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Guide Bios

Photo of Alexis Niedenthal, an Expedition Guide for UnCruise Adventures

Alexis Niedenthal

Expedition Guide

Alexis believes the only difference between an adventure and a catastrophe is the attitude. And with travels from Antarctica to a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail, she has the experience to prove it. Alexis trusts in the restorative power of communing with nature and is eager to share her favorite places and passion for exploration with others.

Alexis has a degree in family and consumer sciences from Florida State University and is certified as a Wilderness First Responder, Epinephrine Auto-injector, Leave No Trace Trainer, and in Adult/Child CPR and AED. Before joining UnCruise, Alexis worked as a caretaker, ridgerunner, environmental science educator, outdoor education instructor, and field leader—living out her number one rule when travelling: Don't be afraid to get a little lost sometimes. She’s a big fan of allowing a little wiggle room for the unexpected and unscheduled, because that's often when you create your best memories.

Speaking of travel memories, Alexis’ favorite was in Antarctica with her sister. They took the polar plunge holding hands, running into the surf as fast as they could. When Alexis isn’t on daredevil missions, she stays busy hiking, backpacking, reading, doing crossword puzzles, and—of course—getting stamps in her passport.

Photo of Angie Rocha, an Expedition Guide for UnCruise Adventures

Angie Rocha

Expedition Guide

Angie’s awe of nature and wildlife began on a family road trip in Guanacaste, Costa Rica, when she was 15 years old. Her family got lost and found themselves, at midnight, in Marino Las Baulas National Park, a nesting place for endangered leatherback sea turtles. A turtle had just laid its egg, but a guide and biologist encouraged her family to stay in hopes that another turtle would come. At 2 a.m. the biologist rushed her family to the beach in time to witness a 100-year-old leatherback sea turtle laying its egg in the sand under the full moon. That magical event transformed her life and inspired Angie to become a guide.

After being a mountain bike guide, Angie has returned to her first love as a naturalist guide in her first office, the rainforest. She focuses on dendrology (the study of wooded plants) and loves the opportunity to talk with guests about plants’ behavior and relationship to animals.

Angie was born in and still lives in San Jose, Costa Rica. When she’s not guiding, she goes back into the mountains on her bike or by foot to be in nature. Her number one rule when travelling is to have an open mind. And her favorite animal is, not surprisingly, the leatherback sea turtle.

Photo of Archibaldo Kirchman, an Expedition Guide on Costa Rica & Panama cruises for UnCruise Adventures

Archibaldo Kirchman

Expedition Guide
Safari Voyager

A lifelong Panamanian, Archibaldo grew up in the capital city and still lives there today with his family. The canal inevitably plays an important role to locals and Archibaldo is proud of his heritage linked to the great cut. Always an avid learner, his curiosity magnetically draws him to spend lots of time outdoors and in nature.

A guide for nearly three decades, Archibaldo loves to share the history, natural world, and culture of his country with others. Though his degree from Universidad Tecnologica de Panama is in Technical Software Engineering, his experience and expertise is in the interpretation of tropical birds and ecosystems, and the history on Panama. He also holds certifications in CPR/First Aid, Basic Life Support, and his top priority in his work and travel is safety.

When he’s not working, it’s likely you’ll find Archibaldo photographing the world around him, listening to music, or dancing the salsa. He’s also an avid traveler though often times he finds himself in the guide role even when he’s not working. On a recent trip to the Caribbean with his family, they joined in for a city tour of Curazao. After asking the bus driver why he looked so nervous it turned out he spoke many languages but not Spanish—the language spoken by all the guests on his bus. Archibaldo ended up stepping in to translate along the way!

Photo of Ben Marolf, an Expedition Guide for UnCruise Adventures

Ben Marolf

Expedition Guide

A native of Minnesota, Ben now lives in Salt Lake City where he spends his free time skiing, rock climbing, singing, and playing the guitar. He was even in a progressive rock band for four years called Megatherium Club. Taking a break from rock climbing and rocking out, Ben is excited for his first season in Alaska as a guide!

Ben has a BA in biology and environmental studies from St. Olaf College and a graduate certificate in environmental education from Hamline University. He is a Certified Interpretive Guide, NOLS guide, and a Wilderness First Responder. Ben has channeled his passion for the environment—particularly marine ecology—in his work as a naturalist, backpacking guide in the Rocky Mountains, and student of marine biology and terrestrial ecology on the east coast of Australia. He has also spent two weeks exploring the Great Barrier Reef.

Ben’s favorite travel memory was when he and his mentor caught a 10-foot shark. Ask him to tell you this tale of swimming into shallow waters, jumping onto the shark, flipping it upside down to put it into tonic immobility, measuring and recording its vitals and health, and safely releasing it. Ben’s motto, fittingly in line with his love of all things underwater, is when life gives you whales, make lemonade, and enjoy the whales.

