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.

Birding / Ornithology


Esteban Biamonte

Costa Rica & Panama: Unveiled Wonders: Costa Rica & Panama | December 8 & 15, 2017

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.


Karen Leavelle

Costa Rica & Panama: Unveiled Wonders: Costa Rica & Panama | January 19 & 26, 2018

Founder and executive director of Osa Birds: Research and Conservation, Karen’s current work is focused on protecting birds and their habitats on Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula. But with over 20 years of experience working throughout the Americas, she has a deep knowledge of avian species throughout the continents. While earning her masters of science degree in avian ecology and natural resources studies from University of Nebraska, Lincoln, she had the opportunity to research the endemic, endangered blue-headed quail-dove in Cuba. Other projects have similarly been focused on conservation and research, including work with the Peregrine Fund on California Condor reintroduction in Arizona, researching breeding biology of Neotropical migratory birds in the United States, and studying the ecology of the endangered yellow-billed cotinga and black-cheeked ant tanager of Costa Rica.

Committed to interdisciplinary studies of avian conservation, Karen works closely with a variety of groups including students, university faculty and local communities to conduct research and provide education opportunities. With so many years living and working on the Osa Peninsula and southern Pacific Coast region of Costa Rica, she is particularly committed to protecting the biodiversity of resident and migratory birds that rely on those environments.


Roger Lederer

Costa Rica & Panama: Pure Panama: Cultures, Costs & Canal | July 7 & 14, 2017

A devoted bird-lover, Dr. Roger Lederer has studied our avian neighbors for more than four decades. He is a professor emeritus at California State University, Chico with a specialty in the fields of ornithology and ecology. In addition to teaching, Roger has provided consultation for government agencies, environmental groups and schools, and was director of a 4,000 acre ecological reserve. The recipient of a Professional Achievement Award, he has written eight books about birds.

For over a decade, Roger has shared his vast knowledge as a guest speaker on cruise ships worldwide. Travelling to over 100 countries to watch birds, he is familiar with feathered wildlife in the Amazon, Central America, Red Sea, Atlantic and Pacific oceans, Egypt, the Seychelles, South Pacific and among other hotspots of avian activity. A highly-sought expert, he was worked with the BBC, National Geographic, National Public Radio, National Canadian Television, and many other organizations, media, and individuals providing insight into birds and their varied characteristics. His popular website,, is an authoritative go-to source for information on wild birds.

Craft Beer


Nate & Becca Schons

Coastal Washington: Explore! Olympic Wilderness & San Juan Islands | October 21, 2017

Co-owners and brewers of Island Hoppin’ Brewery on Orcas Island in Washington State’s San Juans, Nate and Becca Schons are located right in the middle of the Pacific Northwest’s exciting and innovative craft beer scene. Delving into backyard home brew nearly 15 years ago, they successfully turned their passion into their trade in 2012 when they opened a brewery including a 6-tap tasting room with their brewing partner, Jim Parker.

Fascinated by the art and science of crafting delicious libations, they’re growing their business with steady forward momentum. While their beer is delicious, interesting, and thoughtfully crafted, their passion for the craft of beer is immediately infectious—a likely contributing factor to their tasting room becoming such a magnetic community hub on the island.


Robyn Schumacher

Coastal Washington: Explore! Olympic Wilderness & San Juan Islands | April 14, 2018

Robyn Schumacher is one of the owners and brewers at Stoup Brewing in Seattle, Washington. Stoup Brewing melds Robyn’s two great loves—beer and science. As a recovering high school science teacher, she brings an educator’s mind to the art and science of beer.

Robyn’s beer journey started with her first sip of craft brewed Hefeweizen while studying biology in Helena, Montana. The beer seed was planted right then and there and would follow her for the rest of her life. After her first career—13 years teaching—she decided that the beer industry was just too alluring to ignore. In a reversal of roles, Robyn hit the books and immersed herself in the brewing community while studying for the Cicerone Certification Exam. In 2012, Robyn became Washington State’s first female Cicerone (certified beer server).


