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Expedition Cruises

Expedition Cruises

Nowadays an expedition cruise to the polar regions is an adventure on many ‘bucket-lists’, enjoying the same scenery and wildlife but without the hardships of yesteryear. A flight to a departure port leads to a ship specially designed for polar waters – one with all the features, facilities and food of the best cruise ships, and maybe top luxury surroundings with personal butler service.

We offer expedition cruises from the leading specialists with ice-classified ships calling at the best stopping points where travellers can go ashore on smaller boats to experience the adventures of a lifetime. In northern hemispheres maybe spot the elusive polar bear, in the Antarctic get close up to the many varieties of penguin, each time returning to the comforts of a modern cruise ship. In warmer climes visit some of the most exotic locations on the planet.

There is a wide range of expedition cruises available – a choice of length and itinerary, size of ship, and luxury style. Dormitory-type accommodation has been replaced by well-appointed cabins, former Russian research (spy) ships have been superceded by new build specialist polar-class ships, and the whole experience is now designed for the modern adventure traveller .

Cruise Collection 2024/ 2025/ 2026

Finding Cruises
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  • Arctic Express Canada: The Heart of the Northwest Passage

    Quark Expeditions
    Ultramarine
    Arctic Canada 7 Nights Cruise Only from £4778pp Resolute Bay, Nunavut, Canada’s High Arctic, Resolute Bay, Nunavut
  • Valparaiso to Puerto Williams

    Silversea
    Silver Cloud
    Valparaiso, Chile 12 Nights Fly Cruise from £4800pp Valparaiso (Chile), Niebla, Castro, Caleta Tortel, Cruising English Narrows, Chilean Fjords, Punta Arenas, Cruising by Garibaldi Fjord and Glacier, Ushuaia (Argentina), Puerto Williams (Chile)
  • Reykjavik to Reykjavik

    Silversea Luxury
    Silver Spirit
    Husavik, Iceland 10 Nights Cruise Only from £4800pp Reykjavík (Iceland), Patreksfjørdur, Siglufjørdur, Akureyri, Husavik, Seydisfjørdur, Djúpivogur, Torshavn (Faroe Islands), Heimaey Island (Iceland), Reykjavík
  • Spitsbergen Explorer: Wildlife Capital of the Arctic

    Quark Expeditions
    Choice of Ships
    Svalbard 10 Nights Cruise Only from £4850pp Longyearbyen, Spitsbergen, Longyearbyen
  • The Three Arctic Islands

    Quark Expeditions
    Ocean Adventurer
    Iceberg, Greenland 13 Nights Cruise Only from £5000pp Longyearbyen (Svalbard), Spitsbergen, Greenland's East Coast Fjords, Reykjavík (Iceland)
  • Intro to Spitsbergen: Fjords, Glaciers and Wildlife of Svalbard

    Quark Expeditions
    Choice of Ships
    Longyearbyen 8 Nights Cruise Only from £5000pp Longyearbyen (Svalbard), Spitsbergen, Longyearbyen
  • Iceland, Jan Mayen and Spitsbergen - Eastbound

    Hurtigruten Expeditions
    Fram
    Akureyri 12 Nights Cruise Only from £5034pp Reykjavik, Stykkisholmur, Patreksfjordur, Grimsey, Akureyri, Jan Mayen Island, North West Spitsbergen National Park, Longyearbyen - Oslo
  • Dakar to Lisbon

    Silversea
    Silver Wind
    Varandinha Beach, Boa Vista, Cape Verde 14 Nights Fly Cruise from £5200pp Dakar (Senegal), Sao Filipe (Fogo Island, Cape Verde), Boa Vista, Tarrafal, São Nicolau Island, Porto Novo, Santo Antão Island, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, San Sebastian de la Gomera, Agadir (Morocco), Safi, Lisbon (Portugal)
  • Four Arctic Islands

    Quark Expeditions
    Ocean Adventurer
    Longyearbyen, Svalbard 16 Nights Cruise Only from £5250pp Longyearbyen (Spitsbergen), Jan Mayen Island, Scoresbysund (Greenland), Reykjavik (Iceland)
  • From Machu Picchu to the Galápagos Islands

    Hurtigruten Expeditions
    Santa Cruz II
    Gardner Bay, Galapagos 6 Nights Cruise Only from £5283pp Baltra Island (Galápagos), Mosquera Island, Punta Pitt, San Cristóbal Island, Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, San Cristobal Island, South Plaza Island, Santa Fé Island, Puerto Ayora, Isla Santa Cruz, Punta Suarez, Isla Española, Gardner Bay, Española Island, North Seymour Island, El Edén Island, Baltra Island

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.

Destinations

The most popular destinations for expedition cruises are the polar regions of the Antarctic 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. An expedition cruise through the North West Passage in Northern Canada is the ultimate adventure.

As more ships are being purpose-built for expedition cruising, cruise lines have expanded their adventure offerings. Warm water destinations include Costa Rica, the Amazon, Mexico, South America and the volcanic Galapagos Islands with their unique wildlife including blue-footed boobies and marine iguanas. Other less-visited regions include Australia’s Kimberley coast and South Pacific Islands including Papua New Guinea and Easter Island.

Sustainable Expedition Ships

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.

AE Expeditions is committed to travelling respectfully. The ships have a revolutionary Ulstein X-BOW, reducing vibrations and making quicker transits through waves, which helps to reduce fuel consumption by up to 60%. The onboard desalination plant converts seawater to freshwater which is safe to drink, so they carry less freshwater on sea crossings, further reducing fuel consumption. Virtual anchoring allows the ships to hold their position, protecting the sea floor and minimising damage caused by conventional anchors. Onboard, many single-use plastics have been replaced by suitable alternatives, and they are aiming to eliminate them altogether.

Quark Expeditions aims to reduce carbon emissions per passenger by 10% through fleet improvements and aims to reuse or recycle 100% of waste on Quark Expeditions-owned vessels. Quark Expeditions has taken steps to reduce the amount of waste being sent to landfills, including avoiding single-use plastics and partnering in the SeaGreen recycling initiative in Ushuaia.

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.

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. Le Commandant-Charcot, Ponant’s revolutionary new ice-breaker ship, has been specially designed for polar regions and features hybrid propulsion to minimise its environmental impact.

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.

Scenic Eclipse, built in 2019, is Scenic’s first expedition cruise ship. It provides luxury accommodation whilst still offering unique experiences. Scenic Eclipse features an on board helicopter and submarine. The highly-efficient engines are designed to reduce emissions whilst the Azipod propulsion system ensures the lowest noise and vibration levels to ensure minimal disturbance to marine life. GPS dynamic positioning systems allow the vessel to remain stationary in fragile environments where the use of anchors would damage the seabed.

More about Antarctic Expedition Cruises

More about Arctic Expedition Cruises

Scenic EclipseScenic Eclipse Galapagos IslandsGalapagos Islands Hurtigruten's Fridtjof NansenHurtigruten's Fridtjof Nansen Penguins in AntarcticaPenguins in Antarctica GreenlandGreenland Ponant's Blue Eye LoungePonant's Blue Eye Lounge