Expedition Cruising – why is it so popular…?

Expedition Cruising is one of the fastest growing segments in the market right now. In the past, this type of travel has only been appealing to a specific kind of traveler. You had to be willing to “rough” it, in terms of accommodations and food choices, but you were rewarded with experiences that few travelers had been privileged to.

The market is rapidly changing now! (Important Disclosures)

With more and more demand for off the beaten path experiences and with experienced travelers looking for the next big adventure. Cruise lines have quickly adapted to these requests. New purpose built ships are debuting over the next 3 years. The new Celebrity Flora for example has been purpose built for the Galapagos. Providing the first zodiacs that allow for ramp access, now even allowing walking impaired passengers to partake in the zodiac tours and enjoy all the region has to offer.

Silversea Cruises re-imagined one of their luxury cruise vessels to now be able to explore the arctic. A reinforced hull has turned this ship into an icebreaker that allows their clients to travel in the lap of luxury and the comfort they are accustomed to, while exploring off the beaten path.

Seabourn has introduced their new Ventures program, which offer more active and daring excursion; and even combines overland adventures throughout longer segment cruises.

The typical shore excursion is getting revamped to now include more zodiac rides, sea kayaking, submarine dive tours, helicopter tours, active hiking, mountain biking, glacier trekking, and so much more. Have you noticed how many new cruise ships are designed with helipads on board? Even the new SeaDream Innovation will have them!

River cruises in Europe have caught on to the trend. Clientele is more active and is getting younger and is asking for more active excursions that push them to the edge of their comfort zone. While the traditional city walking tours are still being offered, alternate excursions include kayaking, mountain biking, cooking classes, rock climbing, port to port hikes… and many lines partner with high active companies like AMAWaterways and Backroads. Thus allowing clients to enjoy the ease of a river cruise, combined with the high active day tours via bike or hike.

While the new toys are a great way to attract travelers that are new to expedition cruising, the more important things to pay attention to are the expedition leaders on board. A knowledgeable guide, that is able to take you to the edge of your seat, while making you feel safe is priceless – and they are in high demand. As more ships are being released and more departure dates are being announced, contracting the top guides around the globe will likely become more challenging. It is definitely something to pay attention to.

Un-Cruise, Lindblad, Zegrahm are among the many niche lines that have all embraced the expedition style travel for years. Their itineraries are becoming more and more popular with families, honeymooners and multi-gen groups. Friends and families traveling together love the flexible and active options. They can set themselves daily goals and celebrate when they all cross the finish line. While comfort and service levels are still important, the expedition traveler is more interested in the variety of activities offered. Learning a new skill, overcoming a personal fear and cheering each other on for the last mile of a challenging hike are bonding families closer together, teach children to overcome obstacles, and creates lasting friendships between travelers.  All this helps the expedition traveler to create memories they will cherish for years to come.

All of the offers out there, can already be overwhelming now. And with so many new options entering the market in the next three years, consumers will be flooded with options. As travel advisors, we need to do our part to properly educate our clients and to help them plan ahead.

Daniela is a Travel Consultant with Avenues of the World Travel in Flagstaff, AZ. Contact Daniela for questions.

** Please note that all photos are authors own, except where credited. As travel industry professional, I make a big investment in first hand experiences. I spend a lot of time to keep up with accreditation and stay up to date on current developments in the travel industry. This means attending conferences, seminars, site inspections fam trip and group trips. I have been able to have some of the experiences shown and described at a reduced cost or combed by the hotel, tour operator, cruise line or supplier. The feedback supplied is based on my personal experience, and based on my personal preferences, likes and dislikes. This first hand experience allows me to better serve you and match the experiences you are looking for. It also allows me to create travel tips for you, based on experiences I have and things I wish I knew before. Travel Supplier partners referenced in blog posts are part of Signature Travel Networks Preferred Portfolio or can be booked via a preferred supplier partner (at least at time of post creation). **