Visiting far-flung places in the world have, for the most of us, only been a pipedream. Often left to those who are truely daring and who take the meaning of being adventurous to a whole new level. But not any more. Now there are numerous expedition cruises offering unique vacations to remote locations that will leave an indelible mark on your life experiences.
An expedition cruise is a fantastic way to explore the world’s most spectacular destinations. It offers travelers an opportunity of embarking on an expedition ship, instead of a more conventional cruise ship. You explore remote places in style and comfort, with knowledgable guides at your service.
Expedition cruises are often associated with polar expeditions to reach the top of the world, or journeys across untouched wildernesses. But there are plenty of opportunities for having memorable expedition experiences in warmer climates, such as the Amazon.
The expedition cruise ships are smaller vessels, sleeker in design, allowing everyone to enjoy the full expedition experience in comfort. Their small size means that can reach smaller more remote and lesser known beaches and ports. You get closer to nature in every sense giving a really authentic travel experience.
What can you expect on an expedition cruise?
An expedition cruise ship offers many of the same types of facilities – albeit on a much smaller scale – as larger cruise ships. Plus they offer expedition tours in small groups led by specialized guides such as marine biologists. This provides ample opportunities for you to really experience the environment you are visiting.
These special expedition team members are onboard these small ships to help you to fully enjoy your surroundings, whether it be in the water or on land. The ships are equipped with a special excursion craft, RIBs (rigid inflatable boats), submarines, kayaks, boots and binoculars.
Imagine spotting arctic foxes in their natural world, or sea lions and polar bears from your cruise ship. Your expedition team makes these intriguing destinations possible through shore excursions that you will be talking about for a long time after your are home.
And like other regular cruises, your vessel will have comfortable accommodations, good cuisine, and a variety of activities onboard, although all low-key compared to regular cruise ships.
You can be sure that you will get personalized experience, from learning about select destinations with experts, to small group sizes and activity options.
You will certainly have a more intimate experience then on a traditional large cruise liner. An expedition vessel will typically carry between 100 and 300 passengers. Cabins are usually smaller, but have everything you need.
Small ship cruising, big exotic destinations
The most popular destinations to visit on an expedition ship include Antarctica, Alaska, Norway, Iceland, the Great Lakes in North America, the polar regions and the Galapagos Islands. Some cruise lines even offer trips to the Chilean Fjords, Cape Horn, and the Brazilian coastline.
Expedition vessels generally attract older passengers than other types of cruises using larger ships, with very few families or young guests. This is a very specialized vacation.
Is there entertainment onboard an expedition cruise?
Entertainment on an expedition cruise includes lectures by naturalists and historians, and films provided by onboard expedition staff describing wildlife behavior or historical events relating to your destination.
Onboard seminars tailored to small ship cruising provide content that helps connect daily experiences with planned expedition programs. Lecturers range from global experts to local personalities who wish to share their unique perspectives about specific destinations.
Additional entertainment options for expedition ships’ guests include enrichment lectures on board. These cover topics ranging from photography to cultural insights into societies encountered during stops on your itinerary.
What is an ice-breaker ship?
An ice-breaker ship is a specially designed vessel that is specifically made to break through ice-covered waters. These types of expedition ships can navigate in polar regions in conditions that other cruise ships cannot.
There are a few different cruise lines that offer expedition cruises onboard ice-breaker ships. One such line is Quark Expeditions, which operates expedition cruises to the Arctic and Antarctic regions. Other cruise lines that offer expedition cruising are highlighted below.
Which cruise lines offer cruises onboard expedition ships?
These companies offer cruises on purpose-built expedition ships that have been specifically designed for navigating challenging waters. Guests have the opportunity to explore off the beaten path, often in a lesser known destination, a unique feature of small ship cruising. Excursions are led by knowledgable. expert guides.
In 2022 Viking River Cruises and Viking Ocean Cruises introduce their Viking Expeditions brand. Viking has long been top of the class in terms of quality for both ocean and river cruises.
Viking’s expedition cruises will carry 378 guests and be custom built for expedition cruising to remote destinations. There are currently 2 planned expedition ships taking guests on itineraries to Antartica, The Artic and the popular destination of the Great Lakes in North America. Itineraries range from 10 to 47 days at sea, so there will be something to suit you.
The Viking Octantis and the Viking Polaris will allow you to travel in style and onboard you will find elegant facilities including a spa and wellness center, a gym, audiotorium and observatory lounges.
Celebrity Cruises offer small ship adventures on Celebrity Xpedition, the only expedition ship in their fleet.