Photo of Bobby DeMarinis, an Expedition Guide for UnCruise Adventures

Bobby DeMarinis

Expedition Guide

“I haven't been everywhere, but it's on my list!” says expedition guide Bobby DeMarinis. Bobby thinks the most rewarding part of traveling is the people you meet. No matter your upbringing or country of origin, he thinks we can all find common ground, learn from, and enjoy each other. Bobby is also a passionate mandolinist. He spent the fall of 2015 touring in a bluegrass Jerry Garcia tribute band.

An environmental educator and naturalist guide, Bobby studied environmental studies at Binghamton University and is a Certified Interpretive Guide as well as a Wilderness EMT. He is passionate about observing all wildlife, from the flashy, exciting megafauna to the small unsung heroes of our ecosystems. Bobby has been a wildlife expeditions guide in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, a naturalist guide based out of Aspen, Colorado, leading hiking, snowshoeing and skiing tours, and an environmental educator in the high desert of Southern California and the deciduous forests of the Northeast.

One of Bobby’s favorite travel experiences was during a trek through Patagonia. Along with backpacking through the Valdivian temperate rain forest, around the Chilean glacial fjords, and along the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, he completed a five day trek with an eclectic and diverse group of travelers. Coming together by chance, Bobby’s group becoming a tight-knit family exploring glacial lagoons, rappelling over raging rivers, summiting mountain passes, and cooking, eating, and laughing around the campfire. His number one rule when travelling? Get off the beaten path.

Photo of Brandon LeBaron, an Expedition Guide for UnCruise Adventures

Brandon LeBaron

Expedition Guide

Brandon has completed an Ironman Triathlon, gone skydiving and scuba diving, saved baby sea turtles, swam with dolphins and stingrays, and climbed Mayan temples. After so many rich experiences, his number one rule when traveling is “do something new.”

The third-oldest of nine kids raised in Spokane, Washington, Brandon loves being in the outdoors and sharing it with others—from cross country skiing and mountain biking to traveling to new places and immersing himself in different cultures. Brandon has a degree in outdoor recreation from Eastern Washington University and is certified as a Wilderness First Responder. He has also guided zip line tours, whitewater rafting, kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, and canoeing.

Brandon’s favorite travel memory was in Glacier National Park coming down from Grinnell Glacier. He spotted a grizzly bear digging under a giant rock about 30 feet off the trail. When another hiker got close to take a picture, the bear stopped digging, turned towards the hikers, and threw its paws in the dirt. The dust swirled around the bear's feet—a sure warning sign for the photographing hiker to back up. Perhaps it was then that Brandon’s motto was born: Have fun yet be careful.

Photo of Christian Lloyd, an Expedition Guide for UnCruise Adventures

Christian Lloyd

Expedition Guide

Christian has embodied a sailor’s dream the past few years, living aboard his sailboat. While not always the case, his boat is currently docked in Seattle. The lure of the saltwater took its hold early on in his life—Christian grew up in the town of Bellingham, Washington, situated on a bay of the same name just hop-skip-jump across Rosario Strait from the San Juan Islands.

During his university education, Christian earned a degree in materials science and engineering. Through his maritime education, he earned his Master 50 Ton Inland Captain’s license and is a certified wilderness first responder. And when it comes to the hands-on, world experience, Christian is well-qualified too—he sailed his boat solo across the Pacific Ocean.

While he sailed his boat steadfastly from Mexico to Hawaii alone, Christian can’t shake his fear for deep water. But he doesn’t let it stop him from his explorations—one of his most memorable adventure moments was diving among a group of sea turtles that, very slowly, were engaging in a bit of a sea battle. A native Northwesterner, a favorite aspect of his work is sharing the wild ocean and wilderness of Alaska with those on board with him. If you sail with him, you’ll see Christian living out his mantra—float, go, live. Does it float, will it go and can he live on it?—aboard this expedition vessel he happily can answer “yes!”

Photo of Dan Niebler, an Expedition Leader for UnCruise Adventures

Dan Niebler

Expedition Leader

Growing up on the Jersey Shore, Dan has always had an affinity for saltwater. He’s lived in Tampa Bay for the last handful of years, although his love of travel often takes him on the road or sea. No matter where he goes, Dan seems to always find himself near the ocean, whether it’s the Atlantic, Pacific, or Antarctic.

Dan has a degree in marine science from Eckerd College and specializes in marine invertebrate biology and marine and freshwater ecology. He holds Wilderness First Responder, Certified Interpretive Guide, and Kayak Instructor-Level II certifications. He has worked for the PeaceCorps and as a refugee resettlement specialist. Curious by nature, Dan had the opportunity to study Ernest Shackleton's leadership style in Antarctica. He has also learned to speak Mandinka, a West African tribal language where questions about oneself are answered in proverbs.

