The Best Luxury Expedition Cruises: A Mix of Thrills and Comfort

You can call it an expedition with a side of luxury. 

Are you feeling like it’s time for an adventure but don’t want to necessarily give up the creature comforts that you have come to enjoy in your cruise travels 

Well, you can have it all by picking from a number of expedition cruises that come with plenty of premium amenities.  

Expedition cruising is a fast-growing segment, with dozens of new ships and itineraries in the past decade and even more yet to come. The best luxury expedition cruise lines give you all the thrills ashore and plenty of pampering back onboard. 

With these cruises, you can wake up in your soft bed to be treated to breakfast served by a butler before loading into Zodiacs for wildlife sighting or kayaks for paddling around ice formations in Antarctica. When you’re done with your hiking, snorkeling, paddling, nature walks – or whatever the day brings in your exotic locales – you’ll be welcomed back onboard gorgeous ships by attentive staff serving Champagne and gourmet cuisine. 

Seabourn Venture
Seabourn Venture


The cruise line offers expeditions on Seabourn Quest that let you explore Antarctica in with comfort and style. Seabourn Venture is scheduled to debut in June 2021 as the next generation of luxury expedition cruise ships, carrying 264 passengers in all-balcony suites. 

The Exciting Adventures: Expedition leaders design a memorable voyage, with expert enrichment talks. They also lead daily adventures like kayak tours to explore pristine shorelines and hidden bays on the lookout for seabirds, marine mammals and other wildlife such as penguins. Daily Zodiac rides venture into picturesque fjords to view volcanoes and glaciers.  

The Special Touches: The ships feature ocean-front suites and open-bar service with premium wine, Champagne, booze and beer. Plus, you get a world-class dining experience with restaurants and meals created in partnership with celebrity chef Thomas Keller. Seabourn expedition ships also offer massage and spa services available after returning from your time in the wilderness. You can luxuriate on the spa terrace, spend time in a hydro-pool and rejuvenate in sauna and steam rooms. The ships also have fitness studios, hot tubs and casinos.

M/V Silver Explorer
The Silver Explorer enters the Lemaire Channel on the Antarctic Peninsula, 2012. 

Silversea Expeditions

Silversea Cruises has three expedition ships in the Silversea Expeditions fleet. heads to both polar regions, the South Pacific and Australia; Silver Galapagos (to be retired in 2020 for the new Silver Origin) explores the pristine archipelago; and Silver Cloud takes passengers to Antarctica.  

The Exciting Adventures: The ships are intimate, carrying between 100 and 254 passengers who enjoy activities ashore in the Galapagos to snap pictures of boobies and giant tortoises; Zodiac tours in the arctic regions to see fur seals and penguins; and deepwater snorkeling and scuba diving in Indonesia; or hiking and bear-, whale- and bird-spotting in Alaska.  

The Special Touches: These are all-inclusive voyages. Your fare includes excursions, dining at the two specialty restaurants, drinks and much more. Most suites have a balcony and feature bathrooms with rainfall showers. Additional amenities include a spa, beauty salon and fitness center. 

Crystal Cruises

Crystal Esprit, the line’s 62-passenger yacht, explores the Seychelle Islands, a spectacular archipelago with UNESCO World Heritage-protected wildlife reserves and dynamic coral reef formations teeming with exotic fish, as well as the Greek Isles and Croatia in the Mediterranean Sea and the islands of the Caribbean. The line’s highly anticipated 200-passenger Crystal Endeavor will be a true expedition ship, sailing all over the world, including the remote polar regions and exotic destinations in tropical and culturally diverse regions.

Cruise Compete 

The Exciting Adventures: Drop into crystal-clear waters off the aft marine deck for snorkeling, diving and riding jet skis or Zodiacs ashore to tackle guided hikes through tropical nature reserves. You can also kayak in secluded coves, and the ship even carries its own three-person submarine that takes you almost 1,000 feet below surface to explore the vibrant sea life. Crystal Endeavor carries helicopters and a submarine on its voyages. 

The Special Touches: Onboard, you’ll enjoy an all-inclusive experience, with free-flowing spirits, Champagne, beer and wine, and the main dining room serves up gourmet meals from award-winning chefs featuring fresh dishes like lobster, octopus, Wagyu beef and lamb alongside an array of soups and salads. Crystal Endeavor will offer six restaurants serving gourmet meals. The ships also offer butler service, a spa, small pool, fitness center and casino.  

Celebrity Flora
Celebrity Flora

Celebrity’s Galapagos Fleet

Celebrity operates three ships in the Galapagos. The new 100-passenger mega-yacht Celebrity Flora, as well as the 100-passenger Celebrity Xpedition and 16-passenger catamaran Celebrity Xploration. 

These ships are purpose-built for comfort and adventure in the Galapagos. Celebrity sails the islands 365 days a year on seven- to 15-night itineraries. 

The Exciting Adventures: Naturalists lead a voyage of discovery in this secluded and biologically important archipelago. You go for walks among blue-footed boobies, iguanas and tortoises and swim with sea lions. Zodiac rides and snorkeling sessions will allow you further to navigate the clear waters and view schools of colorful reef fish.  

The Special Touches: Celebrity touts its all-inclusive “Modern Luxury” that passengers enjoy on cruises to the Galapagos. Recipes are crafted by a Michelin-starred chef using locally sourced ingredients including sustainable seafood. Clean, comfortable and stylish staterooms offer in-suite dining options 

Le Commandant Charcot


The French-owner luxury mega-yacht line features a range of expedition itineraries in places like the polar regions of the Arctic and Antarctica, the Amazon, Africa and New Zealand. You sail onboard intimate and compact ships filled with luxury amenities and attentive service.  

The Exciting Adventures: How does this grab you? On tours in Greenland and Iceland or off the coast of Russia, you’ll have the chance to explore fjords and capture memorable photos of polar bears and other wildlife in the Baffin Sea. When you head ashore, guides lead cultural interactions during visits to Inuit villages along the Northwest Passage. Southern expeditions allow you observe colonies of penguins or spy humpback whales. In the Amazon jungle, the adventures place you in mangroves and forests to get up close to howler monkeys, toucans and indigenous people. 

The Special Touches: Ponant’s expedition ships carry a maximum of 199 passengers who get 24-hour room service, iPod players, premium toiletries bath and fine French cuisine. These vessels also offer luxuriant spa services, as well as fitness centers and swimming pools. 


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John Roberts
John Roberts
John Roberts is a freelance travel writer and operator of His writing aims to help travelers find the best ways to explore destinations in a fun, fit and adventurous way.

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