Everything you need to know about Expedition Cruises
During an expedition cruise your travel won’t be about the vessel but about experiencing the destination. Think carefully where you want to go (cold or warm areas), what you want to see (penguins, polar bears, whales?), which activities you want to participate in and base your destination of choice on that. During an expedition cruise you will sail to a new place every day which you will explore in small groups. With zodiacs (rubber boats) you will go ashore for hikes and wildlife spotting. Meanwhile others go kayaking or even snorkeling. Usually excursions take place in the morning and the afternoon. During an expedition cruise we focus on discovering the surroundings and nature. On board there will be ‘edutainment’, lectures and presentations on all kinds of interesting topics that you might encounter during the trip. You will come home from your trip with a head full of knowledge and experience.
What to keep in mind when going on an expedition cruise?
One of the big differences with a traditional cruise (on a big ship) is the flexibility. Weather and ice conditions determine part of the schedule and the presence of wildlife can change the itinerary. In that aspect, it remains an ‘expedition’! We can’t guarantee any visits of particular places nor the presence of certain animals. This makes every expedition cruise unique and more adventurous than a planned trip. A flexible attitude is the ‘key to success’.
Small ships, big advantages!
The offer in vessels for expedition cruises keeps growing which gives you a broad choice. Most expedition vessels sail with approximately 100 to 200 passengers and are very comfortable. Some offer extreme luxury with great restaurants, top deck Jacuzzi’s and even submarines on board! But the smaller ships, for 12 – 30 passengers, are getting more popular. While picking a ship look at how many passengers will be taken ashore at specific destinations and note that the ships capacity can be bigger than the actual number of passengers that will be going onboard. Destinations like the Artic and Antarctica only allow 100 people on land at the same time, and vessels with more than 500 people aren’t even allowed to dock anywhere. Expedition cruises to remote destinations like Antarctica, Greenland and Franz Josef land first require a few days of sailing to get there. That is why some of the new vessels have a so-called x-bow which makes this go faster, smoother and with less impact by the waves.
Packing tips for an expedition cruise
Don’t bring to much clothing. Closet space in your cabin is very limited and it is advised to bring a foldable travel bag or trolley that can be stored easily. Onboard, the dress code is usually informal. Bring comfortable and practical clothes you can wear in layers. Weather can change fast, so it is useful if you can put on another layer or take something off. Keep in mind that you will be spending a lot of time on the outside deck, spotting wildlife and photographing the scenery. You will also spend some time in a zodiac on the water so make sure to bring water and wind proof clothing. On most expeditions to the polar regions you will receive an expedition parka which you can keep, and rubber boots you can borrow. Make sure you don’t forget your camera and binoculars to capture the amazing moments. Before arrival you’ll receive an extensive list of clothing tips based on the destination of your travel.