For some, a luxury cruise is simply about relaxing and nothing more; enjoying the sunshine by the on-deck pool, sipping a cocktail, being pampered in the spa. For most though, it’s a combination of taking it easy and exploring each daily port of call at their own pace.
But what about those with a sense of adventure who are willing to brave the not-so balmy climes of the arctic or the humidity of rainforest for the sake of an all-together more active cruise? Well, there’s obviously a market for all things intrepid, as a couple of cruise lines offer a number of expedition cruises, which combine all the luxurious features you’ve come to expect from your luxury vessel with a first-hand taste of the exotic and remote.
With Australia’s Orion Expedition Cruises, the clue is obviously in the name and the line is indeed dedicated to visiting off-the beaten path itineraries and regions which lend themselves to exploration. When you’ve got the biggest organic structure in the world on your doorstep, the destinations choose themselves; so naturally, a voyage to the Great Barrier Reef is always popular.
One of the world’s true ecological wonders, it’s home to over 1,500 species of fish and passengers can snorkel or swim with the region’s watery denizens and learn all about life on the reef. The line also offer tours of Borneo, where you’ll be able to explore tropical islands and national parks and lush jungles and Antarctica, where cruisers can travel in the wake of such iconic explorers as Scott and Shackleton.
Whichever destination you choose, your cruise will be enriched by the presence of guest speakers, who’ll share their expert opinions of each of the places you visit.
Silversea Cruises has branched out into the world of the exhibition cruise with its Silversea Exhibitions on-board its dedicated vessel, the Silversea Explorer. Designed specifically with some of the most remote destinations in the world in mind, including the Arctic and Antarctic regions, the ship boasts a specially strengthened hull to help it negotiate ice flows.
A fleet of Zodiacs (dingy-like craft) means that cruisers can get right to the heart of the action and investigate all manner of icy natural wonders from glaciers and natural ice structures to such marvelous marine mammals such as penguins, polar bears and whales. As well as other destinations such as South America and Japan, you can get a taste of the exotic on your doorstep, as Silversea Cruises operates a number of British Isles cruises designed to introduce you to some of the lesser known and hard to reach wonders of Blighty.
The Galapagos Islands are a true natural wonder and home to a number of species found nowhere else on Earth, so with this in mind, Silversea Expeditions are getting ready to launch the Silversea Galapagos in September, a vessel dedicated to exploring the enriching sights of this remarkable archipelago. You’ll have the opportunity to witness iguanas, giant tortoises, sea lions and wild flamingos, trek through rainforests, volcanic fields and tunnels, all the while guided by an expert Expedition Team.
There are quite a large number vessels dedicated to expedition in the world of mainstream cruising, and indeed, lines such as Hurtigruten are solely dedicated to cruisers with an adventurous spirit. That said, with the advent of luxury vessels dedicated to exploration, it can’t be long before more luxury lines follow suit, with lines such as Crystal Cruises and Seabourn already offering a wide choice of shore excursions, a large number of which tailored with the intrepid cruiser in mind.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that with an expedition cruise comes a level of unpredictability that you perhaps won’t be used to if you usually book a place on a more regular cruise, because with a number of destinations, access is reliant on favourable weather conditions. If you’re traveling with the hope of seeing a particular type of wildlife, it’s important to remember that a number species migrate, so may not be around at the time that you visit.
By Simon Brotherton