Category Archives: My Own Experiences

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. Read the rest of this entry

Androlia named top agent for Lindblad Expeditions…..

Linda Androlia from Sunstone Tours is Lindblad Expeditions number 1 individual selling travel agent.  Here success comes from her expertise in small ship cruising — and specifically Lindblad’s expeditions.  Because she specializes in small ships, she knows every detail of our itineraries, ships and staff – which she shares with her clients to ensure an extraordinary experience from start to finish.  Her clients are priority #1, and her knowledge and customer service skills allow her to create a relationship with them that lasts.  And, she supports all of this with strategic marketing tactics, and online and social media prowess.

Kathy Johns, VP Agency Sales

Day One: Passport Nightmare

December 17th LAX – 4:30 pm.

Note: what follows is an incident that can be avoided. Make sure you verify the status of your passport before you travel (or at least bring the right one). Don’t let this happen to you!

Packed, house closed up, dog at boarding kennel, our family shows up at the airport on December 17th for our flight to Germany to pick up our river cruise.

No small matter that I had in my hand our boarding passes for NWA that I had printed out the night before and gave them passport numbers and emergency information.

Keep in mind I am a travel agent and have been in this business for almost 20 years, I travel all the time and my family has been around the world and back a few times. We are not novice travelers.

Up to the counter, three tickets go through mine doesn’t. Counter lady, rude as can be says, “your passport is expired, you can’t go, please get out of line”. OMG…after my head cleared, she is right. I grabbed my expired passport. The passport that I keep in the same drawer (first mistake) that I look at periodically bringing up great memories of each stamp on the pages.

Note, the website where you enter your emergency info and passport number 24 hours before boarding, will take any number you give, will not knock out a expired number.

I won’t bore you of how I broke down and sat on the floor in the middle of the airport on my cell phone to American Express. How my family continued on with their journey and I had to return home to a cold empty house. Shockingly our flight was scheduled to leave 15 minutes early which made it impossible to get my valid passport to the airport in time.

I flew the next day, only seat available was business class with one day notice. No miles no nothing. The price I paid will never pass my lips as it is obscene. Yes I missed a hotel night, yes I missed a private tour I had set up. But I did plan the “day early” routine which I always suggest to my clients just in case.

Get out that thick black marker, X out your old passports, put a rubber band around them, put them in another drawer. Anything to avoid my nightmare.

European River Cruise Adventure

I just returned from a European river cruise and am excited to be posting daily reports during the next week or so. It was a wonderful trip, filled with cultural experiences, and I look forward to sharing all my experiences, both positive and negative, with you.

Stay tuned.