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Why Expedition Cruises Are Trending (And How To Save Money On Them)

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Expedition cruises are one of the biggest travel trends of this year.

Here's everything you need to know about this unique type of cruise, plus how to save money when booking one.

Expedition Cruise Penguins

What Is An Expedition Cruise?

Expedition cruises are all about exploring more remote places around the world. This is not your typical Caribbean cruise.

Travelers on expedition cruises are interested in actually experiencing the destinations they visit, and not just hopping from beach to beach and sipping frozen cocktails.

Some popular destinations for expedition cruises are Antarctica and the Arctic Circle.

Kayakers on Antarctica Cruise

According to TravelPulse, there has been a 51% rise in Google searches about Antarctic cruises and a 47% rise in Google searches for Arctic cruises from 2019 until 2022.

Other popular destinations for expedition cruises include Alaska, Canada's Northwest Passage, Ecuador's Galapagos Islands, and the South Pacific.

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Sea Lions in the Galapagos

What Makes An Expedition Cruise Different?

Expedition cruises differ from regular cruises in a number of ways.

Smaller ships: Expedition cruises feature much smaller ships than traditional cruises. You aren't likely to find multiple swimming pools, water slides, nightclubs, and theaters that stage Brodway-style shows on an expedition cruise ship.

Landing craft: Rather than disembarking in different ports of call, you're more likely to take zodiacs (small rubber boats) from the ship to access remote destinations and unique sights, like glaciers and penguin colonies, on an expedition cruise.

Zodiac Boats in Antarctica

Different crowd: On an expedition cruise, you'll find that your fellow travelers come from all over the world and are of all ages and different backgrounds. But one thing everyone will have in common is an adventurous nature and a desire to explore remote destinations.

Active excursions: Expedition cruises are all about exploring off-the-beaten-path destinations, and this requires a moderate level of physical fitness. You'll find that most excursions on an expedition cruise are very active and involve exploring nature.

Tourists observing a glacier on the Antarctica, Paradise bay, Antartica.

Higher price: Due to the smaller ships and remote destinations visited on expedition cruises, they often come with a higher price tag. However, there are ways you can save money when booking an expedition cruise.

How To Save Money On An Expedition Cruise

Expedition cruises are not known for being cheap. For example, a typical Antarctica cruise costs around $8,000 per person based on double occupancy, with $5,000 being on the low end.

Galapagos Islands a kayak on the beach with the ocean in background

But there are some ways you can save money on an expedition cruise:

Travel at either end of the season: Planning your cruise for an off-peak time can save money. For example, the Antarctica cruising season runs from November until March.

November is the cheapest month to travel, because it has the coldest weather and ice can make a few stops inaccessible. But if you're on a budget, it's the best time to book your cruise.

Traveler In A Dramatic Setting In Southern Argentina, Close To Antarctica

Have flexible travel dates. If you can be flexible on your travel dates, you have a better chance of scoring a good deal.

In particular with expedition cruises, you can find great promotions and very steeply-discounted rates if you book at the last minute.

Skip the extras. Like traditional cruises, most expedition cruises charge extra for things like alcoholic beverages, laundry, and WiFi. If you want to save money onboard, skip these additional luxuries.

(Besides, the onboard WiFi usually doesn't work that well, and an expedition cruise is the perfect time to disconnect from the rest of the world and be present in your surroundings.)

Big cruise ship in Antarctic waters, Antarctica

Best Expedition Cruise Lines

If you're thinking of booking an expedition cruise this year, here are some of the best cruise lines that often offer sales and promotions throughout the year on their cruises:

  • Lindblad Expeditions
  • Hurtigruten
  • Quark Expeditions
  • G Adventures
  • UnCruise Adventures

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