is known in cruise ship parlance as a “traveling spouse,” or a “Spouse-On-Board,” which is the term used by her cruise line. Specifically, Iris’ husband Stuart 

is a ship officer, and Iris has lived on the ship with him for over 400 days. Those distinct vantage points afford Iris a unique perspective of onboard life, and she chronicles that on her blog, Life of Iris.


Life of Iris was conceived in early 2020 as a way for Iris to document her reflections as a Spouse-On-Board on the Grand World Voyage on which her husband Stuart, a 1st Engineering Officer was assigned. Iris time “I wanted to keep track of what we were up to; basically, because going around the world is pretty cool.” Iris did launch Life of Iris prior to boarding the World Cruise. However, little did Iris know that in the ensuing two years, her cruising career would be directly impacted by the two greatest global crises of the century.

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Paul C. Thornton started writing at 58 years old incited by the task of delivering a father-of-the-bride speech at his daughter’s wedding. Told to talk about memories of Kina growing up; among Disney trips, high school sports, proms, and first boyfriends, Paul divulged the most powerful memory of all, when Kina was six and his life changed forever. At the end of the talk—as they say—"there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.” It was both liberating and cathartic to release secrets that had tortured Paul for 30 years. Needing to hold on to that feeling of release and empowerment, when he returned to his hotel Paul started his memoir, provocatively titled White Man’s Disease.

Paul’s just completed book, The Joy of Cruising Again, is his fourth; the third in The Joy of Cruising trilogy, and follow-up to the fun, upbeat, award-winning The Joy of Cruising, and Cruising Interrupted. The Joy of Cruising Again is the finale of the series but Paul won’t give up his passion. Besides continuing to cruise as much as possible, Paul hosts The Joy of Cruising Podcast, a weekly conversation with one of the dozens of passionate cruisers featured in the books and other global cruise personalities.

The cruise-themed books are a stark departure from Paul’s debut: White Man’s Disease, a memoir described as “gripping and inspiring” in the press release announcing it as the winner of the North Street Book Prize for Memoir and Creative Nonfiction about Paul’s harrowing brush with death, the journey of recovery from trauma, resilience and ultimately transformation. White Man’s Disease is at once poignant, sad, tragic, funny, and compelling. (And, if I could get a dollar for everyone who asks what White Man’s Disease means, I would be a wealthy man!) Despite their very different subjects, at the heart of White Man’s Disease and The Joy of Cruising Trilogy is passion and how passionate people do wondrous things. Paul just started a sequel to White Man’s Disease; a fun, and hopefully inspirational tale called Gracefully. In addition, he is planning a podcast series that deconstructs White Man’s Disease.

Paul is originally from Brooklyn and Long Island, New York. After serving in the US Army and simultaneously earning a bachelor's degree in business, he attained his MBA and then spent concurrently, 17 years in corporate management, and 23 years in small business ownership. After leaving corporate, he started a career in higher ed. He earned a doctorate, attained tenure as a business professor, and subsequently moved into administration in Dean or Executive Director positions before retiring in 2021.

Paul lives in Mooresville, North Carolina with his wife Cheryl and considers cruising with their children and grandchildren life’s ultimate escape. Paul longs to cruise as much as the people he writes about in The Joy of Cruising Trilogy.