Guest Hosts on Theme Departures

Theme hosts include individuals such as winery owners and winemakers, whale experts, photographers, and authorities in marine biology and ornithology. Depending on your theme, there’ll be dedicated presentations by the guest host—or hosts; hands-on learning opportunities; and wine or beer tastings that bring a whole new dimension to your adventure.

Alaska Insider

Photo of storyteller Amy Gulick, a guest expert on UnCruise Adventures Alaska Insider cruises

Amy Gulick

A self-described storyteller, Amy’s tools of the trade include pictures and words. An acclaimed conservation photographer and writer, she focuses on stories that connect humanity to wild places. Amy’s award-winning book, Salmon in the Trees: Life in Alaska’s Tongass Rain Forest, shares the remarkable story of the Tongass National Forest and why this magnificent place matters to the world.

The recipient of many honors, she has received awards from the Alaska Conservation Foundation, Alaska Wilderness League, North American Nature Photography Association, and Society of American Travel Writers Foundation. She is a Fellow of both the International League of Conservation Photographers and International League of Conservation Writers.,

Photo of conservation scientist and marine ecologist Caroline Fox, a guest expert on UnCruise Adventures Alaska Insider cruises

Caroline Fox

Conservation scientist and marine ecologist, Caroline Fox is as well-known for her talented storytelling, as she is for her meticulous research. Caroline has a bachelor’s in biology and environmental studies from the University of Victoria (UV) and her masters in science, with a focus on kelp forest ecology and the effects of climate change from Case Western Reserve University.  She earned her PhD from the UV focusing on land-sea ecological interactions.  Throughout her university years, she worked as a lighthouse keeper, creel observer, biologist for the Raincoast Conservation Fund, and aerial surveyor for Fisheries and Oceans Canada. 

Caroline’s post-doc work has been focused on marine birds and she continues to work as a biologist for the Raincoast Conservation Foundation.  Her book, At Sea with the Marine Birds of the Raincoast, was published in 2016. Learn more about Caroline’s work at


Geologist/Glaciologist Cathy Connor, an UnCruise Adventures guest expert

Cathy Connor

Cathy earned both her bachelor's and master's degrees in geology from Stanford University before continuing on to earn her Ph.D in geology with a focus on glaciology from the University of Montana. A professor at the University of Alaska Southeast, she teaches courses in geology, mineralogy and petrology, archaeology, environmental science, glaciation, and climate change as well as guiding field research. Cathy was honored with an Outstanding Faculty Award in 2008.

Beyond the university, Cathy has shared her knowledge with others in her guidebook, Roadside Geology of Alaska. During the summers, Cathy heads for Juneau’s icefields to conduct field studies, including research on an ancient forest that has recently reemerged from beneath the retreating Mendenhall Glacier. A long-time Juneau resident, Cathy and her husband raised their three kids in the capital city. They’ve found it to be the perfect launching point for getting out to explore Alaska’s landscapes or waterways by ski, boat, or simply their hiking boots.

Photo of photographer/nature writer David Shaw, a guest expert on UnCruise Adventures Alaska Insider cruises

David Shaw

David shares some of Alaska’s most wild places and creatures through his lens and words as professional photographer, writer, and wildlife biologist. He also guides birding, photography, and natural history trips throughout Alaska. He has his master's degree in wildlife biology from University of Alaska, Fairbanks, and while he studied avian migrations through Mexico in graduate school, his heart has long been in Alaska.

Living off-the-grid in a small cabin in the forest near Fairbanks, the natural world that most sparks David’s curiosity is right at his fingertips. A nearly two-decade resident in Alaska, David has a passion for conserving and exploring the world’s wildest places and creatures. He has served as a board member with Audubon Alaska for seven years.

Photo of geologist Jim Baichtal, a guest expert on UnCruise Adventures Alaska Insider cruises

Jim Baichtal

Ever since he was six years old, Jim has followed his curiosity in why we find rocks in the places we do. Jim has since worked as a geologist for the past 28 years focusing on the geology, glacial history, paleontology, and geoarchaeology of Southeast Alaska. He is currently a forest geologist with the US Forest Service for the Tongass National Forest. 

Jim’s passion for and expertise in geology and glacial history has earned him an honorary Doctorate of Science and taken him throughout Southeast Alaska as an instructor of geology courses at community colleges and universities. As an authority on the karst ecosystem and cave resources of the Tongass National Forest, Jim has also been published in numerous scientific journals. He even has a Silurian gastropod, Baichtalia tongassensis, named after him! Jim is fascinated by how much of Alaska’s geologic and natural history is unknown and can’t wait to share his fascination with you. Be sure to pack a good pair of waterproof boots and a sense of wonderment.

