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What is an expedition cruise?

  • Small ship (from 80 to 500 people only)
  • Every cruise is run by the captain and an expedition leader
  • They are accompanied by a team of expedition staff who are experts in varying fields like history, glaciology, wildlife etc.
  • The ship is just the means of transport
  • You will get off the ship and set foot on land at regular points – called landings
  • The programme of landings is decided by the captain / expedition team and is flexible to adapt to wildlife, attractions, conditions, weather etc.
  • In addition, enjoy a programme of educational lectures during your time on-board, to compliment ship’s facilities

What's Included in an Expedition Cruise?

  • Accommodation in your chosen cabin / suite
  • Full Board – Breakfast, lunch and dinner everyday on the ship
  • Coffee, tea and water throughout your cruise
  • Often cookies, cakes and treats along the way as well
  • All landings – you do not pay for “shore excursions”
  • Services of the expedition team
  • Programme of lectures / educational programme by the expedition team
  • Parka jacket (not all operators and departures so please check)
  • Use of waterproof boots (not all operators and departures so please check)
  • Some operators (like Silversea) may include even more!

What Will I Not Find on an Expedition Cruise

  • No big ships with waterslides, ice rinks and 20 restaurants
  • No cabarets, stage shows or glossy entertainment
  • No fixed itinerary   (i.e. Day 1: Rome, Day 2: Florence, Day 3: Barcelona etc)
  • No book of shore excursions you can choose from before you go
  • No formal nights with black ties and ball gowns
  • No entertainment team and activities like aqua aerobics or dancing lessons

What Does a Typical Expedition Day Look Like?

There is no such thing as a "typical" expedition day but we have prepared the following as a very rough guide on what you could expect to get up to on a full expedition day.

7:30 – Get Up
8:00 – Breakfast
8:30 – Gear up
9:00 – First Landing
11:30 – Back on-board
12:00 – Lunch
12:45 – Lunchtime Lecture
14:00 – Second Landing
17:00 – Back on-board
18:00 – Next Day Briefing
19:00 – Dinner
20:30 – Leisure Time
22:00 – Bed time or out spotting the Northern Lights?!

When are your guests looking at going to the polar regions?

There are two key seasons for polar expeditions:

- Arctic – Polar bear – May to September
- Antarctic – Penguins – November to March 

Luxury – in the experience / destination, or the ship itself?

Are you guests looking for “full-on” expedition (less creature comforts on the ship, but with a world-class expedition team who will offer the guests maximum time out in the Zodiacs, such as with One Ocean Expeditions), or is luxury defined by the ship’s amenities to the clients (i.e. suites and butler service, such as offered by Silverseas for example).   Scenic’s new ship, the Eclipse, offers the supreme height of luxury.

Or perhaps they would like something in the middle, and are not worried about the fuss of having butlers, but would still like a comfortable ship, high quality cuisine with plenty of Zodiac landings etc (Quark Expeditions / Aurora / G Adventures, Polar Latitudes for example)?

Vessel size – Do your guests want to travel on a small (100 – 200 capacity) or large ship (up to 500 capacity)? 

For the more price conscious, larger ship sizes usually mean lower per person rates.  Furthermore, they offer a softer expeditionary style, with more facilities onboard – it can be an ideal natural crossover for guests who are more used to traditional ocean cruising (Hurtigruten’s new Roald Amundsen & Fridtjof Nansen are excellent new 500 capacity vessels for example)

Clients may prefer the smallest possible ship sizes for a more intimate experience.  A vessel offering a capacity of 200 guests or under will allow maximum time out in the Zodiac excursions (logistically it’s much quicker to get everyone out of the ship with smaller group sizes, meaning more time ashore etc).   Vessels such as Silver Explorer (Silverseas), Greg Mortimer (Aurora), RCGS Resolute (One Ocean) and the Island/Hebridean Sky (Polar Latitudes) all offer high-end experiences and are sub 150 capacity.   

Note on all expedition itineraries – very important!

Please note, that locations for landings are always down to the expedition leader & Captain.  They will evaluate the local weather, wildlife and sea conditions to decide where to take your guests.  

Many supplier websites will talk about specific landing locations, with exotic sounding names (i.e. ‘Paradise Bay’ or ‘Deception Island’) but there is never a guarantee your guests will visit these places.  There are hundreds of landing locations in each respective region, and I always recommend your clients are aware from the outset to have a degree of flexibility with the itinerary and to trust the expedition team to take them to the best possible locations – there are many unknown destinations which are equally spectacular.  Your guests may even get to land in locations no guests have even before…

Why book with Polar Routes?

  • We can compare a huge selection of expedition ships, cruises and operators.
  • From former Russian research vessels to larger and luxurious ships - there is an expedition cruise to suit you. 
  • Our Polar Specialists will help you choose the perfect expedition cruise for your requirements.
  • We are the expedition cruise specialists and know all the polar destinations inside out.
  • Our expert team of Polar Specialists have extensive knowledge of all the expedition ships & operators.
  • All of our Polar Specialists have first-hand experience of expedition cruising to the polar regions.
  • Our prices are amongst the best you'll find, plus look out for Polar Routes exclusive offers!
  • All our holidays are ATOL protected (11104), for your complete peace of mind.
  • As supporters of the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust, booking with us helps support the work of the trust within Antarctica.