written by
Cori Sutton

A seven-night expedition sailing in many ways feels more like a weeklong shore excursion than a cruise. What sets expedition cruising apart from traditional cruising is the relationship between the voyages and ports. On a typical ship, the cruise experience is made up in equal measure by experiences ashore — both organized and independent — and various activities and entertainment on board, provided by a “cruise staff.” When conventional ships add programs of an educational or informational nature, they are defined as “enrichment,” an augmentation to, rather than the main thrust of, the cruise experience. They are the seasoning, not the main course.

In addition to cruise staff, expedition ships are led by an expedition team, with a team leader and a support staff of naturalists and science-oriented guest lecturers who give presentations on the politics, culture, history, geology, geography, biology, ecology or anthropology of their vessel’s destinations. Some even employ photographers to help you take amazing pictures of the wildlife and scenery. In this context, the education becomes the meat and potatoes, with a pinch of entertainment occasionally thrown in to spice things up and keep the trip from getting too serious.

Aboard an expedition ship, the day-to-day scheduling and ports stops are more fluid than in the daily programs of conventional ships. This permits the flexibility of changing course or altering plans on a dime to take advantage of weather, sea conditions, wildlife sightings, or any other serendipitous occurrence. One keystone of expedition cruising is the extensive use of Zodiac inflatable crafts instead of conventional tenders. Not only does this require more agility transferring to and from the ship, but often the destination is a beach or rocky shoreline lacking any sort of a pier, necessitating a “wet landing” (having to jump over the side into the water and wade to shore). Once ashore, groups are often divided up into smaller packs based on fitness level and interest, with the heartier travelers taking off on hikes of various degrees or long kayaking outings and easier-going folks taking a leisurely, naturalist-led walk along a shoreline to look in tide pools or search for rare birds.

Crystal Cruises offers extensive itineraries in Europe and the Mediterranean, North America, Panama Canal, Mexican Riviera, the Caribbean, South America, the Pacific Ocean, Asia, and Antarctica, ranging from five days to approximately 100-day World Cruises and regionally-focused Grand Cruises. A hallmark of Crystal’s award-winning reputation is the engaging onboard enrichment program, inviting you to leave the daily routines of life behind and open your mind to new possibilities.

Launching in 2020, Crystal Endeavour will be the world’s first purpose-built cruise yacht with a P6 polar-class designation. This Polar Class 6 designation will allow the vessel to maneuver in the summer and fall through medium ice conditions at either of the poles. Crystal Endeavour will feature 100 luxury suites and will allow passengers while traveling to relax in a private conservatory, in-cabin spa and gym with sauna, indoor and outdoor Jacuzzi, in addition to vast living space (inside and out). Crystal Endeavour will offer six dining venues, including a main dining room, outdoor café, self-serve snack spot, and 24-hour room service. Specialty restaurants on board include Umi Uma, serving sushi and specialties by Master Chef Nobu Matsuhisa, and Prego, which will offer traditional Italian fare, and hosts Crystal’s “Vintage Room” winemaker dinners. Additionally, Crystal Endeavour features the elegant main dining room, Asian-inspired Silk Kitchen & Bar, and a European-inspired Bistro Cafe, which will offer full-service breakfast and lunch and be a go-to spot for teas and freshly brewed espresso.

Crystal Endeavour will offer personalized services along with 1:1 crew-to-guest ratio. This ultra-luxury yacht has its own fleet of 18 Zodiacs, two submarines (each is a seven-person mini submarine), two helicopters (for flight tours) and two helipads. The cruise vessel is fitted with top-notch dynamic positioning technology and computer-controlled systems in order to automatically maintain its position using its own propulsion units (thrusters and propellers), even in adverse weather conditions. This allows the yacht to float above coral reefs without the need to drop anchors, which could damage the seabed.

An expedition with Silversea Expeditions is unlike any other form of travel – thrilling, awe-inspiring and humbling all at the same time. It takes you to some of the most remote regions of the planet and shows them to you intimately. It is for the curious traveler who longs to see an orangutan in the wild or what lies behind the next mountain ridge. It is about immersing yourself in the culture, landscape and habitat of a region with the help of experts who can illuminate all you see. Silversea Expedition’s small luxury ships are designed for those who delight in the thrill of discovery while indulging mind and body in the most lavish surroundings imaginable. All accommodations are spacious, oceanview suites that include butler service, and most include private verandas. Silversea Expeditions sail to destinations on all seven continents.

Silversea Expeditions offers voyages on the Silver Cloud, Silver Explorer, Silver Discovery, and the Silver Galapagos. After extensive refurbishment, Silver Cloud is one of most spacious and comfortable ice class vessel in expedition cruising. Large suites, destination itineraries and unparalleled service make her truly special. Four dining options will tantalize your taste buds and countless windows make watching a breaching whale or a few cavorting penguins extremely personal. A limited number of guests in polar waters, mean that Silver Cloud has one of the highest space to guest and crew to guest ratios in expedition cruising. With 16 Zodiacs and 10 kayaks, the possibilities are almost limitless with ship-wide simultaneous explorations.

From the lush rainforests of the equatorial Pacific to the polar extremes at the very edge of the world, Silversea’s expedition ships sail to all seven continents. You can explore pelagic wonderlands, admire volcanic plateaus gushing with geysers, or enter the realm of the polar bear. But no matter where you go, you will enjoy a uniquely immersive experience, expanding your global perspective and prompting you to re-evaluate what really matters. One day you could be snorkeling with sea turtles, the next day blazing a trail through an old growth rain forest while long-tailed macaques screech overhead.

Incredible scenery awakens the photographer, wild adventure beckons the explorer, and close-up encounters with Stone Age cultures await the adventure traveler. No matter what your special interest, there’s an expedition cruise that can satisfy your passion for true discovery in a highly personal and immersive way. And rest assured — no creature comfort will be denied on one of these luxurious expedition cruises.

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