Photo of naturalist and photographer Jim Hammond, a guest expert on UnCruise Adventures Alaska Insider cruises

Jim Hammond

Ever since he signed on to work on a salmon hauling boat 1982, Jim has been sold on Southeast Alaska. As a naturalist, he’s since explored and introduced others to Alaska, helping them get the most from their visits to the Great Land. The trails and waterways of the northern panhandle are his favorite places to explore. And although Jim’s had the chance to photograph the landscapes and wildlife of all seven continents, after all these years he still calls exploring the waters of Alaska, “a pure joy.” 

Jim has been the operations manager and guide for Alaska Discovery, the naturalist and manager for Allen Marine Tours, lead photography guide for Gastineau Guiding Company, and private yacht naturalist guide. He has been published in Western Outdoors, Alaska Fish and Game Magazine, and Rotary International. Jim’s advice for adventurers? Keep your eyes open and bring a sense a humor. 

Photo of writer and storyteller Joe Upton, a guest expert on UnCruise Adventures Alaska Insider cruises

Joe Upton

Joe made his way to Alaska for the first time in the mid-1960s when he landed a job as a crewman aboard a fishing boat. He was taken under the wing of an old-timer who not only showed him the ropes onboard, but filled days with stories about people and places throughout Southeast Alaska. On that first trip north, Joe fell in love with The Great Land. Throughout the 1970s, he lived in a tiny, roadless village fishing, making maps and photographing the area. In the 1990s, Joe started a publishing company and published his first book, Alaska Blues, based on his early years in Southeast. 

With over two decades of experience working, living, and raising a family among small communities and fellow fisherman, Joe has amassed many sea salty stories of the area, as well as an intimate knowledge of the Alaskan coast, and its people, history, and lore. He shares his stories through his books—he’s published several guidebooks for Southeast, several memoirs from his years in the Inside Passage and historical figures, even a young adult fiction. He has produced an extensive series of videos that tell the stories of locals and places throughout the passage. An award-winning author and gifted storyteller, Joe and his wife now live an island life near Seattle.'sstory.html

Photo of forest ecologist Karen Dillman, a guest expert on UnCruise Adventures Alaska Insider cruises

Karen Dillman

Not every ecologist can say they’ve had a fungus named after them, but Karen Dillman isn’t just any ecologist. In addition to living and recreating around Petersburg for 28 years, Karen has worked on the Ketchikan Ranger District for four years in her role with the United States Forest Service—gaining a rich knowledge of Misty Fjords and Tracy Arm. Forelands of glaciers, alpine habitats, and small marine islands are Karen’s favorite places to explore in Alaska.

Although she started as a forestry technician studying the Tongass, Karen wanted to know more about the ecology of the area and went back to school to become a botanist and ecologist. Since earning a Bachelor of Science in ecology from Idaho State University and a Master’s of Science in plant biology from Arizona State University, Karen has worked as a botanist with the United States Forest Service for 20 years and an ecologist for 14. She thrives on being in the field witnessing the ecological processes and learning about all of the organisms. Ask Karen about lichens, fungi, glaciers, or forest ecology and watch her eyes light up.

Photo of Kari Ames, a Tlingit weaver, singer, and drummer, who serves as a guest expert on UnCruise Adventures Alaska Insider cruises

Kari Ames

A member of the Tlingit Nation of Southeast Alaska, Kari was raised and lives in the village of Hoonah. Kari spends as much time as she can learning from elders and other clan members to feed her culture and keep it alive. She has a passion for weaving the past and future together, both figuratively and literally. Kari is a student of weaving spruce root cedar bark as her ancestors have done for many generations. She is also learning Ravenstail weaving—a wearable art gifted to maintain social balance, sometimes representing grief or joy.

Kari is a talented singer and is the lead drummer for a Tlingit dance troupe. She actively participates in singing and drumming in cultural performances and presentations in her home village and throughout the Southeast, including Celebration—the indigenous cultural gathering held every other year in Juneau. Kari loves the outdoors and finds as many opportunities as she can to fish, hunt, berry pick, and gather medicinal plants. She is honored to welcome you to Alaska: her home, her heart, and the land of her grandparents and ancestors.

