Zodiacs landing in Gold Harbour, South Georgia, Antarctica
I have a secret to tell you.., Or perhaps it is no secret at all,,, I love expedition cruising! Whether it is in Antarctica, the Arctic, Papua New Guinea, Costa Rica or Patagonia, I love the freedom of expedition cruising.
Let me tell you what is so great about expedition cruising and why you should go.
You get to places you otherwise cannot
Some locations on our planet can only be reached by ship. Be it the fjords of Patagonia, the far north of Canada, the spectacular wilderness of Antarctica and the surrounding islands, the Galapagos, Alaska - none of these locations can be reached by road. As a result you get to explore places few others have been to, where cultures thrive and where wildlife is unafraid of people.
You feel like an explorer
A typical morning on an expedition cruise starts with a sumptuous breakfast, during which the expedition leader will go over the day's program. And while each day is different from the last, even on the morning of you will never know what to expect. On my last expedition, to South Georgia, we sailed in to a fjord hoping to hike in the footsteps of Ernest Shackleton. But low clouds obscured the mountains, dashing our hope to do the walk. Instead we spent the morning walking up a valley, visiting a large penguin rookery. Back on board the sun came out and suddenly the hike was on again and we spent a wonderful afternoon following in the tracks of the great explorer.
You get up-close to wildlife
Because you get to remote places where wildlife is not afraid of humans, you get very close to it and get some unique photo ops. In south Georgia a fellow-traveller was approached by a seal pup with which she sat flipper-in-hand. And in the Canadian Arctic we walked right up to a haul-out of walrus.
You can be as active as you like
Don't feel like being active? Enjoy a zodiac cruise through a fjord or bay, taking in the scenery and wildlife all around you. Feel like a stroll along the beach? Explore an old whaling station or village. Feel like a good hike? Tramp up a mountain to a viewpoint. On expedition cruises there are plenty of opportunities for all levels of fitness. Passengers are divided in small groups according to their abilities and interests.
Expedition cruising camaraderie
Due to the shared interests of travellers on an expedition cruise, and due to the exhilaration of discovering new destinations, true bonds between guests are common and the energy on board is palpable.
Relax and never pack your suit case
Once on board you never have to pack your suit case and the ship is your home away from home. If not out exploring, you can relax on deck, read a book in your cabin, enjoy the facilities, or be on the bridge and be at the centre of new discoveries.
On board an expedition cruise there will always be knowledgeable guides. They may be wildlife experts, history enthusiasts or folk with a treasure trove of information related to the destination's culture, flora and fauna. After listening to them, you will come away enriched with a whole new level of understanding of your destination.
Curious? Download a copy of National Geographic's Expedition Cruise Guide here.