By Guest Lecturer Lawrence Tartaglino

Sharing my enthusiasm and knowledge of the Caribbean Islands and the Panama Canal is a special treat for me. Although experiencing a transit of the Panama Canal is a “bucket list” item for many people, for me, the canal holds a special place in my heart. Most people know the history of the challenges and hardships endured by the builders of the Canal: from the failure of the French to the ultimate American success due to ingenuity, a deep commitment and good timing. For me, however, the story of the canal begins not in France, Panama or Washington D.C., but in Genoa, Italy.


It was in Genoa, Italy in 1900, when a young Italian man boarded a ship bound for New York. He carried all of his belongings in a small bag, and had very little money. He was unable to speak English, but he had the hopes and aspirations that only the young and ambitious can possess. After a difficult Atlantic crossing in steerage, he finally arrived at Ellis Island in New York Harbor. Soon he hopped a freight train for California, where he took a job tending the vegetable fields of the Salinas Valley.

After a short time in the fields, he heard of a job opportunity at a small company in a town called Davenport 50 miles south of San Francisco, where a cement plant was being constructed. He began work helping to build the plant, then stayed on to help make cement. The cement was hauled to the local pier, where it was loaded aboard ships bound for Panama. It was this cement that was used to construct the locks on the Pacific side of the Panama Canal, and that young man was my grandfather, Lorenzo Tartaglino.


I often wonder what he would have said had he known that 100 years later, his grandson would be lecturing on the Panama Canal several times a year aboard the beautiful ships of Oceania Cruises. I never tire of the experience of transiting this canal, or marveling at the sheer magnitude of the project and the importance of its accomplishment. Likewise, I cherish the opportunity to share these thoughts and experiences with my fellow guests – it is an honor and a thrill. I look forward to meeting many of you on my upcoming voyages listed below.

Insignia: Reefs & Ruins |  December 11, 2016
Regatta: Southern Flair | April 14, 2017
Regatta: Palms in Paradise | April 24, 2017

About Guest Lecturer Lawrence Tartaglino
After a career in the pharmaceutical industry and serving as a tenured professor for many years, Lawrence has turned his attention to world travel and public speaking during retirement. He is also an avid sailor and dedicated runner, and enjoys spending time in his vegetable garden and cooking. Lawrence’s engaging speaking style and passion for travel make him a popular and entertaining speaker. Join him for an in-depth discussion of one of our many diverse destinations.