Photo of Kate Troll and Bill Hanson, a wife-husband duo who bring knowledge of fishing, biology, and ecology to their roles as UnCruise Adventures guest experts

Kate Troll & Bill Hanson

Wife-husband duo, Kate Troll and Bill Hanson share a love of words and of Alaska. They moved north to The Great Land in the 1970s to pursue careers in natural resources and land management. In their retirement, both have focused on sharing their experiences and passion for Alaska through written word.

An author, adventurer, and activist, Kate was the executive director for Alaska’s largest fishing organization and pioneered a program to implement salmon stream protections in rural Alaska. In addition to writing newspaper columns and op-eds, she has written a memoir and screenplays for several films. Bill spent his career as a supervisory biologist, forester, and fire effects specialists for agencies in Alaska including US Dept. of Fish & Game and Bureau of Land Management. Long nurturing his interest in fiction and creative non-fiction, Bill is an Alaskan blogger and social media storyteller, and is currently writing an adventure novel about a fictional Alaskan fisherman set in the 1890s. Bill posts a daily blog about Alaska and his adventures on Instagram: @bhfootloose or

Photo of writer, John Muir scholar, and actor Lee Stetson, a guest expert on UnCruise Adventures Alaska Insider cruises

Lee Stetson

Lee Stetson is a writer, John Muir scholar, and actor with a 50-year background in theater. Since hiking the John Muir Trail, he has become an authority on the “father of our National Parks” and celebrated the naturalist by writing and performing in theatrical productions about Muir. While Lee portrays Muir primarily with Yosemite National Park and The Yosemite Conservancy, he has toured across the country and in Canada, Scotland, and Japan. You may also recognize him from early appearances in episodes of Hawaii 5-0.

Lee has a certificate in arts administration from Harvard University as well as a B.A. in history and an M.A. in American studies from University of Hawaii. He wrote the introduction to The Wild Muir, 22 of John Muir's Greatest Adventures and is most proud of his participation in Ken Burns' documentary, Our National Parks: America's Best Idea. Let Lee’s love of Alaska and passion for preserving the planet infuse your adventure.

Photo of Leona Lindoff-Santiago, an Alaska Insider guest expert for UnCruise Adventures

Leona Lindoff-Santiago

Leona Lindoff-Santiago is a direct descendant of the Tlingit people who once lived in Glacier Bay. She was born in Juneau and grew up outside of Haines where she has many fond memories spending her summers at the fish cannery listening to elders share rich oral traditions and storytelling of Tlingit history. Leona is the Women’s Admiral in the Tlingit Kaagwaantaan clan. She was elected as a delegate for the Central Council Tlingit-Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska and is an active member in the Alaska Native Sisterhood. Leona is also a former Admiral in the US Navy. She is proud to serve her community, her people, and her ancestors by sharing her culture with visitors. Leona welcomes you to her home and her heart, Alaska.

Marcelo Quinto, president of the Alaska Native Brotherhood Camp 70, is a guest expert on UnCruise Adventures Alaska cruises

Marcelo Quinto

Marcelo Quinto (shown at far right) was born and raised in Juneau, where he still lives with his wife and family carrying on his Tlingit traditions. Marcelo has been president of the Alaska Native Brotherhood Camp 70 for the past 15 years. He also serves as head chef for the brotherhood, providing catering for the Juneau area. He stays busy as an active member of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska and an active member of the Filipino community, and dancing in Celebration, the largest gathering of Southeast Alaska Native peoples. He was also a cast member in the live performance of Aan Yátx'u Sáani: Noble People of the Land as part of the Juneau Histories Theatre Project.

Because the Tlingit respect and are continually thankful for the generosity the water brings them, Marcelo is passionate about life on the water in a yakw (a canoe/boat). His favorite places to explore are along the Southeast coastline. When Marcelo is not sharing his culture and traditions in the community or in a boat, you might find him with a microphone in hand. He is a big fan of singing karaoke.

Photo of Wildlife Biologist Marci Johnson, a guest expert on UnCruise Adventures Alaska Insider cruises

Marci Johnson

Growing up with 100 animals (horses, dogs, bison, deer, raccoons, goats, turkeys, etc.), a career in wildlife biology made sense to Marci. These days she’s passionate about conservation where wildlife meets industry and development in northern latitudes. Marci is always on the lookout for people who don't take wild places for granted and kids who care about protecting wildlife.

