Destinations include Antarctica and the Arctic, the Northwest Passage, Japan, Australia’s Kimberley region, Scandinavia and the Baltic Sea, Italy, Greece and Indonesia.
Broader appeal, immersive experiences
While expedition-style cruises have long attracted intrepid travelers seeking adventure to the far reaches of the world, appeal has grown to include culturally curious travelers interested in exploring less traveled coastal regions. .
“More than ever, travelers are seeking immersive experiences, whether alongside a marine biologist in the Arctic, an expert on Aboriginal culture in Western Australia or a former NASA astronaut in the most remote parts of the Pacific,” said Bob Simpson, vice president of A&K. expedition cruise. “Our expedition cruises are designed around engaging cultural exchanges, surprising wildlife encounters and unique experiences, led by the most accomplished scientists and indigenous cultural experts of the communities we visit.”
Culture-rich port experiences range from a private performance at a Greek theater in Syros to a food tour in Brittany and a tour of historic dwellings in the limestone hills of Matera in southern Italy, designated by UNESCO.
A&K designs active adventures that immerse travelers in the natural landscape. When exploring glacier-covered Antarctica or Australia’s rugged Kimberley Coast, Zodiac excursions are piloted by A&K naturalists. Travelers can choose between scenic hilltop hikes or easy walks along the beach to photograph penguins. In warmer climes where UNESCO-designated marine wonders take center stage — like French Polynesia, the coast of Tanzania, and the Seychelles — travelers can snorkel to experience the rich marine environments.
New for 2023-2024
Among A&K’s new programs is ‘Cruising the Seychelles & Coastal Tanzania’ to experience the coral reefs and culture of East Africa, starting with Zanzibar with its rich history and spice markets, and the UNESCO-designated ruins of Kilwa Kisiwani followed by underwater adventures in the Seychelles. Aldabra Atoll is a UNESCO World Heritage Site teeming with endemic birds and wildlife. This 14 day program ends in Mahé.
Also new, the “European Coastal Cruise: Portugal, Spain and France” includes exploration of the Porto wine region, the architecture of the pilgrimage site of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela and the Guggenheim Museum designed by Frank Gehry in Bilbao. Travelers can visit UNESCO-listed Mont-Saint-Michel and historic Normandy, before cruising under London Bridge over the River Thames. This nine-day program goes from Lisbon to London.
Other new offerings include ‘Expedition from French Polynesia to Easter Island’ and ‘Adriatic Voyage: Croatia, Montenegro and Greece’.
Strong interest in the Mediterranean
“We have seen such interest in the Mediterranean this year – our cruise to Greece filled up quickly – that we have planned a series of cruises next fall which can be seamlessly combined into one great Mediterranean trip from 28 days,” Simpson said. It begins with a cruise along almost the entire navigable coast of Italy, continues with the new Adriatic voyage to Croatia and Montenegro, then ends with Greece and lesser-known gems including Patmos, Delos and Syros. .
Chartering of Ponant ships
A&K charters a small expedition vessel for each route: Le Jacques Cartier in Africa, Le Lyrial in Antarctica, Le Boréal in the Arctic and French Polynesia, Le Champlain in the British Isles and the Baltic Sea, Le Bougainville in the Mediterranean, Le Lapérouse in Australia and the South Pacific and Le Soléal in Japan.
A&K limits capacity to around 80%. Most cultural trips allow no more than 148, with no more than 10 passengers aboard a Zodiac and 25 on a cultural shore excursion.
Travelers must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.