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The coolest expedition cruise ships and itineraries for 2020 and beyond

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Is your client interested in booking an expedition cruise in 2020? Dave Monk takes a look at the new expedition ships and itineraries launching over the next few years to keep agents in the loop.

Ship focus

Coral Geographer

Enjoy sunset drinks al fresco at the Explorer bar on Coral Geographer, the latest addition to the Coral Expeditions fleet, which will launch in late 2020. The 120-passenger sister ship Coral Adventurer will have more than 1,000 square metres of open deck space, including a wrap-around promenade with panoramic views. Most cabins will also have a private balcony. Dining will be at a communal table serving buffet breakfast and lunch, as well as dinners featuring Australian and local produce. The ship also comes equipped with two Xplorer tenders and six Zodiac boats.

Le Commandant Charcot

French company Ponant will be heading to the North Pole on the hybrid electric ship Le Commandant Charcot from May 2021. Because it can switch between liquefied natural gas and batteries, the 270-passenger vessel will be able to sail almost silently in sensitive areas without producing any emissions. Even so, the ship will be strong enough to plough through dense ice as it carries guests from Spitsbergen to the top of the world. Le Commandant Charcot will also carry a scientific lab to study the ecosystems and biodiversity of the Arctic and Antarctic.

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Ponant’s Le Commandant Charcot

Nat Geo Endurance

Expedition cruise company Lindblad is applying the X factor on its first polar ship, the 126-guest National Geographic Endurance, launching in January 2020. The X-Bow is said to give the smoothest ride in all types of sea, saving fuel and reducing emissions. Watching wildlife is much easier, too, because passengers can look straight down the sides without having to lean over a deck rail. Other great spots to see the scenery are walk-out areas from the bridge and the observation lounge – the landscape can also be enjoyed from the twin infinity hot tubs, the saunas and the glass-walled yoga studio.

Quark Ultramarine

With two twin-engine helicopters and a 70-day operational range, the newest ship in the Quark Expeditions fleet, launching in 2020, aims to deliver the ultimate polar experience. The 199-passenger Quark Ultramarine boasts two dining areas, four bars, a panoramic lounge and lecture theatre. Activities include kayaking, hiking, camping, skiing and mountaineering, but guests can also relax in the spa, fitness centre and ocean-view sauna, or take a stroll around the promenade deck. Single travellers are well catered for too: they can book a solo panorama suite that gives sweeping views through floor-to-ceiling windows.

Seabourn Venture

Guests who want to see under the ocean as well as above it will be able to ride in a six-passenger submarine on Seabourn’s new polar-class ship Seabourn Venture, launching in June 2021. The battery-powered sub – equipped with a 4K underwater camera, robot arm and even a champagne cooler – will be able to dive up to 300 metres below the surface to explore wrecks, reefs and marine wildlife. The all-balcony Seabourn Venture, and its yet-unnamed sister launching in 2022, will also have 24 Zodiacs that can carry all 264 passengers at the same time to make sure no one misses out on expeditions ashore.

Expedition cruise, Seabourn Venture
Seabourn’s new polar-class ship, Seabourn Venture

Itinerary focus


The seventh continent is on many people’s bucket lists and now travellers can sail on the new 530-passenger Hurtigruten ship Roald Amundsen, named after the Norwegian who led the first expedition to the South Pole. An 18-day itinerary combines Chilean fjords, the Falkland Islands and Antarctica, giving passengers the chance to see wildlife such as penguins, whales and seals amid floes and icebergs. Because Roald Amundsen is a hybrid diesel/electric ship, it’s capable of sailing silently and emission-free to ensure a minimal effect on the environment.

18-day voyage leaving on 4 November 2020, from Santiago de Chile costs from £7,909pp,

Dramatic Patagonia and the Chilean fjords

Lovers of mountains, fjords and glaciers should book a voyage on Greg Mortimer, the new ship from Aurora Expeditions, as it travels through Patagonia. After sailing along the Beagle Channel, the 120 passengers will be able to take Zodiac boats on the look-out for dolphins, penguins and seals. An overnight in Torres del Paine National Park allows views of its dramatic landscapes. Other highlights include migrating whales.

14-day cruise leaving Ushuaia in Argentina on 2 April 2020, from £7,540pp,

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Guests can take in penguins on an expedition cruise.


Energetic Australia

Newcomer Crystal Endeavor is heading down under in its inaugural season, taking up to 200 guests on a leisurely 14-day cruise from Cairns to Sydney via such fantastically named destinations as Ribbon Reefs and Coral Sea Islands. In Lizard Island National Park, nestled on the Great Barrier Reef, passengers will be able to go swimming, hiking and snorkelling, or take a Zodiac into the mangroves to seek out yellow-spotted monitor lizards.

14-day cruise leaving Cairns on 31 October 2020, from £11,922pp,

Seafaring Mediterranean

Your customers may think they know the Med but a 17-day itinerary on new ship Scenic Eclipse will show them the highlights of Portugal, Spain, Morocco, France, Monaco, Italy and Greece in one dream trip. Like explorers of old, guests on the 228-guest ship will sail from Lisbon and follow the Atlantic coast past the Straits of Gibraltar and into the Mediterranean. On the way, they will see wonderful places such as Seville, Tangier, Barcelona, Saint-Tropez, Monte Carlo, Amalfi and Santorini. The trip ends in Athens, another centre of ancient seafaring, but all the way guests will be kept in the most modern comfort on a ship that has two helicopters and a submarine.

17-day cruise, leaving Lisbon on 11 April 2021, from £8,445pp,

Small in Alaska

Experience a unique view of America’s ‘last frontier’ on the 76-guest UnCruise ship Wilderness Discoverer on a 14-day voyage from Seattle to the Alaskan capital, Juneau. The route explores Olympic National Park, the San Juan Islands and Canada’s Inside Passage before arriving in Ketchikan. The ship then heads to Misty Fjords National Monument, Chatham Strait, Frederick Sound, Icy Strait, Glacier Bay National Park, Petersburg and Haines. The UnCruise Alaska sailings start pre-season, in April.

16-day trip, including flights from Heathrow, leaving on 17 April 2020, costs from £5,425pp,

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