Emma (Emmarentia) Hansen was born and raised in the stunning Lowveld area of Mpumalanga, South Africa, adjacent to Kruger National Park. Growing up on a farm, wildlife, animals and nature have always played an integral part in her life.
After a chance cruise in 1998, she switched careers and literally ran away to sea. Moving to Durban, where she completed her commercial skipper’s ticket, she joined the large cruise liners operating in the Indian Ocean as a Zodiac driver. In 2007, her move to ‘small ship cruising’ as an Assistant Expedition Leader greatly enlarged her geographical knowledge and she is now a veteran of the globe, including the polar regions. “No matter how many times you visit, polar expeditions knock you out. The fabulous scale of the Norwegian landscape and the 24 hour daylight are like another world. In the Antarctic, you see this amazing contrast between the bumbling behaviour of seals and penguins on land versus their sheer grace in the water. You are surrounded by a landscape made entirely of water in liquid and solid forms and you are amazed at how beautiful that can be. People often ask, ‘What’s your favourite destination?’, and that’s difficult. My answer is that there are three “g’s” – and then a fourth. There’s the gang (of fellow team members), the guests and the geography. It’s my job to create the chemistry so all three coalesce, and when that happens, then wherever we are it’s great.”