Variously known as Adventure, Expedition and Small Ship Cruising, Adventure Cruising is the smallest, but fastest growing niche of the three standard cruising types. As a niche travel genre, expedition cruising is not for everybody and really needs the informed knowledge and experience of a cruising specialist to determine suitability. That’s where we come in.
Passengers aboard expedition vessels expect expert guides and lecturers to help them interpret the rich cultural and natural histories expedition destinations deliver. Academics, researchers and authors are common both as lecturers and passengers, adding to healthy discussions and enrapturing dinner conversation.
A true expedition cruise consists of a voyage plan and itinerary that has inbuilt flexibility. In the capricious Antarctic waters, all activities and sight-seeing is weather and ice dependent. Passengers are reminded of this time and time again and it is quite common for completely unscheduled landings to take place in fallback planning. The same exists for expedition cruises in tropical waters.
Silversea Cruises, for one, has developed Asia-Pacific into its second largest expedition market. The luxury line now has three adventurous Silvers sailing the world in the form of Explorer, Discoverer and Galapagos, bringing their own special incarnation of ‘champagne’ expedition cruising to Australians and indeed the world.
Australia’s own, APT introduced the highly rated Caledonian Sky to Australian adventurers. Lindblad Expeditions – National Geographic has the Orion, a magnificent and eminently capable ship many believe to be the best in class. The Orion’s new suite of “tools for exploration” includes a comprehensive scuba facility, greatly expanded photo and video workshops, a remote-controlled underwater submarine, brand new kayaks and a high resolution camera for stunning underwater images.
Un-Cruise, having been once American Safari Cruises and InnerSea Discoveries has collected most of the former Cruise West vessels and itineraries and turned them into Safaris and Wildernesses. The big little line now offers six cruising regions on eight vessels, most of which are unfamiliar to Australian expedition cruisers.
Out on the rivers the Pandaw fleet continues to expand, with mid-size vessels like Katha and Angkor (32 pax), as well as a boutique-sized boats like Kaladan and Kha Byoo (20 pax) to bring their fleet of gorgeous heritage vessels up to 12.
And they are not alone on the rivers, because breathing down their neck are Aqua Expeditions, Insider Journeys and Heritage Line with their own new builds. India too is set to reincarnate itself on the holy rivers, Hooghly and Ganges, with new launches there from Assam Bengal Navigation.