Expedition Cruises

From the most Northerly Point on Earth to the unending polar wilderness of Antarctica, Expedition cruises provide unique access to explore some of the most remote, awe-inspiring places in the polar regions.

A Guide To Expedition Cruises

To help you plan your expedition cruise, we have created this guide featuring places to visit, recommended expedition cruise ships, and our top expedition cruises selected by our in-house team of polar experts with decades of experience exploring the polar regions. 

Expedition cruises are unique as they involve exploring the place you are visiting. Ships are equipped with Zodiac landing craft and teams of expert guides and naturalists. Onboard activities include kayaking and trekking, and some ships offer flightseeing and heli hiking with onboard helicopters and exploring beneath the sea with submarines. 

Our collection of state-of-the-art expedition ships, from icebreakers to small ships and ultra-luxury vessels, ensures you can explore the polar regions in comfort.

Our choice of small and luxury expedition ships and unique itineraries will help you plan your next expedition cruise. 

This guide will give you an overview of the destinations we explore, our top expedition ships, and a detailed FAQ. If you need any assistance planning your expedition cruise, please don’t hesitate to contact our expert travel experience team, who have a vast knowledge of expedition cruising.

Places To Explore On An Arctic Expedition Cruise

North Pole Expedition Cruises

Polar Bears, Walruses, Seals
Sea Ice, 90 Degrees North
July - September
Imagine standing on the most Northerly point on Earth. A handful of travelers make it to the Geographic North Pole on an Icebreaker Cruise to fulfill the ultimate polar challenge each year. North Pole expedition cruises offer an extraordinary, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reach 90 degrees north.

Northwest Passage Expedition Cruises

Polar Bears, Musk Ox, Beluga Whales
Glaciers, Historical Sites
July - September
Follow in the footsteps of early explorers and navigate the entire length of the Northwest Passage. Opt for a shorter expedition to explore a section of the fabled sea route connecting the Atlantic and Pacific oceans through the heart of the Canadian Arctic. Description

Svalbard Expedition Cruises

Polar bears, Walruses, Arctic Birds
Polar Scenery, Glaciers
May - September
Located in the high Arctic, Svalbard is a remote archipelago of islands known for the diversity of its wildlife and one of the best places on Earth to encounter polar bears in their natural habitat. Svalbard expedition cruises offer a chance to explore remote areas that are otherwise inaccessible.

Greenland Expedition Cruises

Musk Ox, Seals, Whales
Polar Scenery, Icebergs, Remote Villages
March - October
Explore the captivating wilderness of Greenland on an expedition cruise. You will encounter colossal icebergs, remote Inuit villages, and some of Earth's most awe-inspiring landscapes and wildernesses.

Arctic Expedition Cruises

Polar bears, Whales, Walruses
Icebergs, Polar landscapes, Remote Villages
March - October
Arctic expedition cruises offer a way to explore multiple destinations in the Arctic. On the same itinerary, you can combine destinations such as Greenland, Svalbard, the Northwest Passage, and Iceland.

Places To Explore On An Antarctica Expedition Cruise

Antarctica Expedition Cruises

Penguins, Whales, Fur Seals
Polar Scenery, Icebergs, Glaciers
November - March
Explore the world's most remote continent on an Antarctic expedition cruise. Choose from a variety of voyages to explore the Antarctic Peninsula, cross the Antarctic Circle, discover the Weddell Sea, or explore the lesser-visited Ross Sea on a cruise from New Zealand.

South Georgia Expedition Cruises

Penguins, Albatross, Elephant Seals
Historical Sites, Spectacular Scenery
November - March
Often visited on a cruise to the Antarctic Peninsula, South Georgia is a sub-Antarctic island with some of the highest concentrations of wildlife on Earth. Here, you can encounter 400,000 King Penguins, nesting Albatrosses, and southern elephant seals.

Falkland Islands Expedition Cruises

King Penguins, Albatrosses, Elephant Seals
Remote Beaches, Bird Cliffs
November - March
For travellers looking for the ultimate wildlife-watching cruise, The Falkland Islands is an additional place to visit with their abundance of birdlife on expedition cruises visiting South Georgia and Antarctica.

What is An Expedition Cruise?

Expedition cruises are adventurous cruises where the experience is geared around exploring a hard-to-get destination such as Antarctica, which is inaccessible by other means. They differ from traditional cruises as they seldom stop at ports. Often, an expedition cruise will not visit any ports at all. Instead, travelers explore with the ships onboard Zodiacs to make shore landings in remote places and cruise in sites of natural interest, such as glacier fronts. Expedition cruises are led by a highly experienced and trained team of polar guides who share their experience and knowledge of destinations with the travelers onboard.