Paired with her Master of Science from the University of Wisconsin, Marci has 25 years of experience in 14 states and four other countries working with bears, wolverines, moose, sea turtles, Dolly Varden trout, muskoxen, Alpine chamois, elk, and more. She was also a Wilderness Ranger on Admiralty Island, covering coastline in a skiff called “The Tub,” and completed a boat operator certification in Glacier Bay. Her favorite spots in Alaska are where the mountains plunge into the ocean and vast, roadless expanses with rich ecosystems.

Photo of author and photographer Natalie Fobes, a guest expert on UnCruise Adventures Alaska Insider cruises

Natalie Fobes

With a passion for the environment and wildlife protection, photographer Natalie Fobes says Alaska is her favorite place to explore. She’s done stories on Glacier Bay, logging, and commercial fishing and led photography workshops and travelled throughout the most remote corners of the state.

Natalie has a degree in Journalism from Ohio University. In addition to her work as a staff photographer for the Seattle Times, her photography has appeared in National Geographic Magazine, Audubon, and Smithsonian, among others. She is also the author of three photography books. Natalie co-founded the non-profit Blue Earth Alliance in 1995 to help documentary photographers and filmmakers tackle stories about endangered environments. Learn more about Natalie’s work at

Photo of Dr. Tom Jefferson, a guest marine biologist on UnCruise Adventures small ship Alaska cruises

Tom Jefferson

Dr. Tom Jefferson is a biologist, instructor, and researcher of cetaceans—our whale and dolphin friends. Fascinated by the human and natural history of Alaska and fueled by his passion for conservation of the natural environment, Tom has spent numerous summers doing marine mammal research in Southeast Alaska. His favorite places to explore are the smaller inlets and fjords of Southeast Alaska.

Tom has a PhD from Texas A&M University in Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences. He has served as the director of Clymene Enterprises since 1995, doing biological consulting work on marine mammals to assess environmental impact, and was co-director of the Ocean Park Conservation Foundation. He has also worked with and taught for numerous organizations and universities including NOAA Fisheries, Amazon Dolphin Project, the University of Hong Kong, and National Taiwan Ocean University. Tom has presented at conferences around the world, has authored and co-authored numerous books on Alaskan marine mammals, and has been published in dozens of scientific journals and popular publications.

Birding / Ornithology

Photo of biologist and naturalist Esteban Biamonte, a guest expert on UnCruise Adventures birding cruises in Costa Rica and Panama

Esteban Biamonte

Costa Rica & Panama: Costa Rica & Panama—Canal, Culture, Adventure | January 19, 2020

A biologist and passionate naturalist, Esteban has spent most of his life outside in Costa Rica’s most diverse environments. Discovering an interest in birds at an early age, Esteban has carried his fascination with avian wildlife throughout his career. Writing for many publications, he contributes important observations and insight into the ecology and conservation of local avifauna. Preferring an office in-the-field, he has led countless birding trips and worked with local students sharing his knowledge of Costa Rica’s bird populations. He’s presented on birds of Central America at conservation conventions, and is actively engaged in conservation efforts to protect endemic and migrant species in Costa Rica. Esteban loves to share the little actions that can make a big difference for a better planet.

An avid traveler, Esteban never misses an opportunity to see new, exotic places even if getting into the wilderness means sleeping on the ground. Having travelled throughout three continents, with every new environment he explores, it feels like a lifetime achievement as it grows his understanding of the wild beauty and complexity of our living world. Despite the desire to seek out new destinations, Esteban never loses his interest in his own “backyard” and the many unexpected surprises the rainforest has in store.

Photo of wildlife technician Gwen Baluss, a guest expert on UnCruise Adventures birding cruises

Gwen Baluss

Alaska: Alaska's Glacier Country | June 28, 2019

Songbirds, shorebirds, seabirds, raptors, and waterfowl…Gwen has seen it all. With a passion for wildlife protection and public lands conservation, Gwen has served as a wildlife technician with the US Forest Service in Southeast Alaska for 20 years. From field work on the ABC Islands and coordinating a broad scale survey on the Tongass National Forest to seabird surveys in Endicott Arm, she’ll tell you her favorite bird is “whatever she’s watching at the time.” But she does have a fondness for the graceful Artic Tern.  

Gwen has a Bachelor of Science in zoology and cellular-molecular biology. She is board president of the Juneau Audubon Society, the coordinator of the North Pacific Rain Forest Bird Conservation Region, a certified bander and trainer with the North American Bird Banding Council and a member of Boreal Partners in Flight. She never travels without her binoculars.