Everyone has their own way of experiencing the wilderness and Dan’s goal is to help people find their personal outdoors style. Anything can be an adventure in his mind, and every day is worth enjoying. He’s likely to find himself getting “lost” in the woods or on the water. But, not to worry, he always finds his way back and his hobby of geocaching has made him sharp with a map and GPS!

Photo of Dawn Paley, an Expedition Leader for UnCruise Adventures

Dawn Paley

Expedition Leader

Originally from New Jersey, Dawn heeded the call of warmer climes and these days, enjoys living in the Sunshine State. Over the past few years in Florida, she’s found plenty of time to satiate a few favorite hobbies, including hunting for fossilized shark teeth in Arcadia and kayaking coastal waters.

Dawn is passionate about guiding guests on a journey to experience the great wilderness of Alaska. With certifications in sea kayaking, whitewater raft guiding, and Wilderness First Responder, she’s gotten to know the coasts of Florida and Alaska like the back of her hand—or paddle—and enthusiastically shares the unique geology and ecosystems of each area with those lucky enough to paddle with her.

When not delighting in guiding others, Dawn guides herself toward adventures across the globe. Canyoneering near Arenal, Costa Rica, glacier hiking in the Rocky Mountains, and expedition kayaking in the Everglades are just a few of the adventures she’s found herself undertaking. Highlight so far? The breathtaking experience of having a whale surface right beside her in Glacier Bay National park during her 24-day kayak trip!

Photo of Emily Dohm, an Expedition Guide for UnCruise Adventures

Emily Dohm

Expedition Guide

Emily grew up in the high desert of western Colorado camping, hiking, skiing, and even running with her four siblings. From picking up trash at a campsite to making the most of her education, her parents taught her to leave a place better than she found it. Emily has taken this lesson to her communities, life on board, and the beautiful places she’s fortunate to visit. Emily describes working with UnCruise as a dynamic platform to engage with an otherwise unknown world. She appreciates the constantly changing perspective—it’s like a floating laboratory!

Emily has a degree in humanities and molecular and cellular biology from the University of Colorado and is certified as an EMT-IV and Wilderness EMT. She’s had plenty of interesting jobs that have taken place under a roof and four walls (emergency department technician, research assistant in a cancer biology lab, bartender, and substitute teacher, to name a few) yet being outside is where she feels happiest and most alive. Emily is forever impressed and fascinated by the natural world. Alaska in particular has shown her the rich patterns and interconnectedness in nature.

One of Emily’s favorite travelling experiences was in Athens, Greece for a semester in college when she studied art history, classics, and Greek political history. When she’s not traveling, her hobbies are skiing, hiking, running, yoga, writing, and exploring.

Photo of Jenny Wolf, an Expedition Guide for UnCruise Adventures

Jenny Wolf

Expedition Guide

A native of landlocked Boise, Idaho, Jenny has lived, temporarily and long term, in many beautiful places. She spent a year in Madrid teaching English to students, ages 9 to 50, and learning all the best places to find tapas and how easy European system of travel is to navigate. 

Jenny holds a degree in biology from the College of Idaho and certifications in Wilderness First Responder, PADI Dive Mast, First Aid/CPR, and Teaching English as a Foreign Language. Complimented by work as an environmental educator, English teacher, farmhand in Oregon, and beekeeper in Greece, her areas of specialization include geology, ecology, and history of the Pacific Northwest. She is thrilled that her job that combines a love of the outdoors, connecting people with beautiful places, her experience as an educator, and general avoidance of offices. Her favorite added bonus of working onboard: the pastry chefs make the best cookies in the world!

Her most recent off duty travels took her China and Thailand, where she spent Christmas on the Great Wall of China. Dressing as Rudolph and Santa, Jenny and her travel mate hiked a rural section of the wall where they stumbled upon a group of locals who were so enamored with their costumes, they invited Jenny and her friend to dinner of Peking Duck. Following her top travelling rule of not planning too much, Jenny wakes up each morning, eager to see the beautiful places her vessel sails, and to share the day with her fellow crew and guests.

Photo of Jeremy Saenz, an Expedition Leader for UnCruise Adventures

Jeremy Saenz

Expedition Leader

A Seattleite nowadays, Jeremy grew up in Jackson Hole, Wyoming; Ogden, Utah; and Nevada City, California. He also likes to travel and does—whenever he can. He studied Spanish in Mexico and Central America, and it was there that he learned about and how to live in a different culture. The food, the people, the history of the area, and time on the sunny beaches won his heart.

