Dr Emma Roberts

Head of History of Art at Liverpool John Moores University (UK)

Experienced Cruise Lecturer

Dr. Emma Roberts

Dr. Emma Roberts [Ph.D., B.A. (Hons)] is Head of History of Art at Liverpool John Moores University (UK).  Born and brought up in Wales, she now lives with her husband in the picturesque Roman and Medieval city of Chester, UK.  Having always been an avid cruiser as a passenger, Emma has fulfilled a lifetime ambition since 2013 to be a speaker on board cruise ships during her university vacations. 


Emma is the author of two academic art history books: (The Public Sculpture of Cheshire & Merseyside [2012] and The Liverpool Academy: A History and Index [1997]), and has also appeared on radio and TV in the United Kingdom as an expert on art and design.  For several years she was Visiting Lecturer at London’s prestigious Victoria and Albert Museum.  Her current research is focussed on the interior design of cruise liners and she also works on the subject of Caribbean and Asian art.  A result of this recent work is expected to be the publication of another two books in the next few years and the curation of an exhibition in Liverpool in 2020 on the topic of contemporary Jamaican art.


Whilst enjoying cruising all over the world, Emma identifies her favourite destinations as Sydney in Australia, Monaco in France and Barbados in the Caribbean.  She also relishes the opportunities on such journeys to meet fellow passengers and to experience new places and activities together on memorable voyages.

Previous Cruises: Viking (5), Azamara (3), Celebrity (1)

Emma Roberts - Sample List of Lectures


n.b.  I could lecture on any art and design subject and would be happy to do whatever is requested to suit any port or cruise or create itineraries of lectures myself.   These are some sample topics but this is not exclusive.


Caribbean / Bahamas / Bermuda


Caribbean (General)- ‘The Colourful Caribbean: A Dip into the Art of the Caribbean Islands’.  The Caribbean islands are home to diverse and fascinating art.  From the political to the carnivalesque, we will discover the highlights of the art of this much-loved region.


Caribbean (General)- ‘Painted Walls: Ancient Rock Art of the Caribbean’.  Caribbean ancient tribes painted symbolic art on local rocks. This mysterious world is today’s topic.


Miami, Florida- ‘Art Deco and Miami’: An exploration of the colourful Art Deco buildings of Old Miami Beach Historic District.  We examine their roots in Egyptian art and their route to being placed on the U.S.  National Register of Historic Places.


Puerto Rico- ‘Eminent Puerto Rican Painters: José Campeche and Francisco Oller y Cestero’.   The lives and works of these Puerto Rican painters will be examined.  Campeche, an eighteenth-century religious artist, painted many works for churches and some of these can be seen in the cathedral in Old San Juan, and nineteenth-century Cestero discovered French Impressionism and painted island scenes.


Puerto Rico- ‘Puerto Rico’s Art Heritage: Ancient to Modern Art’.  From ancient Pre-Columbian crafts to recent art in Puerto Rico, this talk explores some key works.


St.  Thomas, US Virgin Islands- ‘The Pretty and Historic Architecture of Charlotte Amalie’.   Here we a virtual ‘walk’ through Charlotte Amalie and learn about the colorful, pretty buildings.  These include: Government House with its collection of Impressionist Pissarro paintings, St. Thomas’ Synagogue and historic Fort Christian’.


St.  Kitts and Nevis- ‘Masquerade and Carnival’: Folk Culture of St. Kitts and Nevis’.  More than just a fun spectacle, the ‘Christmas Sports’ or carnival and masquerades on St. Kitts and Nevis are cultural events with deep history.  This lecture explores the origins and meanings of this Caribbean tradition.


Barbados- ‘Mansions and Plantation Houses of Barbados’.  This talk examines the architecture of some of the beautiful historic houses on Barbados, along with their cultural contents.   Some of these houses include Sunbury Plantation House, George Washington House and Tyrol Cot Heritage Village’.


Barbados- ‘Barbados Artists: Highlights of the Art of Barbados’.  Today’s talk discusses artists of Barbados: from artist pioneers to world-famous names.


St. Lucia- ‘The Art of Batik’.  St. Lucia is home to Caribelle Batik, a batik manufacturer.  But what is batik and how is it made? This talk discusses the history and technique of batik art- this typical Caribbean product- and examines some notable batik art works.