Expedition cruise ships are far smaller than traditional ones and take between 73 and 500 guests to the polar regions. (We always recommend a smaller group size to maximize your experience.) Expedition cruise ships are often purpose-built ships designed with a high ice class for exploring the polar regions. They are equipped with a fleet of Zodiac craft, which the guide team uses to take guests exploring on a daily basis.

Ponant zodiacs

Best Expedition Cruises

kayak in Antarctica
Ushuaia - Ushuaia
Jan 18 2026 - Jan 29 2026
10 Nights

Price from per person

Antarctica Explorer Expedition Cruise Guests hiking ashore
Includes Flight Seeing
Ushuaia - Ushuaia
Feb 19 - Mar 02 2025
11 Nights

Price from per person

Small Ship
Punta Arenas to Punta Arenas
Jan 14 - Jan 21 2025
7 Nights

Price from per person

hiking in the Antarctic Peninsula
Door To Door
Puerto Williams to Puerto Williams
Jan 13 - Jan 23 2025
10 Nights

Price from per person

A tourist taking photos in Antarctica on an expedition cruise
Ushuaia - Ushuaia
Feb 07 2026 - Feb 18 2026
10 Nights

Price from per person

Le Lyrial Antarctica
No Single Supplement
Ushuaia - Ushuaia
Nov 10 2025 - Nov 28 2025
17 Nights

Price from per person

Guests crossing the Antarctic Circle
Includes Flight Seeing
Ushuaia - Ushuaia
Mar 1 - Mar 14 2025
13 Nights

Price from per person

silver wind cruise ship in Antarctica
Door To Door
Puerto Williams to Puerto Williams
Feb 17 - Feb 27 2025
10 Nights

Price from per person

hiking in snowy landscape in Svalbard
Small Ship
Longyearbyen - Longyearbyen
Aug 3 - Aug 14 2025
11 Nights

Price from per person


Recommended Expedition Cruise Ships

Choose from our curated selection of state-of-the-art expedition cruise ships, from luxury ships to small ships and icebreakers hand-picked by our in-house team of polar experts.

Le Commandant Charcot

The world's first luxury icebreaker, Le Commandant Charcot, offers guests world-first expedition cruises to explore the polar regions' most inaccessible areas, including the North Pole.

Silver Endeavour

One of the most luxurious expedition ships ever built, Silver Endeavour offers authentic expedition cruises with outstanding levels of luxury.


A stylish, purpose-built expedition ship, Ultramarine is equipped with two helicopters to offer guests aerial perspectives of the polar regions.

Types Of Expedition Cruises

Choose from a selection of different types of expedition cruises from authentic polar expedition on an icebreaker, to small ship expedition cruises perfect for adventure seekers and luxury expedition cruises for the ultimate in comfort.

Arctic luxury cruises on Charcot

Luxury Expedition Cruises

Luxury expedition cruises are ideal for travellers looking to explore polar regions at the highest comfort levels with an expert team of polar guides. Please choose from our selection of luxury expedition ships with stylish suites, fine dining and lavish amenities.
ocean explorer small expedition cruise ship

Small Ship Expedition Cruises

Small-ship expedition cruises are ideal for travellers looking to maximize their expedition experience and are well suited to wildlife watchers, photographers and guests wanting to see more. Please choose from our state-of-the-art small expedition ships, which take between 73 and 150 guests.
north pole cruise ships

Icebreaker Cruises

Icebreaker expedition cruises allow travellers to explore some of the most remote places on Earth that are off-limits to regular expedition ships. Please choose from our curated selection of icebreaker cruises to Antarctica, the North Pole and Greenland for a truly out-of-the-world experience.

What Activities Are Available on An Expedition Cruise?

Standard activities on all expedition cruises are shore visits, Zodiac cruising, and onboard lectures with the onboard guide team, which usually includes naturalists, historians, scientists, and specialists in their field, such as glaciology or marine biology.

Each expedition cruise ship offers various additional activities, typically kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding and camping under the stars. Some ships also do specialist activities such as ice diving, snorkeling and mountaineering. Ultramarine and Scenic Eclipse 1 & 2 offer exciting flight-seeking options via the ships’ onboard helicopters. The Scenic ships are also equipped with a submarine so guests can gain a unique perspective of the polar regions below the waterline.

Kayaking on an Antarctica Small Ship Cruise on Greg Mortimer

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