Juan Carlos was born and raised in Manizales, Colombia, a university city nestled among the peaks of the Andes cordillera, in coffee-growing country near the snowcapped Nevado del Ruiz volcano. That active seismic environment may have piqued his early interest in geology, which eventually became his field of study. “I also got the travel bug from my parents,” he admits. “From an early age they took me on adventurous and exciting trips. I owe them that, and much more.”
Following his schooling, Juan Carlos set out traveling and kept it up non-stop for almost five years. During that time, he worked on ships for the first time, as a scuba dive-master on the Star
Clipper sailing ships. Years later, he returned to expedition-style ships as a geology lecturer. Over the last 10 years, he has gradually combined his love of hands-on adventure activity with his passion for teaching and geology to define a new role for himself as an expedition leader. “I still love to lecture,” he says, “and I like being able to go back and forth between those two roles, doing them simultaneously. It’s a challenge I enjoy and it keeps me stimulated.”
Juan Carlos spends about seven months a year traveling on ships, split between two contracts. When he is not at sea, he returns to Manizales to be with his family and friends. “Manizales is a very stimulating city,” he notes. “There are seven universities there, so the population is lively, with a lot of young people, lots of cultural events and nightlife.” He also loves to explore the surrounding Andean terrain, which offers ample opportunities to pursue his passion for paragliding. “I have been paragliding for nearly 20 years,” he says. “I fly as much as I can when I am not on board. I also like motorcycle touring in the countryside, visiting small villages and taking advantage of Colombia’s abundance of winding mountain roads.”
“When I first saw Alaska, I immediately recognized the wilderness I had dreamed about when I was watching documentaries as a boy,” says Juan Carlos. “The scale of the mountains and the huge glaciers stimulates the scientist in me, and the sight of iconic wildlife species excites the boy in me. I can’t wait to share it all with guests aboard Seabourn Sojourn this summer.” As expedition leader, Juan Carlos will head the expedition team of scientists, naturalists and historians who will be offering presentations on board as a part of the Seabourn Conversations onboard enrichment program. They will also be circulating in the Observation Bar and on the open decks during scenic cruising and whenever anything especially interesting is sighted from the bridge. In addition, he will oversee the launch of Ventures by Seabourn kayaking and Zodiac-cruising excursions from the ship in breathtaking places such as Tracy Arm, Misty Fjords and the Inian Islands.
“It’s a job that’s always changing,” he says. “It starts early and often goes late. But you are helping people realize their dreams every day. They say, ‘Choose the right career path, love what you do and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.’ There’s no other job that I would rather do!”
JUAN CARLOS RESTREPO