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World Class Experts

Study Leaders, Guest Lecturers and Expedition Staff

The experts who travel with us are passionate about what they do and eager to share their unique knowledge and expertise. They have been selected for their ability, thoughtfulness and enthusiasm—and their commitment to making each journey an unforgettable experience for their fellow explorers.

Enjoy a Deeper Experience with the World

The majority of our programs are led by faculty members or curators chosen by our partner institutions, scholars and teachers at the very top of their fields, often at the cutting edge of research. Many programs are also accompanied by guest lecturers recruited by Thalassa Journeys—journalists, policy makers, educators, diplomats who have deep experience of the destinations we visit.

Recent Guest Lecturers & Study Leaders

A signature of our voyages is that study leaders, guest lecturers and expedition staff participate fully in excursions and in life aboard ship. In addition to lectures and discussions, travelers will enjoy conversations with them over meals and in small groups around the ship, opportunities to pursue nuances or follow tangents, opportunities to get to know them as people as well as experts.

Jared Diamond
Geographer, Pulitzer-prize-winning author

Jared Diamond

Jared Diamond is a Pulitzer-prize-winning author of six best-selling books, translated into 38 languages, about human societies and human evolution: Guns, Germs, and Steel, Collapse, Why Is Sex Fun?, The Third Chimpanzee, The World until Yesterday, and Upheaval.

As a professor of geography at UCLA (University of California at Los Angeles), he is known for his breadth of interests, which involves conducting research and teaching in three other fields: the biology of New Guinea birds, digestive physiology, and conservation biology.  His prizes and honors include the U.S. National Medal of Science, the Pulitzer Prize for Non-fiction, the Tyler Prize for Environmental Science, and election to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences.  He is a director of World Wildlife Fund/U.S. and of Conservation International.

As a biological explorer, his most widely publicized finding was his rediscovery, at the top of New Guinea’s remote Foja Mountains, of the long-lost Golden-fronted Bowerbird, previously known only from four specimens found in a Paris feather shop in 1895.‍

From 2014 to 2017, Dr. Hillgarth served as President and Chief Executive Officer of the New England Aquarium, where she raised the profile of the Aquarium’s global conservation and research work by founding the Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life, as well as developing a vision for the future of the Aquarium and the surrounding Boston waterfront.

An avid photographer of the natural world, Dr. Hillgarth was the 2019 Climate Art Fellow for the Climate Science Alliance, and worked on visualizations of ocean-atmosphere interactions and climate with the National Science Foundation Center for Aerosol Impacts on Chemistry of the Environment at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. She is now working on a threatened birds photographic project.

Dr. Karen Armstrong
Author & Expert in Comparative Religion

Karen Armstrong OBE FRSL

Karen Armstrong OBE FRSL is the author of numerous books on religion, including A History of God, which became an international bestseller. Her other works include The Battle for God, A History of Fundamentalism; Islam; Buddha; The Great Transformation; The Case for God; Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence; as well as a memoir, The Spiral Staircase. Her most recent work, published in 2019, is The Lost Art of Scripture; Rescuing the Sacred Texts.  Her books been translated into 45 languages.

She has addressed members of the US Congress on three occasions and lectured to policy makers at the US State Department. In 2006, she was invited by Kofi Anan to join the High-Level Group of the new UN Alliance of Civilisations; in 2008; She was awarded the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Medal; in 2009, she won the TED Prize and with TED founded the Charter for Compassion, which is now a global movement. From 2008- 2016, she was a Trustee of the British Museum; in 2013, she was awarded the inaugural British Academy Al-Rodhan Prize for Improving Intercultural Relations; in 2017, she was awarded the Princess of Asturias Award for Social Sciences and an OBE. Her new book, Sacred Nature, How Can We Recover Our Reverence for the Natural world will be published in the Netherlands in May 2022, in June (UK) and the USA and Canada in September.

Admiral James Stavridis
Supreme Allied Commander Europe

Admiral James Stavridis

Admiral James Stavridis is an Operating Executive of The Carlyle Group, following five years as the 12th Dean of The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.  A retired 4-star officer in the U.S. Navy, he led the NATO Alliance in global operations from 2009 to 2013 as Supreme Allied Commander with responsibility for Afghanistan, Libya, the Balkans, Syria, piracy, and cyber security.  He also served as Commander of U.S. Southern Command, with responsibility for all military operations in Latin America from 2006-2009.  He earned more than 50 medals, including 28 from foreign nations in his 37-year military career.

Earlier in his military career he commanded the top ship in the Atlantic Fleet, winning the Battenberg Cup, as well as a squadron of destroyers and a carrier strike group – all in combat.  In 2016, he was vetted for Vice President by Hillary Clinton and subsequently invited to Trump Tower to discuss a cabinet position in the Trump Administration.

Admiral Stavridis earned a PhD in international relations and has published eight books and hundreds of articles in leading journals around the world.  His 2012 TED talk on global security has over 800,000 hits.  Admiral Stavridis is a monthly columnist for TIME Magazine and Chief International Security Analyst for NBC News, and has tens of thousands of connections on the social networks.

Emily Wilson
Author & Expert in Greek Classics

Emily Wilson

Emily Wilson is a Professor in the Department of Classical Studies and Chair of the Program in Comparative Literature and Literary Theory at the University of Pennsylvania. Her books include The Death of Socrates: Hero, villain, chatterbox, saint (2007) and The Greatest Empire: A life of Seneca (2014). Her verse translations include Six Tragedies of Seneca, four translations of plays by Euripides in the Modern Library The Greek Plays, and Oedipus Tyrannos.

