An expedition cruise combines the luxuries of life on board a superbly appointed expedition-class vessel with exciting excursions by inflatable Zodiac dinghy and onshore explorations of local wildlife and landscape.
Scandinavian and Arctic cruises are a spectacular way to view the Norwegian fjords and watch for polar bears, while South American and Antarctic cruises sail through the fjords of Chile, or past towering glaciers and innumerable penguins and other birdlife. Whale watching is superb at either pole, depending on the season.
Cruising deep into the rainforest surrounding the Amazon is an exciting option with a growing number of cruise lines, often coupled with a multi-port tour of the Caribbean. Alternatively, a voyage to the Galápagos is a fantastic way to view abundant wildlife, with sailings out of Ecuador and Argentina. In Asia, Papua New Guinea and Borneo cruises embark in Australia and New Zealand and can be combined with extended stays amid the regions' unique nature and tribal communities, while in Africa, safari cruises can easily be coupled with a spot of beach relaxation in Mauritius or the Maldives.
Top destinations for Expedition Cruises
Exclusive and rarely visited, Antarctica can be inhospitable, making an exploration cruise here a genuine expedition, where the rewards in terms of sights and experiences are well worth the effort to travel to the end of the Earth.
Exploration cruises in Europe are the best way to explore Norway and the dramatic, rugged coastline here, whilst you can also push north above the Arctic Circle to discover Spitsbergen and Svalbard.
It's fair to say that South America and expedition cruising make for a happy marriage. After all, the continent's coastlines, and indeed its outlying islands, are packed full of out-of-the-way gems, tailor-made for the adventure-minded traveller.
Australasia and the South Pacific are ideal destinations for an expedition cruises, with plenty of opportunity for discovering wild coastlines, remote islands and kaleidoscopic coral reefs teeming with life.
Historic and culturally rich, Asia is an exceptional destination for an exploration cruise, with the Spice Islands of Indonesia, Borneo and islands off Japan all waiting to be discovered.