Expedition cruising is a new type of holiday. It’s growing in popularity, but what is it?

Put simply, expedition cruising is an adventure. It’s not cabaret and cocktails by the pool. It’s a voyage of exploration that enables you to experience some of the world’s remote locations.

Vessels take less than 100 passengers. The experience is intimate and real. It’s boots and wet weather gear, not glitz and sparkle. Itineraries are active, inclusive, and educational. Expect to get up close and personal with nature.

Expedition Cruising Is Not for Everyone. Is It for You?

Before you decide to sign up for an expedition cruise, answer the following questions:

  • Do you love to see wildlife?
  • Are you happy in nature?
  • Are you ok with getting wet?
  • Do you think riding in a zodiac will be exciting?
  • Are you flexible?
  • Are you open to trying new things?
  • Do you enjoy peace?
  • Do you love getting away from the crowds and off the beaten track?
  • Do you like to learn?
  • Can you forego the cocktail party?
  • Can you deal with no Internet?
  • Can you enjoy a holiday without luxuries?

If your answers are mostly yes, then an expedition cruise could be the vacation you’ve been searching for.

Where can I go?

There are some amazing expedition cruise destinations to choose from. Here are three ideas to get your juices flowing:

Alaska

Alaska is home to humpback whales, harbor seals, bears, bald eagles, sea otters, puffins, sea lions, orcas, and salmon.

Alaska is so vast and magnificent that the scenery will make you feel small as you view it from the bow of your boat. The glaciers you’ll cruise past are ethereal, and the mountains will dwarf your vessel as it passes through narrow channels in a never-ending scrolling vista of natural beauty.

The captain and crew are always on the lookout for wildlife, and you’re invited to keep a keen eye out for the tell-tale signs of whales.

Hikes into the forest are tailored to suit fitness levels and are accompanied by knowledgeable guides who aim to deepen your understanding of this natural habitat.

You’ll use the zodiac to explore and to access places too narrow for the main vessel. Kayak trips treat you to a waterline experience that’s hard to beat. Peacefully paddle past nesting birds and enjoy the thrill of eyeballing sea lions and harbor seals.

Galapagos

Giant tortoise, sea turtles, sea lions, a raft of migratory and endemic birds, iguanas, and penguins can be seen on The Galapagos.

The Galapagos is the location famed for Charles Darwin’s insight that sparked his theory of evolution. Wildlife evolved here in isolation. Today, it remains the only place in the world to see some species. Darwin’s famed finches number among these endemic species you’ll see.

Nearly all of the area is protected, which has preserved this unique environment. The wildlife has no fear of humans, so your wildlife encounters are substantially different from any other location, anywhere in the world.

Your vessel is your base that moves between islands to allow you to hike, snorkel, kayak, and paddleboard at a variety of different locations. If you’re a scuba diver, look for itineraries that have the option for a dive – you won’t regret it.

Antarctica

Penguins. Penguins. Penguins. The variety of species and scale of their colonies in the region is hard to overstate. They are truly fascinating, and their behavior is entertaining beyond measure.

Leopard seals take on the role of a villain against the penguin’s capering. They’re the apex predator to be found lounging on ice floes. Cruising past them on a zodiac is thrilling. Crabeater and fur seals grace the water too.

Whales are a common sight, and the captain and crew are always on the lookout for fin, humpback, minke, sperm, and killer whales.

The Antarctic is remote and wild, and these expeditions are designed to immerse you in the region’s beauty.

Zodiac trips take you alongside glaciers. Kayak tours allow you to experience the deepest silence, and you can wander among penguins with your camera. Some trips allow you to explore by ski or snowshoe too.

Am I Fit Enough for an Expedition Cruise?

You don’t have to be a marathon runner or even a runner at all, to go on an expedition cruise. However, to get the most out of this type of holiday, it does help if you are relatively active.

You will need to be comfortable with getting in and out of a zodiac and understand that shore landings often involve wading through knee-deep water and squelching through mud. You might find this more fun than you expect.

Many guests on these trips will be taking part in activities new to them, and you will be under the instruction of an experienced leader.

If you’re open to new experiences and have a positive attitude, it will go a long way toward your enjoyment. Your sense of achievement will keep you smiling long after the holiday has passed.

Where a strenuous hike is offered, there’s usually a less challenging activity as an option too, and know that nothing is compulsory.

All that said, if you are unsure, speak to the company you’re considering traveling with. They have the experience to be able to guide you.

If you have medical conditions that you’re worried will affect your enjoyment or even restrict you, speak to your physician. Someone familiar with your medical history is much better qualified to determine what’s suitable.

If you’re reading this with the knowing smile of someone who’s already experienced an expedition cruise, tell us what your favorite bit was. It might give someone else that last push towards an unforgettable experience.

What do you know about expedition cruising? What would it take on your part to go on one? Which destination would you consider and why? Please share in the comments below!

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