When Columbus discovered The Americas, Captain Cook dropped anchor off Botany Bay, and Shackleton set forth on his polar expeditions, not one of them was expecting anything but the harshest of conditions, yet they were driven on by their desire to explore.
Nowadays, our thirst for discovery has not diminished but the way in which we explore our wonderful planet would be unimaginable to those pioneering adventures. Insuite butler service, fine-dining, helicopter and Zodiac tours and state-of-the-art, eco-friendly design are now the name of the game in luxury expedition cruising.
As small ship and expedition cruise specialists Travel Bureau’s personal travel experts share the latest developments in this growing niche cruise sector
Ponant Luxury adventure at sea was first introduced by this French cruise line back in 1988 and they’re not resting on their laurels. Four new PONANT Explorer’ ships will set sail in 2018 and 2019, each accommodating less than 200 guests and featuring the very first underwater, multi-sensory space Blue Eye. This underwater lounge will feature two large windows to view the sub-aquatic world plus integrated digital screens livestreaming footage from the ship’s three underwater cameras. Moreover, all four ships have been scientifically designed to have zero impact on the marine biosphere.
Scenic Having made a name for themselves in the luxury river cruise market, Scenic will launch the world’s first discovery yacht (its first ocean going vessel) in August
2018. Scenic Eclipse’s maiden season will include The Americas, Europe and the Mediterranean as well as Antarctica, the Arctic and Norwegian Fjords. Focusing on culture as well as discovery, she will visit smaller villages and offer more immersive tours in traditional ports of call as well as dramatic helicopter flights to remote parts of the polar regions cruise passengers have never visited before. After a day of exploration Eclipse’s 6,000 sq ft. Spa Sanctuary with indoor and outdoor pools will be a welcome treat. Such is the interest a sister ship, Eclipse II, has already been announced for arrival in 2020.
Silversea After an extensive refurbishment, Silver Cloud is the latest addition to Silversea’s fourstrong expedition fleet. All-suite ocean view accommodation, 80% with verandas and all with butler service, is combined with five finedining options, including the only Relais & Chateaux restaurant at sea, to offer the thrill of discovery with the comfort of modern allinclusive luxury. The exceptional onboard experience is mirrored by an 18-strong team of experts including geologists, biologists, historians and naturalists, all of the highest calibre, to bring the destinations to life. Guest lecturers from members of the Royal Geographical Society will also feature on many itineraries. Sailing now. Bookings open up to 2020.
Celebrity The Galapagos Islands will be home to a new innovative expedition ship from May 2019 with the introduction of Celebrity Flora. Built specifically to cruise this archipelago of natural excellence, she will be the first ship to boast a dynamic positioning system allowing her to station without the use of anchors thus protecting the ocean floor and natural habitat. With infinity balconies and floor-to-ceiling glass in many public areas, guests will be able to dine or relax enveloped by their destination.
Crystal Regularly voted the world’s best cruise line, Crystal Cruises have announced the launch of the world’s first purpose-built, polar class megayacht. Crystal Endeavor will debut in 2020 with two more expedition vessels expected to follow. Sailing in the Arctic, then following the route of migrating whales along the coast of The Americas and Europe to Antarctica, she will visit remote Pacific and Atlantic islands along the way. A duo of helicopters, two seven-person submarines, eight amphibious zodiacs, underwater scooters (SEABOBs) and an ROV (remotely operated vehicle) allowing expedition tours to sunken wrecks including the Titanic, are just some of the high tech toys’ set to make these exploratory cruise experiences completely immersive.