Everything You Need to Know About Expedition Cruising and the Newest Ships

by Donna Heiderstadt

Everything You Need to Know About Expedition Cruising and the Newest Ships

by Donna Heiderstadt

Earth’s extremes – from polar regions to remote islands to lush rainforests – are now easily experienced aboard sleek-but-high-tech vessels offering bucket-list itineraries. Here’s everything you need to know about expedition cruising and the newest ships.

Earth’s extremes – from polar regions to remote islands to lush rainforests – are now easily experienced aboard sleek-but-high-tech vessels offering bucket-list itineraries. Here’s everything you need to know about expedition cruising and the newest ships.

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Northern Lights in Iceland / Courtesy of Visit Iceland
Crystal Endeavor Rendering
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Crystal Endeavor

Crystal Cruises will add expedition cruising to its lineup in September 2021 when 200-passenger Crystal Endeavor debuts. Built to PC6 polar specifications, the ship offers all the elevated amenities of Crystal’s ocean, river, and yacht vessels, including elegant stateroom décor, six restaurants serving Michelin-inspired cuisine and a solarium pool, plus the expertise of a 25-person expedition team.

Crystal Cruises will add expedition cruising to its lineup in September 2021 when 200-passenger Crystal Endeavor debuts. Built to PC6 polar specifications, the ship offers all the elevated amenities of Crystal’s ocean, river, and yacht vessels, including elegant stateroom décor, six restaurants serving Michelin-inspired cuisine and a solarium pool, plus the expertise of a 25-person expedition team.

Crystal Endeavor Solarium Rendering
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Crystal Endeavor’s 19-Night Antarctic Cruise

Crystal Endeavor will head to South America and Antarctica in late 2021 on sailings ranging from 11 to 19 nights. One the most comprehensive cruises for adventure seekers is the 19-night Falklands, South Georgia, and Antarctic Wildlife Expedition filled with panoramas of icebergs and Zodiac landings in remote spots visited by historic explorers and populated by massive penguin colonies.

Crystal Endeavor will head to South America and Antarctica in late 2021 on sailings ranging from 11 to 19 nights. One the most comprehensive cruises for adventure seekers is the 19-night Falklands, South Georgia, and Antarctic Wildlife Expedition filled with panoramas of icebergs and Zodiac landings in remote spots visited by historic explorers and populated by massive penguin colonies.

Kirkjufellsfoss
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Crystal Endeavor’s 10-Night Expedition Iceland Itinerary

For something a bit closer to home but no less fascinating, Crystal Endeavor is offering back-to-back 10-night Expedition Iceland itineraries, round-trip from Reykjavik, in July and August 2022. The cruises circle the entire nation and excursions include visits to waterfalls, fjords, glaciers, and geothermal pools, as well as chances to see native bird species such as puffins, gannets, and razorbills.

For something a bit closer to home but no less fascinating, Crystal Endeavor is offering back-to-back 10-night Expedition Iceland itineraries, round-trip from Reykjavik, in July and August 2022. The cruises circle the entire nation and excursions include visits to waterfalls, fjords, glaciers, and geothermal pools, as well as chances to see native bird species such as puffins, gannets, and razorbills.

Seabourn Venture Rendering
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Seabourn Venture

Luxury small-ship line Seabourn’s first foray into expedition cruising is 264-passenger Seabourn Venture, scheduled for a December 2021 debut. With interiors by renowned designer Adam D. Tihany and eight onboard restaurants, Venture will embrace the line’s typical indulgences – but also boast PC6 polar-rated specifications and two bespoke submarines for underwater excursions.

Luxury small-ship line Seabourn’s first foray into expedition cruising is 264-passenger Seabourn Venture, scheduled for a December 2021 debut. With interiors by renowned designer Adam D. Tihany and eight onboard restaurants, Venture will embrace the line’s typical indulgences – but also boast PC6 polar-rated specifications and two bespoke submarines for underwater excursions.

Northern Lights over the Ersfjord in Tromso
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Seabourn Venture’s 12-Night Northern Lights Cruise

Seabourn Venture will spend the first few months of 2022 cruising coastal Norway – in winter! The 12-night Norway and North Cape – In Search of Northern Lights itinerary departs Copenhagen (or Tromso) and calls on Bergen, Alesund, Trondheim, Lofoten and other ports as it heads to North Cape amid the dramatic light conditions of Arctic winter and opportunities to see the spectacular Aurora Borealis.

