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The perks of an expedition cruise

March 05, 2016 | Martha Banias

We’ve all heard of expedition cruises, that kind of hybrid vacation that sounds somewhat exotic and somewhat rugged and wild. But do you need to be a dedicated adventurer to enjoy an expedition cruise? Or do you have to be a seasoned cruiser? The answer is neither! Expedition cruises are a wonderful type of travel all to themselves, and in my mind they are a bit underestimated. So here I’d like to tell you a bit more about what an expedition cruise really is, and why it could be your new favorite way to travel…

Firstly, if you’re an active traveller with the impression that all cruises are for less active folk, then think again! Forget monster ships with swimming pools, casinos, and thousands of guests. Forget over-crowded hot coastal destinations. Expedition cruises are indeed located on board a boat, but really that’s the only comparison that can be drawn between them and more ‘traditional’ cruise travel.

Here’s why I love expedition cruises:

  1. Expedition cruises take you to the ends of the world, and they’ll take you there in comfort.
    Normal destinations for an expedition cruise include the Arctic, Antarctica, the Galapagos, and other remote places that can be hard to get to, or inhospitable. When you have a boat that provides both transportation and comfortable accommodation, those two big hurdles disappear and suddenly you can immerse fully in places that most people only dream of seeing.
  2. Expedition cruise ships are much, much smaller than your ‘normal’ mega-cruise ships.
    You’ll probably find somewhere between 100-200 like-minded guests on board. This means that huge queues to get on and off the ship just don’t happen, and it is easy to meet new lifetime friends.
  3. You really experience your destination.
    Expedition cruises normally have a very high ratio of staff to guests. And even better than that, the staff are fascinating, highly educated naturalists, biologists, natural historians, geologists, and world travellers. They are experts in the destination, and their job is to share their knowledge and expertise with you. So you don’t just see a beautiful new place, you really come to understand and fully appreciate it too
  4. The photography and wildlife viewing can be spectacular!
    So you might be thinking ‘Yes, but I’m still going to be on board a pretty large boat, and so most wildlife will be far away and hard to see properly’. Not so! Most expedition cruise ships carry Zodiacs (small but highly seaworthy passenger vessels) which can be launched at a moment’s notice, and carry passengers into shallower waters for fantastic wildlife and photography opportunities.

All in all, an expedition cruise is one of the best ways to see remote destinations like the polar regions, even if you would never consider another type of cruise vacation. So don’t hesitate, get out and enjoy our world. And please send me a picture!