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Discovery Cruising - CLIA Plan a Cruise Month

Written By:
Helen Worthington
October 11, 2016

For those seeking adventure and wishing to embark on new discoveries, consider a cruise for your next trip. A cruise holiday can take you to places like the Arctic, South Pacific and the Galapagos; allowing travellers to uncover some of the world’s remotest destinations.

Have you travelled the Med?

Cruised the Caribbean?

Even done the Far East?

Are there any places on your ‘bucket list’ that you haven’t been?


For many people this includes visiting some of the remoter, unspoiled areas of the world like those mentioned above. Due to their fragile ecology, there are strict laws surrounding how many people can visit at any one time, so pick your cruise with care: some of the larger ships will cruise through these remote areas, offering scenic cruising as part of a broader itinerary (eg. Cunard, Holland America and P&O World cruises), but are unable to stop.

Other ships may not have ice strengthened hulls so are restricted to where they can go – typically companies including Silversea, Seabourn and Hurtigruten, offer expedition style cruises on smaller ships. Destination is the key to these itineraries and every aspect of the cruise is geared towards maximising that experience – from included shore excursions via zodiac boats, requiring some degree of dexterity and agility to embark and disembark, through ‘entertainment’ organised by an expedition leader and their team of scientific experts, rather than a cruise director and dancers, to complimentary parka jackets and recommended expedition wear and less rigid itineraries, allowing the ship to divert off to experience awesome, yet fleeting, aspects of nature.

In the past, expedition cruise resulted in sacrificing lots of the taken for granted cruise comforts, but these days cruise companies combine destination-focused adventure with quality cuisine and sophisticated service, giving clients the best of all worlds!

Even expedition ships have to reposition at the end of seasons and so as interest in markets for this type of cruise have expanded, other areas of the world are opening up to expedition style cruise – for example Silversea’s itineraries to the rain forests and ecosystems of Central America, and discovering the rock art and history of the Kimblerley Coast in Australia with Lindblad.

Companies like Seabourn (Ventures by Seabourn) and Hurtigruten are also utilising their expedition leaders and experts more by offering ‘soft’ expedition style shore excursions alongside their more conventional cruise itineraries in places like Alaska, Norway, Greenland & Canada.

Swan Hellenic

If this degree of physical expedition type cruising is either a bit too strenuous or not to your taste, companies like Noble Caledonia, Voyages of Discovery, Swan Hellenic and more recently Voyages to Antiquity offer greater in depth visits to more conventional cruise destinations throughout the world, eg. Swan Hellenic and Noble Caledonia sail Round the UK itineraries visiting out of the way gardens or birdlife themed cruises, utilising zodiac style craft to get ashore in out of the way coves. Voyages to Antiquity, as the name suggests, sails destination rich itineraries enabling guests to learn more about the history, culture and natural wonders of the ancient world. Their lecture programmes are heavily complemented by visits to historical sites.

Going off at a slightly different tangent, is the genesis of ‘volountourism’ as offered by Carnival’s new Fathom venture, using (P&O’s) Adonia as the flagship for a social impact tourism project. The ship will be taking passengers on seven-day voyages from Miami to the Dominican Republic, for example, where they will be given the opportunity to work on activities such as providing clean water, planting crops to help a women’s co-operative produce organic chocolate, or teaching English to the islanders. On board the ship, rather than West End-style shows and sunbathing, guests will be able to take part in “immersive experiences” like learning Spanish, community-building activities, and briefings about the work they will be undertaking ashore.

In truth, Discovery cruising does not have to mean any of the above – it is a very individual process and one that you can pursue yourself on a more mainstream cruise ship. It could be something as easy as taking part in a yoga or pilates class, joining the choir on a World Cruise, learning to play bridge or rediscovering your love of reading in a ship’s library.

On the other hand, it may involve you experiencing one of Azamara’s late night or overnight stays in ports of call, visiting the Planetarium on Queen Mary 2, a pre or post cruise stay visiting Denali National Park in Alaska, on one of a Holland America Alaskan fjords cruise (part of their Journeys Ashore programme) or even an overland tour with Celebrity to visit Machu Pichu or a Princess Land Tour in Japan, all as part of your cruise holiday. Even Kid’s Clubs on board ships include elements of discovery and learning: Princess have an exclusive partnership with Discovery Communications and the California Science Centre, offering interactive activities for 3-12 year olds and from summer 2017, Celebrity are offering activities like the Anturus Explorer Academy (Adventures Through Science) and Lonely Planet activities for kids. Similarly, Seabourn has a tie up with UNESCO.

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