She is the Classics editor of the revised Norton Anthology of World Literature. Her 2017 translation of the Odyssey was met with wide acclaim, and she is now at work on a new translation of the Iliad and translations of select dialogues of Plato. She was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2019, and won a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2020.

Evan T. Bloom
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Oceans and Fisheries

Evan Bloom

Evan Bloom is a Senior Fellow in the Polar Institute at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC, which he joined in January 2021.  As a lawyer and former senior diplomat at the U.S. Department of State, he was one of the most prominent officials overseeing U.S. policy in the polar regions and is a recognized expert in polar foreign policy issues.  During his thirty-year State Department career, he served, as Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and Fisheries and Director of the Office of Ocean and Polar Affairs.

He helped establish the Arctic Council, negotiating its initial rules and documents in 1996.  He also supervised U.S. representation in the Council from 2006 to 2020 and co-chaired the Arctic Council task force that produced the eight-party Agreement on Arctic Science Cooperation.

He is currently a member of the Executive Committee of the Study of Environmental Arctic Change (SEARCH), a major National Science Foundation-funded project involving collaboration among Indigenous People, scientists, and decision-makers working across disciplines to co-produce solutions to environmental challenges in the Arctic, and co-editor of the forthcoming Elgar Concise Encyclopedia of Polar Law.

Bloom led U.S. delegations to the major Antarctic diplomatic fora from 2005-2020 and four U.S. inspections of Antarctic facilities under the Antarctic Treaty.  He led U.S. delegations to numerous law of the sea bilateral and multilateral dialogues and served as the State Department’s representative to the White House Ocean Policy Committee.  He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a fellow of the Explorers Club.  He attended Princeton University (A.B.) and Columbia Law School (JD).

Richard Erdman
US Ambassador to the Middle East

Richard Erdman

Ambassador Richard Erdman is a retired career diplomat with over 45 years of service.  In recent years, he has been called out of retirement to serve in temporary ambassadorial assignments: Senior Area Adviser for the Middle East on the U.S. Delegation to the annual fall UN General Assembly (2008 to the present); interim ambassador to Saudi Arabia (2009); Acting Deputy Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs (2012); and Acting U.S. Representative to the UN Economic and Social Council (2015).

Ambassador Erdman served as U.S. ambassador to Algeria, 2003-2006; Director for Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan Affairs (2001-2002); and U.S. Special Envoy and Head of the five-nation Israel-Lebanon Monitoring Group (1998-2000).  His earlier postings included Portugal, Washington, Yugoslavia, Cyprus, and Turkey.

Ambassador Erdman has received two Presidential Meritorious Service awards as well as several Department of State awards for distinguished service.  He and his wife Sibyl have traveled widely, both personally and professionally.  They have two adult children and three grandchildren.

Thalassa Journeys - Luxury Cultural Expeditions - Small Ship Cruises and Land Tours

See the natural world through the eyes of an expert

On programs devoted to discovery of the natural world, our expedition teams are among the most experienced in the world, comprising a remarkable assortment of intellect and expertise, from biology to geology, ecology, ornithology, and the history exploration.

Explore Our Expeditions

The trip was wonderful... top of the line service, food, excursion leadership, accommodations and amenities... an outstanding tour manager - attended to every detail, including many I'm sure flew under the radar for me... I benefited from spending time with alumnae and from experiencing the quality of the travel experience that Thalassa Journeys delivers.

Kathryn MackintoshExecutive Director, Wellesley College Alumnae Association

I wondered if you might be able to share the last name of Aristotle, the wonderful tour guide for the Thalassa Journeys Homeric cruise? I’d like to name him in my acknowledgments for [my translation of] the Iliad.

Emily WilsonProfessor of Classical Studies, University of Pennsylvania / Lecturer on "In Search of Homer" Journey 2022

It is going to take some time to fathom how magnificent our journey was. The detailed care you all put into this experience proved every day that we had the right team... Twenty-nine people had an experience that will inform their perspective for the rest of their lives.

Brian VogtChief Executive Officer, Denver Botanic Gardens / Past Board President, American Public Gardens Association

We have returned to Ushuaia from our expedition to Antarctica. I want to let you know about the excellent job Laura Gollardo did! She could not have been more caring, knowledgeable, or gracious. She did an excellent job of attending to any of our questions or needs and always helped with a smile! What an incredible time we had!!

Gary M.Antarctica Expedition

The main reason we signed up for this trip was Bart Ehrman. We would definitely go on another trip with him... our Greek tour guide was absolutely incredible too. She made the history come alive. One of the nicest parts of this tour was the spontaneity we experienced. For example, visiting the museum of the Acropolis in Athens... I really loved seeing the Turkish rug workshop after our lunch in Ephesus.

Kay H.Greece Cultural Tour

The Antarctica Expedition was fantastic! The trip of our lifetime. Laura Gallardo is one of a kind! She went far beyond expectations, providing superb help and support all the way through. Looking forward to the next adventure.

Frank C.Antarctica Expedition

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Thalassa Journeys LLC
8815 Conroy-Windermere Road
Suite 406
Orlando, FL 32835

Connect with Our Team

Margaret Devlin - Managing Director

Margaret Devlin
Managing Director

David Monash

David Monash
Sales Manager

Kieran McCarthy Fell

Kieran McCarthy Fell
Sales Manager