Photo of ornithologist and ecotourism guide-trainer Maria Elena Muriel, a guest expert on UnCruise Adventures birding cruises

Maria Elena Muriel

Mexico's Sea of Cortes

Ornithologist, ecotourism guide-trainer, planner, and coach Maria Elena lives by Isaac Newton’s words; "we all are standing on the shoulders of the giants of the past." First inspired when a proposed project threatened the endemic yellowthroat in her hometown, Maria Elena is motivated to inspire youth to value their heritage and understand that we all are connected.

Maria Elena has a degree in tourism administration from Sinaloa Estate University and has made a career in ecotourism and public land administration. She is a Certified Interpretive Planner and Certified Interpretive Guide with the National Association for Interpretation (NAI) as well as certified by the Mexican Ministry of Tourism (SECTUR). Maria Elena writes for a local bilingual magazine and has been written about in the American Birding Association blog. She would never travel without binoculars and a head bandana. Maria Elena’s favorite bird is the coquettish white-winged dove.

Matt Goff, a guest expert on UnCruise Adventures birding theme cruises

Matt Goff

Although his academic training was in math and statistics, Matt has turned his intense curiosity and interest in photography and the natural history of Southeast Alaska into a career as a birder and naturalist. Born and raised in Sitka exploring the local mountains, valleys, and waters, Matt eagerly anticipates the arrival of migrants as well as documenting vagrants. Rather than name a favorite bird, Matt looks forward to the first sighting of returning birds.

Matt has conducted numerous bird surveys and a bird banding project, and has observed 221 and photographed 216 species in Southeast Alaska. He is also a contributor to the Southeast Alaska quarterly bird report. Matt never travels without his camera.

Kids & Families

Photo of Anchorage writer and "Youth Adventurist" Erin Kirkland, a guest expert on UnCruise Adventures Kids & Families cruises

Erin Kirkland

Alaska: Alaska's Glacier Country | July 5 & August 9, 2019

Erin is the author of the “Alaska On the Go: Exploring the 49th State with Children” guidebook series, publisher of—Alaska’s only family travel resource—and a member of the Family Travel Association's media membership committee. As a busy mom of a teenage son, Erin truly lives the “on the go” lifestyle. She also writes a regular column for the Alaska Dispatch. A resident of Anchorage, Erin is an expert in Alaska products, services, and destinations for children and families.


Photo of photographer Cameron Zegers, a guest expert on UnCruise Adventures photography-themed cruises

Cameron Zegers

Alaska: Whales, Wildlife & Glaciers | August 11, 2019

With a background in science and environmental education, Cameron’s photography is influenced by her studies of the natural world. She has worked as a freelance photographer and as a teacher, taking her around the globe including two years in Australia and several trips to Alaska. Always exploring new places and striving to get the next shot, Cameron’s favorite place to visit is anywhere with lots of wildlife.

Cameron studied science at the University of Oregon and went on to teach National Geographic Student Expeditions Photography in Tanzania, Iceland, and Australia. She has also led photography workshops in Southeast Asia and worked as a photography guide in Australia. Her photography has been featured in National Geographic Traveler, National Geographic Photo of the Day, National Geographic Student Expeditions, Wall Street Journal, Outside Magazine, Tiny Atlas Quarterly, Budget Travel Magazine, and Conde Nast Traveler. Cameron never travels without rain jacket and recommends rain cover for cameras.

Wildlife Photographer Marci Johnson, a guest expert on UnCruise Adventures photography-themed cruises

Jacqueline Deely

Mexico's Sea of Cortes: Baja's Bounty | January 11, 2020

Originally from the United Kingdom, Jacqueline has lived in the U.S. most of her adult life and calls coastal California home. Specializing in wildlife photography, she is a certified California naturalist and a member of the North American Nature Photography Association. Although her work has been published and awarded with accolades, including Female Nature Photographer of the Month with Wild Planet Photo Magazine, she is most proud of her contributions and involvement in conservation. Her images have supported numerous organizations including Audubon California, the San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory, The Marine Mammal Center, The Snow Leopard Conservancy, Cheetah Conservation Botswana and the Wildlife Conservation Network. Combining her lifelong passion for wildlife and the outdoors with her love of exploring, Jacqueline is driven to roam the globe in pursuit of nature's wonders. Among her travels are annual trips to the polar regions teaching photography on expedition tours. A natural instructor, she also conducts classes in her local area. Learn more about Jacqueline and her work at:

Photo of conservation photographer, writer, and trained naturalist Jaymi Heimbuch, a guest expert on UnCruise Adventures photography-themed cruises

Jaymi Heimbuch

Columbia & Snake Rivers: Rivers of Adventure | October 12, 2019
Costa Rica & Panama: Costa Rica & Panama—Canal, Culture, Adventure | January 9, 2020

An Oregon-based wildlife conservation photographer, writer, and trained naturalist, Jaymi is passionate about creating engaging storytelling through her words and images. Jaymi leads tours to the area’s most photogenic and wildlife-rich locations, and teaches clients everything from composition and camera settings to image editing techniques. She also has a passion for teaching conservation photography workshops and providing project consultation to photographers. 