Grenada- ‘Grenada’s Underwater Sculpture Park’.  In Grenada is a unique attraction that is the subject of this lecture- the underwater contemporary sculptures by Jason de Caires Taylor in Moliniere Bay.  These are visible from glass-bottomed boats, or by scuba diving, and it is intended that the sculptures alter over time as they are inhabited by coral.


Bermuda- ‘Bermuda: An Inspiration to Artists!’  Bermuda has inspired some of the world’s most important artists, such as Winslow Homer, Georgia O’Keeffe or Henry Moore.  We will consider how the beautiful island of Bermuda features in the works of these artists.


‘Treasures of Bermuda: Highlights of the Bermuda National Art Gallery’.  Today’s talk will explore key works from Bermuda National Art Gallery in Hamilton.  Containing art from 1680-2013 this museum is a treasure trove for us to explore!




Vancouver- ‘Public Art of Vancouver’.  Vancouver has a great deal of public art: sculpture in the streets, painting and even graffiti art!  This lecture will highlight some of these pieces and enable you to go to find them yourselves.


Juneau- ‘Treasures of the Alaska State Museums’.  The two museums that make up the Alaska State Museums contain around 32,000 objects- including 15,000 Alaska native objects!  We will examine some of these today: for example, the many Russian items, such as a medallion presented to Alexander Baranov by Catherine the Great, and Eskimo carved ivories.


Skagway- ‘Alaska Native Baskets, Beadwork and Carvings’.   Native Alaskan crafts particularly excelled in basket-making, beadwork and carving.   This talk takes some notable examples of these crafts and discusses their meaning and how they were made.  Skagway today contains excellent similar examples which you can then compare to the ones seen today.


Ketchikan- ‘Totem Poles and Carvings of Alaska’.  Wonderful carving is apparent all over Alaska, but Ketchikan is particularly rich in this respect.   We will examine some of the significant totem poles and carvings of the region, such as those in the Saxman Totem Row Park or the Edwin DeWitt Carving Center.


US East Coast / Canada


New York- ‘An Embarrassment of Riches- Art Galleries and Museums of New York’.  New York is home to some of the world’s finest museums and art galleries.  In this talk we will look at some of these institutions, such as The Metropolitan Museum, The Whitney Museum of Art or the Museum of Modern Art, and consider some of their most important contents.


Boston- ‘The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and Boston Museum of Fine Arts’.  Between them, these two world-class important museums in Boston contain some iconic art works.  This lecture will examine a selection of the finest works from these organisations, such as Rembrandt’s Self-Portrait, 1629, Botticelli’s Nativity, 1482 and Van Gogh’s Postman Joseph Roulin, 1888.


Halifax- ‘Halifax and The Titanic’.  The city of Halifax played an important role after the sinking of The Titanic.  Many sites around the city are devoted to the events of that night and the following days.  We will examine some of these important public locations but also consider the ship itself as a work of art and as an example of superior design and craftsmanship of its era.


Quebec- ‘Les Automatistes of Quebec and Stained Glass’.  Les Automatistes were a group of artists who were influenced by European Surrealists in Quebec in the 1940s.   They produced some identifiable Québécois art- especially stained glass- as seen in the work of Marcelle Ferron.  These are the topics of today’s talk.


UK / USA Combined


‘The City and the Art of Everyday Life’.  From the French Impressionists and their images of Paris, to the Statue of Liberty and the New York paintings of Edward Hopper, today’s talk looks at how cities inspired artists in the 19th and 20th centuries. 




Cartagena- ‘Cartagena and the Romans’.  Cartagena on the south coast of Spain saw much activity when the Romans were at the peak of their power.   Between the fifth and first centuries B.C. the Romans built some impressive structures which we will explore in today’s lecture- such as the original Roman theatre.


Barcelona- ‘Gaudi and Barcelona’.  Barcelona is characterised by the architecture of Antoni Gaudi which was inspired by natural forms.   This lecture examines key Gaudi sites, such the Sagrada Familia cathedral, Casa Batlló and Park Güell.


Barcelona- 'Child of Barcelona: Picasso the Genius Artist'.  Picasso lived for many years in Barcelona and developed his distinctive Cubist art practice there.  We will explore the relationship he had with the city and how it inspired important works such as 'Les Demoiselles d'Avignon' which is now regarded as one of the most important art works of the twentieth century.