Seabourn Venture will spend the first few months of 2022 cruising coastal Norway – in winter! The 12-night Norway and North Cape – In Search of Northern Lights itinerary departs Copenhagen (or Tromso) and calls on Bergen, Alesund, Trondheim, Lofoten and other ports as it heads to North Cape amid the dramatic light conditions of Arctic winter and opportunities to see the spectacular Aurora Borealis.

Amazon River Basin
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Seabourn Venture’s 19-Night Brazil & Amazon River Cruise

Prefer a warm-weather expedition? Seabourn’s 19-night Brazilian Highlights and the Amazon itinerary aboard Seabourn Venture cruises the coast of South America’s largest country – including an overnight in Rio de Janeiro – and then ventures onto the Amazon River for several days of rainforest adventure (wildlife spotting, experiencing the “Wedding of the Waters”) before arriving in Manaus.

Prefer a warm-weather expedition? Seabourn’s 19-night Brazilian Highlights and the Amazon itinerary aboard Seabourn Venture cruises the coast of South America’s largest country – including an overnight in Rio de Janeiro – and then ventures onto the Amazon River for several days of rainforest adventure (wildlife spotting, experiencing the “Wedding of the Waters”) before arriving in Manaus.

Fridtjof Nansen
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Hurtigruten’s MS Fridtjof Nansen

The newest Hurtigruten ship, MS Fridtjof Nansen is designed to take expedition cruisers to remote locales – and do it with a battery hybrid propulsion system that reduces fuel usage. The 500-guest vessel has Nordic-inspired interiors and an onboard expedition team to guide excursions while educating and entertaining guests using underwater drones and other technology in the Nansen Science Center.

The newest Hurtigruten ship, MS Fridtjof Nansen is designed to take expedition cruisers to remote locales – and do it with a battery hybrid propulsion system that reduces fuel usage. The 500-guest vessel has Nordic-inspired interiors and an onboard expedition team to guide excursions while educating and entertaining guests using underwater drones and other technology in the Nansen Science Center.

Antarctica
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Hurtigruten’s 18-Night Antarctic Circle Expedition Cruise

The ultimate explorer in you will want to book Hurtigruten’s most ambitious Antarctic itinerary, the 18-night Antarctic Circle Expedition aboard MS Fridtjof Nansen, which will depart in the peak of Southern Hemisphere summer and attempt to sail below the Antarctic Circle and reach spectacular Marguerite Bay. The ship will spend 10 days amid the region’s breathtaking landscapes and intrepid wildlife.

The ultimate explorer in you will want to book Hurtigruten’s most ambitious Antarctic itinerary, the 18-night Antarctic Circle Expedition aboard MS Fridtjof Nansen, which will depart in the peak of Southern Hemisphere summer and attempt to sail below the Antarctic Circle and reach spectacular Marguerite Bay. The ship will spend 10 days amid the region’s breathtaking landscapes and intrepid wildlife.

Paracas National Park Reserve
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Hurtigruten’s 11-Night Peru & Chile Itinerary

Explore the coasts of Peru and Chile from Lima to Valparaiso – including a chance to see the abundant wildlife and ancient Nazca Lines near Paracas, Peru – and enjoy a two-night land excursion to see Chucuito, Aramu Muru, and the Uros Floating Islands on the 11-night Lake Titicaca, Ancient History, and Highlights of South America itinerary aboard MS Fridtjof Nansen or its identical twin MS Roald Amundsen.

Explore the coasts of Peru and Chile from Lima to Valparaiso – including a chance to see the abundant wildlife and ancient Nazca Lines near Paracas, Peru – and enjoy a two-night land excursion to see Chucuito, Aramu Muru, and the Uros Floating Islands on the 11-night Lake Titicaca, Ancient History, and Highlights of South America itinerary aboard MS Fridtjof Nansen or its identical twin MS Roald Amundsen.

Viking Expedition Rendering
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Viking Octantis and Viking Polaris

Viking, which began with river cruising and expanded into ocean cruising, will debut its first expedition ship, 378-passenger Viking Octantis in early 2022, and its second, Viking Polaris, in August 2022. Both are PC6-rated to explore Arctic and Antarctic waters and will feature Viking’s signature Scandinavian design along with a science lab, Zodiacs and two submarines for underwater exploration.

Viking, which began with river cruising and expanded into ocean cruising, will debut its first expedition ship, 378-passenger Viking Octantis in early 2022, and its second, Viking Polaris, in August 2022. Both are PC6-rated to explore Arctic and Antarctic waters and will feature Viking’s signature Scandinavian design along with a science lab, Zodiacs and two submarines for underwater exploration.

