Sway to Go!

After retirement, he found a new career as a cruise ship dance partner for unescorted ladies

Jim Wood

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When I first met Jim Wood in January 2007, I didn’t know what to make of him. We were on the Crystal Serenity, a luxury cruise ship bound from Los Angeles to Buenos Aires. I was a guest lecturer, invited to speak on books I’d written. He sought me out because we both hailed from Allentown, Pennsylvania. While shaking hands, I noticed a name badge on his left lapel. It read: “James Wood, Ambassador Host.” Since he was older, well dressed, and quite mannerly, I assumed he was an ambassador, since cruise lines often hire them as speakers.

We chatted about our hometown, immediately hitting it off, and then I pointed to his badge, expecting an update on embassy affairs. Turns out Jim was on a much more sensitive diplomatic mission. His job was to dance with the unescorted ladies on board, and ambassador was the title the cruise line preferred.

Well now.

Here was a real-life Richard Gere (American Gigolo) or Walter Matthau (Out to Sea) depending on how you viewed him. This gave new meaning to the term “sea legs.” …

James Wood’s memoir about dance hosting at sea is available at Amazon.com.

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