After many years knowing Jamie Regan from Barwoman of National Geographic Explorer Expedition Ship in Chile, finally, she visited Chile and we had a nice conversation and explore new adventure with the launching of AndesWinesTV.
¿What did you study and how did you ended up being the bartender del crucero NatGeo Explorer Expedition Ship?
I studied English and Journalism at DePaul University, graduating with a bachelor of arts in English and a minor in technical writing. While in Chicago, I did a lot of writing for the school, finding interesting subjects like fireman and local business owners as well as people who immigrated to Chicago to start a new life! While in Chicago, I continued working in restaurants, as I have done all my life. This is where I started bartending.
After graduating, my best friend and I moved to the US Virgin Islands. I continued to bartend in paradise for three years. From there, I moved to Alaska to bartend at a restaurant right outside of Denali National Park. When my contract there was completed, I road tripped with a good friend from Alaska back to Chicago. This took seven weeks. While on the road trip, we visited Napa, Sonoma and Willamette Valley, touring wineries and the countryside.
One of my good friends from St. John knew I wanted to work on ships, so he put me in contact with a girl that worked for Lindblad Expeditions. I applied while still in Alaska, and got a phone call while on the way to a winery tour in Oregon. I did a 45 minute phone interview and received a phone call ten days later offering me a job on the National Geographic Sea Bird and Sea Lion. I worked on those vessels for over a year, before I was offered a job on the National Geographic Explorer. The rest is history! I will celebrate seven years onboard the Explorer in May.
I started with the company working eight months/year. My schedule was two months on, one month off. When I transferred to the Explorer, I worked six months/year, with those months being broken up into two contracts. I now work four months onboard, mostly in Antarctica.
When I sign on and off the ship, I always travel for at least a week or two on both ends. One year, I signed off in Bremerhaven, Germany. I went on a local website for carpooling. The purser from the ship and I rode to Berlin with two German girls who were going there for the weekend. We explored Berlin and visited the bar that my American friend started with a few friends there. We also explored the city and all the history and cultural offerings it has.
From there, we went back to the ship. I took a flight to Stockholm, where I have lived before in the past. I stayed with friends and hung out in a city I love. I went out to good restaurants, drank good wine and got to go play in the countryside with my friends.
From there, it was onto Baia Mare, Romania. I flew from Stockholm to Budapest, Hungary. I had to wait for five hours for my bus transfer to Baia Mare. The bus transfer to Baia Mare was seven hours through the Hungarian countryside. Once I arrived, I was greeted by my good friend, Adrian. He lives in Baia Mare with his wife and three children. Adrian and I met each other in Chicago. He also met his wife, Mariana, in Chicago. They both grew up in Romania, but their paths never crossed until they arrived in Chicago.
They own a restaurant and built an apartment right behind the restaurant. The first thing Adrian does in the morning is go downstairs to the restaurant kitchen and make food for the kids, if the kids haven’t snuck down there already. I ate a lot of delicious meals in Romania.
We did a TON of exploring in Romania! From taking a steam-engined train through the mountains to exploring the Merry Cemetery, they kept me busy.
From Romania, I traveled to Istanbul, Turkey. A city full of culture, food and exploring, I fell in love with the city and the people there. I stayed at an airbnb with a local girl who took me to all the local markets that tourists don’t usually visit. I went to the Grand Bazaar, Haga Sofia, and to all the little knooks and crannies in the city. It was an amazing experience and I cannot wait to go back.
From Turkey, I went back to Sweden, this time going to the south to stay with friends and see family. My friend and her fiancée are building a house down there, so I went and stayed with them. I went to work at a gas station that Sofie works at for a day. I helped stock shelves and clean the store. Everyone thought I was Swedish, so they would come in the store greeting me in Swedish and asking me questions about the store and random things. They laughed when they realized I wasn’t Swedish and was only working there for a day.
Sofie and I drove to see my mom’s Swedish sister and her husband. We stayed and hung out on their farm. I went out with Allan to count lambs. Literally, to go out and count lambs! We grilled local lamb and made chutney and just caught up on life.
After Sweden, it was to see my mom in Kansas City. Then, back to the Virgin Islands to collect my bags and move to a new place in Florida I had never been! My best friend lived there and told me I should come live with her and her husband.
This time around, I will split my time between Buenos Aires and Chile. Next time I sign off, I am planning on Easter Island, Bolivia, Peru. The possibilities are endless!
The most amazing thing about my job is the places I get to see and the people I work with. Onboard the National Geographic Explorer, we are like one big family. You will never hear someone say, «It’s not my job.» That’s not how it works. We are all there to provide the best guest experience we can and if that means I have to do something that might not be in my job title, by all means, we will do it.
¿Which is your future dream job?
My job as bartender is one of the best! I have a flexible schedule, allowing me to get ashore quite often. We serve hot chocolate to the guests dressed as vikings from a zodiac. We set up a table at Port Egmont, the first British settlement in the Falkland Islands, serving the guests champagne and allowing them to wander the ruins and the beach, taking in the beauty and history of the Falkland Islands.
I have been searching for limes in West Africa because we ran out. A guest couldn’t understand why we didn’t have limes. SO, I ventured out in Gabon to hit the market and find limes. Needless to say, I did not find limes. But, what bartender’s job requires her venturing out in West Africa to find supplies?
The view from the ship’s window is amazing. From my «office,» I get to see all kinds of marine mammals, penguins, polar bears, seals, icebergs, etc. My view is always changing! We are allowed a unique opportunity to take guests to places we have come to love and it is our passion. We get paid to share our passion for these wild places, creating passion in the guests we encounter.
The guests are also a crucial part of our work. Without them, we would be paying to see these amazing places, which most of us cannot afford! They are enthusiastic and they are different types of travelers. They like the historical part, the cultural part and the nature part of it. They sign up to come onboard to see guests lecturers and hear our naturalists talk about their specialities. Where else can you go and hear the story of the Falklands War from both perspectives? Russ Evans, our expedition leader, is s sixth generation Falkland Islander. Santiago Imberti grew up in Argentina, right where the action was happening during the war. To hear a talk given by these two men together over their experiences and what they saw during that time is something that you rarely find.
¿What do you do when not working?
Right now, I am living my dream job. To expand on that, it would be great if I could travel and write and share my experiences off the ship as well. I would love to continue doing what I do in expedition travel, but expand that to my own personal experiences while traveling more full time.
When I am not onboard the ship, I am working full time at home at two places. One is a wine bar in Seaside, FL and the other is a southern restaurant, also in Seaside. My best friend and I started a business recently to sell artisan goods from around the world. That involves only buying from small artisans and getting their stories to share with the consumers we sell to.
I paddle board, hike, ride my bike, write, read a lot of books and try to be outside as much as possible. Florida is good for now, but it is not forever. I have yet to figure out where I want to be when I am not traveling.
¿Why did you come to Chile?
I came to Chile to see my friend, Max from AndesWines.com, he is Wine Expert of National Geographic Explorer and before Endeavour! We met years ago on the ship and I have been saying I would come here for a few years. Instead of going to Uruguay, I bit the bullet and bough a ticket to come to Santiago to see him and catch up and get some writing and research done. Also, as a seaman, I had to leave Argentina within 72 hours to get my passport stamped from another country.