Being outdoors in wild places and teaching are big motivators for Jeremy. So when he goes to work, not only does he get to play outside, but he gets to share his passion. Jeremy has a wealth of experience as a guide and naturalist in Southeast Alaska and Glacier Bay National Park; and has also worked as an ESL teacher; a job coach for the developmentally disabled; and a cook. Jeremy holds a USCG 100 Ton License; attended Weber State University and University of Utah; and has degrees in history and Spanish, as well as linguistics and ESL.

Jeremy is passionate about the role wild places play in our connection to the planet and has a favorite memory of waking up for the sunrise on top of the Temple IV at Tikal ruins in Guatemala while Howler monkeys and toucans noisily played in the jungle canopy. He’s also a fan of reading, camping, basketball, photography, cooking, and once a year, he watches the Lord of the Rings trilogy from beginning to end. Now that’s commitment.

Photo of Jessie Mathews, an Expedition Guide for UnCruise Adventures

Jessie Mathews

Expedition Guide

Jessie’s favorite travel memory is a whale of a tale. When she was a mate sailing in British Columbia’s Strait of Georgia, she caught sight of a humpback whale in the distance that then disappeared out of sight. Suddenly the whale surfaced on the beam and swam under her boat, coming up on the other side so close she could have touched it. Jessie’s boat watched the whale spy hop and swim for 10 minutes before it dove down and swam away. The whale could have easily upset or flooded the small boat, but instead barely caused a ripple.

When she wasn’t spotting whales in Canada, Jessie circumnavigated Vancouver Island filming a documentary about the endangered North Pacific Right Whale. Jessie specializes in coral reefs and whales and has an affinity for the Left sided Gray Whales who, like left-handed Jessie, show a side preference that’s in the minority. Jessie has a degree in marine science from Boston University and is certified as a 100 ton Inland Master/Near Coastal Mate, AB Special, and Rescue SCUBA diver. On dry land, she has walked the 550 mile Camino de Santiago across Spain.

Jessie has lived on boats for the last four years spending her free time hiking, swimming, reading, traveling, learning new things, and following her number one rule of travel: always bring a change of clothes and a snack.

Photo of Jessika Picinich, an Expedition Leader for UnCruise Adventures

Jessika Picinich

Expedition Leader

Originally from Kona, Hawaii, before joining UnCruise Jessika was a rescue diver, ski patroller, biologist, systems engineer, and wilderness guide. Since guiding at UnCruise she’s found that no other job offers the synthesis of radical self-discovery, partnership with nature, and transformational community. Jessika describes her role as the bridge between ordinary existence and the secrets of the Magical Wild.

Jessika specializes in geology, geophysics, and geochemistry and has a degree in marine geology and geophysics from the University of Miami. She is a certified AAUS Rescue Diver with Florida International University, certified in Search and Rescue in Miami Dade County, Florida and in Summit County, Colorado, a Wilderness First Responder, and a Wilderness First Responder Instructor. Jessica is even certified to shoot explosives out of a cannon for avalanche control in mountains.

When not on an UnCruise journey of discovery with her guests, Jessika lives in Olympia, Washington, where she writes science fiction in her free time. Her number one rule when traveling is to listen.

Photo of Kelly Sutter, an Expedition Guide for UnCruise Adventures

Kelly Sutter

Expedition Guide

This natural teller of riddles and random facts grew up in Key Largo, Florida. Kelly has kept her personal basecamp close to home and she lives just north in Miami Beach these days. She balances out her golden-sandy beach time with lush, green temperate forest, spending her summers in Alaska.

Kelly explored the very opposite side of the country from home, choosing Alaska Pacific University in Anchorage for school, where she earned her degree in outdoor studies and environmental science. As part of her program, she enrolled in an expedition leadership course that took her deep into the Talkeetna Mountains for a 170-mile trek. For 21 days, she fine-tuned her orienteering, route planning, and guiding skills, not to mention learned about flora and fauna in-depth. Kelly is also a certified Wilderness First Responder, ACA SeaKayak Level 1 & 2, and National Association of Interpretation interpreter.

If asked whether she prefers seeing the world on her own two feet or from the cockpit of a kayak, Kelly might have to give it some thought. She once spent 21 days kayaking through the Bahamas, where she had the chance to spear hunt a lionfish. This invasive species is damaging coral reefs, and the encounter gave her the opportunity to teach her group about this predatory intruder. And then they cooked it over a fire and ate it for dinner! How’s that for commitment to invasive species eradication?

Photo of Lilly Stewart, an Expedition Leader for UnCruise Adventures

Lilly Stewart

Expedition Leader

Born in Franklin, Ohio, Lilly grew up on her family’s farm milking goats and playing around the Great Miami River that flows right through the small city. On and off, she has set down her anchor in her hometown over the years, and interspersed some of that “off” time living in places like Arkansas, traveling through Europe, and even living for a bit in Peru with a local family.

