Expedition Cruises

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Overview

  • These are sea trips to remote parts of the world that allow you to go ashore with a trained guide to get close to exotic wildlife and landscapes.
  • Some lines use “soft adventure,” instead of “expedition,” and that may be a more accurate term in many cases.
  • Expedition ships range from quite posh to no frills. 

What are they? Anyone who has climbed K2 in Nepal or the North Face of the Eiger in Switzerland would cringe at the use of the term “expedition” for a cruise to Antarctica or to the Galapagos Islands.

It’s all relative, and we are beholden to the cruise industry’s use of expedition. So consider a sea trip to a remote part of the world and going ashore with a trained guide to get close to exotic wildlife and fantastic wonders of nature fulfilling the maritime version of the term. Some lines use “soft adventure,” instead of “expedition,” and that may be a more accurate term and less scary for the timid.

Le Boreal in the Elbe. * Photo: William J. Mayes

Le Boreal in the Elbe. * Photo: William J. Mayes

Earnest Shackleton is probably the best known expedition adventurer by sea when he sailed to Antarctica and almost did not return alive, and John Franklin’s expedition to the Northwest Passage is most notable for ending in a slow death for his entire crew.

Spinning the years forward to 1965, Lars-Eric Lindblad, a Swede who immigrated to America, can be credited with initiating today’s version of an expedition when he built the Explorer in 1965 and headed south to Antarctica with paying passengers and later to the Galapagos. Slowly, others followed, and now we have several dozen operators duplicating his pioneering ventures there, including the Falklands and South Georgia, and elsewhere — the Arctic Region from Svalbard (Spitsbergen) to Iceland, Greenland and Canada’s Nunavik and Northwest Passage, Alaska and Russian Far East, remote parts of Southeast Asian islands and isolated ones in the South Pacific.

Poseidon Adventures' Sea Explorer. * Photo: Poseidon Adventures

Poseidon Adventures’ Sea Explorer. * Photo: Poseidon Adventures

Under the expedition banner, we include coastal voyages with landings in little visited sections of the Chilean Fjords for majestic mountain and glacial scenery, Australia’s remote Kimberley Coast for largely untrodden scenic landscapes and Aboriginal paintings in difficult to access caves.      — TWS

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