insights from the ultimate cruising team

Cruise or expedition? That is the question

Cruise or expedition? That is the question

Today we’re talking about the difference between regular cruising and expedition cruising. We get some clients who will only expedition cruise, others who have done both and yet others who don’t really know what expedition cruising is all about.

Traditionally, expedition cruising was only for the truly adventurous who really wanted to get out and see a destination, hands-on and to heck with any comfort. Bunk beds and basic meals was all part of getting to remote destinations where few tourists venture.

Whilst the concept of expedition cruising remains the same, a lot has changed over the last few years!  

Traditional cruising means sailing from port to port, enjoying lavish meals and an array of entertainment options. On the larger cruise ships, you’ll often find several bars and restaurants, shops, pools and boutiques. Once in a destination, you’ll be given a rundown of the local customs and offered a variety of shore excursions. You’ll enjoy a fabulous day out exploring, come back to the ship for yet more sumptuous dining, then enjoy a show or dance the night away.


Expedition cruising is a bit different. On an expedition cruise, it’s more about the destination, than the cruising lifestyle. These days, it’s more “exploration” cruising – exploring remote parts of the world that only small ships can navigate.   It’s learning about the flora and fauna, the culture and history and being off the ship as much as possible while in port. On-board experts are on hand to give you an insight into what you’re likely to see and there’s plenty of opportunity to learn from their extensive knowledge. You’ll often have a marine biologist, professional photographer or wildlife expert all more than willing to share their expertise with you. With these experts on board, it not only means you’ll come away with a greater appreciation for your destination, but if something unusual or noteworthy takes place, you’re sure to see it (and realise what exactly is going on!).


Expedition ships generally aren’t high on the entertainment score – simply because guests are too tired from exploring to worry too much about the entertainment! The ship is more like a home base to return to and recharge the batteries – both your own as well as your camera!

But don’t think these days you have to forfeit luxury in order to enjoy exploration cruising! Luxury exploration ships offer spacious, well-appointed 5-star cabins, fine dining and in some cases, a butler service for every cabin. In most cases, guided shore excursions and activities are all included in the price.


Venturing into regions such as Antarctica or the Arctic no longer means lurching around as your ship rocks and rolls with big waves. You’ll be amazed at how well these ships navigate into remote areas, with strengthened hulls, ice-breaking capabilities and stabilisers.

The new luxury exploration ships have brought expedition cruising to a whole new level so you can combine both expedition style cruising yet still enjoy excellent food and service. The best of both worlds really!

To find out more about exploration cruising, Click here to request a call from our res team.