Lilly has an environmental biology degree from Hendrix College and Wilderness First Responder and Interpretive Guide certifications. She has studied Lewis & Clark history, WWII, and Columbia River ecology at great length. Lilly’s drive for outdoor-oriented work has led her to many interesting opportunities. She was an education coordinator and deckhand on the historic schooner Roseway, led camping adventure tours in the U.S. and Canada, and was a stream stewardship assistant in the Catskills and a field technician at Bandolier National Monument. She also once had the unusual job of paint scraper at Orville Wright’s mansion.

Lilly’s travel motto is “plan in advance, but enjoy spontaneous accidents that happen along the way.” A perfect example: On one of her 21-day cross-country road trips guiding European travelers, she got to throw a wedding in Las Vegas. What started out as a joke, teasing a pair of engaged travelers, became a full-fledged mission. They threw a bachelorette party in New Orleans and found a second-hand tuxedo in Texas, and a vintage wedding dress in New Mexico. The happy couple tied the knot in a pink Cadillac at a Las Vegas drive-through chapel with the entire tour group in attendance. We’d say Lilly has some spectacular on-the-go planning expertise!

Photo of Liza Mora, an Expedition Guide on UnCruise Adventures trips in Costa Rica & Panama

Liza Mora

Expedition Guide
Safari Voyager

Growing up in Costa Rica, Liza has had a close relationship with the land for her entire life. The daughter of a farmer, she continues to help her family with their cocoa and cattle farm. While she has travelled extensively throughout the years, she’s happy to be rooted in the land of pura vida for a steady few years now.

Liza earned a bachelor’s degree in tropical biology with an emphasis in sustainability from the University of Costa Rica. She has worked extensively in the field as a researcher for the Peregrine Fund in Panama studying Harpy Eagles, for the University of California-Davis studying mammal behavior and seed dispersal in Belize, and with International Student Volunteers in Australia, the Dominican Republic, and Costa Rica.

With a motto like “live, explore, enjoy!” it’s no wonder Liza has made her way to far corners of the globe. While working in the Carnavon Gorge in Queensland, Australia, she was mesmerized by the 30,000-year-old aboriginal art and the rich cultural history of the land. She was also delighted to see platypus in the wild there. Passionate about scuba diving and whitewater kayaking, she won the Pan-American Rafting Champion title in 2008/2009.

Photo of Mareth Griffith, an Expedition Guide for UnCruise Adventures

Mareth Griffith

Expedition Guide

After growing up in West Virginia, Mareth tapped into her wanderlust. A few of her homes after her youth include Scotland, the Shetland Islands, and Northern Ireland, where her neighbors included 2,000 puffin, 80 cattle, and the ghost of a black horse whose hooves could be heard galloping across the heather. She’s lived in Southeast Alaska most—her love affair with The Great Land has made it her on-again, off-again home for the past near-decade.

Mareth’s work history is just as diverse. Her Bachelor’s in music and technical theater from Smith College is paired with Wilderness First Responder, Pre-Hospital Trauma Life Support, and American Canoe Association Coastal Kayak Level 2 and Day Trip Leader certifications. She’s guided adventurous souls through Alaska and New Zealand for many years as a naturalist and deckhand. In between seasons, she’s likely guiding at a Northern Ireland seabird colony or working at wilderness lodges, aquariums, or whale-watching day tours. More than anything, she loves sharing Alaska with first-time visitors.

A classically trained violinist, Mareth makes a point to make time for playing music, writing, and reading. She also carves out time to experience the wilderness on her own, and is very excited about an upcoming 100-mile village-to-village hike along the west coast of Scotland she’ll do with her mom. Chocolate is her self-admitted kryptonite, and if you share a square with her, she’ll likely share the details of her many travel escapades with you!

Photo of Marika Powers, an Expedition Guide for UnCruise Adventures

Marika Powers

Expedition Guide

Having professional photographers as parents, Marika grew up exposed to natural beautiful places. Her youth was spent in Northern California and paddling around Hawaii. And unlike most teenagers, on her 18th birthday, she turned down a car in favor of a kayak. Marika’s been paddling ever since. Today, she calls both Northern California and Alaska home, but the Aloha spirit still calls her back to Hawaii.

Marika received a science degree at University of Hawaii and one in parks and recreation management from Northern Arizona University. She is certified in First Aid/CPR, as a Wilderness First Responder, Hawaii Eco Tour Operator, and Leave No Trace Trainer. Her lifelong deep love of the outdoors shaped her career path, and sharing the great outdoors with others is what Marika likes best about it. She’s had heaps of opportunity leading people on meaningful and exciting experiences—throughout Alaska as a hiking, kayaking, or camping guide; lei greeter in Maui; and in Patagonia, developing a multi-sport expedition itinerary and helping out with the documentary “Crossing Patagonia.”

