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Who's in Charge?


We had no idea when we booked this particular expedition to Greenland that there would be no acknowledged Expedition Leader (EL) on board. Instead there was the ship's captain who spoke very little English who had preconceived and inflexible ideas of how he would run the entire trip.

There was a nominal EL hired by our travel company who was so intimidated by the captain that he was afraid to lead. Then there was a woman leader of one of the other groups of passengers who thought she was totally in charge. None of us could ever ascertain who was really running the show.

The name of this company is not given - we never traveled with them again and they have since been bought out.

This generalized confusion meant that decisions about landings, times spent at sites, lectures, etc., had to be made by a totally incompatible triumvirate. They couldn't see eye-to-eye on much of anything. Decision-making deteriorated into shouting matches, often in front of the passengers and crew members. Each of the three had a personal agenda and was unwilling to compromise at all.

Of course, it was clear that the ship's captain had complete control of any safety decisions, such as when and where it was appropriate to make Zodiac landings. The other two might try to argue with him on these points but they never won and that was probably a very good thing for us relatively helpless passengers.

The result was the passengers never knowing "who's on first" metaphorically speaking. We got contradictory announcements regarding when to go to the Zodiac boarding deck, when the last Zodiac would return to the ship, when meals would begin and end, how long we would be on shore, what sites would be visited if we joined the guide staff, where to meet onshore, when Recaps and Briefings would begin, where and when lectures would be held.

Sometimes the whole ship would be alerted when sea creatures were sighted from the decks or the bridge and sometimes only a few passengers would be told. The result was considerable chaos, passenger dissatisfaction and confusion, palpable resentment in the staff, and a tense atmosphere on the ship most of the time.

Sometimes and in some conditions, it is good to have one leader with a strong voice who commands everyone's respect, cooperation and compliance with the decisions made. Without that situation, the "escorted experience" is not a happy one.

We learned for future escorted trips to be sure that there was one company running the show and that that company was one we trusted from past experiences.

You can follow the link on the tabs of this blog to go to the TUTORIAL to see a list of our trusted travel companies under the READY Tab.

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