Cote d’Azur- ‘Artists and the Côte d’Azur.’   This French coast has inspired many artists. Today we will see some of these beautiful works.


Nice / Monaco- ‘Van Gogh and the South of France’.  The South of France attracted notable artists, such as Van Gogh and Gauguin, because of the clear light and bright colors.  Van Gogh lived in Arles and Saint-Rémy-de-Provence and today we will see the results of the region on his art of the time.


Livorno (Florence)- ‘Florence and the Flowering of Art: Home of the Renaissance’.  The small city of Florence is where the Renaissance in Europe began!  It was the workplace of important artists like Michelangelo, Giotto and Masaccio.  This talk will discuss some of the iconic works by these artists, for example, Giotto’s 'Crucifixion' and Masaccio’s 'Trinity' in Santa Maria Novella church and Michelangelo’s 'David' in the Academia museum.


Civitavecchia (Rome)- ‘Raphael, Michelangelo, Caravaggio!: A Delve into the Treasures of the Vatican’.   In the relatively small space of the Vatican in Rome are some of the world’s most important art works.  We will examine some of the highlights, such as the Raphael Rooms, the 'Apollo Belvedere' sculpture and the magnificent Sistine Chapel, amongst other sights in the Papal residence.


Sardinia- ‘Prehistoric Artefacts on Sardinia’.  Many Stone Age artefacts still exist in Sardinia- often in their original locations.  This talk will discuss some of these sites and objects- some dating back 8.5 million years! Sites to be examined include the House of the Fairies, Holy Wells, Dolmens and the Giants’ Graves. 


Venice- 'Venice and Oil Paint: The Visionary Paintings of Veronese, Giorgione, Titian and Bellini'.  Venice was a melting pot of cultures and ideas in the 16th and 17th centuries.  This stimulating mix inspired painters such as Bellini and Titian who developed the use of painting with oils in the city.  We will explore some of these luscious, colourful works by viewing iconic paintings such as Giorgione's 'Tempest' and Titian's 'Pesaro Madonna'.


Hawaii / West Coast USA


Los Angeles- ‘An Icon of Cruising- The Queen Mary at Long Beach’.  One of the most famous liners in history was the Queen Mary.  This is an icon of Art Deco style and influenced liner design ever since.  Today we will discuss some of the glamorous features on this special ship.


San Francisco- ‘Spanish San Francisco: Art and the Mission District’.  The area called Mission is full of interesting art and these are the topics of today’s talk.  We will look at the Precita Eyes Muralists Center, Mission Dolores Church and some of the contemporary art at the City Art Gallery.


San Diego- ‘The Historic Parks and Exposition Building of San Diego’.  San Diego is home to Balboa Park, one of the USA’s oldest public parks dating from 1832.  In 1915 and 1935 there were expositions held there which led to the erection of beautiful buildings.  We will consider these structures that are now on the National Register of Historic Places.


Hawaii (Big Island)- ‘Petroglyphs- or Historic Rock Carvings of the Big Island’.  Hawaii is famous for petroglyphs, which are ancient carvings into lava rock by native Hawaiians.  Many of these depict daily life of centuries ago.  This talk will explore some of the sites and significance of these petroglyphs.


Oahu- ‘Royal Artefacts of Oahu’.  Oahu was the home of the Hawaiian royal family who acquired many spectacular Polynesian and international art objects.   Such objects, and the history of the Royal family, will be the subjects of today.


Kauai- ‘Arts and Crafts of Kauai’.  Kauai- especially Hanapepe town- is full of contemporary arts and crafts- many taking inspiration from native design.  This talk will discuss some of the many art galleries and craft shops of this island.


Maui- ‘Artists and Craftspeople of Maui’.  The towns of Maui are full of art galleries, artists’ studios and craft workshops.  We will be examining the works of some of these contemporary artists and artisans today.  Typical artists discussed will be Worcester Glassworks, Douglas Chun and Marylyn Holland.


Asia / Australia


Hong Kong- ‘Temples and Historic Monuments of Hong Kong’.  Hong Kong has many beautiful and important temples and monuments.   This lecture will discuss some of these which will hopefully aid your own exploration during your visit.  Some of those mentioned will be the eighteenth-century Hau Wong Temple and the former Kowloon-Canton Railway Clock Tower at Tsim Sha Tsui.