Boe Trosset

Coastal Washington: Explore! Olympic Wilderness & San Juan Islands | October 21, 2017

Aslan Brewing Company started when Boe Trosset and his brother Frank, along with friends Pat and Jack, moved their 5 gallon home-brewing project from their parents’ basement to a community warehouse in Bellingham, Washington. Soon after, the partners broke ground on a new brewhouse and pub in Bellingham’s historic McBeath Building, and today, they operate a 15 barrel organic, craft brewhouse. In 2014 the brewery was Washington State’s largest USDA Organic beer producer and in 2015 they won two golds and one silver from the Washington Beer Awards and North American Beer Award.

As one of the owner operators, Boe manages and maintains the brewery production schedule, sales and distribution team, over 500 accounts in Washington State, and tasting events. Boe is a certified beer server through the Cicerone Certification Program and has an immense passion for craft beer and the local community.

Marine Biology


Carolyn Bergstrom

Alaska: Exploring Muir's Wilderness | June 11, 2017

Hailing from landlocked Phoenix, Arizona, Carolyn became fascinated with the marine world as a youngster, spending much of her childhood fishing, camping, and boating in Mexico’s Sea of Cortés. After graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in Biology, she moved to British Columbia to earn her PhD in Ecology and Evolution at the University of Victoria. A desert dweller by birth, the Pacific Northwest felt like her natural habitat. She is currently an Associate Professor in Marine Biology at the University of Alaska Southeast.

Fueled by a passion to learn and teach about wild animals in wild places, Carolyn has studied the evolution of asymmetry in flatfishes, color change in sculpins, rocky intertidal communities, the lives of fishes in estuaries, and the impacts of melting glaciers on marine animals. Her recent PADI diving certification has sparked her interest in coral reefs and concern for their future. Whether in the classroom, in or on the water, or on intertidal walks with locals in her town, she finds the greatest joy sharing the marine world with others.


Wayne & Karen Brown

Costa Rica & Panama: Unveiled Wonders: Costa Rica & Panamá Canal | August 25, 2017

A marine biologist/underwater photographer/husband and wife team, Wayne and Karen Brown have shared the marine world through guided trips for over 20 years from the frigid Arctic Ocean, to humid tropical Polynesia.

With a degree in ecology and environmental biology, marine biologist Wayne is a published author, professional underwater photographer, and lecturer. He has studied marine environments throughout the world, working with the Smithsonian Institution, Russian Academy of Sciences, Scripps Institute of Oceanography, Aquarium of the Pacific, and the late Jacques Cousteau.

An underwater photographer, model, and marine educator with a degree in sociology, Karen has photographed marine habitats and wildlife from all corners of this blue planet. With 7 decades of scuba diving experience between them—Wayne has over 5,000 dives, Karen has over 3,000—they have dived among whales, dolphins, manatees, stingrays, moray eels, and great white sharks. Based in the Caribbean, both Wayne and Karen are scuba diving instructors.


Jackie Hedgpeth

Costa Rica & Panama: Pure Panama: Cultures, Coasts & Canal | July 28, 2017
Alaska: Exploring Muir's Wilderness | August 20, 2017

A “Jane-of-all-trades” and master of many, Jackie is a tenured Biology professor with two masters degrees. She has studied marine biology, physiology of animals and plants, anatomy, botany, biology, microbiology, environmental studies, genetically engineered food products, and other “-ology” subjects extensively. Jackie has sailed worldwide aboard ships as a guest marine biology host and naturalist lecturer for almost 20 years.

Jackie’s deep interest in Marine Biology has taken her to Alaska each summer since 1997, and around the globe from New Zealand to the Red Sea, Russia, Cambodia, and, extensively, to Central America. Throughout her research and travels, she has followed population dynamics of humpback whales, orcas, sea lions, sea otters, salmon, and sea birds. Her passion for studying marine mammals and ocean ecosystems has grown to include scuba diving and underwater photography. A PADI certified rescue diver, her most recent dives have been in Cuba, Thailand/Myanmar, Fiji, and Churchill, Manitoba with Beluga whales. While her strongest desire it’s to always be in the water, Jackie spends her downtime cultivating the vineyard she and her husband own in the Umpqua Valley AVA, Oregon. With such a strong background in science, it’s no surprise that the pair is in the habit of conducting “faux science experiments” on the vines and soil to find out what work best in their terroir.

