New Ships Put the ‘Luxe’ in Luxury Expedition Cruising to the Remote Oceans of the World
It’s one of the biggest trends in cruising. Not getting bigger, but getting out there. In style.
Expedition cruises used to be only for the most intrepid travelers. You would join a working research vessel on its voyage to a very distant destination, tolerating the discomfort for the once-in-a-lifetime experience of getting up close and personal with the unique and fascinating natural wonders and wildlife of a maritime region you’d never otherwise encounter.
The good news is that you no longer have to sacrifice comfort for the privilege of immersion into a magical and otherwise unreachable marine frontier.
Luxury expedition cruising is coming of age. Smaller vessels, able to reach hidden places even where there are no ports, staffed by scientific experts and guides, equipped with polar-class hulls for ice safety, zodiacs and kayaks and other ways to get off the ship to explore remote shorelines, but also outfitted with superb onboard amenities, design, cuisine and service - give you the very best of both worlds.
Think of them as safaris at sea. New ships are being purpose-built for these one-of-a-kind, bucket list voyages in the distant destinations of your dreams: the Galapagos, Antarctica, Canada’s Northwest Passage… the seas around both of the Earth’s poles and every unspoiled, natural marine destination in between.
Here are the new ships making luxury expedition cruising evermore available to curious, active, travelers who appreciate getting outdoors into Nature… then stepping back into a deluxe and pampered lifestyle.
Crystal Cruise’s first-ever expedition ship sailed in July, 2021 on her inaugural voyage from Reykjavik, a 10-day circumnavigation of Iceland’s dramatic coastlines.
Complimentary excursions led by naturalist experts on the Endeavor’s expedition team include sea kayaking on the waters of the Westfjords in Patreksfjörður, an Arctic Circle walkabout on Grimsey Island, and Zodiac cruising amid mountain landscapes in Djúpivogur. Crystal Endeavor’s expedition leaders and guides for its Iceland voyages include a marine biologist, ornithologist, geologist/glaciologist, historian, two professional photographers, polar expedition specialists and an artist-in-residence who will instruct and encourage guests to capture travel memories with snapshot sketches and drawings.
Zodiacs and kayaks can be launched directly from the ship’s marina. Other expedition ‘toys’ include snorkel gear, a six-person sub, and two helicopters for flightseeing spectacular scenery. A 4K camera capturing the land and seascapes sailing by can be directed by guests in the Palm Court and Expedition Lounge, and the imagery fed to large screens in public areas and guest suites.
(The Endeavor's Expedition Lounge)
The polar-class ship accommodates just 200 guests in 100, all-verandah, all-butler, expansive suites. There’s a one-to-one ratio of staff to guests, guaranteeing highly personalized service. And high tech innovations ensure responsible stewardship of the world’s oceans.
The Endeavor sails Europe’s North Seas, including Iceland, Norway, the Scottish Isles, before making her way south as summer turns to fall, calling in London, Bordeaux and Lisbon for her inaugural Europe season.
While she was delivered in 2020, Silver Origin (pictured, top) made her inaugural sailing in the summer of 2021 as one of the first Silversea ships to return to cruising.
Unlike other ‘generalist’ expedition ships in Silversea’s luxury fleet, Silver Origin is purpose made just for the very specific and special islands of the Galapagos, where she will sail all-new itineraries year round. The ship has high-tech innovations that ensure it has minimum impact on the sensitive environment.
Just 100 guests luxuriate in balcony-only suites with the only all-butler service in the Galapagos. With the highest expert-to-guest ratio, the Silver Origin doesn’t just deliver luxury and expedition expertise on board. It also incorporates local culture, local ingredients including produce and seafood from Ecuadorian food producers, and its design brings guests closer to the Galapagos seascape with floor-to-ceiling windows in the Restaurant, an open air Grill which can also be converted to a sheltered space, and maximized observation areas that bring the outdoors onboard the ship.
Just how popular is expedition cruising in the lap of luxury and style? Coming Soon…
Silversea is converting one of its classic ships, Silver Wind, to an ice-class expedition ship, the fourth in Silversea’s fleet. In addition to a strengthened hull, the Silver Wind will be fitted with two dozen zodiacs, 14 kayaks, a Photo Studio, a luxury ‘mudroom’, and a new pool system for heated swimming in cold climates, as well as interior space enhancements in lounges, restaurants, and guest suites.
She’s slated to re-launch late 2021 in time to be in Antarctica for the expedition ship event of 2021: the solar eclipse over the White Continent on December 4th, 2021.
Another luxury cruise line, Seabourn, is also set to launch its first expedition ship, the Seabourn Venture, in December of 2021, with a sister ship in 2022.
The Seabourn Venture will sail inaugural – and one-of-a-kind – winter Norway voyages, and in addition to zodiaks, kayaks, and submarines, it will also carry mountain and e-bikes for its approximately 250 guests.
The newest ship for expedition cruise line Quark, also firmly establishes its luxury credentials. Ultramarine was purpose-built for polar expedition cruising, sailing with 200 guests and 140 crew when it debuts in late 2021.
Do you think expedition cruising could be for you? Ask us for more information and..
Images courtesy their respective cruise lines.
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by Lynn Elmhirst