Traveling, backpacking, kayaking, biking, and surfing top Marika’s favorite-things-to-do list and her adventures generally pack an extra punch. She once spent over 70 nights in a tent in the Alaska wilderness. Another time, she awoke one night during a wild storm to find a river forming around her tent and her riverbank encampment washing away. This gal knows adventure and is super excited about sharing the wonders of the wilderness with you.

Photo of Mark Cassio, an Expedition Leader for UnCruise Adventures

Mark Cassio

Expedition Leader

Mark loved growing up in Massachusetts, and he equally loved the change of scenery in a new home—Maine, New Hampshire, Arizona, California, Alaska, and Washington. He’s a modern-day explorer primed for adventure (even when it includes a bear and a raft) in Costa Rica, Hawaii, Mexico’s Baja California, and the Canadian Rockies near Banff National Park.

A certified Wilderness First Responder and graduate of Fitchburg State College with a BA in journalism, Mark’s journey has been one of knowledge. He was an interpretive guide in Alaska’s Brooks Range Mountains, based 60 miles north of the Arctic Circle; an outdoor science teacher leading 10- to 12-year-olds on interpretive hikes in California’s San Bernardino Mountains; rode a Harley to school each day as a Montessori teacher of 3- to 6- and 10- to 13-year-olds in Phoenix; and was a news and sports reporter for a New Hampshire daily paper. His breadth of experience easily translates to others. When you want to be informed and entertained about new and unique places, Mark’s your man.

He’s also a lucky guy, particularly lucky to have been a food seller in the ballpark grandstands the year the Arizona Diamondbacks won the World Series. Mark got to attend all four games played in Phoenix, including the championship-clinching Game 7 victory. A fan of stick and ball sports, Mark also enjoys playing cards, watching movies, snorkeling, hiking, backpacking, camping, and a good ol’ city walk.

Photo of McKenzie Smedley, an Expedition Guide for UnCruise Adventures

McKenzie Smedley

Expedition Guide

Originally from Anchorage, McKenzie is excited to share the grandeur of Alaska. After leading trips in college, McKenzie got hooked on the outdoors and learning new things. Years of learning and expeditions later, she now specializes in wild edibles and foraging, identifying plants, fermentation, and—a true jack of all trades—puns.

McKenzie has a BA in ethnobotany from Western Washington University and is certified in CPR/AED, adult Mental Health First Aid, and as a Wilderness First Responder. She has worked as a wilderness lodge caretaker, sea kayaking guide, environmental educator, apple picker, bartender, and donut shop barista.

When McKenzie’s not guiding, she lives in Portland, Oregon, staying busy backcountry skiing, chocolate bending (she collects chocolate and candle molds), and Aerial Silks. McKenzie’s motto: Don't put off till tomorrow what you need to do today!

Photo of Megan Moran, an Expedition Leader for UnCruise Adventures

Megan Moran

Expedition Leader

Originally from Detroit, Michigan, Megan has lived in some special places far from her hometown, including Egypt and South Africa. Having seen incredible changes within herself in many ways over the years, Megan is motivated to help others find that amazing inner transformation that happens when people connect to a new experience.

It all started for Megan one fateful summer when she began guiding. That summer, the outdoor and adventure bug bit her hard. Fast-forward to current times and Megan is now a well-seasoned guide, adventure seeker, and creator of happiness. Not long ago, she worked with Operation Smile Egypt, an NGO that provides free cleft lip and cleft palate surgeries to children in over 50 countries. She also led over 30 trips for 13-year-old kids (talk about patience!) throughout the Americas and Australia. And don't forget the art degree from University of Wisconsin, a masters in Education from Sierra Nevada College, and her Wilderness First Responder certification.

When not focused on helping other people experience new, happy adventures, Megan can be found creating her own. Hiking, biking, snowboarding, or reading, whichever the chosen activity, if it provides an adventure, she’s in! Some of her favorite activities have included swimming with whale sharks in Mozambique and sampling the culinary delights of new countries, namely the street food variety.

Photo of Mike Justa, an Expedition Guide for UnCruise Adventures

Mike Justa

Expedition Guide

A sucker for whales, Mike’s favorite travel memory is jumping and laughing in the soft sand of Isla Magdalena after watching baby gray whales playing in the waves. He’ll tell you that since joining the UnCruise community he’s learned how important it is to be present in the moment. Mike believes the rewards come when the “now” is the focus. We couldn’t agree more—nothing sounds more “now” than watching whales play.

Mike has a BS in marine biology from the University of Rhode Island and is certified as an Open Water Diver (PADI), a Wilderness First Responder, Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC), and as a Washington state emergency substitute teacher. With specializations in marine biology, marine mammals, ecology, and birds, Mike has combined his talents inside and outside of the classroom as a substitute teacher, summer camp counselor, whale watch naturalist, kayak guide, and hiking guide.

