What’s new in expedition cruising?

IT seems as soon as the ink dries on an order for a newbuild, cruise executives are reaching the ballpoint to sign another. Jasmine O’Donoghue rolls out the expedition ships which will sail into port by 2020.

National Geographic Quest

Lindblad Expeditions

Size: 73m long, 1,800 gross tonnage

Built by: Nichols Brothers, USA

Passengers: 100

Crew: 35

Claim to fame: The first ship in the Lindblad fleet to sail to Alaska, Pacific Northwest and Central America.

Delivery: June 2017

Sailing to: Alaska, Pacific Northwest and Central America.

Expedition landing craft, a remotely operated vehicle, 24 two-person kayaks, a video microscope, hydrophone, and snorkelling gear will be packed into National Geographic Quest. The vessel will offer step-out balconies (available in 22 of the 50 cabins), plus six sets of connecting cabins; and a designated mudroom for expedition gear. Guests can watch wildlife or enjoy an evening cocktail on the open bow and an observation deck or relax in the lounge, bar and on the sundeck. There will also be a spa and fitness centre.

mv Hondius

Oceanwide Expeditions

Size: 107m long, 5,590 gross tonnage

Built by: Brodosplit, Croatia

Passengers: 180

Crew: 76

Claim to fame: The strongest ice-strengthened vessel in the polar regions.

Delivery: May 2019

Sailing to: Polar regions.

Hondius has been designed to support exploratory programs and activity-based shore excursions in the Arctic and Antarctica. Rated Polar Class 6, the vessel will have two separate gangways and a platform that can be used for outdoor activities. The ship will have bow and stern thrusters, allowing it to drift or remain in position during shore excursions and will have flexible power technology to permit low fuel consumption and CO2 emission. The vessel will offer cabin options from suites and superiors to twin and quadruple cabins while one deck is reserved for an observation lounge, with a separate lecture room.

Two new ships


Size: 138m long, 16,100 gross tonnage

Built by: Vard shipyard, Norway

Passengers: 240

Crew: 170

Delivery: The first will launch in April 2019 and the second in October 2019

Sailing to: Both will serve German-speaking markets (Germany, Austria and Switzerland), while one will additionally serve Belgium, Netherlands and the US.

Hapag-Lloyd’s two five-star expedition vessels will have the Polar Class 6 designation. They will be equipped with a high ratio of balcony cabins, three restaurants and a spa and fitness area. The ships will feature a water sports marina and on board Zodiacs, which will allow landings in otherwise inaccessible areas.

Le Laprouse, Le Champlain, Le Bougainville and Le Kerguelen


Size: 128m long, approx 10,000 gross tonnage

Built by: Ficantieri, Norway

Passengers: 180

Crew: 110

Delivery: The first two will arrive in time for the April-October 2018 season and the other two for April-October 2019

Sailing to: The first two ships will both be deployed in European waters.

The vessels will have reinforced hulls for polar navigation, stabilisers, and a modular marina platform from which guests can swim from or engage in activities directly from the ship. Activities on offer will include kayaking, paddle boarding, snorkelling, big-game fishing from the on board speed boats and more. There will also be a fleet of Zodiac dinghies, scuba facilities and an underwater observation lounge.

Ponant’s new ships will each have seven decks, packed with a spa, gymnasium, interior and exterior bars, an infinity glass-ended swimming pool and dining areas. Guests can also expect 24-hour room service and an open bar policy.

Scenic Eclipse


Size: 168m long, 17,000 gross tonnage

Built by: Uljanik Group, Croatia

Passengers: 228 (200 in Polar regions)

Crew: 172 (182 in Polar regions)

Claim to fame: The world’s first “Discovery Yacht”

Delivery: 31 August 2018

Sailing to: Scenic Eclipse will embark on her maiden voyage from Istanbul to Venice before sailing to The Americas; Antarctica; Europe and the Mediterranean; and the Arctic and Norwegian Fjords.

Scenic Eclipse will feature the highest passenger ship ice class rating, Polar Class 6 (Ice Class 1A Super). It will have a series of flash toys, including two seven-seater helicopters, one seven-seater submarine, a remotely operated underwater vehicle with camera, 12 zodiacs, kayaks and snorkelling and scuba equipment. The vessel has been designed to navigate challenging seas and will be equipped with zero speed stabiliser fins 50% larger than the standard.

Guests on board the six-star, all-veranda suite Scenic Eclipse will be able to choose between six dining venues, relax in the 450m spa sanctuary, take a dip in an indoor/outdoor swimming pool or jacuzzi, be entertained in a 240-seat theatre or keep active in the gym.

ms Roald Amundsen and ms Nansen


Size: 140m long, 20,899 gross tonnage

Built by: Kleven, Norway

Passengers: 530

Claim to fame: World’s first expeditionary ships sailing fully electric with sustainable hybrid technology

Delivery: ms Amundsen is due in Jul 2018 and ms Nansen in summer 2019

Sailing to: The Roald Amundsen will venture to the fjords of Chile, the Falkland Islands and Antarctica. Hurtigruten is staying tight-lipped on where Nansen will sail, but both vessels will be customised for the Norwegian coastal route.

Specifically designed for polar waters, the vessels will have strengthened hulls for traversing ice. The ships will feature environmentally sustainable hybrid technology that, combined with the hull construction and effective use of electricity on board, will reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions on the ships by 20%. In total, the two new ships will have a reduced CO2 emission of 6,400 metric tons per year compared to traditional ships.

Hurtigruten’s new ships will be named after polar explorers. Six out of ten cabins will have their own balcony, while two out of ten will be suites. Guests will be able to soak up the views from large observational platforms or dine in three restaurants. The vessels will feature a pool deck with infinity pools, jacuzzis and bars.

Crystal Endeavor

Crystal Cruises

Size: 183m long, 25,000 gross tonnage

Built by: Lloyd Werft Group

Passengers: 200

Crew: 200

Claim to fame: The largest and most spacious megayacht

Delivery: Mid-2019

Sailing to: The Arctic in the northern summer, then along the coast of the Americas and Europe to the Antarctica during the southern summer.

Guests will be able to dive deep or fly high in Crystal Endeavor’s two seven-person submarines and two helicopters. The ship will come complete with fishing boats, two landing pads, snorkel and scuba equipment, eight electric amphibious zodiacs, jet skis, wave runners, kayaks, paddle boards, a recompression chamber, dive support tender and a multi-person ATV. Crystal Endeavor will be also equipped with SEABOB underwater scooters.

Crystal Endeavor will be Crystal Cruises’ first-ever expedition megayacht and will be designed for global expedition in Arctic, Antarctic and tropical conditions. Vast penthouses and villas, a full-service spa, a yoga, pilates, salon and wellness centre; jacuzzis, an infinity pool a 360-degree view in Palm Court and six dining venues all await travellers aboard Crystal Endeavor. The megayacht will also feature a 200-seat theatre, numerous lecture rooms, cinema, card room and a computer centre. Endeavor will be fitted with the state-of-the-art offshore dynamic positioning technology to allow the megayacht to float atop coral reefs without the use of anchors.

Two additional expedition megayachts will follow in 2020 and 2021.