Sign Up for Our Monthly Explorer Newsletter
In the past, elite travelers spent months, even years, arranging visits to remote parts of the world to see exotic wildlife and varying cultures. Today’s expedition traveler can do seemingly unimaginable things by simply booking a cruise that offers them entry to extraordinary experiences.
Travelers can put on headlamps and go deep under a glacier, sleep in a tent at a Bedouin camp, snorkel with giant manta rays at night, walk among the 900 stone figures made by vanished residents of Easter Island and examine the handicrafts of Papua New Guinea. They can glide under polar waves in a submarine, make camp in the Antarctic and swim with seals in the Galapagos Islands.
Here are a few of our favorite thrills now within reach for the cruise passenger.
Collect Crafts in Papua New GuineaHome to a variety of cultural groups and more than 800 languages, Papua New Guinea (PNG) is one of the world’s most interesting destinations.
Clients can spend several days in different parts of PNG on Silversea Cruises’ Silver Discoverer, which will sail a 17-day Cairns to Darwin cruise departing June 22, 2018. In Kafure, travelers are greeted with song and dance and join locals in their canoes. Cruisers will explore the mangrove forest with its fantastic birds and butterflies and see how villagers create the intricately patterned tapa barkcloth used in ceremonies.
Explore Under the Sea by Private SubmarineCaptain Nemo has nothing on today’s cruiser. Crystal Cruises’ luxurious exploration yacht, Crystal Esprit, offers a private submarine that has the capability of diving as deep as 1,000 feet below sea level. After an extensive safety briefing, two guests climb down into the 360-degree plexiglass bubble to join the pilot for up to 30 minutes as they witness life under the ocean’s surface in destinations from the Seychelles to the Caribbean.
If this experience is important to your clients, confirm with Crystal that the chosen cruise sails in waters where the sub is licensed to operate.
Sleep in a Bedouin Encampment in OmanPassengers on Azamara Club Cruises’ Journey ship can overnight in a Bedouin encampment in Muscat, Oman, as part of the line’s “Cruise Global, Stay Local” destination-immersion initiative.
Cruisers will travel by four-wheel drive down to the water pools and date palms of Wadi Arbaeen in the Eastern Hajar Mountains before heading onto the Bedouin camp. There, they will be greeted with live music, an Arabian barbecue and more before retiring to their luxury tents for the night. The next day, they will travel across the desert to visit a Bedouin family’s home and swim in a desert pool at Wadi Bani Khalid.
Journey’s 17-night Route of the Frankincense on Oct. 28 from Piraeus to Dubai and 10-night Arabian Gulf & Emirates Voyage, departing Nov. 11, roundtrip from Dubai, both provide the option of the overnight stay.
Kayak the AntarcticGuests sailing with Seabourn Cruise Line in Antarctica will rave about kayaking around Cuverville Island in the Antarctic Peninsula, offered on all departures of Seabourn Quest (weather permitting).
Kayakers will circumnavigate the island, viewing rookeries of gentoo penguins against a dramatic backdrop of glacial ice, as well as leopard and crabeater seals resting on the ice floes that dot the scenic Errera Channel. Guides bookend the eight double kayaks, and an accompanying rescue zodiac often goes ahead to spot wildlife and radio back their location.
Ring in the New Year in Antarctica on Seabourn’s 24-day Holiday Antarctica, Patagonia & South Georgia Island itinerary, sailing from Santiago, Chile, on Dec. 20.
Discover Easter Island and the Vanished Rapa Nui While nobody knows what compelled the isolated Rapa Nui people to create the monolithic moai (walking statues carved from volcanic rock), the figures continue to enchant visitors to this day.
Several Ponant sailings include Easter Island, such as the two-week Polynesia and Easter Island cruise on L’Austral, sailing from Papeete on Oct. 6, 2018; and the 14-day Easter Island and Polynesia itinerary on Le Soleal, departing Easter Island on March 4, 2019.
Today’s expedition cruises make bucket list experiences, like Bedouin camping, accessible. // © 2017 Azamara Club Cruises
In cruises that include Svalbard, Hurtigruten offers ice cave hikes. // © 2017 Hurtigruten
Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic offers skiff rides at dawn on the Amazon River. // © 2017 Lindblad Expeditions
Guests on Paul Gauguin Crusies need not worry about the lack of dive centers on the Marquesas Islands — ships come complete with a divemaster. // © 2017 Paul Gauguin Cruises
Dive by submarine in Antarctica onboard Scenic Eclipse. // © 2017 Scenic
Or, if clients prefer to be active, they can kayak Antarctica with Seabourn Cruise Line. // © 2017 Seabourn Cruise Line
Scuba Dive in the Marquesas IslandsOn the 14-night Marquesas, Tuamotus & Society Islands itinerary departing Nov. 18, Paul Gauguin Cruises will offer guests the chance to scuba dive in the Marquesas Islands.
