Despite the growth, the expedition travel industry is still overseeable. Regardless of the company or the country of origin, one knows and appreciates one another, has often worked with each other and maintained contacts besides work. Whether it’s a guide in the expedition team, part of the hotel team or the ship crew, the industry is like one big family. That is why the passing of a member of this “family” always hits everyone hard, especially when it comes unexpectedly.
This is the case with the sudden death of captain Alexey Nazarov last Monday. His long-time employer, Oceanwide Expeditions, announced his passing in a statement on Social media yesterday afternoon. They, too, had been unexpectedly hit by the news and had at first personally informed the other team members, as is customary in a family, before publishing the news.
Alexey Nazarov was born on January 7, 1978 in Arkhangelsk and was proud of his origins. He described himself as Pomore, a member of a tribe from the White Sea region with a close connection to the sea. This was also evident in Alexey, who joined the oldest maritime training centre in Russia at the age of 15 and from where he graduated at the age of 19. He then spent time on research ships and on nuclear icebreakers before starting with at Oceanwide Expeditions in 2000. There he passed through all positions on the Russian ships chartered by Oceanwide. With the arrival of Plancius in the Dutch fleet, Alexey became Cheif Officer on board and from 2012 on, he was its captain. In 2019, he moved to the newly built Hondius and brought it to the Arctic and Antarctic. He spent time at home with his wife and son during the pandemic and hoped to be able to return to the polar regions soon.
Alexey was highly regarded by his teams, both the ship and hotel crews and the expedition teams. His calm and soothing manner, his open nature and his humour made him very popular also with the passengers. Oceanwide wrote in its statement: ‘Alexey’s passing is a shocking blow, especially during these difficult times, and it will forever leave an empty spot in our family. Though our voyages will continue, our fleet will always feel his absence.” He himself appreciated not having to be the center of attention, but to be on the bridge and steer his ships through the icy worlds of the polar regions. More than any other, thanks to his excellent training, he was able to manoeuvre in the ice and steer ships out of complex situations. We were able to experience his outstanding talent many times when we were with him as captain on board.
“When I leave the ship, when I’m on the gangway and just about to step onto dry land, I put my hand against the vessel and in my mind say, “Thank you, Plancius.” That’s my tradition.”Captain Alexey Nazarov
His specialty was to take advantage of the Plancius’ high manoeuvrability and gently park the ship on an ice floe. This allowed guests to take advantage of the unique opportunity to walk on the polar pack ice. In the far north, he often managed to position his ship in such a way that passengers could have great experiences with polar bears, walruses or whales. He often seemed to be one with his ship. In an interview, Alexey Nazarov explained that he has a special tradition: “When I leave the ship, when I’m on the gangway and just about to step onto dry land, I put my hand against the vessel and in my mind say, “Thank you, Plancius.” That’s my tradition.” We will continue his tradition in his memory whenever possible.
Dr Michael Wenger, PolarJournal