Cheli has been employed in the Expedition Cruise Industry for the past 12 years working in various locations including the South Pacific, Japan, Russian Far East, Australia, New Zealand, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Svalbard and the British Isles. She has been a PADI Master Instructor, teaching part-time 4 years and full time 6 years. She is a Commercial Launch master - skipper of Dive and Fishing Charter vessel for 2 years during weekends. She also worked as a Field Assistant for TVNZ Natural History unit working on a number of documentaries.
When she isn't on a ship she is at home with her dog Jess in Queenstown, New Zealand.
What skills do you bring to the job?
"I am a PADI (diving) Master Instructor. I managed New Zealand's largest dive training facility. I have skippered Dive and Fishing charter vessels, invaluable experience when leading polar expeditions."
What keeps you returning season after season?
"Antarctica is one of those rare places that is protected. We can see how things can be if left alone, which is the reason I encourage everyone to visit. It is not just the icebergs, the history, the penguins and the whales...It is the whole package. An experience to which no words can do justice! To be able to share this special place with people from all around the world is why I keep coming back."
If you could time travel, which historic expedition would you join, and why?
"As a New Zealander, I would join Shackleton's 1914-1916 British Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition. This would be primarily to be part of a team headed by Sir Ernest Shackleton, whose leadership qualities are second to none and something to aspire to. As an added bonus, I would be able to witness Captain Frank Worsley (a New Zealander) sail the James Caird from Elephant Island to South Georgia. His navigational skills were exceptional. That would be the icing on the cake."
Cheli's advice for Polar Travelers
"Quark has the largest number of vessels of any company operating in Antarctica. So it is important you decide in advance what you want from your Antarctic experience. It might be visiting the historic huts in the Ross Sea, seeing the most species of penguins, or kayaking amongst icebergs. Whatever your motivation - do it once, and do it right."