Jaymi's work has been published by National Geographic, Audubon, Sierra Club, National Wildlife Federation, and Outdoor Photographer among other outlets. She is the founder of Urban Coyote Initiative, which uses the power of photography to advance science-based awareness of urban coyotes.

Photo of photographer and videographer JD Andrews, a guest expert on UnCruise Adventures photography-themed cruises

JD Andrews

JD has circled the globe for over twenty years as a photographer and videographer. His passion for capturing and sharing the world’s beauty has taken him to all seven continents and 102 countries, and counting. JD’s favorite thing about photographing in Alaska? The way the light changes everything from moment to moment.

A graduate of the University of Miami in film, JD has been featured in numerous publications including National Geographic Traveler, BBC Travel, and the New York Times as well as received seven Emmys for his video work. He recommends rain covering for gear and the smart phone app – Snapseed though he personally never travels without patience. JD’s favorite place to explore is the arctic. Learn more about JD’s work at

Photo of photographers Lisa and John Merrill, guest experts on UnCruise Adventures photography-themed cruises

Lisa & John Merrill

Costa Rica & Panama: Costa Rica & Panama—Canal, Culture, Adventure | November 30, 2019

After meeting in 1990 and taking weekend photography workshops, John and Lisa Merrill got married and left their jobs to travel in Africa, Asia, and Australia. They took 500 rolls of film. The Merrills have since traded their careers in tech marketing and real estate to evoke wonder, inspire action, and build businesses and strengthen communities as professional travel photographers. 

The Merrills have traveled extensively in Central and South America, feeding their curiosity in and connection with the natural and man-made world. They say photography helps them slow down and see deeply, pushing them to view the world in new ways. Lisa Merrill calls it “mindful” photography. The Merrills are members of the North American Nature Photography Association and the American Society of Picture Professionals. Their images have appeared in National Geographic Traveler, Sunset, Outside, Smithsonian, Geo, and numerous airline magazines and newspapers.

Photo of conservation photographer Mac Stone, a guest expert on UnCruise Adventures photography-themed cruises

Mac Stone

Alaska: Alaska's Glaciers & Whales | June 9, 2019

Growing up in Gainesville, Florida, Mac Stone wanted to share the photographs he took in his backyard with his friends and family. He quickly realized that the more powerful the images, the more powerful the story. His backyard photographs have blossomed into a career. A conservation photographer for 15 years, Mac has led workshops around the world from Honduras to Wyoming. 

Mac’s imagery reveals the complex relationship between mankind and the natural world. His aim is to affect positive change in habitat and species protection, especially in America’s wetlands. He has published the book, Everglades: America's Wetland and developed a program to teach children photography in Honduras. He’s spent much of the past year 80 feet up in cypress trees photographing one of the world's oldest swamps. Mac’s favorite places to explore are the subtropical wetlands of the U.S., Central and South America. He even got engaged in a tree!

Photo of professional photographer Peter West Carey, a guest expert on UnCruise Adventures photography-themed cruises

Peter West Carey

A love for travel and photography has taken Seattle-based Peter West Carey around the world in search of beautiful vistas. He has accumulated over 26 years of experience photographing landscape, travel, and nature scenes, including over eight years teaching others to capture the beauty around them. He has instructed classes around the world including in Nepal, Bhutan, Mexico, Oregon, and Alaska. Peter's educational style is to provide patient, resourceful guidance, helping others learn to take stunning images that tell the true story of the journeys they experience.

In addition to teaching, Peter has been invited by the countries of Jordan, Bhutan and Mexico, as well Hawaii, Colorado, and British Columbia, to photograph their natural wonders and travel opportunities. His images have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, National Audubon Society Magazine, Alaska Airlines Beyond Magazine, Huffington Post, Washington Magazine, and American Alpine Club Journal.

