An expedition cruise is quite a unique experience offered by some cruise lines. These are the types of cruises that are perfect for nature lovers and adventurous explorers who want to visit areas of the world that are difficult to reach by other means. If you are considering taking one of these cruises, you probably have some questions about what to expect. To give you a helping hand, we’ve got the breakdown on what goes on on one of these cruises and why you should definitely book one for your next vacation!
What is an Expedition Cruise?
Expedition cruises are a different type of cruise that focuses less on luxury services and amenities, and instead offers adventure, exploration, and immersion. These cruises typically travel to more remote destinations that will allow you to experience wilderness and natural wonders close up. They often travel to places that are difficult to get to by other means, like polar regions, isolated islands, and lush rainforests. They are typically educational experiences that focus on teaching the importance of responsible travel and promoting protection of the natural world.
Expedition Cruise Ships
The ships used for expedition cruises are, as you might suspect, a fair bit different from typical cruise ships. For one thing, they are usually smaller in size, so that they can access more remote and shallow-water destinations. This has the added benefit of providing a more personal, intimate experience for their passengers. They also have additional technology, such as stabilizers for choppy waters and strengthened hulls for sailing through ice, so that they can brave more hazardous conditions. These types of advanced ships are offered by Hurtigruten, Silversea, Ponant, Scenic, Seabourn, Celebrity Cruises, and Viking.
Destinations on an Expedition Cruise
They were not kidding when they decided to call these expedition cruises. When taking a voyage on one of these vessels, you will feel like the explorers of old discovering unknown and untouched wonders for the first time. See remote areas like the Arctic or the Galapagos Islands. Venture to the Amazon Rainforest and see if you can spot one of their mysterious pink river dolphins. Explore areas that you couldn’t get to any other way, like the desolate and beautiful Antarctica. You may even get the chance to interact with the indigenous populations of some of these isolated regions!
Water Conditions and Climate
One thing you will definitely want to consider any time you take an expedition cruise is the weather and water conditions of the destinations you are traveling to. There tend to be rough seas in polar regions, which may be an issue for people who are prone to getting seasick. Many destinations have extreme weather conditions and you will want to be comfortable during shore excursions, so it is important to pack appropriate clothing. Also, varying weather can affect itineraries, so be prepared for plans changing at a moment’s notice. It’s all in the name of exotic adventure though, so it is well worth the extra hassle!
As previously mentioned, expedition cruises put their emphasis on adventures rather than luxuries. However, that does now mean that they are devoid of comforts and entertainment. While it does vary from ship to ship, you can expect to have comfortable accommodations and a variety of dining options, from fine dining to regional cuisine offerings. Onboard activities are offered, but usually focus on education and learning, with lectures, workshops, and presentations on a variety of topics that relate to the destinations you will be exploring. This way, passengers gain a better understanding of the ecosystems that they are visiting.
The excursions and activities offered during an expedition cruise always involve getting in touch with mother nature in some way. Often, they will be centered around wildlife encounters with animals in their natural habitat. This means getting the opportunity to see whales, penguins, seabirds, and many more exotic species. Passengers will get to go hiking, kayaking, snorkeling, or wildlife watching with scientists and naturalists as guides to teach them about what they are seeing. Even when wildlife is not involved, excursions will include things like exploring glaciers, visiting archeological sites, and visiting other natural formations.
Sustainable Travel and Environmental Awareness
The main goal of expedition cruises is to educate people and teach them about the need for the conservation and protection of wild animals and their habitats. To that end, they adhere to strict guidelines to protect the ecosystems that they sail to so that they minimize their impact. While you may wish that you could get closer to the animals or explore deeper into the environments, these protocols are crucial to preserving these wondrous landscapes for the animals that live there and for future generations to be able to visit them.
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