Cruise like you mean it – the boldness of adventure travel by sea

Adventure travel has become increasingly popular in recent years as more and more travelers seek out unique and thrilling experiences for their vacations. And we love hearing from travelers who have cruised in remote regions and want to share their wilderness adventure stories with us.

Cruise lines are adding new ships to their fleets, designed solely to visit remote and wild regions of the world and destinations that sometimes neither you nor I have heard of.

This type of travel offers cruise guests access to the Amazon rainforest, Papua New Guinea, the Galápagos Islands, the Arctic Circle, and the Antarctic. It allows us to explore the natural world as we have never seen before and even try hiking and rafting through these landscapes.

One of the best ways to experience adventure travel – especially for those who still want creature comforts around us and a seamless journey there and back – is by joining an expedition cruise.

Opting for this type of vacation has many benefits, including the convenience of having all transportation and accommodation taken care of and the ability to visit multiple destinations during the journey.

Additionally, the specially designed cruise ships for these regions offer luxury accommodations and the all-inclusive concept of meals and drinks. Excursions are booked with the cruise line, and you travel in small groups with a guide. Comforting. Especially when you see that polar bear on the horizon.

When cruises and conservation can go hand-in-hand

Probably one of the best benefits is the opportunity to participate in much more than just a unique sightseeing cruise. With knowledgeable guides and experts on board, such as conservationists, geologists, and naturalists, you can participate in an educational program that delivers inspirational talks, lectures, and workshops for the destinations you visit.

So your adventure holiday becomes both a thrill and an educational and cultural all-immersive experience. You can enjoy a journey with a sense of purpose in a way where you can be part of nature, not just a bystander.

It’s also important to note that adventure travel, especially by cruise ships, has come under criticism for the possible negative impact on the environment, and travelers need to be mindful of their actions and their effects on local communities and the ecology of the region.

Cruise lines in recent years have made huge strides in supporting conversation efforts in the regions they visit through a wide range of partner programs with scientists and marine conservation charities.

How the cruise lines are joining efforts to sustain our natural world

It is also not unusual that some cabins on board expedition cruises are given to experts who conduct research in the region using portable research tools and technologies.

So all the while you are enjoying your cruise vacation, just outside your window, scientists are advancing research into the region, developing and expanding our understanding of what is happening in and around our oceans.

Royal Caribbean, for example, is in a 5-year partnership program to support the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and its global conservation work.

Norwegian Cruise Lines supports the restoration of coral reefs in the Caribbean, and Silversea is in partnership with the marine charity ORCA. In addition, Seabourn has a partnership with UNESCO.

Constant innovation to conserve our oceans

Cruise ships today are taking steps to minimize their environmental impact, especially in remote regions where the impacts of tourism can be more pronounced. Some of the measures that cruise lines are taking include:

  • Implement more efficient propulsion systems and use clear fuels to reduce air and water pollution.
  • Reducing waste by recycling water onboard.
  • Implement water treatment systems to reduce the amount of sewage discharged into the ocean.
  • Using shore power to reduce emissions while in port.
  • Incorporation of sustainable practices into their shore excursions and activities.
  • Industry-wide, the latest cruise ships will now be fully powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG).

Cruise lines are also subject to various laws and regulations that govern their operations in remote regions. For example, in Antarctica, all tour operators, including cruise lines, must adhere to the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators guidelines to minimize tourism’s impact on the environment and wildlife. These guidelines include restrictions on the number of visitors allowed in certain areas and rules on how visitors can interact with nature.

In the Arctic, the International Maritime Organization has implemented the Polar Code, which sets out safety and environmental standards for ships operating in the Arctic; the Polar Code includes a requirement for ships to have special equipment and training for navigating in icy conditions as well as regulations for the discharge of waste and protection of the maritime environment.

What to consider when choosing an adventure travel cruise

When choosing an adventure travel cruise, there are a few key factors to consider to find the best option to suit your interests and preferences. Here are a few tips to help you make your decision:

  • Consider your destination: Think about where you want to go and what you want to experience. Are you looking for a cultural adventure, or are you interested in wildlife and natural landscapes? Do you want a tropical climate or a colder region, such as an Artic Circle cruise? Different cruise lines and itineraries will focus on different destinations and experiences, so choose one that aligns with your interests.
  • Look into the excursions and activities offered: Many adventure travel cruises offer a variety of excursions and activities led by experts. Find out who is onboard your cruise ship and that it is a field of expertise you are interested in. This will add a great deal of value to the whole immersive experience in the region you visit. Also, check what the tours and activities cost or if they are included in the price of the cruise.
  • Check the ship’s amenities and services: consider what amenities and services you want on your cruise. Many expedition ships are smaller, so cabins may not be huge. Some have a casual atmosphere, others more luxurious. Some ships may have more amenities for adventure travel, such as zodiacs or kayaks. I know that when I choose my cruise, I would like the opportunity to explore the landscape close-up on a zodiac. I can’t imagine a more exciting way to explore.
  • Read reviews: Before booking your adventure travel cruise, read reviews from other travelers to get a better idea of what to expect. This can also help you identify any potential issues or concerns.
  • Research the company’s sustainability policies and ensure they align with your values.

For your next adventure cruise journey, be prepared to side-step out of your comfort zone and find your inner explorer. Meeting like-minded travelers, awaking curiosity, and giving a powerful insight into the wilds of nature is what I, for one, hope to bring home with me.

Have you recently been on an expedition cruise and would like to share your experience with us? We’d love to hear from you at

Meet the author: Sarah has created and booked hundreds of travel itineraries for thousands of customers during a career in the travel industry that spans 20 years. Having worked hand in hand with cruise lines, hotels, airlines and tour operators worldwide, she offers inspiring & detailed insights in the world of travel and tourism.