Photo of professional photographer and cinematographer Steve Essig, a guest expert on UnCruise Adventures photography-themed cruises

Steve Essig

Mexico's Sea of Cortes

Steve Essig has been a professional photographer and cinematographer for over 35 years. An experienced racing sailor and scuba diver, his love of the outdoors began when he climbed his first mountain with his father at age seven. Similarly, he has been passionate about photography since buying his first camera at the age eight. Steve’s quest for adventure and unique images has taken him across the globe including assignments to Tahiti, Alaska, the Sea of Cortés, Cape Horn, and Micronesia.

With over five hundred magazine covers to his credit, Steve has a wealth of photographic experience. In addition the natural world, he’s shot for sports, celebrities, automobiles, and travel, and filmed award- winning documentaries, concerts and commercials. He loves teaching, sharing insights and helping other photographers create stunning images of the world around us in his relaxed, personalized and approachable style.


Photo of yoga teacher and modern dance artist Hunt Parr, a guest expert on UnCruise Adventures wellness-themed cruises

Hunt Parr

Originally from Petersburg, Alaska, Hunt is currently based in New York City. A highly-sought yoga teacher and modern dance artist, he earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts in dance from the Tisch School of the Arts, NYU. A registered yoga teacher, he completed some of his 1,000 teacher training hours under renowned instructors Cyndi Lee and Adrienne Burke. He has provided yoga instruction and consultation for Buzzfeed, A&E Networks, Animal Planet, Lifetime and the History Channel and has been featured on the Huffington Post and in Yoga Journal publications. He currently teaches private sessions and also maintains a busy group class schedule at several studios in the city. Hunt is also a Reiki Master teacher and a devoted student of Tibetan Buddhist philosophy.

While his classes are vigorous, Hunt always adds a bit of fun and play to the practice. The sequences he presents are unique and his style of instruction had been described by students as lyrical. Calling himself a “student of anatomy, meditation, movement, music, and happiness” you can be sure your body, heart, and spirit will be charged up and inspired after a practice with him.

Photo of personal trainer and group fitness instructor Lisa Karr, a guest expert on UnCruise Adventures wellness-themed cruises

Lisa Karr

Alaska: Alaska's Glacier Country—Fitness & Yoga | September 1, 2019

Lisa has helped people reach their health and fitness goals for over 10 years as a personal trainer and group fitness Instructor. Based on her own passion to stay fit, she’s now most motivated to motivate others and is most proud of helping a co-worker to lose over 100 pounds. Lisa is certified by SCW Fitness Education, MOSSA, and as a NCSF Personal Trainer.

When she’s not training or teaching, this proud grandmother can be found hitting the open road on her 2004 Harley Davidson Deuce. By bike or small ship, Lisa never travels without her toothbrush and essential oils.

Photo of personal trainer, cancer exercise trainer, and running coach Mary Van Heukelom, a guest expert on UnCruise Adventures wellness-themed cruises

Mary Van Heukelom

Mary places the focus of her practice on guiding and inspiring others to discover their optimal health of mind, body and spirit. She is a certified personal trainer, ACSM-certified cancer exercise trainer, and RRCA-certified running coach. Mary has also completed training seminars in kettlebell, TRX, Pilates, indoor cycling, HIIT, wellness coaching, and meditation. She brings on board unique expertise in corrective exercises to ease pain and improve balance, the positive impact of meditation on whole health, goal setting, nutrition, and key training for ideal health.

Mary takes a whole-health approach to helping her clients overcome barriers through small group training where she can provide focused attention to meet individual needs. She specializes in coaching cancer survivors on a holistic path toward eliminating relapse and boosting recovery. Throughout her programs, Mary has trained and led cancer survivors on treks to Mt. Everest Basecamp, Mt. Kilimanjaro, and Race Across America, among other challenging objectives. An adventurer to the core, she finds a way to get outside—ski, kayak, bike, swim, no matter the weather and conditions in her Iowa home.

Photo of yoga instructor Melanie Psaltakis, a guest expert on UnCruise Adventures wellness-themed cruises

Melanie Psaltakis

Alaska: Alaska's Glacier Country—Fitness & Yoga | September 1, 2019

Melanie started practicing yoga to complement running, biking, and hiking and quickly realized yoga integrated her body, mind, and heart—giving her a happier and more balanced life. She now teaches yoga in fitness centers, studios, corporate settings, and at a Yoga in the Park series as well as provides private instruction and leads yoga retreats.

