Test your nerves and take the plunge off the back of the M/S Quest into the Arctic Ocean! This time-honored tradition from cold-water cultures around the world is said to provide health benefits but we know it helps to have a hot glass of tea or warming tot of sherry waiting for you back on board.
Step off your luxury ship into the wild Peruvian Amazon for a morning skiff ride through the flooded forest. Parrots, macaws, and fluffy saki monkeys call out overhead as you meander through the leaf tunnels of what’s known as the “gallery forest”, part of one of the richest and most bio-diverse wildlife habitats on Earth.
In the highlands of Santa Cruz, one of the largest islands in the Galapagos, prepare to be dwarfed by troops of giant tortoises. Growing in size to over 800 lbs and 5 feet in length it is also one of the longest-lived vertebrates with life spans in the wild of over 100 years.
Jacques Cousteau called the Sea of Cortés “The Aquarium of the World” and the prolific marine life is one reason to cruise Baja. Another is the people and culture of the peninsula itself. This off-ship excursion by skiff and burro explores what life is like in the remote canyons and mountains of such an arid and spellbinding landscape.
A nighttime snorkel with giant Pacific Manta Rays is an experience to remember! As you enter the warm ocean waters right from a special platform on the boat you may witness underwater aerobatics as Rays fly through the water illuminated by the ship’s custom lighting.
Walk in Charles Darwin’s 1833 footsteps when you step ashore at Wulaia Bay in Cape Horn National Park. You’ll stroll through a forest rich with vegetation before reaching the windswept and picture perfect panoramic view at The End of the World. From here, you look out over the Drake Passage, famed for hazardous conditions and beyond to Antarctica.
Words can’t describe the excitement, emotion and adrenaline rush of being eye level with a nine foot polar bear on a Zodiac excursion in the wild Arctic. This expedition ship excursion itinerary is flexible and spontaneous based on weather and wildlife so cruisers can immediately jump into the speedy, lightweight craft when conditions and presence of bears are most favorable.
What makes a towering glacier even more breathtaking? Seeing it from a sea kayak! This outing allows adventurers an unusual vantage point as you paddle right up to the face of a massive ice formation. The advantage of a small ship is that it can get into the tiny bays and inlets where the big cruise ships can’t, with unbounded access to glaciers, wildlife and rugged shorelines.
Play a quick game of hide and seek or perfect your barrel rolls with frolicking young sea lions at Los Islotes, a steep rocky island in the Sea of Cortés. This amazing site is only accessible by small ship and you can observe the sea lion colony from the boat and skiff, or slip into a wetsuit for a pre-breakfast snorkel.
Still your flippers, slowly put your arms out into the water and float in the ocean currents alongside gentle sea turtles with the coral gardens of Olowalu, West Maui below. Since ancient times, Olowalu was considered a place of refuge, or pu'u honua, by Hawaiians and the presence of a large population of sea turtles confirms it.
Small ship, expedition cruising is distinctly different than its mega cruise ship counterpart in one important way. While big ships become floating, self contained towns with onboard dining, dancing and more, small ships offer an outward focus, where the main activities are off the vessel like exploring nature’s wonders and local cultures. Cruise expert Mike Nesbitt of Small Ship Safaris offers his favorite off-boat attractions and activities, and all of the off-ship excursions here are included in the price of the small ship cruise.