Enrichment On Board: Go beyond sightseeing

Activities for the mind as well as the body.

A hallmark of expedition cruising is learning, discovery and enrichment. Expedition cruise companies excel in providing knowledgeable, expert lecturers and guides to help you extract maximum benefit from your new environment whether it’s the vivid nudibranchs hiding in the coral, a perplexing cultural ritual or a historical overview of a tiny ice-locked island deep in the arctic.

Many lecturers become minor celebrities on board and you can expect to find among the ranks authors, explorers, veterans, academics, scientists and media personalities.

We speak to three prominent guides and lecturers who regularly travel with cruise vessels around the globe.

Diminutive Doctor Nancy Sullivan, a consultant anthropologist, has spent the last twenty years living and working in Papua New Guinea among the people she has grown to love. Her affection for the resilient, colourful and resourceful Melanesian people is obvious in her enthusiastic and animated presentations. She speaks in fluent pidgin to the adults and children and before long, you’ll see her draped in infant islanders, the little ones transfixed by her alabaster skin, blue eyes and blonde hair.

“Tourism is good for Papua New Guinea,” repeats Nancy almost as a mantra, “It brings much-needed funds to these remote communities, encourages them to maintain a traditional lifestyle and prevents the young men, in particular, from having to seek work in the cities where they are subject to many dangerous influences.”

The affable Mick Fogg has a background in marine biology, zoology and chemistry and a seemingly insatiable appetite for more knowledge and research. Despite his arsenal of academic qualifications Mick has the gift of communicating simply and clearly without condescension. He is a regular aboard Orion, but has also guided and lectured aboard Coral Princess vessels.

“People [aboard expedition ships] are looking for a full experience behind their travels”, says Mick, “they want the whole story, not just another photo for their album. They’re asking questions and filling in gaps in their own understanding and often sharing their knowledge – just don’t ask me about global warming!” [laughs!]

Robert (Bob) Headland is a charming anachronism of a man. A specialist in polar history from the august Scott Polar Research Institute at Cambridge, he’s tall, bombastic and possesses a wit as sharp as the catabatic winds. But, you’ll quickly find his haughty, pompous air is all theatre and he loves nothing more than to chat about his vast wealth of polar experience over a whiskey or three.

In the true spirit of adventure and exploration, when the Quark Expeditions-chartered icebreaker, Kapitan Khlebnikov attempted its farthest south by vessel, Bob lead a second party by Zodiac which furthered the record.

“It took almost one hundred years to break Fridtjof Nansen’s record, so I wanted to really drive it home. Magnificent seaman as he [Nansen] was, I think it’s about time an Englishman reclaimed that one!”