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Meet the Experts - Theatre One

Our two Meet the Experts Theatres have over 50 hours of expert talks covering the different corners of the globe. The experienced travellers who give the talks, share their insights and advice as they take you on fascinating and memorable journeys inspiring your next holiday. 

Meet the Experts Theatre One is brought to you in association with The Times and The Sunday Times. Each day their experts host a panel session covering the hottest topics in travel.

The Times The Sunday Times

Click the individual sessions to reveal more about what you can expect.

To view the timetable for Meet the Experts Theatre Two click here



- 11:45am: Sicily: more than just a cruise ship destination

Perhaps boosted by the BBC program "Sicily Unpacked", or by "Montalbano", Sicily has for some years enjoyed a steadily increasing influx of tourists. Many of these are day-trip visitors on cruise ships who enjoy a day in Taormina, on Etna or in Palermo. All this is good for the economy of the local towns but does little to further the small towns in the interior. In recent years, several of these towns have become affiliated to "i Borghi più belli d'Italia" and several of them (Gangi, Sambucca di Sicilia, and Montalbano Elicona) have won the title. Could this be a future for these towns? And what do they offer the tourist? Could they be the new "destinations" for discerning travellers?


Speaker: Mr Damian Croft - licensed tour guide in Sicily and owner/director of Esplora Travel

Esplora Ltd

- 12:45pm: Bucket List 2018

Speaker: Chris Haslam and Alessia Horwich

The Times & The Sunday Times

- 1:45pm: Travel Photography Tips from Madagascar

Matthew will discuss travel photography tips and tricks, illustrated using portrait, landscape and wildlife photos he took on a recent trip to destinations including Ranomafana, Andasibe and Isalo National Parks in Madagascar. He will explain why Madagascar is the perfect country for varied travel photography, discuss the challenges of breaking the ice and building up rapport during street portraiture. He will also offer compositional ideas and techniques to help people get the most out of a situation they are photographing, be it a colourful chameleon, a beautiful landscape or a busy street scene.

Speaker: Matthew Williams-Ellis, Travel Photographer

Pioneer Expeditions

- 2:45pm: In search of Wilderness

Antarctica, Arctic, The Galapagos Islands… Thanks to the BBC’s documentary series Planet Earth and Blue Planet II these fascinating wildlife destinations are back on the map, and one of the best ways to explore them is by joining an expedition ship.

But how about the lesser known, yet equally mesmerizing marine life hotspots such as the Sea of Cortez in Baja California, where hundreds of dolphins chase tuna, Mobula rays leap out of the water, and Brown pelicans expertly scan the sea surface in search of lunch?

Or sailing in the truly remote, wild Russian Far East where eyes rest on volcanic landscape and a rich sea? Various species of whales are often in view; Steller sea lions, northern fur seals, and Pacific walruses haul out on rugged coastline; Brown bears roam in mainland Kamchatka and myriads of pelagic sea birds stop in the Kuril and Aleutian Islands to breed and nest.

Join Christian Walter, Silversea Expeditions’ onboard historian and expedition team member on a visual journey to these wondrous places in search of true wilderness.

Speaker: Akvile Marozaite - Regional Sales Manager

Silversea Cruises

- 3:45pm: The Best Luxury Experiences in South America

Join director of Latin Routes, Martin Johnson, for an inspiring and informative talk on the best luxury experiences in South America. Presented as a series of countdowns, topics include the finest ways to get to Machu Picchu, the best lodge experiences in Patagonia, the most luxurious ships in the Galapagos and more. Enjoy a mixture of inspiration and practical information, to inspire your travel plans across this fascinating continent.

Speaker: Martin Johnson - Director of Latin Routes

Latin Routes

- 10:45am: UNESCO Sites of Iran

Middle East expert Diana Darke talks about her experience travelling in Iran. An integral part of the Silk Road and home to some of the world's most incredible archaeological sites, her talk will focus on the UNESCO sites of Iran (of which there are 21). Join her on a unique journey through Iran - from the vast expanses of the ancient Persian capitals of Pasargadae and Persepolis to exquisite mosques, palaces and ancient water systems.

Speaker: Diana Darke - Bradt author & travel writer

Travel The Unknown

- 11:45am: Pioneering the Breakaway States - Abkhazia, Nagorno Karabakh and Transnistria

