Captains

Their skills enable inspiring moments and ensure your safety

Our pioneering heritage began in challenging polar waters, and since then, we have been steadfastly committed to maintaining the highest safety standards. On National Geographic Explorer, our captains have earned the distinguished title of Ice Master, skills that enable you to go deeper into the ice for a thrilling experience.

Known as the most experienced and knowledgeable in the industry, our captains create and implement industry standard best practices. They are also vital, engaged members of the expedition community. (In fact, many of our guests treat our open bridges like another lounge, spending hours each day talking with and watching the officers navigate.)

Our captains and expedition leaders work in tandem to craft the best itinerary possible.  In fact, many expedition leaders and captains have worked together for years, or even decades. They share a common purpose and synergy that most companies simply can’t match. Miles apart from how a typical cruise ship operates, where a captain and cruise director operate independently and follow the same weekly routes, the collaboration between our captains and expedition leaders directly enhances the quality of your experience, as they work around weather, ice conditions, or other challenges to get you out on exploring adventures. And, you’ll find them just as excited as you are about a spectacular whale encounter or a gorgeous sunset. 

Featured Captains

David Kay

Captain
For over two decades, Captain Kay has been in command of vessels operating itineraries, from the Great Lakes, East Coast of the United States, Gulf of Mexico, Panama Canal, Costa Rica, Baja California, West Coast of the United States, Columbia/Snake Rivers, Pacific Northwest, British Columbia, and Southeast Alaska. As a native New Englander, he began his career as a deckhand on small ships in the 1000 Islands of Northern New York, at the early age of 16. Captain Kay also now operates a sightseeing tour operation in the 1000 Islands, Clayton NY. Now serving as full time Captain aboard the National Geographic Sea Bird, Captain Kay first took the helm during September of 2002.

Read More

James Griffiths

Captain
Captain James Griffiths serves as Master of National Geographic Orion, a position he recently assumed after extensive experience with us on the National Geographic Explorer in Polar and Antarctic waters.

Read More

Leif Skog

Captain
Captain Skog has been Master aboard some of the most celebrated expedition ships: Lindblad Explorer, Polaris, Frontier Spirit. In 1997 he joined Lindblad as Master of National Geographic Endeavour. His experience in polar waters runs deep, navigating vessels in Antarctica nearly every season since 1979 on more than 100 Antarctic voyages. As Chairman of the IAATO Marine Committee (International Assn. of Antarctic Tour Operators), he was a primary architect of the IAATO Emergency Contingency Plan for all vessels operating in Antarctica.

Read More

Oliver Kruess

Captain
Captain Kruess has been working at sea for two decades. His early experience was sailing aboard large cargo ships. Since 1991 he has been aboard expedition vessels, including the World Discoverer first as 2nd Officer then as Chief Officer. He rose to command as a ship’s Master in 1995. For nearly 20 years Captain Kruess has been navigating the polar waters of the Arctic and Antarctic, logging well over 100 polar expeditions. Captain Kruess has also served as a representative at IAATO (International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators).

Read More

Get our newsletter

Join us for updates, insider reports & special offers.