Blue Water Holidays
Blue Water Holidays - ABTA - ATOL - CLIA
Experts in River and Small Ship Cruising Holidays since 2002
01756 706500 +44 1756 706500
Blue Water Holidays - ABTA - ATOL - CLIA
01756 706500
+44 1756 706500
Expedition Cruises

Expedition Cruises

An expedition cruise is an exhilarating and awe-inspiring experience. Travel in the wake of famous explorers, come face-to-face with the world’s most fascinating cultures and see wildlife in their natural habitats.

Expedition cruising takes you to some of the most remote parts of the world, only accessible by small, purpose-built ships. The focus of an expedition cruise is to explore the surroundings, giving a taste of adventure with the emphasis on learning.

Cruise Collection 2020 / 2021 / 2022

About Expedition Cruises

Onboard Experience

Expedition cruises are accompanied by experienced teams of experts including biologists, geologists and historians. Expedition teams are on hand to share their advice and information to ensure you have the best experience and get the most out of your voyage.

Landings in remote areas are conducted by Zodiacs or Polarcirkels, which hold around 12 passengers and are used to take you closer to the shores and wildlife than the ship can reach. The ship’s captain will try to ensure landings take place in prime locations, for the best chance of spotting the local wildlife. Excursions are also available and, depending on the destination, include kayaking, hiking or snorkelling.


The most popular destinations for expedition cruises are the polar regions of Antarctica and the Arctic. Experience dramatic scenery dominated by snow and ice, and spot an abundance of wildlife including penguins in the Antarctic or polar bears in the Arctic. The volcanic Galapagos Islands expedition cruises are also popular, and the area is home to Blue-footed boobies and marine iguanas. An expedition cruise across the Northwest Passage is for the ultimate explorers as the ship navigates extreme conditions.

As more ships are being purpose-built for expedition cruising, cruise lines are ever increasing the repertoire of destinations offered. Warm water destinations include Costa Rica, the Amazon, Mexico and South America. Other less-common regions explored by expedition cruise ships include Russia and Franz Josef Land, Kimberley - off the coast of Australia and the South Pacific Islands including Papua New Guinea and Easter Island.

Ship Developments

The ship is a big factor when choosing the right expedition cruise and expedition ships are continuing to be more environmentally friendly and also more innovative.

Hurtigruten’s newest expedition ships are the first of a greener and more advanced fleet. They will sail with electric hybrid technology which will reduce fuel consumption by 20%. They can run on 100% electric power for up to 30 minutes, which means you can experience the surroundings in near-total silence. Hurtigruten have also banned single-use plastic

Silver Origin, launching in the Galapagos in 2020, will be the most environmentally friendly ship in Silversea’s fleet, designed to minimise the carbon footprint left in this National Park area. Silver Origin will also be plastic-free.

Whilst expedition ships are becoming more environmentally friendly, they are also having more innovative features.

Scenic Eclipse, built in 2019, is Scenic’s first expedition cruise ship. It will provide luxury accommodation whilst still offering unique experiences. Scenic Eclipse will feature an on board helicopter and submarine.

Ponant’s latest fleet of ships set a new standard of luxury expedition cruising. They are the first ships to have a multi-sensory lounge, ‘Blue Eye’, ideal for viewing the underwater world from the comfort of the ship. There is also a marina for easy access for kayaking, paddle boarding and snorkelling.

Scenic Eclipse Galapagos Islands Hurtigruten's Fridtjof Nansen Penguins in Antarctica Greenland Ponant's Blue Eye Lounge

Expedition Cruise Destinations


Expedition cruises to Antarctica allow guests to experience dramatic scenery dominated by snow and ice in the last unexplored place on Earth, where nature is at its most sublime and haunting. Kayak silently among the icebergs, stand in the middle of a thousand noisy penguins or listen to the melting ice and the distant echo of a calving glacier. The spectacular landscape and teeming wildlife will leave you speechless but with memories to last a lifetime. Enjoy spending time ashore, hiking, and seeing penguins, seabirds and seals up close. Some Antarctic cruises also include landings at the Falkland Islands and South Georgia.

Antarctic cruises take place during the winter months, between October and March. Around November, the temperatures tend to be colder than later in the season. By the end of November, you may spot nests of penguin eggs. December to early February have the most sunlight and temperatures are usually at their warmest. Penguins chicks begin hatching at it’s the best time to spot penguins. February and March are the best times to spot whales but by the end of March most of penguins chicks have grown and started to fledge.


Explore the Arctic wilderness of Svalbard and Greenland.

Located halfway between Norway and the North Pole, Spitsbergen is part of the Svalbard Archipelago. It is home to more than 3,000 polar bears and cruising into the high Arctic increases the chance of seeing this solitude animal. There are more ice drifts in the high Arctic, so polar bears often use these as platforms to cross the sea. Colonies of Walrus are also often seen in Spitsbergen, along with the Arctic fox and reindeer.

In Greenland, the landscapes towering mountains create a backdrop to the icy seas, fjords and glaciers. Meet the local Inuit community and learn about the Norse heritage. Look out for whales, seals and seabirds.

Arctic expedition cruises take place during the summer months, during which Svalbard experiences the Midnight Sun.

Northwest Passage

The Northwest Passage is the ultimate expedition for explorers. Explore the wild terrain as the ship navigates the isolated sea passage between Kangerlussuaq in Greenland and Nome in Alaska. Look out for walrus and polar bears as you explore this remote region, surrounded by vast mountain ranges and dramatic glaciers. The extreme conditions of the Northwest Passage means only a few cruise companies have the expertise to offer this destination.


Aside from the polar regions, the volcanic Galapagos Islands are another of the most popular destinations for expedition cruising. The Galapagos Islands lie about 600 miles from Ecuador, and can either be explored as a Galapagos expedition cruise, or as an extension to a cruise along the coast of Chile and Peru.

The Galapagos Islands are a year-round destination. December to May is known as the rainy season, however they are short spells of showers mainly in the afternoon. At this time of year, marine iguanas become brightly coloured as they begin their mating season, giant tortoise eggs start hatching and frigate birds start nesting. January to March is also the best time for snorkelling as there is peak visibility underwater during these months and the sea temperature is more favourable. June is the beginning of the cold, dry season in the Galapagos Islands. From June, seabirds are more active and blue-footed boobies can be seen nesting on the shores. In September, there is a high chance of spotting baby sea lions, whilst October is a good time to see the chicks of Blue-footed boobies.

Antarctic Galapagos Islands Greenland Arctic South America Alaska