Meet the Experts

Our award winning expert-led cruises program provides recognised explorers, scientists and writers a platform for research and for the design of exceptional expeditions, exclusively available to our guests.  Browse Our Expert-Led Cruises

Alexander Reewijk

Alexander Reewijk is an expert in the field of the history of evolutionary theory, together with Redmon O’Hanlon’s he wrote the book “Darwin, Wallace and others’ in which the contributions of Darwin and Wallace on evolution are compared. Alexander has traveled extensively through the ‘interior’ of Indonesia, He visited Sumatra, Sulawesi the Moluccas and spend one month in Aru where he studied the Greater Bird of Paradise.

View Alex’s Expert-Led Cruise:
Wallace Trails and Sails III with Alexander Reeuwijk
Papua & Bird of Paradise with Alexander Reeuwijk

David and Sue Richardson

David and Sue are passionate researchers and collectors of Asian textiles and have spent the past twenty-five years travelling to remote weaving villages across Island and Mainland South-east Asia, the Indian Subcontinent and Central Asia. Their fieldwork has involved research in Thailand, Laos, Burma, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, and of course Indonesia.

Since first visiting Indonesia in 1980, David and Sue have systematically visited every part of the archipelago, ranging from Sumatra in the west to Western Papua in the east, from North Maluku in the north to Timor in the south, journeying both overland and by sea using a variety of local vessels. One of their favourite destinations is Nusa Tenggara Timur, NTT, (the ‘East South-eastern Islands’, more romantically called the Lesser Sundas), encompassing Flores, Lembata, Alor, West Timor, Savu and Sumba, an amazing cluster of islands renowned for producing an extraordinary variety of hand-dyed and hand-woven warp ikat cloth.

David and Sue have lectured about their textile researches to Rug and Textile Societies across the USA and in Europe and have presented papers to the Biennial Symposium of the Textile Society of America in Washington DC and the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. Their articles have frequently appeared in journals such as HALI, Asian Textiles, Textiles Asia, and Steppe. Their richly-illustrated book on the culture and textiles of the Qaraqalpaqs of Central Asia, Qaraqalpaqs of the Aral Delta, was released by the high-end art publisher Prestel in July 2012 and has received excellent reviews.

Over the years David and Sue have assembled one of the finest and most comprehensive private collections of Indonesian and other Asian textiles, many of museum quality. They are members of the Textile Society of America as well as the Oxford Asian Textile Group, which is affiliated to the Ashmolean and the Pitt Rivers Museums of the University of Oxford. The Oxford Asian Textile Group was until recently chaired by Dr Ruth Barnes, a leading academic expert on the textiles of Eastern Indonesia.

David has a doctorate in quantum physics from Cambridge University and was formerly a main board director of a major British pharmaceutical company. In his early career he spent several years working with the Ministry of Education in Jakarta on two major government aid projects to completely re-equip the universities of Indonesia with scientific equipment. Sue is an English graduate who spent her career in training and human resources for a leading chain of British department stores. They live in Nottingham with their two cats, Treacle and Truffle.

View David and Sue’s Expert-Led Cruise:
Tribal Weaving of the Lesser Sunda Islands Pre-Cruise Programme
Tribal Weaving of the Lesser Sunda Islands

Janet DeNeefe

Adding extra flavour to this extraordinary adventure will be Ubud Writers & Readers Festival Founder & Director, Janet DeNeefe. Melbourne raised, Janet has made Bali her home since 1984. Her love of Indonesian culture and cuisine led to her opening two Ubud restaurants: Casa Luna, and Indus, as well as inspiring two cookbooks: Fragrant Rice, and Bali: the Food of My Island Home; in addition to a food festival: Ubud Food Festival.

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Ian Burnet

This itinerary will be enhanced by descriptions and presentations by the Australian author Ian Burnet who has spent 30 years living, working and travelling in Indonesia, and is fascinated by the diverse history and cultures of the archipelago. His first book, ‘Spice Islands,’ tells the 2000-year-history of the spice trade from the Moluccas of Eastern Indonesia through China, India and the Middle East until the spices reached Europe. It was the lure of the fabled Spice Islands and exotic spices such as clove and nutmeg that drove ‘The Age of Discovery’ and the first circumnavigation of our planet. Spice Islands has been described as “A wonderful book – a triumph of passion and scholarship.”

