Gary W. Harner

I am a moderately well traveled individual, having been in 55 countries and every continent except Antarctica.  I’ve benefited from the expertise of many fine tour guides, tour directors and cruise directors, but one stands out from the rest of the pack: Mark Nicholls. 

In 2018 I took a trip to Myanmar and cruised the Upper Irrawaddy River with Mark as our Cruise Director.  It was the best trip of my life!  This was due in large part to Mark’s excellent organization and people skills as well as his attention to detail.  He saw to it that this was a trip of a lifetime, seeing to our every need and whim. Mark was also excellent at “winging it,” throwing in additional novel experiences as unforeseen circumstances arose. 

For example, we were to have an evening witnessing local traditional dances with accompanying music, etc. The season had been particularly dry and the Irrawaddy was running low, exposing various sandbars, dunes, etc.  Leave it to Mark! While we had been scheduled to go ashore for this, Mark said “Hey guys, let’s dock next to a sandbar and have our event there!” It made all the difference in the world. What could have been a dry presentation evolved into an experience with all of us joining in on the dancing and whooping–all on a sandbar in the middle of the Upper Irrawaddy River! A joyous night for all. 

Mark’s knowledge of the ship, the country and its people, as well as the needs of his travelers, was unparalleled in my experience.  He saw to every detail–no nuance escaped his attention. 

On a personal note, I required some medication to address some physical discomfort that I was experiencing.  At the very next docking, Mark commandeered a local taxi and got me to a pharmacy for the required elixir.  Situation solved, no problem for Mark. 

His respect for the people who worked for him, as well as the devotion he showed his passengers, was in evidence throughout the trip.  What a terrific Cruise Director, what a terrific guide, what a genuinely wonderful human being!