Some of the most intriguing destinations are the breakaway-states; regions that have declared independence but aren’t yet formally recognised as a country. This presentation is about three Regent group tours in 2018 to Abkhazia, Nagorno Karabakh and Moldova which includes a visit to Transnistria. Why to visit and what you will see in these fascinating destinations. It will be delivered by the experts who put together these tours from scratch. Abkhazia Regent's Pioneering Abkhazia Group Tour departs in May 2018 and introduces curious travellers to Abkhazia, a Caucasus region to the west of Georgia, from its crumbling Soviet-era architecture to its remote mountainous regions and Black Sea coast. Nagorno Karabakh The landlocked mountainous region of Nagorno Karabakh is an ethnic Armenian enclave inside Azerbaijan that declared independence in 1992 – an independence recognised by no one except Transnistria, Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Despite decades of languishing as a breakaway Caucasus state of the former Soviet Union, the natural beauty and cultural richness of this isolated mountain landscape is undeniable. Transnistria On Regent's Undiscovered Moldova Group Tour, you will spend the day exploring Transnistria, a self-proclaimed independent republic inside Moldova, with its own currency, police force and border guards. Located 40 miles southeast of Chisinau in the Nistru Valley, the administrative capital, Tiraspol, is a living museum of Soviet culture. With a population of 200,000, the city has its share of Lenin statues and monuments such as a T-34 tank on a pedestal. Presentation with a video of Abkhazia followed by Q&A.

Speaker: Carl Meadows - Senior Travel Specialist Andrea Godfrey - General Manager

Regent Holidays

- 12:45pm: Ask the Travel Editors

Speaker: Jane Knight, Ed Grenby and Martin Hemming

The Times & The Sunday Times

- 1:45pm: Journeys Along the Old Silk Road

The wilds of Central Asia are amongst some of the most mysterious and fascinating regions anywhere on earth. These are lands that still stir the imagination, where glittering palaces of turquoise and gold emerge like shimmering mirages from the desert plains and the call to prayer transports us back to a time of merchant caravans and nomadic invaders. 

Join Wild Frontiers’ Product & Operations Director, Marc Leaderman, who with more than 20 years’ experience travelling, leading groups and designing tours across the region, will offer an insight into the wonders of the ancient Silk Road and the unique cultures that have survived and flourished for 1000s of years in one of the most remote corners of the world – from China, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and TurkmenistanUnveiling in Iran: A Feast of Ancient Sights, Culture & Cuisine

Speaker: Marc Leaderman – Product & Operations Director, Wild Frontiers

Wild Frontiers

- 2:45pm: The Great Rail Way - Switzerland’s Greatest Rail Journeys

One of the world's most scenic locations, Switzerland boasts beauty like almost no other nation can. From the peaks of its spectacular mountains, to its luscious Alpine valleys, Switzerland's striking allure is impossible to ignore. With so many natural, cultural and historic facets to explore, an escorted rail tour in Switzerland provides an exciting and rewarding alpine adventure for everyone. This talk will explore the highlights of travelling in Switzerland by rail, including the world-famous Glacier Express, which winds its way through some of Europe's most beautiful scenery, and the Jungfrau Railway which travels to the breath-taking 'Top of Europe'.

Speaker: Ken Davis - Tour Manager

Great Rail Journeys

- 3:45pm: Discovering the Arctic for the first time

Choosing an expedition cruise to the Arctic can be a daunting prospect. With so many options available it's often difficult to know where to start. During this presentation we'll introduce this fantastic destination and focus on the different expedition cruises that are available in the Arctic. We'll look at when to go, the different itineraries on offer, the wildlife and sights you are likely to see, what a typical day entails and the different ships that you can choose from. By the end of the talk you should have a clear idea on which trip is going to be most suitable for you!

Speaker: Simon Evans - UK Manager, Chimu Adventures


- 10:45am: Japan: Traditional Vs Modern

Japan has an array of experiences to encounter, both ancient and modern. As a destination of contrasts from high-tech robots to traditional Geisha girls and vibrant cities to tranquil temples, find out how to dive in head first experience it all. Wendy Wu Tours will provide tips and insider expert knowledge of the best way to travel through Japan, plus the best times to visit.

Speaker: Mark Harris - Senior Business Development Manager

Wendy Wu Tours

- 11:45am: Bolivia's lowlands

Let Bolivian-born Bibiana transport you to her country. Bolivia is mainly known for its high Andes: the spectacular city of La Paz, Lake Titicaca – the heart of Incan mythology, the spectacular Uyuni Salt Flats, and the silver mines of Potosi which financed Spanish colonial power. But 60% of Bolivia is lowlands. The entire northeast is covered with Amazon rainforest and wild savannahs, spreading east to the Pantanal wetlands which Bolivia shares with Brazil. Hear about the plains of the Llanos de Moxos and some intriguing recent archaeological discoveries. The curious wooden churches in the Bolivian Missions and the wildlife of Amboro National Park with its jaguars, spectacled bear and 900 birds.

