Ever considered an Expedition cruise? To be honest, with all the information about a normal cruise that buzzes around my brain an expedition cruise never really got given much consideration, until now!
Because of my work background I knew enough to say yes Prince Albert II is a Silversea expedition ship, or Celebrity Cruises offer expedition voyages on the aptly named Celebrity Xpedition but recently took it upon myself to really clue up and learn a little more. Bit of a coincidence really then that a TV show called “Mighty Ships” should air an episode last week of Compagnie Du Ponant’s expedition vessel, Le Boréal, on her maiden voyage to Antarctica.
I was already familiar with Le Boréal but had never taken the time to really delve more into her voyages, I have now.
I think this has got to be the first time I have ever sat and said yes the ship is amazing but so long as she got me to the destinations she visits she could be thick of barnacles and rust for all I care. Don’t misunderstand my words, this ship is out of this world, she really is stunning but, her destinations are also exceptional. For me, a self confessed ship geek you know it must be good for me to bypass the ship entirely and head straight for her itinerary!
In general Compagnie Du Ponant itineraries are the chance of a lifetime. Some of the places the ships visit, other cruise lines could only ever dream of sending their fleet too! They include Peru, Chile, Martinique, Canada, America, Turkey and Greece. I think the top of the list though must be Antarctica.
Compagnie Du Ponant passengers can embark literally on the cruise of a lifetime, a cruise to places rarely seen by other human beings.
As I watched and became more and more engrossed in this style of cruising I tried to imagine what it really must be like. Crew and expedition experts left firstly to land and ensure it was safe to bring across passengers. There were hundreds upon hundreds of King Penguins, all looking around at one another in a quite docile manner, they clearly were not scared or threatened by the incoming humans, if anything they looked quite intrigued. One expedition leader noticed some seals on the beach, now for the life of me I cannot remember what type of seal this was but he was concerned as they have a reputation for being quite aggressive. After approaching one or two and just checking they were not tempted to lunge at him he finally gave the OK for passengers to come across.
The passengers were heading from Le Boréal on Rib’s (Rigid Inflatable Boats) across to the islands, all dressed up like little Eskimos, it really was a great sight, not too often you need your thermals on a cruise ship!. After leaving the Rib’s the passengers were free to wander and enjoy what I could only describe as a breathtaking sight and once in a lifetime opportunity.
They were able to get right up close to the Penguins and, without giving them any cause for concern. They stood there quite happily posing for their pictures, seeming to quite enjoy this new sight of bright red human beings. Some passengers also ventured uphill and then rolled back down.
It left me certainly pondering my “cruise bucket list” once again. As I said I knew enough but had been, to a certain extent, quite ignorant to what an expedition voyage must actually be like. To explore places rarely seen by another human eye, enjoy nature in its rawest and most un-disturbed form and to do it all from the comfort of a luxury cruise ship.
I’m not entirely sure there’s anything else on this planet that could beat that?!