‘East Indies,’ Ian’s second book, begins in the port city of Malacca, and tells the story of the 200-year-struggle between the Portuguese Crown, the Dutch East India Company and the English East India Company for trade supremacy in the Eastern Seas. It follows the rise of the world’s first joint stock and multinational trading companies and their conversion to huge colonial states ruling over millions of people in Indonesia, India and Malaya. The book documents the founding of the historic port city of Batavia (Jakarta) and concludes with the founding of the modern port cities of Singapore and Hong Kong.

View Ian’s Expert-Led Cruise:
East Indies Spice Exploration with Ian Burnet
Spice Routes / Spice Wars

Dr. Tony Whitten

Dr. Tony Whitten was trained as a wildlife biologist and since late 2010 he has been the Regional Director for Asia-Pacific at Fauna & Flora International, the world’s oldest international conservation organization. The subject of his PhD at Cambridge University was on the endangered gibbon on a remote and primitive island west of Sumatra in the mid 1970s. After this Tony worked at the University of North Sumatra where he initiated production of a major and innovative series of books on the ecology of the several regions of Indonesia, writing three of them himself, each taking about three years. During a two-year spell in the UK, he was employed by the British government’s conservation agency to write its Recovery Plan for Protected Species – covering sea anemones to wild cats.  He joined the World Bank in 1995 and supported a broad range of activities and projects until he left in 2010: he advised on habitat and species protection issues as part of infrastructure projects, started various region-wide and global activities (e.g. on the forgotten biodiversity of caves and karst), ran a programme which produced 111 volumes of local language field guides to all manner of plants and animals, and was responsible for a suite of conservation projects in Mongolia, China, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Vietnam and elsewhere in the region.  He has an in-depth and broad knowledge of biodiversity and has published on a wide variety of topics.

View Tony’s Expert-Led Cruise:
Wallace Trails & Sails: Naturalist Expedition
Wallace Trails & Sails: Naturalist Expedition II Ambon-Sorong
Papua & Bird of Paradise

Jeffrey Mellefont

Jeffrey Mellefont is a research associate of the Australian National Maritime Museum, where he had a long career as a publisher and editor. Formerly a blue-water mariner, celestial navigator and skipper, Jeffrey became a specialist marine writer and photographer and has made a lifetime study of the fascinating maritime world of Asia and in particular of Indonesia. He has published extensively on these subjects in both popular and academic journals. Jeffrey has been visiting Indonesia since 1975 when he was immediately drawn into the maritime life of this tropical archipelago with its extraordinarily diverse cultures and history – as well as the study of Bahasa Indonesia, a national language with its roots in the ancient world of sailors and seaborne traders. Jeffrey’s richly illustrated presentations on your SeaTrek cruise draw upon decades of research and adventures sailing with the traditional seafarers and boat builders of Indonesia. He has also sailed through the archipelago by yacht. Jeffrey has shared his knowledge and enthusiasm for this oceanic world by leading tour groups exploring maritime themes in Indonesia, Malaysia, Cambodia and India.

View Jeffrey’s Expert-Led Cruise:
Under Tropical Skies – The Total Solar Eclipse Experience
Spice Traders to Bugis Shipbuilders

Gert De Jong

In 1990, Gert de Jong lived in the Moluccas for six months as a student in marine biology studying dugongs and seagrass. He fell in love with the oceanic islands of eastern Indonesia and its people. He then worked as an ecology consultant in studies on marine mammals, and as a teacher of biology in Amsterdam. In 2008, he started a conservation project for the seabirds that were breeding on remote Indonesian islands. For pantropical seabirds, such as frigatebirds, there are only a few islands left of refuge on which they can breed in Southeast Asia. Since 2012 Gert has worked as an independent researcher studying swifts in Amsterdam during their breeding season, and now, in 2015, he is continuing the Indonesian seabird project, to study and protect the unique island habitats in the Flores and Banda Seas.

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David Metcalf

David Metcalf was born in Wellington, New Zealand, and his passion for photography began at 19 years old when he bought his first Kodak camera. At the same time, he started travelling overseas. The wanderlust has never ceased and includes travelling 20,000 kms by bicycle through Europe and beyond.  For the past 30 years David has had a fascination with travel photography and has been photographing indigenous people and places; his travels have taken him all over Asia including Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, China, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Philippines and India. As a native New Zealander, he has travelled throughout New Zealand and Australia. David has lived Indonesia for eight years; as soon as he arrived he was drawn to the Indonesian people, the rich and diverse culture, the history and the stunning landscapes. Residing in Bali, he is the author of three cultural photography books and regularly holds photography exhibitions. David delivers photo tours that will connect you deeply with travel and culture, opening photographic-learning opportunities that will take you to another level of seeing and feeling the subject. He is an insightful tutor and will inspire you to put the manual down, engage with the subject, access your creativity and capture the essence of a photo.