Speaker: Bibiana Tellez Garside - Marketing Director


- 12:45pm: What's New for Cruise in 2018


Speaker: Sara Macefield

The Times & The Sunday Times

- 1:45pm: The Unique Side of Africa

Africa is famous for its unrivalled wildlife viewing, but there is also so many new and unique ways to discover more than just the wildlife, experience the incredible culture, welcoming people and beautiful landscapes. We want to share these options and help everyone to see and explore the Africa you didn't know existed. Here are just a handful of the unique experiences, places to stay and ways to see Africa: - Luxury rail: covering the Blue Train, Rovos Rail and the Shongololo Express - Seeing the gorillas in Rwanda: a different side to the well-known open plains in most of Africa, Rwanda's rainforests and hills are alive with wildlife - Luxury retreats: with a wide range of luxury product in our programme from private islands and private houses to luxury fly-in camps - Rhino trekking: a new unique experience in Kenya to track rhino on foot, allowing guests to contribute to the protection of this iconic species. - Safari's with an edge: to promote other types of safari's, such as walking, photographic and on horseback. - Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro - We even offer the unique chance to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, with first hand experience on how to reach the 'roof of Africa'

Speaker: Nick Wilson - Senior Destination Manager & Mark Young - Destination Manager

Hayes & Jarvis

- 2:45pm: Why Escorted Touring is a great way to see the world

Speaker: Penny Smith - Presenter and News Reader


- 3:45pm: Wild Indonesia

The island nation of Indonesia bridges the gap between Asia and Australasia, a fact reflected in its fantastically diverse wildlife. The verdant rainforests in the west are home to elephants, gibbons and tigers while its eastern islands house rare birds of paradise, cockatoos and bizarre tree-dwelling marsupials. Sandwiched between are an eclectic collection of animals including orang-utans, flying lizards, impossibly cute primates and the infamous Komodo dragons. Add vibrant coral reefs, a dramatic volcanic landscape and the famous Asian hospitality and you have the recipe for a the perfect wildlife holiday. Travel expert and wildlife photographer Dr Jonathan Morris gives an insight of where to see the best of Indonesia’s wildlife and shares some of his photos of the country.

Speaker: Dr Jonathan Morris - General Manager

Reef & Rainforest Tours

- 10:45am: Adventure travel in Patagonia

For first time visitors Patagonia can be very confusing and the talk would be about 'Luxury and adventure in southern Patagonia', how to get around the region, the best trekking areas and how to do it in style.

Speaker: Simon Williams - Director

Bespoke Latin America

- 11:45am: Predators & Prey – Wildlife Exposed

Paul Goldstein is a photographer and guide with a huge following. Many travel several times a year to be guided by this hard-working award-winning photographer and guide. Antarctica, Spitsbergen and the plains of the Mara are his favourite haunts but he is also very happy in the deserts of Northern Namibia and the Pantanal. Whales, jaguars, polar bears, leopards, tigers, cheetahs and lions will all be on the menu in what will be a lavish, outspoken presentation.

Speaker: Paul Goldstein - Photographer

- 12:45pm: What's Happening With Wine Tourism?

The wine tourism industry has changed significantly. Gone are the days of "stuffy" escorted coach tours for experienced enthusiasts with a closed-door style. Wine tours are now all about authentic and unique experiences and are enjoyed by wine lovers from all walks of life and levels of experience. The focus now is travelling as couples and small groups, enjoying amazing experiences such as meeting the wine-makers, gourmet picnics in the vineyards and even the opportunity to make your own wine! We would like to talk about the change in trends- the new popular European destinations (the Veneto region is booming thanks to the increase in popularity of Prosecco) and tips for having the best experience on your wine tour.

Speaker: Jenna Jones- Product and Sales Manager & Mark Hallett- Managing Director

Grape Escapes

- 1:45pm: Travel Issues: From Responsible Tourism to Safety on the Road

Speaker: Chaired by Jennifer Cox

The Times & The Sunday Times

- 2:45pm: Discover a Different Side To Indochina

Want to discover a different side to Indochina? Want to find out how to travel in a more rewarding, ethical way? Join Rickshaw Travel’s panel of meaningful travel experts and learn how you can get closer to local communities in Indochina, whilst preserving and supporting those communities. You might have the chance to see something completely unique, or interact with the local people in a way that most travellers won’t. Help out a local farmer in the rice fields in Vietnam, experience a castaway island in Cambodia or trek through tropical rainforests in Laos – the possibilities are endless!

Speaker: Jo Ramsey – Head of Sales; Sophia Fadil – Product Manager & Phoenix Marshall – Asia Team Leader

Rickshaw Travel

- 3:45pm: How Canada's Trains made the Country

150 years ago as the then leaders of the various provinces of what is now Canada pondered joining together to form the 2nd largest country in the world the deciding factor was the promise of a railroad from one side to another. 150 years later the railroad is still vital to Canada the country. Visitors to the show however will be interested in how the railroad can be incorporated into a trip. For some 40 year's Malcolm has travel on Canada's railways and is perhaps uniquely placed to offer some ideas. VIA Rail Canada and Rocky Mountaineer both offer options that can be built into many trip plans. By making the train part of your plans you can also experience how the railway made Canada the country it is today.

Speaker: ​Malcolm Peasnall - Product Director

The Independent Traveller