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July 28, 2006

In Pursuit of Adventure


Seadream in the Caribbean
Adventure cruising, and its almost seamlessly interchangeable appellation, “expedition cruising”, has its roots deep in the human psyche. It stems from our innate desire to inquire, explore and expand the boundaries of our environment whilst deriving intellectual rewards from the experience. Expanding on this, one could name great navigators like Magellan, Cook, La Perouse and Pytheas as some of the best known “adventure cruisers”. Often travelling under the veil of commerce, military expansionism, geography or science, these iconic sailors were driven by a desire to expand their own personal knowledge quite apart from obligations to their respective bankrolling empires.
The 21st Century adventure cruiser is transported in vastly different vessels. Complete with state-of-the-art satellite navigation, first rate medical facilities, gourmet cuisine and comfy bunks, gone are the days of deprivation, scurvy and mythical sea monsters.
Just as cruise travel is enjoying a very healthy resurgence despite the woes of the planet, adventure cruising, as a significant sub-set of the segment, is booming. This assertion is backed up by figures and concurs with findings from studies such as the Cendant Corporation's 'The World of Travel in 2020' where their findings indicate travellers are more and more in search of "experience-driven travel".
But how do you tell an adventure or expedition cruise from the regular fun-afloat type?
That which separates adventure cruising from the regular, big ship, variety is a number of factors, namely;
  • Flexible and adjustable itineraries to take account of changing conditions and opportunities.
  • Products driven by destination and experience rather than the allure or cachet of a particular vessel.
  • Destinations often have little or no tourism infrastructure and focus on natural, cultural and ecological attractions.
  • Smaller, more manoeuvrable vessels able to navigate narrow and shallow waterways inaccessible to regular cruise ships.
  • Fewer passengers, enabling operators to better deliver a more personal and fulfilling experience. Typically less than 500, but often as few as just a dozen or so.
  • Extensive shore excursion programme, often with several disembarkations per day.
  • Cruise staff includes lecturers drawn from academia and science able to impart enriching interpretation during a voyage or shore time.
  • Premium pricing.
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