1. Popular Cruising Paul C. Thornton 35:26

This week on The Joy of Cruising Podcast, I am delighted to welcome Jason Leppert aka the Captain, of Popular Cruising. I wrote about Jason’s story in my first cruising book, The Joy of Cruising, in a section called “Cruise Bloggers: The Readers’ Choice,” which featured finalists and winners in the 10Best Readers’ Choice New Media Award for Best Cruise Blogger, sponsored by USA TODAY along with its companion site 10Best.com which provides users with travel and lifestyle content. Along with The Joy of Cruising, the following books, Cruising Interrupted and The Joy of Cruising Again in sections highlighting bloggers, vloggers, and content creators paid homage to cruise enthusiasts who decide to create, cultivate, and curate a blog or other content, and sometimes a related podcast and YouTube channel. Passionate cruisers like Jason epitomize what The Joy of Cruising is about: individuals moved by their passion for cruising who choose to manifest that passion in an engaging way when not sailing. 


Prolific is the word that comes to mind with Jason—both in terms of the sheer breadth of his writing and videography that ranges from bucket list cruising on a wide diversity of ships sailing great destinations—to an extensive knowledge, experience, and coverage of Disney theme properties. 


At only 30 years old Jason was a 10Best Readers’ Choice New Media Award for Best Cruise Blogger finalist for Popular Cruising. Today, still in his 30’s, the indefatigable cruiser and writer is now up to 196 cruises, and in addition to serving as editor in chief, “the captain”, at blog and YouTube channel Popular Cruising—which he founded, Jason is the Cruise Editor at TravelAge West, and contributor to other outlets such as Cruise Critic, Porthole Cruise and Travel, Travel Channel, Fox News and USA Today.

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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.