IAATO Executive Committee

Marlynda Elstgeest

Chair - IAATO Executive Committee

Marlynda has participated in IAATO Annual Meetings since 2000, serving as Chair of the Membership Committee for several years. Since 2002, Marlynda has been a member the Dutch Delegation to the annual Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting (ATCM), where the 45 Antarctic Treaty Parties meet to provide for the international governance of Antarctica. She joined the Executive Committee in 2012.

Travel and diving have always been her passions, with her first diving experience in 1989. She has been diving all over the world ever since as a qualified technical diver. Born and educated in The Netherlands, Marlynda wrote her university thesis on sustainable tourism and has pursued this goal during her 20 years in the travel industry, specializing in marketing and public relations, as well as operational management.

Polar regions in particular have captured her imagination, and she has worked in this industry segment for more than 15 years. She is an expert in polar tourism and is contracted by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs to advise them on safe and environmentally responsible Antarctic tourism management. In 1995 Marlynda joined Oceanwide Expeditions, helping it become a market leader in Polar expedition cruising. She started her own company Waterproof Expeditions in 2007 and, together with Swedish professional cinematographer Göran Ehlmé, pioneered commercial Polar diving expeditions. Waterproof Expeditions provides unique, custom-tailored diving experiences focusing on the natural beauty of the oceans and the diversity of unique underwater environments.

Rich Pruitt

IAATO Executive Committee

Rich has been an active participant on the IAATO Marine Committee and Climate Change Working Group since joining IAATO in 2007, and became a member of the Executive Committee in late 2010.

He has served as the Associate Vice President of Environmental Programs at Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. since 2003. In May of 2011, he assumed additional duties related to corporate Maritime Safety, Management Systems and Situation Management. He currently is responsible for evaluating new technologies, developing corporate vision and strategic initiatives and setting policy for all environmental and maritime safety compliance and continual improvement activities for the corporation. Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. is a global cruise vacation company that operates Azamara Club Cruises, CDF Croisières de France, Celebrity Cruises, Pullmantur, and Royal Caribbean International, and is in a joint venture with TUI Travel to operate TUI Cruises. The company has a combined total of 40 ships in service and two under construction.

Prior to joining Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., Rich served in the United States Air Force and the United States Coast Guard. From 1980 to 1990, Rich was an Air Force airborne Russian linguist and Airborne Mission Supervisor, assigned to various units and the National Security Agency. He also served in various national security and marine safety roles with the United States Coast Guard from 1990 to 2003.

He holds a Master of Business Administration degree in Environmental Studies from Florida Atlantic University. He also earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Management from National Louis University and an Associate's degree in Russian Interpreting from the Community College of the United States Air Force.

Leif Skog

IAATO Executive Committee

Active in the IAATO Marine Committee for many years, Captain Leif Skog was voted onto the Executive Committee in 2011.

He joined Lindblad Expeditions in 1997 after working for many years as master for many celebrated international expedition cruise ships: MS Lindblad Explorer, MS Polaris, MS Frontier Spirit and MS Explorer, taking passengers to the world's most remote polar and tropical destinations.

With tremendous skills and experience in ice navigation, Leif began his work aboard ships plying the Arctic and Antarctic waters in the late 70s: MS Thuleland, MS Columbialand, MS Ocean Princess and MS Illiria. The Brostroms Shipping Company appointed Captain Skog as consultant for a mission in the Beaufort Sea, Canadian Arctic, and Antarctica with their specially designed ice-going lumber/bulk carrier, MS Thulelandand Columbialand. The mission in Antarctica was to transport all necessary equipment, explosives, fuel and provision to build the largest airstrip in Antarctica at the Rothera Base for the British Antarctic Survey. 

As chair of the IAATO Marine Committee, Leif was the architect for the association-wide Emergency Contingency Plan for all passenger ships cruising in Antarctica. The plan focused on how ships in the vicinity of the peninsula would communicate, coordinate and respond in the event of a marine disaster. 

Leif holds a Master Mariner's Degree and a Marine Engineering Degree from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, and a diploma in advanced Shipping Business Economics and Trading. Before he became a captain in 1984, he worked as officer on a number of different types of vessels: general cargo ships, LPG-gas tankers, O/O-ships of 275,000 MT DW, a ULCC-ship of 375,000 MT DW, 800- and 1,200-passenger vessels, and a multi-purposed helium deep diving support vessel.

Skip Novak

IAATO Executive Committee

Skip has served on the IAATO Membership Committee for several years and as a member of the Yacht Working Group since its inception. He joined the Executive Committee in 2012.

He is best known for a professional ocean-racing career that spanned three decades and included five circumnavigations under sail. As a result of many miles sailed in the Southern Ocean and a passionate interest in mountaineering, he turned his attention to high latitude expedition sailing in 1987, launching the 54-foot steel sloop Pelagic in the UK. Following a six-month climbing and filming adventure in Tierra del Fuego, Antarctica and South Georgia, Skip saw an opportunity and became one of the first to offer sailing charters to adventure-seeking clients in these locations.

In 2003, the 74-foot Pelagic Australis, built in Durban, South Africa, became the flagship for Pelagic Expeditions, and is considered one of the most capable high latitude charter vessels under sail. In addition to adventure-minded tourists, Pelagic has provided support for mountaineers, skiers and cold-water divers as well as safety cover for kayak and small boat expeditions. Skip has contributed to and been featured in dozens of documentary films internationally, and is frequently asked to comment on Antarctic tourism by the media. Skip has also provided consultancy services to one-off visits of large luxury yachts to destinations in the South.

Pelagic Expeditions was the first sailing operation to join IAATO back in 1997, and Skip has been instrumental in advocating and facilitating the Antarctica and South Georgia yachting community to become active in IAATO.

Isabelle Vareille

IAATO Executive Committee

Isabelle joined the Executive Committee in 2013 after having served as Chair of the Membership Committee previously. She is currently the Executive Director of Expeditions and New Destination Programs at Compagnie du Ponant based in Marseilles, France and has a wide range of experience in Antarctica.