Windstar Cruises has announced its new Windstar Signature Expeditions program, an experience debuting on the small ship cruise line’s all-suite Star Legend sailings in Alaska this spring and summer. Now, the company has revealed members of its Signature Expeditions Team, hand-picked by Windstar’s Expedition Captain James Griffiths.
Members of the team will sail with guests on each cruise, leading various classes and excursions on glaciology, photography, marine biology, evergreen botany, history and more. These team members will travel on board for the entire cruise, tailoring tours, conversations, and lectures to specific guest interests.
The Signature Expeditions Team includes:
Justin Hofman, Expedition Leader: Hofman has spent his career observing and documenting wildlife. As a university student, he obtained a marine biology degree and continued this pursuit in his post-graduate scientific illustration study. Hofman has traveled aboard expedition ships as a naturalist, photographer and dive master. Hofman has traveled to every continent in search of wildlife, with extensive experience in the polar regions, where he has explored the Arctic and Antarctic both above and below the water.
Alberto Montaudon, Expedition Leader: Working as a naturalist, photography teacher, expedition leader and underwater videographer, Montaudon has been a guide in Alaska, Arctic Norway, Greenland, the Amazon, Galápagos, Baja California and the Caribbean. Montaudon studied biology before beginning his career as a naturalist.
Sarah Betcher: A a naturalist, guide, and a Greenpeace award-winning ethnographic documentary filmmaker, Betcher has a BA in education, a BS in conservation ecology and a MA in cross-cultural studies. Betcher has traveled the world studying traditional ways of life and specializes in the study of the traditional use of wild plants for food and medicine. Since 2005, Betcher has spent time in remote areas of Alaska, where she learned from Native elders in the coastal arctic tundra and the islands of southeast Alaska.
Scott Edgerton: After earning a degree in outdoor recreation management and a minor in forestry from the University of Idaho, Edgerton spent 10 years working in various outdoor settings as a wilderness ranger and trail crew for the U.S. Forest Service in the winter and guiding whitewater rafting trips in the summer. In the late 1980s, he began working onboard expedition cruise vessels and since then, he has worked in many different areas from the poles to the tropics as a Zodiac driver, kayak master, and expedition leader.
Jessica Farrer: Farrer graduated with a degree in evolutionary biology from Western Washington University in Bellingham, WA. Since graduation, she has worked in fisheries management on commercial fishing vessels in the Bering Sea where she counted sea lions from cliffs in the Aleutian Islands, and has operated a remote field camp in the northwestern Hawaiian Islands working with the endangered monk seal. Farrer has contributed video and photographic work to assist the projects she works with in their outreach goals. She has also been worked with the BBC's Natural History Unit while filming for Frozen Planet in both Antarctica and Alaska.
Simon Hook: A Sitka resident with experience exploring the Alaskan wilderness, Hook is also a photographer, winning several awards for photos of Alaska’s wildlife and landscapes.
Larisa Manewal: Born and raised in Sitka, Manewal has traveled all over the globe. She earned a degree from the Art Institute of Boston and a master’s degree in secondary education from the University of Alaska. Manewal also studied with Tlingit and Haida masters learning carving and basketry among other skills. Manewal has spent the past six years as an expedition leader on various small vessels in Alaska.
Paul Murray: Murray started guiding by land and by sea when he was 13 years old on canoe expeditions down the Crow River in his home state of Minnesota. Since then, he has traveled to six continents and nearly 50 countries, guiding in many of them. Murray’s past journeys include a 60-day rafting trip down the Green and Colorado Rivers through the Grand Canyon, and following the Chilkoot Trail and Yukon River in Alaska.
Linda Nicklin: A graduate from Stanford University with a degree in biology and anthropology, Nicklin relocated to Alaska to do botanical surveys in remote wilderness camps for the U.S. Forest Service. She has worked as a naturalist guide, expedition leader and itinerary planner for private yachts and expedition cruise companies worldwide. With her husband photographer Flip Nicklin, she is co-author of two nonfiction children’s books published by National Geographic: Face to Face with Dolphins and Face to Face with Whales.
Ian Strachan: Srachen has been working on expedition vessels since graduating from college. His main passions include photography and animal behavior.
James Griffiths, Expedition Captain: Griffiths is responsible for the development and implementation of the Signature Expeditions program. In 2014, he joined Windstar as captain of the MSY Wind Spirit, and then became the captain of the MV Star Legend during her 2015 inaugural season, the ship that will debut the Signature Expeditions program in Alaska in May. Griffiths was educated in the U.K. and holds multiple degrees and designations from the Warsash Maritime Academy, Middlesex University, the Nautical Institute in London, and Lloyds Maritime Academy in Kent.