Many of today’s cruisers are looking for options that involve fewer people, smaller destinations, and trips that highlight the outdoors. One travel style that checks all the boxes is expedition cruising. Maybe this is the perfect answer for your family’s next adventure?
Here are a few things you might not know about expedition cruising:
1. Expedition cruising is not new; it’s a renaissance.
Expedition cruising has been a thing since the 1960s and now that a significant segment of travelers wants more than traditional and classic deep-water cruising, or even river cruising, expedition cruising is enjoying a renaissance. Twenty years ago, if someone had told you that some river cruise companies would have 70-plus ships on the rivers today, you might have thought they were a little nutty. But it happened. Expedition cruising is on a similar path, with over 30 specialized vessels on the books to be built by well-known cruise companies.
2. Fifty percent of expedition guests have never cruised before.
In a study of guests conducted by an expedition cruise leader, 50 percent said they were brand new to cruising. They had never been on any kind of cruise before. Many people hold the megaship image of cruising, with 4,000-6,000 passengers, monster slides and rock-climbing walls, and non-stop action – and that’s the last thing they want on their vacation. But expedition ships are smaller in order to get into remote areas, with a typical range of 100-200 guests, and an active but calm and focused onboard environment.
3. Many expedition guests are slightly younger, including Millennials.
Expedition cruising sits on the luxury end of the market, which leads many people to expect a ship full of Boomers. But with older Millennials now in their 40s, the sweet spot for this type of cruise is really 45-65 years of age.
4. Children thrive in the expedition environment.
If you took a young child on a classic European cruise – with the multitude of visits to museums, cathedrals, and other art and culture establishments – you might have a young one in tantrum on your hands. But expedition cruising is all about nature and wildlife, getting outside and interacting with the natural world. As such, it’s a perfect fit for children. They relate to the guides as their teachers, and they typically want to be the first one on the trail with the guide.
Three types of family configurations work especially well for this type of cruising: traditional families with children; multigenerational families (grandparents, parents, and children); and the newer “gramping” (grandparents and grandchildren).
An expedition cruise is a wonderful gift for grandparents to give and share with their grandchildren, rather than the latest tech gadget. Instead, they can introduce the grandchildren to a different part of the world and teach them about conservation – an experience that can shape their lives for the better.
5. Little luxuries abound on expedition ships.
In the early years, expedition cruises took place on converted, retired research vessels. Bathrooms were shared, the dining was cafeteria-style, and there was a general lack of comfort. That all changed about 13 years ago, when someone with true vision approached one of the major luxury cruise lines with the idea of taking guests to the Galapagos, Papua New Guinea, and other remote parts of the world… in luxury and with butler service. And so, luxury expedition cruising was born.
These days, guests on an adventure to a warmer climate may get a little hot and sweaty as they explore from their Zodiacs, but when they return to the ship, someone hands them a cool towel to wipe their brow, and their personal butler has their favorite drink waiting for them in their cabin.
One group in the Arctic had been on their Zodiac for a couple of hours watching the polar bears with fascination. Suddenly, they saw another Zodiac approaching, but the passengers on it doned parkas of a different color than theirs; and as they came closer, they recognized the faces. Low and behold, the guests’ butlers met them on the water, and opened up thermal cases (like the ones used for pizza delivery) to serve fresh warm brownies, chocolate-covered strawberries, and champagne – all to celebrate their first time viewing polar bears in the Arctic.
Several cruise lines offer expedition cruising, and I’d love to help you find the one that’s the perfect fit for your vacation. Simply click here to set up a complimentary planning consultation.