written by
Cori Sutton

As the name implies, expedition cruising is a luxurious journey of exploration and adventure to off-the-beaten-path places. Thrilling, awe-inspiring, and humbling all at the same time, expedition cruising is unlike any other kind of travel experience. It’s about immersing yourself in the culture, landscape, and habitat of remote regions with the help of experts who can illuminate all you see.  
Whether you long to view penguins in the wild, want to know what lies behind the next mountain ridge, or just want to travel as far from the everyday as possible, expedition cruises are perfect for anyone with a sense of curiosity and adventure.  
Luxurious, yet ruggedly capable of taking adventure-seekers to the far corners of the Earth, expedition ships are in a league of their own. Typically smaller than traditional passenger ships, expedition ships have shallow drafts, and are able to inch closer to those less-visited, out-of-the-way ports and scenic wonders. On board, guests can expect to enjoy many amenities and services such as sumptuous cabins and suite accommodations, decadent meals and cocktails, top-notch service, private butlers, entertainment, Wi-Fi and much more. 
What sets expedition cruising apart from traditional cruising is the relationship between the voyages and ports. 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, and anthropology of the vessel’s destinations.  
Keep in mind that aboard an expedition ship, the day-to-day scheduling and port stops are more fluid than 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, and any other “must see” moments. The extensive use of Zodiac inflatable watercrafts instead of conventional tenders is another hallmark of expedition cruises, allowing passengers to make beach landings where no pier is available. On shore, small groups are formed based on fitness levels and interests, whether it’s hiking and kayaking or taking things slower on a naturalist-led walk along a shoreline to look in tide pools or search for rare birds. 
From the lush rainforests of the equatorial Pacific region to the polar extremes at the very edge of the world, expedition ships can be found sailing the entire globe and 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. On an expedition cruise you’ll sail to far-flung places like Antarctica, French Polynesia, Iceland, and nearly everywhere in between, like Newfoundland and the lesser visited islands of the Caribbean.  
Many travelers make it a point to experience Antarctica for their first expedition cruises. And given all there is to enjoy on this epic journey, it’s no surprise why. Many round-trip Antarctic itineraries start and end in Ushuaia, Argentina. From there you’ll navigate south through the Drake Passage to make a few incredible stops in Antarctica. Along the way, you will be in the company of a variety of whales and orcas. Over the course of five days or so in Antarctica you’ll explore the icy waters by Zodiac boat where you’ll witness the everyday life of millions of penguins and many other fascinating creatures, enjoy guided hiking opportunities, and soak up all the stunning scenery. Returning to Ushuaia, you’ll discover more natural beauty in the Fuegian Andes and sail the Beagle Channel in search of more incredible wildlife.
If you’re looking to journey through a warmer climate, there are plenty of other options, though one in particular always captures our attention – the Galapagos Islands. At almost 600 miles from the coast of Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands are one of the most remote places in the world. The 19 island-archipelago was the world’s first UNESCO Heritage Site and is home to an astonishing 9,000 species of flora and fauna. It is by far the strangest, most wonderful place on Earth. From discovering endemic flora and fauna to drinking in life changing views, this region will transform how you look at the world and the many incredible creatures and cultures that inhabit our planet.  
No matter what your interests, 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.

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