Darby's Destinations Luxury Travel - Italy

Expedition Cruising: What is it like and where can you go?

What to expect from this immersive and luxurious type of cruise

December 2, 2022

Ultra immersive and ultra adventurous, expedition cruising is a vacation style that takes you to the most remote oceans, seas, and tundras. Specifically, these liveaboard tours journey to the polar north and south – the final frontiers in travel. As these regions require a specialist approach, you will be accompanied by expedition leaders with extensive knowledge of polar natural history and the culture of those living in these areas.

The vessels used in expedition cruising are significantly smaller, amounting to only a couple of hundred guests rather than the several thousand traditional cruise liners accommodate. Ships fall into a far more luxurious category, as reflected in the guest cabins, amenities, and onboard dining. Consider expedition cruises the aquatic equivalent of a boutique hotel – with adventure to boot. There is no need to worry about feeling the cold; all expedition vessels are climate-controlled for your comfort while specialist clothing is provided.

Expedition cruises take you where the large cruise liners can’t; here is where you can expect to journey on an expedition cruise.


The ultimate in travel bucket lists, Antarctica is an expedition cruise destination like no other. Routes factor in South Georgia, the Falkland Islands, and the South Shetland Islands. During this time, you will witness wildlife including birds, penguins, seals, and – if you are fortunate – whales. You may also visit the grave of Sir Ernest Shackleton as well as research stations.

Vessels bound for the South Pole are purpose-built to venture deep into the frigid landscape without sacrificing comfort and safety. Throughout your itinerary, you will make frequent excursions via Zodiac and kayak to deepen the experience, with time spent walking on the ice.

Cruises depart for Antarctica between November and March – summer in the Southern Hemisphere. Itineraries vary subject to the month of travel, with January bringing opportunities to camp on the ice while March is the prime time for whale watching. If time permits, you may wish to extend your Antarctic expedition cruise with a trip to Chilean or Argentinian Patagonia.

The Arctic

The Arctic region includes Iceland, Greenland, and Scandinavia while the High Arctic refers specifically to Svalbard – the realm of polar bears – and most of Canada's northern Arctic Archipelago.

As with expedition cruises to Antarctica, you will have opportunities to jump ashore. By visiting towns and villages in South Greenland such as Nuuk and Sisimiut you will gain insight into the way of life in these isolated parts. Other excursions enable you to venture deeper into the wilderness, with options to walk on the Greenland Ice Sheet. The more luxurious expedition ships are fitted with helicopters that will take you for scenic flights and heli-hiking.

Connecting Canada’s Baffin Island with Alaska, the Northwest Passage is a longer and lesser-traveled Arctic route where you can watch out for polar bears, walruses, belugas, and bowhead whales.

Weather and ice conditions mean that no two polar voyages are ever fully alike. Some Arctic trips run without a fixed itinerary, in order to accommodate the current conditions – these expeditions are truly for intrepid explorers. In contrast to the South Pole, summer in the Northern Hemisphere is the best time to take an expedition cruise in the Arctic.

Expedition cruising in the Arctic and Antarctica is a thrilling yet luxurious experience that you will want to repeat. Contact me to start discussing your expedition cruise.

Ready to embark on your own journey to the extraordinary?