When not introducing guests to the wilds of Alaska and Baja, Mike lives in Seattle where he spends his free time reading, walking, hiking, skiing, swimming, kayaking, birding, and exploring any way to get outdoors. His number one rule when traveling is, “think, pack light, listen, and say yes.” We hope Mike packs a couple musical instruments, too. He plays lead egg shaker and harmonica in a band!

Photo of Sarah Bernstein, an Expedition Guide for UnCruise Adventures

Sarah Bernstein

Expedition Guide

Nature has its own way of keeping balance, and so does Sarah. And the two are usually intertwined. Sarah lives in the Bahamas and grew up in Colorado, but if given the chance, she could likely be from just about anywhere—a result of all the traveling and schooling she did abroad.

Sarah spent time at school and adventuring in Central and South America: teaching English and surfing in Mexico; working in sea turtle conservation and monkey rehabilitation in Costa Rica. She has even led research expeditions studying giant tortoises in the Galapagos! Other jobs includeed scuba/snorkel/kayak guide; marine researcher; and marine science, astronomy, and physics teacher. Touting degrees in political science and Latin American history from Evergreen State College, and a Master’s in education—environmental education and sustainability curriculum—from the University of Washington, she’s also a certified Wilderness First Responder, BCU (British Canoe Union) level 3 coach, and an EMT. When it comes to inspiration, Sarah makes connecting with and becoming stewards of nature an easy choice.

This singing nature-nerd gets excited about everything (and makes up songs about everything, too)—she’s especially fond of barnacles and moss. Imagine her excitement kayaking in the middle of a super pod of over 90 orcas, with a female teaching her baby to hunt among them. Sarah knows a lot about astrology and loves a good sunset and bioluminescence. Making art block prints, jewelry out of found objects, paddle boarding, reading, hiking, cooking, and gardening all top her favorite-things-to-do list.

Photo of Sarah Zaubi, an Expedition Guide for UnCruise Adventures

Sarah Zaubi

Expedition Guide

No matter where Sarah goes, she always comes back to Alaska. Sarah hiked over 200 miles in the state last season, including five trips across the Chilkoot Trail. She has worked as an Alaskan guide for six seasons, exploring new places and introducing people to her favorite part of the world. Alaska is also where she met some of her favorite co-workers to date, wild Dusky Dolphins. Fun fact: the more absurd noises you make in the water with your snorkel, the more likely they are to swing by and make much more elegant noises back at you.

In addition to dolphin-speak, Sarah specializes in 1898/9 gold rush history, Tlingit (Jilkaat Kwaan) culture and lore, and edible and medicinal plants. She has a BA in English and gender politics from Monmouth College and is certified as Wilderness First Responder, PADI Divemaster, and in Swiftwater Rescue. Sarah’s unique skillset has led her to work as a dive master, glacier guide, ski resort mountain host, canoeist, horseback guide, yacht deckhand, dolphin whisperer, and night janitor.

Sarah has an identical twin sister who is also working in the fleet, so if you see her and she doesn't answer, it's probably not her! When you do catch Sarah, ask her to tell you about the time she got a gold tooth on a Honduran Island.

Photo of Sophia Taylor, an Expedition Guide for UnCruise Adventures

Sophia Taylor

Expedition Guide

Sophia has sought adventures from a young age. Her mom, a flight attendant and career traveler, passed the travel bug to her and even homeschooled her and her sisters so they could spend more time traveling together. Sophia quickly learned that the best classroom is outside your comfort zone, trying new things, meeting different people, and studying other cultures. These days her favorite parts of her career are hearing the squeals of excitement when encountering rare wildlife, the quiet din of mixed conversation from a table of strangers sharing a meal, and the weighty silence that follows the first glimpse of a breathtaking vista.

Sophia has a BA in psychology from the University of Washington and is a Master SCUBA Diver Trainer. She’s translated her skills into work as a SCUBA instructor in Hawaii and as an applied behavior analysis (ABA) behavior therapist for kids with autism spectrum disorder. In the water, Sophia specializes in Hawaiian reef fish, invertebrates, and marine mammals. When she’s not working or playing in the water, you can find Sophia practicing classical ballet, studying wine for sommelier certification, or traveling with her sisters.

Sophia’s favorite travel memory was in Ha Long Bay, Vietnam. Her boat picked up fresh catch from a woman fishing by her kayaks and the chef on board prepared a feast. Sophia insisted the captain, chef, and English-speaking guide join her and her sister for the final dinner. The next few hours were full of the international language of smiles, laughter, and good food. Neither the captain nor the chef spoke a word of English, but her guide translated stories back and forth. They ended the night toasting their new friends, Sophia knowing she’d had a truly unique opportunity to make a connection with people she might never have met.