Viking Expedtion Finse Terrace Rendering
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Viking Polaris’ 13-Night Arctic Adventure Itinerary

Looking to conquer the “top of the world?” Viking’s 13-night Arctic Adventure aboard Viking Polaris sails round-trip under the midnight sun in August and September from Tromso. Spend eight days north of the Arctic Circle exploring the breathtaking landscapes and wildlife (seals, whales, seabirds, and polar bears) of Svalbard by Zodiac or kayak and enjoy scenic cruising past the Polar Ice Cap.

Looking to conquer the “top of the world?” Viking’s 13-night Arctic Adventure aboard Viking Polaris sails round-trip under the midnight sun in August and September from Tromso. Spend eight days north of the Arctic Circle exploring the breathtaking landscapes and wildlife (seals, whales, seabirds, and polar bears) of Svalbard by Zodiac or kayak and enjoy scenic cruising past the Polar Ice Cap.

Viking Expedtion Aquavit Terrace Rendering
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Viking Octantis’ 8-Night Great Lakes Itinerary

Viking is also making expedition cruising accessible to travelers seeking a closer-to-home experience with three Great Lakes itineraries. Viking Octantis will spend the spring and summer of 2022 cruising Lake Ontario, Lake Erie, Lake Huron, Lake Michigan, and Lake Superior. The 8-night Undiscovered Great Lakes itinerary is ideal for nature lovers and visits Thunder Bay, the Apostle Islands, and Mackinac Island.

Viking is also making expedition cruising accessible to travelers seeking a closer-to-home experience with three Great Lakes itineraries. Viking Octantis will spend the spring and summer of 2022 cruising Lake Ontario, Lake Erie, Lake Huron, Lake Michigan, and Lake Superior. The 8-night Undiscovered Great Lakes itinerary is ideal for nature lovers and visits Thunder Bay, the Apostle Islands, and Mackinac Island.

Silver Explorer in the Arctic
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Silversea Expeditions

Silversea has been expanding its Silversea Expeditions offerings on both its purpose-built ships – 144-passenger Silver Explorer and 100-passenger Silver Origin – as well as 264-guest, ice-rated Silver Cloud. All three feature the elegant décor, exceptional cuisine, and five-star service for which Silversea is known – along with expert-guided excursions in some the world’s most fascinating places.

Silversea has been expanding its Silversea Expeditions offerings on both its purpose-built ships – 144-passenger Silver Explorer 100-passenger Silver Origin – as well as 264-guest, ice-rated Silver Cloud. All three feature the elegant décor, exceptional cuisine, and five-star service for which Silversea is known – along with expert-guided excursions in some the world’s most fascinating places.

Hunter River, Kimberley, Australia
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Silversea Expeditions’ 17-Night Darwin to Fremantle Itinerary

If enjoying 17 nights of adventure along the wild and remote northwest coastline of Australia sounds ideal, check out the August 2022 Darwin to Fremantle itinerary aboard Silver Explorer. The waterfalls, rivers, rock formations, and pristine reefs of the Northern Territory and Western Australia are all part of this region’s natural wonders, which include several remote islands and archipelagos.

If enjoying 17 nights of adventure along the wild and remote northwest coastline of Australia sounds ideal, check out the August 2022 Darwin to Fremantle itinerary aboard Silver Explorer. The waterfalls, rivers, rock formations, and pristine reefs of the Northern Territory and Western Australia are all part of this region’s natural wonders, which include several remote islands and archipelagos.

Traditional Moai statue in Easter Island
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Silversea Expeditions’ 22-Night South Pacific Itinerary

Is Easter Island on your bucket list? Or perhaps Pitcairn Island? Check them both off – along with Robinson Crusoe Island, Alexander Selkirk Island and a half dozen islands in French Polynesia – aboard Silver Cloud’s 22-night South Pacific Islands Cruise in February 2022. You’ll see the mysterious moai statues up-close, visit the town where HMS Bounty mutineers settled, and explore the remote Marquesas.

Is Easter Island on your bucket list? Or perhaps Pitcairn Island? Check them both off – along with Robinson Crusoe Island, Alexander Selkirk Island and a half dozen islands in French Polynesia – aboard Silver Cloud’s 22-night South Pacific Islands Cruise in February 2022. You’ll see the mysterious moai statues up-close, visit the town where HMS Bounty mutineers settled, and explore the remote Marquesas.

Scenic Eclipse
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Scenic Eclipse

Scenic Eclipse, the first “discovery yacht” by river cruise operator Scenic, made a splash when it debuted in 2019 with its two very cool expedition accessories: a helicopter and a submarine (called Scenic Neptune). The 228-passenger vessel also features 10 dining options, eight bars and lounges, and an onboard stash of Zodiacs, kayaks and e-bikes.