Music / Entertainment


Letters from Home

Columbia & Snake Rivers: Legacy of Discovery | September 30, 2017
Alaska: Alaska's Glaciers & Whales | June 3, 2018

Bombshell singing sensations Letters From Home have been fondly referred to as "America's New Sweethearts." Across the country, audiences of all ages enjoy their beautiful harmonies, brilliantly choreographed tap dancing, side-splitting comedy, and audience interaction.

The group was created by Erinn Diaz, whose father served in the United States Coast Guard and suggested she produce an Andrews Sisters tribute show. Erin thought it would be a fun way to entertain and an opportunity to perform some great music and had no idea at the time that this "little show" would have such a significant impact on her life and on the lives of others. Together with Courtney Groves, Letters from Home tours the country to honor veterans, active military and their families through song. More on their website:



Peter West Carey

Alaska: Exploring Muir's Wilderness | August 13, 2017
Costa Rica & Panama: Unveiled Wonders: Costa Rica & Panama Canal | November 24; December 1, 2017

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. View his photography on his website:


Steve Essig

Costa Rica & Panama: Pure Panama: Cultures, Coasts & Canal | May 25, 2018

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.


Eric Lindberg

Costa Rica & Panama: Unveiled Wonders: Costa Rica & Panama Canal | April 20 & 27, 2018

Specializing in adventure travel, culture, wildlife, and the natural world, California-based photographer Eric Lindberg travels to familiar and remote corners of the world in search of the exotic, the exquisite, and the offbeat. His journeys have taken him throughout Asia, Africa, Antarctica, the South Pacific, Europe, and the Americas. Covering subjects ranging from foreign rail journeys and wilderness river expeditions to American road trips and urban cultural destinations, his award-winning photos and stories have appeared in magazines, guidebooks, calendars, newspapers, tourism websites, and promotional travel publications nationwide and overseas.

Eric is the 2013 and 2011 winner of the prestigious Travel Photographer of the Year award, Society of American Travel Writers. He provides destination imagery for numerous tourism offices and visitors bureaus in the U.S., Canada, and Europe. For more information visit


Stephen Matera

Alaska: Exploring Muir's Wilderness | June 4, 2017
Costa Rica & Panama: Pure Panama: Cultures, Coasts & Canal | May 18, 2018

Combining a passion for all things outdoors with a unique eye, Seattle-based photographer Stephen Matera creates images for some of the world’s leading publishers and outdoor companies.

Stephen has developed and applies his vision as a natural landscape photographer to active outdoor sports and lifestyle images. His clients, which include The New York Times, Microsoft, Time, the Audubon society, and Outside Magazine (to name just a few), rely on his ability to consistently deliver creative, inspirational and authentic images for their advertising and editorial stories. You can see Stephen's photography on his websites: and/or



Casey Cobble

Columbia & Snake Rivers: Rivers of Wine | July 29, 2017

Passionate about creating a delicious bottle of wine with her hands, her mind, and her palate, winemaking is a perfect marriage between science, creativity, and physical work. Growing up east of the Cascades in the agriculturally rich side of Washington, Casey has always been familiar with the phenomenal wine-growing regions of the state. She didn’t discover her love for wine, however, until after earning a psychology degree from the University of Washington and working for a stint as a strength and conditioning coach. But once her interest in all things enology was piqued, there was no holding her back.

Casey enrolled in the Northwest Wine Academy at South Seattle College and after receiving her certificate, worked as cellar assistant at Betz Family Winery. She then joined Robert Ramsay Cellars, which specializes in Rhone varieties such as Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre, in Woodinville as winemaker. While she has appreciation for all varieties and styles of winemaking, her heart is with the Rhone varieties, which grow extremely well in Washington State.