Photo of Spenser Halterman, an Expedition Guide for UnCruise Adventures

Spenser Halterman

Expedition Guide

Spenser grew up in Wisconsin surrounded by water, ice, and nature. Childhood trips to Lake Superior, northern Minnesota, and national parks instilled a love of nature in Spenser from an early age. While pursuing an engineering degree and guiding in the off hours, he quickly realized his passion for sharing powerful nature experiences and helping connect people to the wild. Spenser thrives on the opportunity to promote stewardship and encourage people to take ownership of remote places.

In addition to his degree in aerospace engineering, Spenser is certified as a Wilderness First Responder, Leave No Trace Master Educator, in CPR, and as an ACA Level 2 Instructor in Essentials of SUP and Essentials of Kayak Touring. Before bringing his passion and skills to UnCruise, Spenser was worked as a paddle guide, ski instructor, and naturalist.

From a 51-mile unsupported trail run in the Grand Canyon to class 3 rapids in open canoes, Spenser’s number one rule when traveling is to take your time to enjoy the moment. And he’s still constantly learning. If you ask him a question he doesn’t know, he will find the answer. Spenser also instructed log rolling for multiple summers, teaching all ages the art of quick feet and balance. So ask him about that, too!

Photo of Ted Gatlin, an Expedition Guide for UnCruise Adventures

Ted Gatlin

Expedition Guide

Originally from northern Virginia, Ted has lived in Seattle for eight years. He’s also spent a year living in New Zealand, where on a six-day trek on Stuart Island he saw a kiwi in the wild—a rare feat. Perhaps that encounter prompted his rule for traveling to be open for anything.

Ted has a Master of Education from the University of Washington and is a certified Wilderness First Responder and Field Guild Association of South America Safari Guide. He’s also guided in Yellowstone National Park for six years. Wherever Ted has the opportunity to share his enthusiasm for the outdoors and the chance to live in a place people dream about visiting is where he wants to be.

In addition to studying at a training academy in South Africa to get his safari guide license, Ted spent a season in Uganda and Congo pursuing his passion for wildlife photography. Ask him about his snapshots of mountain gorillas!

Photo of Wilson Barrett, an Expedition Guide for UnCruise Adventures

Wilson Barrett

Expedition Guide

Wilson is a true native Seattleite and has continued to live in the area on and off for the past handful of years. During one of the “off” periods he lived in Peru during a study abroad program. These days his habitat changes by the sailing season, with the down times bringing him back to the Evergreen State.

Highly experienced in the travel industry, Wilson’s education includes the formal kind. He has a degree in recreation and tourism from Western Washington University, and he holds a number of certifications: Wilderness First Responder, Red Cross lifeguard instructor, First Aid/CPR/AED, and PADI diving. He also has the practical experience of having worked as a kayak guide in Hawaii, as senior lifeguard and lifeguard manager, and guiding aboard cruise vessels. Over the years, Wilson has specialized in eco-tourism, anthropology, coastline wildlife, and paddle boarding

It also happens that Wilson specializes in embarking on travel adventures himself. One such trip took him and a few cousins to Baja by van for the surfing and kiteboarding, as well as into a few arroyos where they got stuck on washed-out roads. On another kind of adventure, he coached swimming for the Special Olympics—and there can be no greater reward than watching others reach a hard-earned goal while also having fun!

Photo of Zosha Wiktor, an Expedition Guide for UnCruise Adventures

Zosha Wiktor

Expedition Guide

Connection = conservation. That sums up Zosha’s belief that the more people we connect with the sea, the more they’ll want to protect it. And Zosha has the time at (and in!) the water to prove it. Originally from Southern California, she’s spent two months in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula training with an all-female freediving school. After diving in cenotes—and reaching a depth of 44 meters—Zosha calls the experience her most soul-enhancing trip so far.

Zosha has a degree in marine biology from the University of California, Santa Cruz specializing in marine botany, intertidal organisms, and marine conservation. Her many certifications include: Rescue Diver, Master Scuba Diver, CPR / First Aid / Care for Children with AED, Waterfront Lifeguard, SSI Level 2 Freediver, Wilderness First Responder, and snorkel instructor. Beginning with summers in high school leading horseback riding tours into the backcountry of the Sierras, Zosha has also worked as a marine science instructor, as a leader of student groups on multi-week trips in Australia, and as an algae harvester/forager. She’s even teamed up with rangers on the Steve Irwin Wilderness Reserve in Australia to build crocodile traps for a crocodile research trip.

Zosha’s favorite travel story was road-tripping through New Zealand when she shattered her gas tank crossing a river in the middle of nowhere. “Probably the most beautiful place I have ever had a car break down,” she recalls. When not traveling, Zosha’s hobbies are body surfing, sailing, swimming, gardening, trying to skateboard, diving, eating tacos, and throwing dance parties.