Raymond Leibman and Gail during one of their cruises. Here they are pictured at the Iconic Red Square in Moscow. Photo: Supplied.

Raymond Leibman’s love affair with ships and cruising started when he was only seven years old. At that tender age, he took his first cruise with his parents. Today many years later and in his later years, Leibman speaks of cruising with the authority of someone who has done it many times before, but still loves and is fascinated by the cruises.

His company with partner Les Riesnik, called Just Cruising,  is one of Johannesburg’s oldest but easily most reliable sources of information when it comes to wanting to plan a quality international cruise.

“When I was 22 I took a gap year and traveled on a scooter around Europe. And that  led to the beginning of my relationship with travel. I realised at one point that cruising and travel isn’t something you can make  living of,“ Leibman said

With the gradual industrialisation of the world as a whole, transportation of that era brought along many changes-including the rise of airplanes. Once that happened, Leibman and the rest of the world watched what ended up being the natural evolution of transportation. In this, ships ended up being introduced as luxury resorts on water.

While the trends picked up in the rest of the world in the 80s according to Leibman South Africa hopped onto the trends in the 1990s.

“That’s when we started feeling it. When an Italian ship was brought to our shores.I decided to go to America to go have a look, I saw the ships as they were built, they were looking beautiful and they carried people,” Leibman said.


         Passengers on cruise ship The Majestic Princess get to enjoy movies under the stars. Photo: Supplied 

He then started looking at the cruise industry as a business. After having functioned as a lawyer for the greater part of his adult life, Leibman started at 56, with  his involvement in the cruising business.

One of the perks of having a veteran like Leibman handling your holiday, is that he has several tricks under his sleeve that help him execute the booking of a cruise to the specifications of his clients.

“One of the things I use is this hand book. It’s like our bible,” he adds. The book is a 300-500 page, A5 sized  monstrosity that has information on all the major or small cruise ships of the world, their features, likely destinations and price ranges of the packages available,” he said.

He advises however that people must be clear about what they enjoy doing so that the appropriate ship can be chosen for them.

“Different people like different things. Some people like shopping while others like expeditions. There are also all kinds of ships, boutique ships, yachts, small ships and the massive size ships which take 5000 passengers if not more. They have everything including nightclubs and theatres. And so it goes,” Leibman said.

Leibman also notes that some of the popular trends at the moment include being on ships with more space, for instance ones that allow you to move around, have access to a balcony space etc. The only thing that Leibman advises those looking to go cruising is to know your pocket and know where you want to cruise to-that’s half the battle won. The rest, is up to you and your sense of adventure.