Extravagant Exploration – the Luxury Cruise Lines making the move into Expedition Cruise

Crystal Endeavor luxury expedition cruise ship
Crystal Endeavor

Expedition cruises have a clear appeal – visit places seen by very few people, with beautiful scenery and animals, whilst expanding your knowledge and exploring the world. But traditionally, if you wanted luxury as part of your cruise, you wouldn’t choose an expedition. In recent years however, expedition cruise veterans Lindblad and Hurtigruten have been joined in the market by a host of traditionally luxury-based cruise operators. Below we take a look at who these extravagant explorers are…

Crystal Cruises:

Known for luxury cruises that offer the amenities and activities usually associated with larger vessels, Crystal cut steel for their first expedition ship in 2016. Embarking on its first sailings in August 2020, Endeavour will operate in the Arctic, Antarctic, and tropical regions, starting with a 17-day Tokyo roundtrip up to the south-east coast of Russia.

The $195 million mega-yacht is the world’s largest and most spacious of its kind, with its luxury ‘Expedition’ suites having an indoor/outdoor area of 3122ft2. Situated on deck 7, the suites will feature two bedrooms, a wraparound private veranda, a private butler service and much more. The ship will carry 200 guests, and will have a 1:1 staff-to-guest ratio.

Endeavor derives its name from HME Endeavor, the research ship used by Captain James Cook when he discovered Australia and New Zealand – fitting, as the ship has planned itineraries around Australia through the end of 2020 and beginning of 2021.


Venture is Seabourn’s first expedition ship, a purpose-built, ultra-luxury ship with a PC6 ice-strengthened hull, with advanced manoeuvring technology for stability, safety and comfort. First sailing in July 2021 with a 10-day Highlights of the English Channel tour, Venture will explore a huge range of world destinations, from the fjords of Greenland in September to the Panama Canal and The Humboldt Route in October.

Seabourn worked with renowned hospitality designer and Cruise Ship Interiors Expo Advisory Board member Adam Tihany to design the indoor and outdoor guests areas on board the luxury vessel, including the expedition spaces and lounges, all guest suites, multiple dining venues, spa & wellness facilities, and outdoor spaces. Of Venture itself, Tihany stated:

“We are thrilled to join Seabourn on this exciting next chapter of expedition cruising. Drawing on the call of adventure and the spirit of daring exploration from across the ages, the new ship’s design will define ultra-luxury for the contemporary expedition traveller.”

Seabourn Venture luxury expedition cruise ship
Venture, Seabourn’s first expedition ship

Viking Cruises:

Viking are venturing into the expedition market with their first expedition ships, Octanis and Polaris, expected in 2021 and 2022. Viking’s USP is a claim to have invented modern river cruising and redefined ocean cruising – a trilogy completed by the addition of comfortable and elegant expedition vessels. Sister ships Octanis and Polaris will carry 378 guests each, with six types of suite. The largest of these, the Owners Suite, is a 1,223 sq. ft. cabin with a 792 sq. ft. private garden, complete with badestamp (a Norwegian hot tub).

Viking Octanis luxury expedition cruise ship owners suite
The Owners’ Suite on-board the Viking Octanis Expedition ship

The Owners Suite provides priority booking of all spa treatments, restaurants, and excursions, as well as complimentary laundry, minibar, and shoe shine service, and a private library, wine and music collection curated by Chairman Torstein Hagen.

Areas on the ship include the Finse Terrace, an outdoor seating area situated at the back of the ship; The Aula, an indoor viewing area facing onto the Finse Terrace, which transforms into a cinema; Expedition Central, themed almost as a train station, with a large map on the wall; and the explorers lounge, a large bar and seating area situated at the front of the ship in a conservatory style with panoramic and full roof windows.

Viking Octanis luxury expedition cruise ship finse terrace
The Finse Terrace on-board Viking Octanis


While Silversea are not new to expedition cruising, with four expedition vessels already in service, the Silver Origin is worth a mention. Built around five pillars of design (namely, Sustainability; Destination Onboard; Expedition Experience; Authentic Local Culture; and Comfort and Service), Silver Origin will be debuting in summer 2020 with a cruise from San Cristobal to Baltra exploring the Galapagos Islands. The vessel carries a crew of 90 plus 100 guests, giving the highest crew-to-passenger ratio of any vessel sailing to the Galapagos (1:1.16), as well as the highest ratio of expedition guides (1:10).

Every cabin on board is a suite, with its own balcony and butler service. The largest of these, the Owners Suite, is a 1722 sq. ft. cabin with a 646 sq. ft. veranda, complete with sparkling wine on arrival, complimentary robes and slippers, stocked bar and fridge, and a choice of pillows. The Owners Suite also features unlimited premium WiFi, complimentary laundry service, and eco-friendly bath amenities.

The restaurants on board will serve Ecuadorian cuisine prepped by local chefs, echoing the ‘Authentic Local Culture’ pillar. As well as this, the ship will carry no plastic products, and all water refill stations will be supplied by reverse osmosis – the process of turning seawater into drinking water.

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