Nuku Hiva’s steep cliffs and caves are home to a variety of unusual marine life, including hammerhead sharks, manta rays, moray eels and scorpion fish. And in Tahuata, divers can see gray sharks, manta rays and schools of juvenile fish. The area ranks among the world’s supreme diving spots, but there are no dive centers in these remote islands, so Paul Gauguin’s shipboard center, with PADI certification offered onboard, provides a rare opportunity.
All dives are guided by a professional PADI divemaster or instructor, and Paul Gauguin takes care of everything from setup and gearing to guiding guests through the deep for a life-changing experience.
Dive by Submarine in AntarcticaAdventurers sailing onboard the new Scenic Eclipse will be able to penetrate deep into the cold waters of the Antarctic by submarine.
Launching in August 2018, Eclipse will carry a seven-seat submarine that explores depths up to 650 feet — far below where most divers can reach. From there, passengers can track whales traveling with their young in tow and watch sea lions and penguins diving into the water overhead.
Hike an Arctic Ice CaveBeneath the glaciers of the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard, just south of the North Pole, there is a whole subterranean world created by the water that melts away in summer and refreezes in new shapes and patterns every year.
Passengers on the many Hurtigruten cruises that include Spitsbergen in the winter and spring can arrange to turn on their headlamps and slide down into the glittering ice caves under the Longyear Glacier just outside of town. There are places where explorers may have to crawl, but guides will provide helmets, lamps, hot drinks and all equipment. The results are breathtaking.
Breakfast at Dawn on Skiffs in the AmazonFrom February through December, Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic offers 10-day cruises of the Peruvian Upper Amazon on the 28-guest Delfin ll.
The itinerary focuses on the Pacaya-Samiria Reserve, a less traveled, wilder part of the Amazon that features the highest concentration of bird species on the planet and a haunting beauty. The essence of river life can be felt on an early morning skiff ride, followed by breakfast on the Amazon River. Passengers board the skiffs in darkness to get the feel of the river as it awakens and the mists lift. The calls of the wildlife can be heard shortly after. Meanwhile, riberenos (people who live along the river) start their day; parents taking their children to school float by in canoes; and fishermen set off to work.
Eventually, the skiffs raft together to share a breakfast of croissants, pastries, coffee and juice, eggs, bacon and fruit — all served on fine china in the midst of the Amazon.
Night Snorkel with Giant Manta RaysA manta ray night snorkel in Kona, Hawaii, is one of the underwater highlights on UnCruise’s Hawaiian Seascapes itinerary.
Before the snorkel, participants take a warm-up swim to get comfortable with gear, and a manta ray expert introduces them to the underwater world they will later encounter. Guests will then put on wrist glow lights and wetsuits and split into four groups, each with a surfboard to hang onto before they reach the “campfire” — underwater lights placed to attract plankton — which bring the manta rays. The 12-foot rays “fly” in dreamlike slow motion around the explorers, who will be sure to describe the swim as deeply moving.
Snorkel with Sea LionsComing in contact with the fearless animals of the Galapagos Islands is truly life-changing, far beyond anything that can be imagined from seeing them on film. Encountering these creatures in their natural habitat is wonderful; joining them is beyond description. Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Xpedition ship can take passengers swimming and snorkeling with sea turtles, sea lions, marine iguanas and penguins.
Cruises of various lengths are offered year-round on the 100-passenger Xpedition, and on several 15-day itineraries, clients can visit Machu Picchu and Cusco, Peru, along with the Galapagos.
Camp in AntarcticaHapag-Lloyd Cruises’ two expedition ships, Bremen and Hanseatic, offer guests the chance to camp in Antarctica (weather permitting) on its 18-day Antarctic cruises.
Four to eight campers can be furnished with polar parkas, waterproof rubber boots, thermal sleeping mats and sleeping bags. Equipped with a transportable toilet and battery-powered tent lamps, they will sail by zodiac into the world of ice, where they will erect polar tents and spend the night listening to the true sounds of the Antarctic: a penetrating silence punctuated by the crackling of ice and the sound of penguins calling.
The experience can be booked onboard, and the expedition leader will decide who can participate. There will be constant contact with the ship, and, if weather requires, the trip duration may be altered.