Small Ships – BIG experiences!
Up close and personal, hands-on small ship expeditions and river cruises invite wildlife, culture and history to take center stage.
Venture to the remote untouched wilderness areas as early explorers once did: aboard a small ship, slipping in and out of sheltered inlets and hidden coves, peeking in on a family of playful sea otters and eagerly awaiting what’s around the next bend.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.
So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbour.
Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
What makes Small Ship Expeditions unique is the emphasis on wildlife encounters, the natural environment, historical sites, research stations and informative talks and lectures.
Cruising on a small ship is the perfect way to explore off-the-beaten track waterways, narrow channels and tiny ports without overwhelming the local communities.
Flexible itineraries allow time to watch for whales or feel the icy spray from the waterfall on your face. After all, glaciers do not “calve” on demand.
A small, maneuverable vessel and an unhurried pace are essential ingredients for those discriminating travellers who seek to really get in touch with their surroundings.
Small Ships – enormous Adventure!
Frequently asked questions about Expedition Cruising:
- What is an expedition cruise?
- Is it for me?
- I am a solo traveller
- Flexible itineraries
- Shore excursions
- Our specialist crew
- How fit should I be to join these expeditions?
- What is the age range aboard?
- Does the crew speak English?
- What do I pack for an expedition?
- Will I get sea-sick?
- What will the weather be like?
- How do I make a booking?
Contact Vancouver Polar Expert
to plan your own Small Ship Expeditions Cruise
About Small Ship Expeditions
Expedition cruises are designed to give you, the passenger the experience of a lifetime. Itis all about relaxation, fulfillment, discovery, challenge, adventure and learning. You will take home memories previously not even dreamed about.
The emphasis with an expedition cruise is on wildlife encounters, personal contact with the environment and visiting historical sites and research stations. Since most expedition ships are intimate you will enjoy camaraderie with your fellow passengers that cannot be found on the larger cruise ships.
What is an Expedition Ship?
Expedition ships normally carry around 100 passengers and their itineraries are often novel, remote or just plain exciting. These ships are normally “informal”, so there is no need to pack that dinner jacket or little black dress. This leaves space for waterproofs and rubber boots, which are needed for those “wet landings” and hikes on muddy ground.
As many of the ships are quite compact, some cabins are on the small size. Most have toilets and showers en suite and there is a small desk and a chair. The lower category cabins are usually on the lower decks. On higher decks the cabins are a little larger and therefore more expensive. However, be aware that the most stable part of a ship is in the middle and near the water line! Most of the ships have dining rooms capable of taking everybody at a single sitting. Even though you may be in remote places the food is often excellent and the wine lists on some ships are exceptional! Many of the ships have tea and coffee available at all times.
The majority of the ships operate an open bridge policy to enable you to watch the captain or first officer plotting the ship’s course, or navigating between icebergs.
Wildlife watching is an essential part of many of these cruises and if a large whale is spotted the ship may well divert for closer views. The decks on the ships have many areas where you can stand and just watch the scenery and wildlife pass by.
One of the key elements of any voyage is the high standard of staff. With a very experienced ship crew, physician and team of specialist expedition staff on board, you will be rewarded with a comprehensive series of informative and entertaining talks and lectures en route on subjects such as the natural environment, geology, bird watching, wildlife, regional history and culture. The travel guides are experts in their field, often actively involved in current and contemporary research and are keen to share their knowledge with you.
When we are near land and ice, we plan to spend as much time as possible maximizing our experience by participating in several daily outings by Zodiac. Some of these excursions will be land based, with the opportunity to discover the amazingly diverse flora and fauna of the area; others will be water-based exploration, perhaps cruising amongst icebergs or along coastlines, marvelling at the marine life and dramatic landscapes around us.
The ships’ daily itineraries are based around making landings, which may result in meals being served early or late on occasions so that you can visit particular areas.
How much time do we spend ashore?
That depends on the weather and constraints of time and distance. Depending on the voyage, you may spend several days aboard the ship, followed by a series of landings, each several hours long. On some voyages you land two or three times every day.
We would like to show you as much as possible but leave it up to you to skip an excursion.
The actual program will vary to take best advantage of local conditions, spontaneous opportunities and wildlife. Mother Nature’s mood is rarely stable, and never predictable. The weather will change, ice conditions will vary, and as such every tour will be different. To take account of the variance in the global regions, all itineraries are flexible to enable us to make the most of your experience.
