Dagný Ívarsdóttir is an Expedition Specialist with an infectious energy born from her childhood under the high-summer arctic sun and her background in the expedition field. She has worked in nearly every role from photographer to kayak guide to cultural specialist and now helps to plan and coordinate logistics for EYOS around the world. Join us for a conversation with this true Viking.

  • You’ve worn nearly every hat there is to wear onboard expedition ships. How did your career in the expedition travel industry start? How have your many roles influenced your current position as Expedition Specialist with EYOS?


I guess I am a jack of many trades but master of none : ) I like to keep things interesting and trend toward new challenges. Having a diverse skill set has been very useful in my role as an Expedition Specialist with EYOS as every trip is totally unique and it is helpful to have experience and insight into all the different moving parts of putting an expedition together. Keeps my projects diverse, which I like!  My career in expedition travel started in logistics so I guess I have come full circle now.  I was working in Iceland for a big DMC that was taking care of shore excursions and logistics for Lindblad Expeditions and I was sent to sail on board the National Geographic Explorer for a couple of circumnavigations to oversee shore logistics but ended up in a bit of a hybrid role as a local guide and logistics person.  This experience was enough to get me hooked on the expedition industry and I knew there was no turning back – I had to find a way to become a full-time field guide and explore the polar regions.

  • I would ask the classic question “What is your favorite destination” but I think anyone who has a brief conversation with you can tell that it is most likely Iceland. What sets Iceland apart from all of the other incredible places you’ve had the chance to guide to? What makes it such a good expedition destination?

 

Icelanders tend to feel like our little island country is the center of the universe. But all jokes aside I believe Iceland has something to offer for everyone. Whether you are a city person or an outdoor enthusiast, I think you will find Iceland very interesting.  It has breathtaking and versatile landscapes to actively explore or just take in from the ship; the geothermal hot springs are awesome; our flora and fauna are rich; the culinary experience is world-class; there are so many artists and musicians; and the people and culture are both super charming. Icelanders are proud of their country for a good reason! I love exploring Iceland by sea and going to all the remote fjords and bays that are hard or impossible to access by car. It brings me closer to my Viking heritage. I love getting to experience familiar spots over and over again for the very first time through the eyes of our guests.  There are also plenty of places I have not yet been to and I try to sneak in a new location on every expedition to keep the exploration spirit nourished.

  • In your opinion, what are the necessary elements of a great expedition? How does EYOS provide these?

 

Firstly, you need an experienced and knowledgeable expedition team that knows how to safely navigate in these most remote corners of the world. This team will also bring the destinations alive and facilitate a deeper connection through storytelling, interpretations, and interactions with the locals. This is something that EYOS does really well as each expedition team member is extremely experienced and has been vetted and hand-picked. You could say you get the cream of the crop when it comes to EYOS staff. 

Secondly – before the expedition happens you need to have an experienced and detail-oriented team planning the itinerary and logistics ahead of time to identify any hurdles and make everything run smoothly. We also try to collect as much info as we can about our guest interests ahead of time so we can tailor the experience to their exact preferences.  This all happens the months and weeks before the expedition and generally involves hundreds if not thousands of emails.

  • You’ve been lucky to travel to some of the world’s most remote destinations. What about your background draws you to these places? What are some moments you take back home with you?

 

I’d like to blame this obsession with exploration and adventure on my Viking blood… 

The moments I take home with me are always the unexpected and unplanned ones. The polar regions are some of the harshest environments in the world and you have to stay on your toes at all times. A beautiful calm paddle through pristine sea ice and glacier bays can in a moment’s notice turn into a katabatic wind event or changing currents and the ice pack crushing you in from all directions… If you are not careful!  But on the flip side, they are also filled with the most beautiful and magical moments for those with enough patience and endurance to find them. You might be transiting through the same channel in Antarctica for the 20th time in a season and you are starting to dare feel like you have “seen it all” and then the unexpected happens. All of a sudden, a perfect golden light sunset, zero wind, beautiful icebergs, and dozens and dozens of tail-slapping and breaching humpback whales in every direction… When even the veteran hero guides who have been down for 20+ seasons are speechless. Those are THE moments. 

A bonus of the polar regions is the people I get to work and travel with. No other environment on earth will create better and stronger bonds between people. Making a friend in the polar regions will likely be a friendship that lasts for a lifetime. Lastly, once you have been to the polar regions it is hard not to be an advocate for our planet.

  • You’re also a soon-to-be mother! When you think about our changing landscapes (especially the polar regions) do you have any hopes for the future we’re passing down?

 

Whilst it’s hard sometimes to stay optimistic about the future of our planet, giving up is not an option.   The polar regions will not look the same in 20 years but I still hope my daughter and her generation get to explore and appreciate them for what they are then. We need to continue to connect with Mother Nature to keep us grounded and in touch with reality. Not just lost in the world of AI…