A guide to expedition cruise

A guide to expedition cruise

From the polar regions to paradise islands, these incredible adventures are the best way to see the more remote parts of the world

An expedition cruise is the best way for your customers to see parts of the world they would never normally be able to.

The ships are usually smaller and sturdier, meaning that they can access hard to reach ports and get up close to all sorts of wildlife; most sailings will have biologists, geologists and other experts on board to host lectures and guide trips ashore.

Because they are more about education than entertainment, expedition cruises are sometimes seen as more authentic, and as they carry less passengers and the vessels are carefully designed to minimise their impact on the environment around them, they are a more sustainable option, too.

But all of this comes without sacrificing the traditional luxury of a cruise, and expedition cruises offer plenty of creature comforts. Silversea’s newest vessel, Silver Endeavour, which enters service in November, not only has numerous Zodiacs and the latest exploration technology, but it also has a theatre, casino, spa, butler service to every suite and a guest to staff ratio of 1:1.

Unsurprisingly, expedition cruises are often more expensive, but they offer experiences that will never be forgotten. Get it right and you will have a client for life.

Here is a selection of popular expedition cruise destinations with a few suggested itineraries from the lines that specialise in providing these unforgettable adventures.


Places: Glacier Bay, Alaska
Glacier Bay, Alaska

The state of Alaska is not known as the Last Frontier for nothing. Great swathes of icy wilderness and numerous whales, seals and birds make it perfect for adventurous cruisers. The 18-day Alaska and British Columbia itinerary from Hurtigruten on board their state-of-the-art vessel Roald Amundsen sails along Alaska’s rugged coastline and around the remote Aleutian Islands to Nome, near the Arctic Circle, taking in visits to historic ports and bear watching in Katmai National Park.


Greenland is the perfect place to seek a polar adventure, a stark and majestic landscape of icy wonder. The nine-day Greenland Adventure itinerary from Quark Expeditions on their new ship Ultramarine sails from Reykjavík to the fjords on the southeast of the island. From there, guests can visit the more inaccessible areas, such as the glacial high lakes, on one of the ship’s two twin-engined helicopters. Back on land they can roam the tundra with the resident chef and enjoy an unforgettable meal made from local ingredients.


At the other end of the Earth, Antarctica is a very popular expedition cruise destination where customers can follow in the footsteps of Scott and Amundsen, surrounded by wilderness and incredible wildlife, such as penguins and seals. The 10-night Great White Continent itinerary from Seabourn does this on the ultra-luxury, 264-passenger Seabourn Venture which has gourmet dining options, guest speakers, kayaks, Zodiacs and even its own submarines, allowing guests to get even closer to this incredible environment.


The Galapagos Islands

Expedition cruises aren’t just about the polar regions – the otherworldly volcanic archipelago of the Galápagos Islands are another popular destination thanks to their unique wildlife. Silversea’s seven-day round-trip from San Cristóbal on Silver Origin includes shore excursions and Zodiac trips to see turtles and Darwin’s finches. The environmentally conscious vessel is designed especially for the destination with seamless hybrid spaces, all-suite accommodation, butler service and Ecuadorian inspired cuisine.

The Kimberley

A remote area in north of Western Australia, the Kimberley is three times the size of England, but has a population of a little over 36,000, very few roads and a coastline made for adventure. Coral Expeditions have been sailing here for over 30 years and their 10-night Kimberley Cruise itinerary takes in 40,000-year-old rock art with guides and Zodiac trips along the magnificent King George River with its towering 80m twin falls. Sometimes passengers can witness humpback whales on their migration north to breeding grounds.

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