Is it for me?
Expedition cruising is the favorite pastime of adventure seekers and people who like to be in touch with nature. Couples, singles and families – expedition cruises are for everybody willing to go a little over the edge and experience the freedom from the confines of everyday life. If you are expecting a band and dancing girls each evening then these cruises are not what you are looking for!
One of the worries regarding travelling on your own is the additional cost of taking a single room or cabin. If you want to share on these expedition ships then you will often not be charged a single room/cabin supplement. Most ships will endeavor to find someone to share with you and if they are unable to they will not charge any extra. However, if you do require a twin room/cabin for sole use then you should specify this at the time of booking and the single supplement will be charged. Please note that these cabins are sometimes limited in their number by the ship’s owners, so early booking is essential.
Contact Vancouver Polar Expert
to plan your own Expedition Cruise
More frequently asked questions:
How fit should I be to join these expeditions?
You must be in good general health and should be able to climb 2-3 flights of stairs. The expedition is ship-based and physically not very demanding. Although we spend as much time as possible ashore, you are welcome to remain aboard the ship if you like.
To join most excursions, you must be able to get up and down the steep gangway from the ship to the water level to board the Zodiacs. Staff will assist you in and out of the boats. This will become progressively easier with practice. Ashore it can be slippery and rocky. You are travelling in remote areas without access to sophisticated medical facilities, so you must not join this expedition if you have a life-threatening condition, or need daily medical treatment.
What is the age range aboard
Passengers on a typical voyage range from their 30s to their 80s. Expeditions attract independent-minded travellers from around the world, who all show a strong interest in exploring remote regions. The camaraderie and spirit that develops aboard is an important part of the expedition experience. Many departures have several nationalities on board.
What do I pack for an expedition?
Active travellers typically own most of the clothing items necessary for a polar voyage. When packing, don’t weigh yourself down with too many clothes or too much gear. Select informal, practical attire for your trip that can be worn in layers.
List of essential gear for Polar expeditions:
waterproof parka, rubber boots, gloves, hat and scarf, waterproof pants, waterproof day backpack, hiking boots and sunglasses. Additional detailed suggestions are provided in the pre-departure kit.
Does the crew speak English?
The crew is often Russian and some of them speak English. All staff (Guides/Lecturers, Purser, Chef, Expedition leaders) do speak English, and most of the time other languages as well.
Will I get sea-sick?
This depends very much on the individual. A small percentage of people get sick on any trip and most are fine after a day or so at sea. If you feel that you are particularly susceptible to sea-sickness then it is a good idea to talk to your local doctor. Bring enough motion sickness tablets, or plasters with you and be sure you have eaten enough and feel rested. The ships physician will be there for emergencies and to treat sick passengers.
What will the weather be like?
Summer in the Polar Regions typically afford mild temperatures. However, crisp, cold sunny conditions can swiftly shift to storms with very cold winds and snow flurries. Travelers must be prepared for rapid weather changes.
Contact Vancouver Polar Expert
to plan your own Expedition Cruise
It’s easy – simply telephone or e-mail us with your request. We will match the perfect itinerary and cabin category to your wishes and special requirements, Once your cabin is reserved, we’ll ask you to complete a booking form and send a deposit to confirm your booking. We’ll send you joining instructions which include advice on clothing, travel visas (if necessary), hotels and other pertinent information.
Do I need a passport?
Travellers must carry a passport that is valid for 6 months beyond the return date of the voyage. The passport should have sufficient blank pages available for exit and entry stamps.
Why book with TRΛVELBOECKER ΛDVENTURES?
Having travelled to the Arctic herself, travel expert Christine Boecker and her team at Vancouver-based TRΛVELBOECKER ΛDVENTURES provide first-hand, in-depth knowledge of the Polar destinations to ensure you enjoy the best itinerary on the most suitable vessel!
This is not a one-size-fit-all journey.
TRΛVELBOECKER ΛDVENTURES is a ‘full service’ travel agency and we are able to book any cruises and tours offered on, but not limited to this website. We can also arrange your flights, trains, hotels, rental cars, theatre tickets, and much more.
We offer advice on immunization, visa requirements, currency exchange and even weather and sea conditions for different times of the year. Above all we can find the answer to most questions you have.
It is a prerequisite of joining any expedition cruise that you have sufficient insurance coverage in case of illness or repatriation. We are licensed to arrange travel insurance for you.