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2020’s Theme Cruises: A Look at Exploration Cruises

Posted: 21 January 2020 11:10 am
Cruise ship sailing on sea against blue sky

Cruise ship entering port at Aruba

Options abound for those who prefer a side of adventure with their relaxation.

The idea of cruising can bring up images of lounging on the deck or letting the day slip away at the pool. For many, however, their idea of relaxing is seeing something new, learning about a new concept, or otherwise indulging their intellectual curiosity.

This has led to new lines of oceanic and river-based expeditions. While some may add an exotic port to an existing cruise itinerary — such as a tour of the Amazon River Basin following a multi-port tour of the Southern Caribbean — others may offer voyages specifically dedicated to learning about a new port of call.

Be it a trip to the Galapagos Islands, a tour of the Argentine coast, or a beach-and-safari tour of Africa, these offerings combine exploration and adventure with relaxation. Many sponsor ashore expeditions or may have experts onboard who can serve as guides.

While a number of large ships have been announced for expedition cruising, the ships that typically go to these remote destinations are smaller ocean cruisers. These ships, which accommodate fewer guests, typically allow for more crew interaction. While there are often fewer onboard activities, the opportunities for offshore exploration and organized tours are increasingly likely. These ships typically have less than 250 passengers.

Quasar Expeditions

Looking for a brush with celebrity history? Quasar Expeditions’ Grace once carried actress Grace Kelly on her honeymoon to Corsica and Sardinia with Prince Rainier III of Monaco. A relatively small cruise line with just two ships, Quasar has been called one of the best expedition cruises currently available.

Offering tours of the Ecuador coast, the Galapagos, Peru, and Patagonia, Quasar offers a blend of conservation, exploration, and luxury. Many of the cruises engage in philanthropic activities in the countries they tour. “When you plan your adventure with Quasar, not only will you enjoy the experience of a lifetime, but you also help preserve the destination you travel to,” Quasar wrote on its website. “We want guests to know that their journey and participation has not harmed the region, but rather that they have helped support conservation projects in the region.”

Quasar offers exploratory, photographic, and safari expeditions.

Crystal Cruises

If your dream is to explore New Zealand from the comfort of a six-star floating hotel, Crystal Cruises may be for you. The crew of a typical Crystal voyage includes a 25-person Expedition Team — which coordinates ashore expeditions, led tours, and discussions — celebrity chefs, and enough attendants to give Crystal Cruises the highest crew-to-guest ratio in the business.

Crystal Cruises offers a wide array of destinations — more than most other expedition cruise providers. Among them are Christchurch, Sydney, Bali, and Cairns.


Ecoventura specializes in cruises to the Galapagos Islands. Limited to just 20 guests, these luxury expedition yachts feature well-appointed lounges, dining areas, and staterooms, a spacious sundeck, and open social areas. The main draw of this line, however, is its attention to discovery.

From multi-hour nature walks on the islands to snorkeling off the Galapagos’ shoreline, Ecoventura offers guests an opportunity to relax and commune with nature while staying in the lap of luxury. Most ships feature an onboard naturalist for every 10 guests.

This type of luxury, however, comes at a cost. The tour line’s occupancy rate per person is $14,500 for a 7-days voyage.

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