Why did you decide to become a group escort for Craig Travel?
I have travelled on Craig Travel tours many times starting in 2000. I have been impressed with the organization and administration of the trips as well as a sensible approach to seniors travel. All of our Craig trips, prior to my first group leader assignment in April 2011, have been with my sister, Barbara Sykes as a group leader. We have made many friends during our travels with her and some of those people encouraged me to become a group escort. We have travelled and continue to travel a lot, mostly with Craig Travel. Since 2011 I have lead groups on the following trips:
• Holland & Belgium Canals in 2011
• Portugal, including Madeira in 2012
• Hong Kong through Southeast Asia to Mali on the Aegean Odyssey (small group)
• Jordan, Suez Canal, Cyprus, Turkey and Greek islands on the Aegean Odyssey (small group)
• Romania twice, in 2013 and 2015
• Cruise around Cuba in 2015
• Viet Nam, Laos and Cambodia in 2015
• Danube River cruise from Budapest to Prague in 2016
• South Africa, Botswana and Victoria Falls in 2017
• Iceland in 2018
What specifically, in your career, may have prepared you for this position?
I had a career in management that included a great deal of travel. From my management experience I learned how to manage people effectively and to deal expeditiously with 'issues'.
What has been your favourite destination so far and why?
That is a difficult question to answer. We have enjoyed every trip. It would be a little easier if you asked to identify the favourite ground tour, river cruise or ocean cruise or the favourite trip to different continents. We have been to South Africa (and southern Africa) four times so, I guess, that qualifies as my favourite place. Leading a group to Viet Nam, Laos and Cambodia was a wonderful experience. My favourite ocean cruises would be to the Marquesas Islands on the Aranui III out of Tahiti (personal arrangements) and Antarctica in 2011 (Craig) and in 2006 on Holland America's 'Veendam' (Craig), 35 days from Vancouver through the Panama Canal, up the Amazon to Manaus and finishing in Tampa. River cruises are great and any of the four that we have been on would qualify: Amsterdam to Budapest, Russia (Moscow to St Petersburg) in 2008, Rhone River as part of the Oberammergau trip in 2010 and Holland & Belgium Canals (my first tour leader experience) in 2011. I guess I forgot to mention the Norway Coast cruise in 2007 and Bhutan in 2011, both with Craig! You see, it is very hard to narrow it down.
What destinations are still on your bucket list and why?
The list could be endless but here are some priorities:
Some Canadian destinations;
Small cruise ship trips to different places that do not (yet) attract hoards of visitors; we enjoy travelling on small ships and river ships
Circumnavigation of Newfoundland
Circumnavigation of the British Isles
Western Canadian Arctic (we did the eastern Arctic with Craig in 2009)
Dabbling around the Mediterranean
Tracking the Canadian Forces route and battles through Italy in WW II (Sicily to Parma); we enjoyed and were inspired by the Craig Battlefields trip in northern Europe in 2009
Name the things which you find most rewarding about escorting our groups
Associating with people, many of whom have similar interests; making new friends Helping people have an enjoyable travel experience Working with the capable staff at Craig Travel.
What is the next group you have been assigned to lead?
I am scheduled to lead a trip to Italy in November 2018, following the routes of the Canadian Army in World War II.
What are your hobbies i.e. what do you do when you are not travelling
Writing a journal of the immediate past travel experience; sharing with others Planning for the next travel experience! Photography especially during our travels and the editing afterwards; sharing with other travellers Activities in our residential condo Church committee work Alumni work at the Royal Military College
Any further comments that may be interesting to our readers or interesting tales about your travels.
We have sailed on two Hurtigruten ships, the 'Nordkapp' and the 'Fram'; they are excellent ships with excellent operators; there are large observation lounges with great visibility; Holland America seems to be reducing the size and number of good observation lounges as they add more verandah cabins on their newer ships. Craig Travel's practice of sticking to proven, good guides, where possible, really adds to the enjoyment of the travelers. Our trips to the Canadian Arctic and Antarctica were outstanding. If travellers are in Argentina, Iguazu Falls is a 'must see'. The falls and surrounding jungle are outstanding and there is a complete absence of commercialization. Once you visit the Marquesas Islands (French Polynesia), you would never return to the Caribbean. The islands are beautiful, the people are all friendly and natural, there is no commercialization and there are no pushy vendors. The daily shore excursions are well organized and very interesting. At one stop we crossed the island of Huku Niva. The ship had arranged with 'everyone' on the island with an SUV to provide the transport. Great fun! The snorkelling at Rangiroa on the return leg was the best that I have ever done.