Scenic Eclipse, the first “discovery yacht” by river cruise operator Scenic, made a splash when it debuted in 2019 with its two very cool expedition accessories: a helicopter and a submarine (called Scenic Neptune). The 228-passenger vessel also features 10 dining options, eight bars and lounges, and an onboard stash of Zodiacs, kayaks and e-bikes.

Scenic Neptune in Greenland
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Scenic Eclipse’s 14-Night Arctic Adventure

The Arctic Adventure itinerary (in summer 2022 and 2023) aboard Scenic Eclipse takes guests from Oslo to Reykjavik with a scenic journey in between along the fjord-studded east coast of Greenland (with exploration by submarine). On tap: glaciers, waterfalls, tundra hikes, and a search for Arctic wildlife, including walrus, whales, and the endangered polar bear.

The Arctic Adventure itinerary (in summer 2022 and 2023) aboard Scenic Eclipse takes guests from Oslo to Reykjavik  with a scenic journey in between along the fjord-studded east coast of Greenland (with exploration by submarine). On tap: glaciers, waterfalls, tundra hikes, and a search for Arctic wildlife, including walrus, whales, and the endangered polar bear.

World Navigator
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Atlas Ocean Voyages’ World Navigator

World Navigator, the first of five Explorer-Class ships being built by Atlas Ocean Voyages, will debut in 2021 and merge the adventure-focused itineraries of a polar-class vessel with the simple elegance and pampering of a 196-passenger luxury ship. Sibling ships World Traveller, World Seeker, World Adventurer, and World Discoverer will launch in 2022 and 2023.

World Navigator, the first of five Explorer-Class ships being built by Atlas Ocean Voyages, will debut in 2021 and merge the adventure-focused itineraries of a polar-class vessel with the simple elegance and pampering of a 196-passenger luxury ship. Sibling ships World Traveller, World Seeker, World Adventurer, and World Discoverer will launch in 2022 and 2023.

King Penguins on South Georgia Island
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Atlas Ocean Voyages’ 12-Night Antarctic Solar Eclipse Itinerary

The 12-night Antarctic Solar Eclipse itinerary aboard Atlas Ocean Voyages’ new World Navigator will depart Ushuaia, Argentina in late November 2021 and call on the South Shetland Islands and the Antarctic Peninsula before experiencing the total solar eclipse of December 4. More spectacular scenery, explorer lore, and photogenic penguin colonies await on South Georgia Island.

The 12-night Antarctic Solar Eclipse itinerary aboard Atlas Ocean Voyages’ new World Navigator will depart Ushuaia, Argentina in late November 2021 and call on the South Shetland Islands and the Antarctic Peninsula before experiencing the total solar eclipse of December 4. More spectacular scenery, explorer lore, and photogenic penguin colonies await on South Georgia Island.

Le Commandant Charcot
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Ponant’s Le Commandant Charcot

France-based Ponant, which has four expedition-class ships in its fleet, will add 270-passenger Le Commandant Charcot in 2021 with Arctic cruises in summer and Patagonia/Antarctica itineraries in autumn and winter. The PC2-rated is a hybrid electric power vessel powered by LNG and has plenty of plush features: contemporary European-inspired décor, an indoor pool and spa and two restaurants.

France-based Ponant, which has four expedition-class ships in its fleet, will add 270-passenger Le Commandant Charcot in 2021 with Arctic cruises in summer and Patagonia/Antarctica itineraries in autumn and winter. The PC2-rated is a hybrid electric power vessel powered by LNG and has plenty of plush features: contemporary European-inspired décor, an indoor pool and spa and two restaurants.

Antarctica
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Ponant’s 24-Night Ross Sea Expedition Itinerary

The Ross Sea is one of the most extreme regions of Antarctica (it’s located just several hundred miles from the South Pole) and Le Commandant Charcot will sail this epic 24-night crossing from Ushuaia in February 2022. The sea is home to the Ross Ice Shelf, and the landscape is a riveting panorama of white and blue, populated by Adelie and Emperor penguins, orcas, seals, and Minke whales.

The Ross Sea is one of the most extreme regions of Antarctica (it’s located just several hundred miles from the South Pole) and Le Commandant Charcot will sail this epic 24-night crossing from Ushuaia in February 2022. The sea is home to the Ross Ice Shelf, and the landscape is a riveting panorama of white and blue, populated by Adelie and Emperor penguins, orcas, seals, and Minke whales.

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