Fiona Jobling got into the travel industry by accident. What began as a three-month contract has led to a 20-year career in travel, which she still enjoys today.
As a member of Hurtigruten’s on-board expedition teams, Fiona has the enviable task of travelling to some of the world’s most stunning destinations from the Nordics and Antarctica to the Americas and Greenland. The role of an Expedition Team Member is extremely varied, with daily team meetings to coordinate a “master plan” with the team leader. Fiona explains, “I can be doing anything from giving presentations on the day’s planned itinerary, escorting excursions, doing desk studies for customer support to lifting passengers on and off the PolarCirkel boats.”
Being out on deck gives an incredible sense of peace
An important part of Fiona’s job is to get to know the passengers so a lot of her time on voyages is spent out on deck, mingling and chatting with guests, pointing out some of the sights. In fact, it’s the most rewarding aspect of her job. “There’s nothing more relaxing than being out in the middle of the ocean. It gives an incredible sense of peace you get with nature.”
Fiona works on the Explorer routes and loves the adventure, knowledge and variety of these voyages. She says, “While these are not study trips, we have expert lecturers on board who provide amazing insights and knowledge on the local places – history, wildlife, flora and fauna.” Her most cherished memory is from a voyage to Antarctica. “I sat down on the ice when these penguin chicks just came over to me and were being very inquisitive. It was amazing!”
Bring ginger but leave your dancing shoes at home
Fiona recommends packing warm layers and natural ginger products, but advises leaving the heels and tux at home. Instead, she says you can look forward to “delicious meals, spacious accommodation and travelling with others who have common interests, which creates a great atmosphere.”
Read about what to pack for Explorer voyages here.
It’s an attitude not an age!
As Fiona grew up in the countryside and was very sporty, she “developed an explorer’s approach and can-do attitude”, something which she says is very much the attitude and approach of Hurtigruten. She admits, “Some clients fear you have to be ‘Scott of the Antarctic’ to go on one of our Explorer cruises,” but in her experience, “people of all ages and abilities enjoy travelling with us.”
In part, that’s because Expedition Team Members get to know the passengers and can recommend excursions that suit them. Fiona uses hiking activities as an example. “Since we offer different grades of hikes, it’s our responsibility to assess and advise passengers to select the routes and excursions that suit their needs and abilities. Some travellers prefer a gentle strong while others prefer more challenging terrain.”
The main reason Fiona thinks guests enjoy Hurtigruten voyages is because, “We offer expeditions that are not an endurance test. We encourage people to get out and explore, not just the physical landscape, but also their own sensory landscape.”