From Alaskan Ocean voyages to explorations of the Peruvian Amazon to a trip to Antarctica, there are a wide variety of cruises out there just waiting to test your adventurous spirit, and more and more of them are willing to wrap you in the lap of luxury. These cruises are perfect for those who have been on a river cruise - or even on an African Safari!
Unlike normal cruises, these cruises give you plenty of opportunity to interact with local people and with wildlife, and offer chances to discuss issues and expeditions with experts in the field. In addition, they travel to unique destinations where larger ships can't go. While in the past, expedition cruise ships have been little more than places to sleep, the trend for 2019 and 2020 is for expedition cruises to have more amenities like their larger, resort bound cousins.
From the pole to pole, and everywhere in between, expedition cruises are the next big thing in adventure travel.
Lindblad Expeditions/National Geographic
From Patagonia, to Vietnam, to the Northwest and Alaska, Lindblad Expeditions and National Geographic are one of the leading purveyors of expedition cruises.
The cruise line offers expeditions to Antarctica, Peru, Patagonia, Scotland, the Mediterranean, Russia and Asia, California, Egypt and South America, to name but a few. Cruises feature talks with local experts, day trips on land, diving in some cases, and many other amenities. And because it's National Geographic, some of the magazine's wildlife photographers are on hand on each cruise to help you take stunning photographs to remember your trip by.
Trips vary in cost. A trip whale watching off the coast of Baja California starts around $6,590 for double occupancy, while a luxury trip to Antarctica can top $28,000.
French cruise line Ponant launches two luxury 184-passenger ships in 2019, with more to come in 2020 and 2021. Two of its latest vessels, Le Laperouse, and Le Champlain, have Blue Eye lounges that feature portholes, underwater lighting and speakers that pipe the natural sounds of the sea into the lounge. Sofas in the room vibrate in time with the natural sounds giving you the feeling of being underwater without all the lack of oxygen and wetness.
A 13-day trip through the Amazon starts at about $8,200 per person. The lines multi-sailed Le Ponant features a more intimate environment with only 32 state rooms, two restaurants serving French-style food, and two lounges. The ship gives one the impression they are staying on their own private yacht. Trips to the West Indies, for example, on Le Ponant start at $3,340 not including airfare to Fort Au France.
Quark Expeditions has long been known for its Arctic expeditions, but now is moving into the luxury expedition business. Its small fleet of expedition ships and icebreakers mostly focuses on polar expeditions. In December 2018, it launched its newest vessel, World Explorer, an all-suite, all-balcony hybrid polar expedition ship that features plenty of space for both relaxing and taking in the local flora and fauna.
The cruise line travels to both the Arctic and the Antarctic. The Antarctic Explorer trip, on the World Explorer, looks at the seventh continent's varied wildlife, leaving from Argentina and looking at the South Shetland Island and the Antarctic Peninsula starts at around $6,695
For more than 125 years, Hurtigruten has been providing nature-based expeditions to remote corners of the world. While the line has trips to Europe and along the North and South American coastlines, it's mostly known for its polar expeditions. From Svalbard to Russia to the Northwest Passage, the trips offer unparalleled access to nature, aboard luxury accommodations.
Hurtigruten's trip to the Antarctic Peninsula via Patagonia and Chilean Fjords, takes you on a 20+ day trip down the coast of South America, past Cape Horn and into the white wilderness. Trips start around $11,185.
Crystal Experience offers a full-line of yacht and expedition cruises for those looking to combine adventure and luxury. The cruise line offers excursions all over the world including the Mexican Riviera, both North American coasts, Europe, Asia and both poles.
Its newest vessel, the Crystal Endeavor, due out in 2020, is expected to not only keep guests toasty warm on their Antarctic voyages, but also keep them in luxury. The vessel will have heated storage space inside guest suites to dry parkas quickly, helicopters for excursions and a three-person submarine, as well as solariums, a swimming pool and a hot tub. Reportedly, its 17-day inaugural voyage leaving from Japan and heading to Russia's Kamchatka Peninsula starts at $24,949 per person.
Abercrombie and Kent
Instead of going to exotic locales, some cruise lines opt to go deeper into cultures instead. Abercrombie and Kent has chartered ships since 2010, and takes its passengers further into the culture by providing its own experts and guides to help guests learn more about the locations they are visiting. In 2018, the cruise line began offering trips to the remote region of Kimberley, Australia. The 13-day trip starts around $15,495 per person.
Abercrombie and Kent also focuses on expedition river cruises in smaller vessels that give the best in full-service luxury. From the Mekong Delta to the Yangtze River to the Nile, Abercrombie and Kent takes you on one of a kind small group journeys to out-of-the-way places you won't forget.
From the Bay of Bengal to the Great Barrier Reef and Papua, New Guinea, Zegrahm Expeditions offers guests the opportunity to combine cruising with excursions to see the far corners of the Earth. Zegrahm offers cruises to Iran, Persia, Sri Lanka, Tibet and Nepal.
Zegrahm offers a trip to Israel that looks at some of the country's most important sights, including Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Bethlehem, the Dead Sea and the Via Dolorosa, or the path of Jesus, marked by the Stations of the Cross. The trip is limited to 14 guests, and starts at $11,480.
Cover Photo Credit: Unsplash / Peter Hansen