Seabird maven to lead Zegrahm Vikings trip

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SEATTLE -- Zegrahm Expeditions prides itself on its tour leaders, and next year's Passage of the Vikings program is no exception.

Peter Harrison, who will be leading the June 5 departure of the 15-day cruise to the Scottish Isles, the Faroe Islands and Iceland, is touted by the firm for his numerous achievements. Harrison has written "Seabirds: An Identification Guide," which Zegrahm says is the bible of seabird identification, and he is reported to have "seen more seabirds than anyone, past or present," according to the promotional literature.

In an interview with Harrison, the subject was not himself but his excitement in teaching others about the world's wildlife and eco-systems. "I see a lot of travelers who come [on such programs] because they have an interest in wildlife. Our job is to try and make them aware that it's not just the puffins and the whales [that they will see]. There is a mosaic, a wonderful eco-system, in the cold waters bordering the Arctic."

Unlike the Vikings, who traveled in long-boats with almost no protection from the elements, Zegrahm clients will be based on the M/S Explorer, a 98-passenger ship with a fleet of Zodiac inflatable boats. Harrison noted that the inflatable Zodiacs can get clients into places conventional ships can't, in small groups of 12 to 14 people.

He described such sights as a cliff face where thousands of birds nested at different levels of the rock, which reminded him of "an apartment building in New York."

"They [passengers] feel they've been on an expedition; in the wind and the snow you imagine that you could be Shackleton," he said, referring to Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton.

He said that while clients may start the trip as travelers on holiday, he wants them to gain an understanding as the trip progresses that the world is fragile. When the program is over, he said he wants clients "to go back as ambassadors for the planet Earth."

Asked what the ideal client would be, he said clients "must bring one essential piece of equipment -- a sense of wonderment."

The Passage of the Vikings program is priced at $5,490 per person, double occupancy, excluding air, with 10% commission.

Zegrahm Expeditions
Phone: (800) 628-8747 or (206) 285-4000
Fax: (206) 285-5037
E-mail: [email protected]
Web: www.zeco.com

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