SYDNEY – Adventure travel and, in particular, expedition cruising, are among the fastest growing tourism trends and cruise companies large and small are building new ships that can take travellers into previously inaccessible areas.
Here are 10 reasons to help sell an expedition cruise.
1 The Destinations
Unlike their big-cruising counterparts, expedition cruises are less focused on the ship and more focused on the destination. The smaller size of expedition vessels allows them to take modern-day explorers into some of the most remote locations on the planet.
From the Arctic to Antarctica and from Greenland to the Galapagos Islands, guests are treated to up close and personal views of some of the world’s most striking, natural landscapes.
Zodiac excursions enhance the wonder by allowing guests to go ashore and explore these spectacular locations.
2. The Wildlife
Being able to explore such isolated, natural locations means that guests are able to witness some of the world’s most rare and iconic creatures. Whether it’s polar bears in the Arctic, a pod of humpback whales passing by or one of the 126 bird species that call New Zealand’s subantarctic Islands home, there are plenty of once-in-a-lifetime animal encounters to imprint on the memory.
This one’s self-explanatory. An expedition cruise offers a much more intimate and personal cruising experience. Most expedition cruise ships carry no more than 200 passengers, which means less time waiting in queues and no fear of overcrowding destinations.
Expedition cruise-goers are a social bunch. With a lot of expedition vessels accommodating less than 100 passengers, being social is very easy. Meals are usually open seating, giving you the chance to share stories with your fellow, like-minded passengers.
5. The Culture
Being able to access waterways and ports that big ships are unable to enter means that expedition cruises can immerse guests in some of the world’s most exotic and intact cultures. With local guides providing insightful knowledge, guests are treated to unique and intimate experiences with local cultures, such as a traditional Inuit welcome by the indigenous community of Pond Inlet in Canada.
Not only do expedition cruises allow you to see and explore amazing locations, they also enrich you with knowledge about the destinations you visit. Most expedition cruises have onboard experts in many different fields. Whether it is history, geology, marine biology, photography or global warming, you will learn some interesting facts about your destination and its inhabitants.
7. Flexible Itinerary
Travelling in some of the world’s most unpredictable natural locations such as the polar regions means that each day on the water will be different, with the itinerary open and subject to change. From the weather to wildlife sightings, expedition cruises go with the flow. One minute you’re on the way to a remote island, the next you are sailing alongside the ice to get a glimpse at a polar bear.
8. Individualised attention
You are treated with a personal touch. The onboard expedition team knows your name and caters to your specific needs.
Despite their smaller size, many expedition cruise ships are quite luxurious, delivering five-star-plus experiences in the middle of nowhere. You can be soaking in a hot jacuzzi, cocktail in hand, marvelling at icebergs rolling by. Fine cuisine is also a staple of many expedition ships along with fine Egyptian cotton sheets on your bed and a private balcony from which you can feast on the scenery.
Expedition ship Greg Mortimer with Aurora Expeditions. (Cruise Traveller)
10. Environmentally friendly
Small ship cruising is one of the most responsible and sustainable forms of tourism. Newer expedition ships are purpose-designed to be environmentally friendly including vessels recently launched by Hapag-Lloyd, Ponant, Aurora and Quark which feature lower energy consumption, no single usage of plastic, onboard recycling and reef sensitive anchoring. Onboard experts also teach guests about the current environmental issues regions face and what travellers can do to help.