Singapore- ‘Contemporary Art of Singapore’.  Singapore has a buzzing contemporary art scene- even hosting a biennial festival of contemporary avant-garde art.  Today we will see the work of some important local artists, some of whom include, Tan Swie Hian, Liu Kang, Georgette Chen, Francis Ng and Heman Chong.


‘Pretty in Prints: The Development of Singapore as Seen in 19th Century Art’.  Since the 1820s the changing landscape in Singapore has been captured by artists.  From the initial jungle and indigenous Malayan structures that covered the island, to the emergence of colonial buildings like the iconic ‘Raffles’ hotel, these features were caught forever by artists in paint, prints and sketches.


Perth- ‘Perth’s Public Art’.  Perth has many examples of public sculpture and public art works such as murals.  The city builds on this by organising frequent competitions for new art works for the region.  This talk will focus on some of the city’s accessible art works, such as Paul Kaptein’s The Continental Drifters #20-22, that can be found by walking around.


Melbourne- ‘Melbourne- The Street Art Capital of the World’.  Melbourne’s city officials have authorised street art (or graffiti to some) to be painted all over a cultural area called ‘The Lanes’.  This area has countless boutiques, cafes and shops but the greatest attraction today for tourists is its colourful and tidy street art.   We will discuss examples of the art work and consider its artistic merit.


Sydney- ‘Aboriginal Art’.  The Sydney region was originally home to the Darug Aboriginal people and today there is still a good range of traditional and contemporary Aboriginal art to be viewed in the area.   This talk will discuss some of the symbols used in Aboriginal art and refer to some good examples of the genre.


Cairns- ‘Torres Strait Islanders’ Arts’.   Cairns contains many examples of art works made by Torres Strait Islanders- those inhabitants of the islands between north Queensland and Papua New Guinea.  These art works include tribal masks, headdresses and lino prints.   We will consider some traditional example plus recent works by Edrick Tabuai, Ken Thaiday Snr, and Alick Tipoti.


Myanmar- ‘Pagodas, Temples and Sculptures: Unlocking the Mysteries of the Ancient Arts of Myanmar’.  Many examples of the stunning ancient arts of Myanmar are still visible to us in the landscape today in the form of ornate temples, pagodas, and statues that are hundreds or thousands of years old.  Dr. Emma Roberts will examine some of these key objects, their significance and meaning, and will also discuss the cultures that made such items.  Why were more than 5000 diamonds as well as other jewels used to decorate the golden Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon?  Questions such as these will be raised and answered in today’s talk.


‘The Cutting Edge: Exciting Contemporary Art of Myanmar’.  In recent years, the eyes of the world have been on contemporary art in Asia.  Countries such as China, Japan, and India now have vibrant contemporary art scenes and many artworks sell for millions.  Myanmar, however, is only recently beginning to attract attention for its contemporary artists and we are visiting the country at a time just before international interest explodes.  Unusually, much contemporary art in Myanmar still deals with traditional subjects such as Buddhism, but some is more political in nature and is embracing Myanmar’s new freedom.  We will view and consider a range of work by contemporary artists, such as Nge Lay, Htein Lin, and Po Po.


Thailand- ‘Art of Thailand: Understanding the Symbols and Images within Thai Art and Architecture’. The art of Thailand abounds with golden or painted statues of Buddha, highly decorated temples, and colourful wall murals.  These are beautiful to view, but what do they mean?  Why are so many statues of Buddha covered in gold leaf or have white faces?  Who are the people depicted in the murals?  Dr. Emma Roberts examines a range of outstanding artworks from Thailand and considers their materials, meaning, and significance.


Malaysia- ‘Treasures of Georgetown, Malaysia: An Artistic and Architectural Cornucopia of Delights’.  Georgetown is a UNESCO World Heritage Site as a result of the concentration of beautiful, fascinating buildings and historic attractions in one place.  Some of these highlights will be the topics of today’s talk and include the Kek Lok Si Temple (the largest Buddhist temple in Southeast Asia), the colonial Fort Cornwallis, and the Chinese Clan House known as Leong San Tang Temple.  The arts and crafts involved in the making of these attractions, and their history and importance, will be explored today.