Melanie is certified in Yoga Alliance E-RYT 500, YACEP, YogaFit for Warriors Trauma-Sensitive Certified Yoga Teacher, Anusara Immersion Program, and AFAA-CGFI. Melanie has travelled the world both to teach yoga and experience new places from photographing Sweden’s Northern Lights to scuba diving with sharks to returning to her favorite spots, New Zealand and Greece. She also combines her love of fitness with volunteering by being a part of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Bike Patrol, offering assistance with bike problems and information about the park. She is excited to practice yoga with you in Alaska and inspire you to be your personal best.

Wine & Culinary

Photo of food & drink, travel, and outdoors writer Adam Sawyer, a guest expert on UnCruise Adventures wine & culinary cruises

Adam Sawyer

Columbia & Snake Rivers: Rivers of Wine & Culinary | November 16 & 23, 2019

Meet Adam—a fan of Pinot Noir Rosé and fresh Oregon strawberries pairing. As a food & drink, travel, and outdoors writer, photographer, and guide, Adam is well-versed in leading culinary tours. He’s also a big fan of the Columbia River Gorge. Adam is passionate about sharing his favorite flavors and places of the Columbia and Snake rivers with others who share his fascination.

Adam has authored or co-authored six books and written stories for the Oregonian, Willamette Week, and the Portland Mercury. His work has also appeared in Northwest Travel & Life, 1859, 1889, Portland Monthly, Columbia River Gorge, Cascade Journal, OnTrak, and Backpacker Magazines. His online publications include Journey AAA, Travel Oregon, Eater, Canoe & Kayak, Red Tricycle, and Tillamook Coast. Adam is also a member of the Society of American Travel Writers and has lived in 21 different cities. What’s Adam most excited about? The quality of ingredients in the rivers and the fact that there are almost no rules about how to use them. So are we!

Photo of Jennifer Burns Bright, a travel writer, educator, and certified Master Food Preserver who is a guest expert on UnCruise Adventures Rivers of Wine & Culinary cruises.

Jennifer Burns Bright

Columbia & Snake Rivers: Rivers of Wine & Culinary | October 31, 2020

Travel writer and educator Jennifer Burns Bright prides herself on being able to go into the ocean and pick a salad for breakfast. When she’s not teaching seafood culinary classes or giving talks on the seafood industry and PNW traditions, she’s writing to empower people to better understand their food systems and regional traditions.

Jennifer is a certified Master Food Preserver with a Ph.D. from University of California, Irvine. She has been published in Eugene Magazine, Eugene Weekly, AAA’s Via and Journey magazines, and, among others. She’s also written an award-winning food blog, Culinaria Eugenius, taught food studies at the University of Oregon, and co-hosted a food radio show on Eugene's NPR affiliate. Some of her favorite food and wine pairings are raw oysters and Muscadet, halibut curry with an off-dry riesling, and albacore tuna grilled in fig leaves with a full-bodied rosé. Yum! Jennifer can’t wait to show off the wild-caught fish—and many other local tastes—of the Columbia and Snake Rivers. Visit her website at

Photo of Shannon Borg, a wine writer, educator, and buyer who is a guest expert on UnCruise Adventures wine & culinary cruises

Shannon Borg

Columbia & Snake Rivers: Rivers of Wine & Culinary | November 2 & 9, 2019

Originally from Spokane, Shannon has written about and traveled through Eastern Washington her whole life. She’s passionate about sustainably produced wines, eager to tell the stories of the people who produce amazing food and beverages in her career as a wine writer and educator. Along the Columbia & Snake Rivers, she’s eager to spend time with the artisans who push the envelope with their innovative products. Her favorite pairings are, believe it or not, pinot noir and roast duck and cheddar cheese and cabernet sauvignon.

In addition to sipping and storytelling, Shannon has been a wine director and wine buyer. She also has a Wine Fundamentals I & II certificate from the International Sommelier Guild and has been published in Seattle Magazine, NW Palate, Wine Press NW, and Washington Tasting Room Magazine. Shannon has published two books: “The Green Vine: A Guide to West Coast Organic, Biodynamic and Sustainable Wines” and “Chefs on the Farm: Inspired Recipes and Lessons from the Quillisascut Farm School of the Domestic Arts.”  She also has a PhD in Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Houston, an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Washington, and a BA in English from Brigham Young University. Plus, Shannon’s an artist! She makes oil paintings, focusing on oyster shells and seaweed—her favorite things to forage in the San Juan Islands.