Far-flung destinations like Antarctica, the Galapagos Islands and Greenland are brought vividly to life by Ocean Explorer maps. The maps are pictorial guides and visually stunning souvenirs for passengers on expedition cruises, or anyone with a taste for adventure. Fiona Morrison, Owner of Ocean Explorer, a customer of Dennis Maps, shares more.

 

Nigel in AntarcticaTell us how Ocean Explorer began…

My Stepfather, Nigel Sitwell, started the company in 1999. Nigel was the most amazing explorer! He was one of the early itinerary designers for adventure travel, creating incredible experiences across the globe. Among his many achievements, he was the Editor of BBC Wildlife magazine, had a stint in Canada flying planes, and was Chairman of the Galapagos Conservation Trust. Nigel had a passion for travel and was an Expedition Leader on cruises to the Antarctic. He took over 20 trips there and at least 40 to the Galapagos Islands too. Nigel saw that passengers on adventure cruises wanted information about where they were visiting and what they’d see along the way. He Created Ocean Explorer to meet this need and share his passion and knowledge.

Why was travel so important to Nigel?

Travel was absolutely in his DNA. He was at his happiest when seeing all that our amazing world had to offer.

 

Sustainable travel was important to Nigel too. Can you tell us more?

He was a passionate conservationist. While promoting tourism he’d always talk about sustainable tourism, before this was even popular. Tourism in the Galapagos Islands is tightly monitored, and he was an early advocate for that.

Lonesome GeorgeWhat do you think makes Ocean Explorer maps so unique?

Our collection of maps covers areas that expedition cruises visit – from Alaska to the Antarctic. They’re not intended for navigation but are filled with vivid photography and fascinating content. Inside them you’ll find biographies of explorers who visited the area, historical timelines, plus information on native people, the flora and fauna. They’re something tangible you can use on an adventure cruise and a souvenir you can take home too.

How did you come to take over the business?

In 2013 I started working with Nigel to help him out, as his health was beginning to impact his work. He taught me how his passion worked, and he trusted me to continue the relationships he had built with his customers. It has been an honour to continue his work since he sadly died in 2017.

What do you enjoy most about running Ocean Explorer?

It’s the contact with our customers and the relationships you create. They’re a pleasure to do business with.

Have you come across any challenges while creating Ocean Explorer maps?

Brexit has been challenging because we export a lot of our maps to the European Union, so they now have to go through customs. This means there are extra hoops to jump through and extra costs. I’m eternally grateful that our European customers have stuck with us.

antarctic explorer map

Do you have a personal favourite map from the Ocean Explorer collection?

I can’t say I have a personal favourite – it’s like asking which is your favourite child! The first map was the Antarctic Explorer and it’s our best seller. It’s a wonderful map. I get a lot of cruise ship passengers reaching out saying how they’ve enjoyed the map and asking about our other products.

Are there plans for any new maps in the pipeline?

There are no immediate plans to create new maps. Right now, the focus is more on keeping Nigel’s passion, knowledge and expertise alive. We make sure his maps are current and accurate. We’ve just reprinted the newest 2024 version of the Galapagos Explorer map and we’ve added the latest area that the Galapagos Tourist Board has approved for tourists. It also includes information about the Galapagos Conservation Trust, in recognition of Nigel’s time with them and the important work they do.

What does Ocean Explorer mean to you?

I consider myself extremely lucky that Nigel was in my life and that he trusted me to continue his work. My hope is that I can keep sharing his passion, and ensure his expertise is available for other people.

To purchase an Ocean Explorer map, as a single item or a bulk order, please email fiona@oceanexplorer.co.uk. More information about the maps can be found on the Ocean Explorer website.

Dennis Maps is one of the leading map printers in the world, producing more than two million maps and charts every year. We offer comprehensive pre-press services, large format print solutions using both large format litho printing and large format digital print technologies, plus specialised map folding and map finishing techniques.

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