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Raffaella Commitante

Dr. Raffaella Commitante is a biological anthropologist/primatologist currently lecturing at California State University, Fullerton in the Evolutionary Anthropology Department. She is an active board member of the Orangutan Conservancy, and is co-founder of the Orangutan Conservancy/ Veterinary Advisory Group, which holds annual workshops in Indonesia and/ or Malaysia for veterinarians, researchers and anyone working with orangutans, both in sanctuaries and the wild. She lived in Indonesia for several years before returning to America in 2007. Since then, she returns annually to facilitate and run the capacity building workshops begun in 2009. Dr. Commitante received her PhD from the University of Cambridge in England, and conducted her fieldwork on orangutan stress cortisol levels and behaviors in East Kalimantan, Borneo at the reintroduction centre where you will be spending the night in the Samboja Lestari Eco Lodge. Dr. Commitante will be on hand to guide us to the parts of the centre available to visitors as well as be available during the journey up the eastern coast of Borneo to share information on orangutans, Bornean wildlife and other interesting stories of the island.

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Petrina Tinslay

Australian food and travel photographer, Petrina Tinslay, has been travelling the world for international magazines, high-end brands and ad agencies in a career spanning 25 years. She has been a contributor to many international magazine titles, including The New York Times Magazine, Vogue, Travel + Leisure, Food & Wine, Gourmet and Conde Nast, as well as creating over 35 cook books for the likes of Nigella Lawson, Bill Granger and Donna Hay.

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Rahung Nasution

Born and raised in Mandailing, North Sumatra, cult cooking hero, food activist and ‘chaos-maker’ for the tongue, Rahung Nasution is one of Indonesia’s most well loved celebrity chefs. As a youngster he would cook dinner for his siblings daily while his parents worked in the rice fields. He now resides in Jakarta, where he transforms his homesickness for comforting Mandailing food into a passion for documenting Indonesian’s finest culinary heritage, nationally and around the world.

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Janet DeNeefe and Tasia & Gracia Segar


Janet DeNeefe

Adding extra flavour to this extraordinary adventure will be Ubud Writers & Readers Festival Founder & Director, Janet DeNeefe. Melbourne raised, Janet has made Bali her home since 1984. Her love of Indonesian culture and cuisine led to her opening two Ubud restaurants: Casa Luna, and Indus, as well as inspiring two cookbooks: Fragrant Rice, and Bali: the Food of My Island Home; in addition to a food festival: Ubud Food Festival.


Tasia and Gracia Segar

Tasia and Gracia, also known as the ‘Spice Sisters’, shot to fame after taking out the top title in My Kitchen Rules last year, one of Australia’s most loved culinary competition television. Specialising in Asian cuisine, their Indonesian heritage and experience growing up in India and Australia brings an international flavour to their cooking as they constantly develop new fusions, combining innovative dishes and modernised plating. Their most used ingredients, chilli, garlic, onion, shallots and rice, are reflective of their Asian heritage.


Lia’s yoga journey began in 2007 at a time when she was seeking ways to heal a physical injury and recharge her hectic mind within her busy corporate lifestyle. Through stillness, she found her way back to the ground. As she delved into her practice, she fell more and more in love with the yoga lifestyle, which has since fundamentally changed the way she lives her life. In 2012, she left the corporate world and travelled to India and Thailand to study and learn more about yoga. The following year, she moved back to her roots and made her home in Bali. Since then, to fulfil her thirst for knowledge and adventure, she continues to develop herself through many different styles of yoga practice. She says, “Throughout this journey, yoga and meditation has allowed me to enter the realm of daily living with a focus on compassion and loving kindness. Sharing my practice has become my higher purpose and my greatest passion, with the hope that others will find their own way to create their personal fun life-journey”.

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Erica Jong

Erica Jong is a celebrated poet, author and essayist with over 24 published books that have been influential all over the world. Her most popular novel, Fear of Flying celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2013. Never out of print, it has sold over 27 million copies in 42 languages. Erica’s new novel, Fear of Dying was published in 2015/2016 with many publishers all over the world.
Her awards include the Fernanda Pivano Award for Literature in Italy (named for the critic who introduced Ernest Hemingway, Allen Ginsberg, and Erica Jong to the Italian public); the Sigmund Freud Award in Italy; the Deauville Literary Award in France; the United Nations Award for Excellence in Literature; Poetry Magazine’s Bess Hokin Prize (also won by Sylvia Plath and W.S. Erica lives in New York and Connecticut with her husband and two poodles.

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