The ocean has dominated Victoria’s life since 1986; however her love of water – and especially ships – goes even further back than that.
A distant relative of Donald McKay, the man who designed and built the first clipper ships for American ship owners in the mid-nineteenth century – some 32 in all – including the “Queen of the Clippers,” the Flying Cloud, Victoria has always been obsessed with ships and this obsession has always included a fascination with travel in general. To this day, she is convinced she was bitten by the ‘travel bug’ when she was a young child, as her most vivid memories of her childhood are the stories her maternal grandparents told her following their travels around the world.
After graduating from the University of Washington, it was a natural transition that she go down the path of her own travel odyssey. Since then, Victoria has worked for some of the top companies in the cruise industry as operations manager, director of expedition cruise operations and, more recently, as an industry consultant. Her work has included tour planning and itinerary development, operations, logistics, the recruitment and management of expedition cruise staff working on vessels in remote locations around the world, the development of highly-acclaimed educational programs and the coordination of vessel operations to remote and sensitive environments, including destinations under rigorous permitting/authorization regimes.
The desire to ‘run away to sea’ has always been a distraction and she has satisfied this urge by frequently working aboard expedition vessels, cruise ships and even a square rigger. She has traveled to all seven continents, to over 100 countries, and participated in well over 100 cruises, including some 50 cruises to Antarctica and over 30 to the Arctic alone.
In 1999 Victoria was tapped as the industry expert to represent the commercial interests of the U.S.-based companies who conduct activities in Antarctica by serving as the U.S. government’s Antarctic private sector advisor. In this capacity she is responsible for providing informed views on the commercial tourism industry and advice on technical issues, such as proposed industry and visitor regulations and management plans; as well as legal, policy and liability matters and potential environmental impact from human visitation to the government agencies with an interest in Antarctic matters (Department of State, National Science Foundation, Environmental Protection Agency, Coast Guard and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). She sits on the U.S. delegation at the annually-held Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meetings and advises on an ‘as needed’ basis during the course of the year.
Since 2010 she has worked as an industry consultant offering management support and operational and technical assistance on a worldwide basis to the expedition travel and cruise industry. To date she has assisted more than 35 companies as well as two industry associations — the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO) and the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO). She is one of the few who has a detailed understanding of the complex environmental regulations and regulatory regimes that operators must contend with in carrying out activities in these remote locations. Her unique skill set — spanning now more than 25 years – has made her expertise particularly in demand by operators large and small.