Kevin Correll

Columbia & Snake Rivers: Rivers of Wine | August 5, 2017

Winery owner and winemaker, Kevin Correll’s interest in wine began in 1982 when he was offered a glass of Mouton-Rothschild and he was happily surprised at how incredible wine could taste. He was so inspired, he began to collect wine and make his own small batches from his garage as a hobby. After volunteering during the crush season for several years in a row, he took his passion to the next level by pursuing a certificate in Oenology from UC Davis.

As a one-man operation, Kevin received three years of praise for his “House Bordeaux” that he made in his garage, and shortly after opened Barrage Cellars. In his first year, Kevin made just 125 cases of Cabernet Franc. Today’s production is still quite small—about 3,000 cases using six different varieties of grapes. Making wine in true “Garagiste” fashion, Kevin’s boutique winery focuses on 100% varietals from the finest vineyards and regions of Washington State, combined with the barrels from France and a few from America. Barrage Cellars, located in Woodinville, Washington, has received high marks by critics including the Seattle Wine Awards and The Wine Advocate.


Christine Havens

Columbia & Snake Rivers: Rivers of Wine | June 24; October 21, 2017

The creative, artistic process must be in Christine Havens’ DNA. A fine artist and sculptor by trade, she spent many years cultivating her winegrowing and winemaking expertise—the ideal background for her full-time work as a wine writer today. Her interest in wine was first sparked when she was invited to attend a lecture by Walla Walla Community College’s Associate Director of Enology and Viticulture. She enrolled in the program and after graduating relocated to picturesque Pullman, Washington where she founded a small winery.

Honing her creative style and skills as a winemaker, Christine experimented with Rhone and Bordeaux varieties and specialized in well-received blends, sourcing fruit from some of the most distinctive AVAs in the state, including Walla Walla Valley, Snipes Mountain and Yakima Valley. Later, she worked in the wine retail world and began writing about wine with a focus on great estate wines of Bordeaux and Old World wines. Christine’s background in winegrowing and winemaking has endowed her with technical knowledge and a deep appreciation for the process, and in 2014 she left her day job to write about wines full time from her home in Portland, Oregon.


April Reddout

Columbia & Snake Rivers: Rivers of Wine | August 26, 2017

Motivated by her curious nature, April Reddout dove headfirst into a career in wine in 2008. Over the years, she’s come to realize the more she learns, the more she realizes there’s even more still to discover. One of her biggest drives in her work is finding ways to debunk wine myths and help people feel confident while they learn about wine. As the wine program director for the Walter Clore Wine & Culinary Center in Prosser, WA, she designs and oversees the wine education programs provided by the center. Programs provided by the center include topics from Washington vs. German tastings to the region’s history of wine.

Thoroughly involved in the industry, April judges 10 wine competitions per year and has served as a panelist for Great Northwest Wine. In 2017 she will serve as a judge for San Francisco Chronicle’s Wine Competition, the oldest in the U.S. and Savor NW Wine Awards.


Steven & Maryann Sinkler

Columbia & Snake Rivers: Rivers of Wine | October 14, 2017

After realizing they had more than just a love for wine on a cruise to Napa Valley in 2007, Steven and Maryann Sinkler put the wheels in motion to make their passion more than just a hobby. Seven years later, including a move from Iowa to Cannon Beach, Oregon by way of Georgia, they became the proud owners of The Wine Shack, along with their own wine brand, Puffin Wines. Steven, a Sommelier, writes a wine column for the Cannon Beach Gazette and is a Judging Panel Moderator for the Savor Northwest Wine Awards.

Among medals won for Puffin Wines including a Double Gold medal for Puffin Pinot Gris, Steven and Maryann’s accolades include The Wine Shack being named the “best wine shop on the Oregon Coast” by writer Wine Julia and inclusion on GQ Magazine’s list of “Top Wine Stores in America”. All this and they celebrated two decade of wedding bliss, too!