This ship explores the wildlife, flora and fauna of only one destination, and that is the Galapagos Islands. The nature around the shore line of the islands is stunning, much of which is only accessible by boat. The small ship ensures you get close up to the wildlife – in style! The boat carries only 49 passengers, so a true luxury, small ship experience.
Onboard the Celebrity’s expedition ship there are 4 different suite categories so you can choose the style and price point that suits you best. Passengers opting for true luxury choose the penthouse suite. In addition to the suites, there are also premium staterooms all having a window with sea view.
Silver Seas offer 4 expedition ships in their fleet that sail all over the world on 35 different itineraries. Regions include South Pacific Islands, Russian Far East, South America, Central America, Australia and New Zealand, Galapogos Islands, the Arctic and Greenland and Antarctica.
A small ship expedition cruise with Silver Seas, with each ship accepting under 300 guests, is an All Inclusive cruise. And it really means just that – transfers, excursions, flights and pre- and post cruise hotel nights are all included in your cruise price. Now that’s the ultimate way to travel in style on this luxury, once-in-a-lifetime journey.
Quark Expeditions offer expedition cruises to some of the most beautiful and remote regions in the world. From the polar ice caps to the lush rainforests, Quark Expeditions offers something for the explorer in you.
Known for their expertly guided polar expeditions, the Ultra Marine is their largest and newest vessel with a guest capacity of 199 passengers. It also has 2 twin-engine helicopters and 20 zodiacs. Onboard is suite accommodation, a restaurant, bistro, spa and gym and an auditorium for listening to experts in their field on the environment, landscapes and wildlife you will see.
Seabourn Expedition Cruises
Seabourn Expedition Cruises, a member of the Carnival Corporation, specialize in sailing in the northern and southern polar regions. The Seabourn Venture is their expedition cruise ship that takes you to places where there are few people and certainly no crowds.
You can visit the best wildlife viewing, fishing, and beach destinations in French Polynesia’s Tuamotu Archipelago. Hike with an expert guide through virgin rainforest. You can also enjoy some of the most beautiful beaches in the world while enjoying complimentary water sports like kayaking, snorkeling, paddle boarding, surfing and more!
This is a great opportunity for travelers who want to experience untouched paradise. The Seabourn Venture is a brand ship new with it’s sister ship Seabourn Pursuit due to be launched in 2023. You feel like you are travelling in a private club, with all amenities at your finger tips. Polar cruising has never been so luxurious.
Lindblad Expeditions is a world-renowned adventure travel company, specializing in unique and intimate cruising experiences. Explore some of the most breathtaking and exotic destinations on Earth.
Whether you’re looking for an awe-inspiring safari cruise or an adventure through the Arctic Circle, Lindblad offers a quality and luxury that is unforgettable.
With a 50 year history, Lindblad Expeditions are leaders in their field of providing guests with informative and up-close trips into the wild and wonderful. There are 15 expedition ships, the newest being National Geographic Resolution. Together with its sister ship, National Geographic Endurance, each has space for 126 guests. It’s expedition excellence with outstanding comfort.
Are expedition cruises for you?
If you’re looking for a different kind of holiday experience, a cruise holiday onboard expedition ships may be exactly what you had in mind. Here are a few things to consider which are an important factor:
- Expedition cruises are typically more expensive than traditional cruises.
- The ships that sail on expedition cruises are smaller. They do not offer the grand-scale facilities and lively entertainment that other cruise ships. The focus is on lectures, talks and presentations. Low-key live music is on board some ships.
- The destinations that expedition cruises visit can be more remote and challenging to get to. You should be prepared for this and have a mindset well prepared for adventure.
- The fact you are visiting remote places means risks increase. Safety is very important. Some expedition cruises require fitness or medical certificates from your doctor saying you are fit to travel and participate in an expedition cruise. Directions during excursions must be strictly followed to keep everyone safe. You may have to walk certain paths or not get too close to wildlife for example.
- Expedition ships generally have goals rather than a timetable. Daily programs are only a guideline of what to expect. Itineraries can vary whilst onboard depending on weather conditions. The captain can also divert the journey to follow, for example, humpback whales if they are spotted.
- Packing guidelines are issued and certain items of clothing must be brought from home to be able to join the tours. For example high waterproof boots in case you step off into shallow water.
- You need to be relatively fit. You will be active on these types of cruises. Everything from climbing in and out of zodiacs, to keeping up with the group tours.
If you’re interested in expedition cruising after taking all these factors into account, then by all means go for it!
Expedition cruises on small ships are a unique and rewarding experience. They allow you to explore some of the most amazing places on earth through expertly arranged shore excursions.