Brunei- ‘Gold Domes and Minarets: The Architecture of Mosques of Brunei'.  Brunei contains some spectacular mosques which exhibit the use of gold, crystal, ceramics and many more luxurious materials.  The two most important mosques, that we are also likely to see on our travels, will be the topic for this talk.  We will consider some of the history behind the building of these mosques and learn about their symbolism, precious materials and religious architectural features.


Philippines- ‘Poised Between East and West: Important Painters of the Philippines'.  The Philippines has produced some skilled painters and this talk will focus on some of the key artists and their most celebrated paintings.  These artists often showed the influence of Western painting movements, like Impressionism, but sometimes also attempted to create a Filipino 'look' to comment on the history or events in the Philippines.  We will be examining various paintings and how they reflect either European or Filipino influences and themes.  You might then enjoy visiting the art works as many of them are on display in the museums and galleries of Manila.


China- ‘The Inky Brush: A Brief History of Painting in China'.  For many centuries painting has been very important in Chinese culture.  Covering a time span from 585 A.D. to the present, this talk will pinpoint some of the most important artists and their famous paintings and explain some of the changes in technique and medium.  One thing remained consistent: that much painting involved the use of ink and often on silk.  This ancient practice, and its close relationship with the act of writing with ink, will be a theme throughout the talk.


'Men of Clay: China's Famous Terracotta Army'.  The terracotta army that was discovered in 1974 in Xian, China, has been described as "the eighth wonder of the world."  At least 8000 terracotta figures were buried in the tomb of the First Emperor and all with the idea that they should never see the light of day again!  This talk will explain the reasons behind the creation of the terracotta army, and the ways in which the sculptures were created, as well as some of the restoration practices used at the site today.


'Just Jewellry?: The Rituals and Power of Jade in China'.  Most people assume that jade is mainly used for jewellry- and that it is often green in colour. However for centuries in China jade has been used for religious and magical purposes or for luxurious heirlooms, and much of it is red, yellow or white!  We will see some exceptional jade carvings that have uses as decorative sculpture, ritual aids in religious ceremonies, funeral objects and even pots for cosmetics.  These are often more valuable than if they were made in gold and they are much more difficult to sculpt as jade is one of the hardest natural materials!


Vietnam- ‘Temples, Pots, Pans and Paintings: The Diverse Arts of Vietnam’.  Today we will look at the traditional art works of Vietnam.  From the northern ceramics inspired the border with China, to the temples of Hindu or Buddhist inspiration, and the oil paintings of the twentieth century, we will admire the artistic works of this fascinating country.




Cunard History- ‘A Floating Hotel: The Glamorous Interiors of Cunard Liners in the Nineteenth Century.’  During the 19th century, Cunard liners were fitted out inside to look like plush English country hotels.  Using photographs from the official Cunard Archive in Liverpool, this talk will examine some of the beautiful interior fittings from this romantic age.


‘The Magic of Crossing the Atlantic: Passengers' Experiences on the Great Cunard Liners.’  Passengers who travelled on Cunard liners in the 19th and 20th centuries have left behind a wealth of ephemera that records their experiences on those occasions.  Using the letters, diaries, photographs and other documents that are now stored in the official Cunard archive, this talk will enable us to hear the ‘voices’ of passengers from yesteryear.


‘Art at Sea: The Art Collection on Board Cunard's Queen Mary, 1936-67.’  Like many Cunard liners, the Queen Mary was decorated with an outstanding collection of original paintings and examples of design created by top craftsmen.  This talk will examine many of these beautiful and precious art works and reflect on the fact that the Queen Mary was a veritable floating art gallery.


‘Cunard Through Photographs: A Look Around Cunard Ships of Yesteryear Through Photographic Records.’  The Cunard company made sure to document with photography all parts of its many beautiful liners and special events such as launches or celebrity visits were especially photographed.  Using the vast photographic collection at the official Cunard Archive this talk will consider some of the intriguing images that record these special moments.


‘Cruisewear Collections: Fashion at Sea on Cunard Liners Through the Decades.’  For more than two centuries passengers have packed their finest clothes for their voyages on board Cunard liners.  Often, several different outfits were worn each day by glamorous lady passengers.  This talk will consider Cunard liners as catwalk opportunities and illustrate some of the forgotten fashions of yesteryear by viewing some of the stylish photographs from those occasions.