Luxury Expedition Cruises. It’s quickly becoming the river cruising of the deep-ocean cruising world. Much like “glamping” redefined the idea of “camping”, luxury expedition cruises still offer all the adventure and knowledge of their predecessors, but they do it in much better surroundings.

Aside from Hamburg-based Hapag-Lloyd Cruises – which traditionally catered to a primarily German-speaking clientele – luxury line Silversea was one of the first cruise operators to pioneer the concept of the luxury expedition cruise.

Silversea's sturdy Silver Explorer on a beautiful, sunny day. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Silversea’s sturdy Silver Explorer on a beautiful, sunny day in Arctic Svalbard. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Prior to 2008, if you took an expedition cruise, it generally meant you’d be sailing aboard a repurposed Russian icebreaker or a modified research vessel. Both are perfectly adequate for their purpose, but they’re low on the totem pole in terms of creature comforts. Voyages, because of their unique itineraries, still cost a small fortune – and you had to pay for nearly everything onboard.

In fact, the “traditional” expedition looked a lot like this. Behold: the nuclear-powered Russian icebreaker, 50 Years of Victory.

Traditionally, most expedition cruises were conducted aboard ex-Russian icebreakers, like the nuclear-powered 50 Years of Victory. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia / Creative Commons

Traditionally, most expedition cruises were conducted aboard ex-Russian icebreakers, like the nuclear-powered 50 Years of Victory. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia / Creative Commons

Now, 50 Years of Victory is pretty cool. It’s nuclear powered. It can sail right to the North Pole. But for the price of admission, this is the level of accommodations you’re treated to – if you splurge for a suite:

The "Suite Life" aboard 50 Years of Victory. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia / Creative Commons

The “Suite Life” aboard 50 Years of Victory. Author collection.

Cozy, innit?

Also consider this: 50 Years of Victory is pretty much the crème-de-la-crème of traditional expedition ships, because most aren’t nuclear powered, and most can’t go to the actual North Pole. What I’m driving at here is that your average expedition ship is actually a downgrade from this high standard.

So, along comes Silversea in 2007. They purchased a small, purpose-built expedition ship that started life out back in 1989 as the Delfin Clipper. Fast-forward through six name changes and Delfin Clipper had become World Adventurer by the time Silversea purchased her and spent millions of dollars refitting her in order to turn her into their very first luxury expedition ship, Prince Albert II.

Click here to continue reading!

Click here to read our Voyage Report from onboard Silversea’s Silver Explorer in Arctic Svalbard!

 

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