Interview with Zegrahm Expedition Leader

Celebrating 20 Years: My Life as an Expedition Leader

Interview with Zegrahm Cofounder, Mike Messick
For the final 20th Anniversary article from our founders, we interviewed Mike Messick to learn more about his career as an expedition leader. Mike has been enamored with adventure travel since he first visited the Galapágos Islands with his parents at age 14 and knew then that he wanted to make a career of it. In fact, some of his fondest memories in the expedition business were from the early years—driving Zodiacs in Svalbard during a summer college break and his first full-time job out of college as a divemaster in Indonesia.

What is a typical day-in-the-life of an expedition leader?
Ha! There is no such thing as a TYPICAL day when you are an expedition leader. While I start every day the same—by going to the bridge to check-in with the captain and find out about weather conditions, speed, and estimated arrival times—each and every day is different. Regardless of the how everything unfolds, the key to a successful day is to keep passengers constantly informed of what is going on and to give them plenty of options for what they may want to do.

For instance, on our recent Russian Far East trip, we awoke one morning to 60 MPH winds. We had planned to go ashore bright and early, but obviously could not bring passengers in by Zodiac in those conditions. So, I conferred with our expedition staff and quickly scheduled two lectures for the morning instead. As we scouted for other islands to visit, we had the rare opportunity to watch a brilliant display of nature as the wind whipped outside at more than 100 MPH—it was some of the most ferocious weather I had ever seen—and we sat snuggly inside the comfort of the Clipper Odyssey to enjoy it. Fortunately, by late afternoon, we found one protected island where the winds were relatively calm so we were able to give those who wanted to go ashore the opportunity to do so. Continue reading “Interview with Zegrahm Expedition Leader”