Cruises can take you to places you haven’t been before, which can bring out a bit of your inner explorer. Some cruises will take you to rugged, beautiful locations where few people have ever been; that’s called an expedition cruise, and when you choose one, you become an explorer automatically. If you’re familiar with mainstream cruises, there are some important differences you need to think about when deciding if an expedition cruise is for you.
First, the ships. Expedition ships are small, built to maneuver into ports that are well off the beaten path. The ships are very comfortable and even luxurious, but you won’t find alternative dining venues, vast entertainment areas or pool decks. The focus of an expedition cruise is not what’s on the ship, but what you’ll see when you leave the ship.
There are different crew roles than you’ll find on a mainstream cruise. Instead of a social director, you’ll have an expedition leader, as well as experts who will educate you about the region you’re sailing to.
Mainstream cruises rarely vary from their set schedules, while expedition ships are more likely to change course when the crew spots some wildlife, or the captain identifies a smoother path through the water.
The process of getting from ship to shore is different (which may have implications if you have any mobility issues). On an expedition cruise, you’re less likely to step off the ship onto a dock; you’re more likely to step from the ship into an inflatable Zodiac craft that will take you to shore.
So, where do these adventurous cruises go? Destinations include:
The Amazon. Some ocean-going ships sail up the river as far as Manaus, Brazil, but smaller expedition ships can sail the Peruvian portion of the river, stopping to visit villages surrounded by the jungle and its wild, colorful inhabitants.
Antarctica. It’s an incredibly inhospitable environment, but cruising to Antarctica is on many bucket lists. That probably has something to do with the stunning scenery and abundant sea life, from waddling penguins to magnificent whales.
The Arctic. Expedition ships sail to the northern reaches of Norway, where you can hike the tundra and take in spectacular scenery (including northern lights).
Galapagos Islands. Tourism here is strictly controlled to protect the islands’ unique and diverse biosphere, and a cruise is one of the best ways to go.
Expedition cruises can also take you to some of the less-visited parts of Alaska, the South Pacific, Central America, Patagonia and more. Interested? Ask Anita, your professional travel advisor for more details.
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