Image Credit Roger Pimenta 2

To the ends of the earth

Pick a destination – any destination – and you’re more than likely to find a cruise line goes there. Antarctica? Yes. Greenland? Yes. The Northeast Passage? Yes. The North Pole, Amazon, Patagonia? – yes, yes, yes.


In fact, apart from landlocked destinations (there are currently no lines calling in at Mongolia or Chad), you’ll find a cruise to pretty well anywhere you can think of with a body of water nearby. And you certainly won’t need to rough it in order to reach ever more remote spots, as cruise lines have been seriously upping their game in the past few years when it comes to on-board comfort levels. Gastronomy is high on the agenda, from authentic flavours of the world to Michelin-starred chefs, food is a calling card for many of the very best companies.

Next, you have the number of gadgets and gizmos (think mini- subs, helicopters and underwater viewing platforms) that are now almost de rigueur for high-end expedition lines and get you even closer to the wildlife that surrounds you. Scenic began this trend with Scenic Eclipse, and will continue it with Scenic Eclipse II, which launches next year. Other luxury lines, including Seabourn and Ponant, also boast these hi-tech toys.

The combination of a desire to go further and deeper into a destination and, of course, bragging rights (‘Oh yes, we took a submarine under an ice floe and spotted a polar bear swimming...’) has fuelled this race to the crest of the hi-tech wave that shows no sign of slowing.

Here, we take a look at four ships, what’s on offer – from the kitchens to the kit – and the destinations they visit.

Scenic Eclipse Arctic or Russian Far East

Gadgets and gizmos Two helicopters, underwater sub

Scenic Eclipse redefined the luxury expedition experience in 2019 with a 228-passenger vessel that has more of a look of a sleek luxury yacht and the feel of a boutique hotel than a traditional cruise ship. Sister ship Scenic Eclipse II, due for launch in 2023, is an (almost) exact replica and will also be visiting some of the most inaccessible places on earth. You’ll be doing it fuelled by the food from no fewer than eight different restaurants.

The epic Cross the Legendary Northeast Passage travels through nine time zones across the top of Siberia and Russia, taking in remote Arctic islands, then heads along the Northeast Passage. Expect polar bears, walruses and whales and encounters with Chukchi reindeer herders, Inuit fishermen and Russian scientists.

The Russian Far East traces the Pacific Ring of Fire from Alaska to Chukotka, south along Kamchatka Peninsula to the Kuril Islands, exploring Siberia’s eastern coastline. In Chukotka, you’ll cruise along breathtaking fjords, while on shore expect to soak in Kamchatka’s hot springs, discover crystalline lakes and hike one of the region’s 120 active volcanoes. The strategic position of the islands (where the US and Russian landmasses meet) means you can visit abandoned listening posts and submarine bases, Soviet- era fish processing plants and Japanese World War ll fortresses.

Back on board, your cuisine choice includes Italian, French, Spanish, Asian fusion and Japanese, all under the considered eye of executive chef Thomas Goetter. The highlight is his exclusive, invitation-only Chef’s Table, where you’ll be treated to a multi- course degustation experience focusing on his food experiences and influences. Those not fortunate enough to snag an invitation can always book Night Market at Koko’s, where your chef prepares street-food dishes for just eight diners.

If you want a bird’s-eye view of the landscape, jump on one of two helicopters for a flightseeing or landing excursion to get to the most remote spots. Or go underwater on Scenic Neptune, Scenic Eclipse’s customised submarine.

Scenic Neptune Trident Wall Port Antonio Credit Scenic Neptune photo by f Stop Movies 22

Travel Details

The 27-day Cross the Legendary Northeast Passage itinerary from Anchorage to Tromsø, departing 5 August 2023, costs from £21,592pp.

The 17-day Jewels of the Russian Far East voyage from Anchorage to Vladivostok, departing 26 May 2023, costs from £13,045pp.

Seabourn Venture Norway, the North Cape and Greenland

Gadgets and gizmos Two submarines

This year’s launch of a dedicated expedition vessel is a first for the ultra-luxury line. Designed to Polar-class standards, complete with an ice-strengthened hull, the 264-passenger ship is all suite, all balcony, with the very best in gastronomy.

On board you’ll find double sea kayaks, mountain bikes, E-bikes and a fleet of 24 Zodiac rafts that, unusually, will be able to carry all passengers at the same time, if required.

Iconic chef Thomas Keller – of New York’s Per Se and California’s French Laundry fame – oversees the menu in the ship’s main dining room, The Restaurant. Here, every other night, you’ll be able to sample dishes from one of the world’s greatest chefs

in a relaxed, open-seated atmosphere. Even in the ship’s more casual restaurant, The Colonnade, you’ll find special theme nights featuring dinners that are a nod to his American childhood – clam bake and barbecue ribs, for example. Across the culinary board here, you have Seabourn’s usual six-star pedigree of intuitive service and quite outstanding cuisine.

In terms of cool gadgets, the ship will have not one but two six-person subs that you can hire if you want to get up close and personal with the marine life – plus no fewer than 26 people making up its Expedition Team. These include naturalists, scientists and marine biologists.

This 25-day journey takes you to the northernmost tip on mainland Europe (Nordkapp, Norway), and beyond to the islands of Svalbard and Longyearbyen for some polar bear spotting. After that, you’ll cross the Arctic Sea to Greenland’s East Coast to visit some unpronounceable settlements (like Ittoqqortoormiit, with its brightly painted buildings) and visit the largest fjord in the world at Scoresby Sound. You’ll then head west to Iceland, with an opportunity to kayak along Ísafjörðdur’s dramatic shoreline before the journey ends in Reykjavík.

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Travel Details

The 25-day Svalbard - Beyond The North Cape & Greenland voyage from Tromsø to Reykjavík, departing 27 July 2022, costs from £29,999pp.

Celebrity Flora The Galapagos Islands

Gadgets and gizmos Science lab

Celebrity Flora
is Celebrity’s first foray into a custom-built ship designed specifically for cruising around the most iconic islands on earth. Limited to 100 passengers, due to restrictions in Galápagos, the ship has vast areas of beautifully designed public and private spaces. Launched in 2019, the all-suite ship looks more like a mega-yacht, with its sleek styling and sharp lines. Inside, the line has taken inspiration from local design, drawing on sustainable, natural materials. Respecting the fragile ecosystem, the ship’s Dynamic Positioning System enables the ship to stay where it is without having to drop anchor.

Fine on-board touches include a very well thought out marina in which the Zodiacs fit neatly into the ship so you can step on board rather than leap; and at the Naturalist Centre, you can participate in sorting samples and helping out the marine scientists.

Food in the main Seaside Restaurant is sourced locally as far as possible (restrictions permitting), so expect a mix of Ecuadorian and Galápagos-inspired dishes including local fish and shellfish; along with more standard fare from Celebrity’s fleetwide menu.

The ship offers two classic Galápagos routes: the Inner and Outer loops. On either itinerary you’ll get to see the iconic wildlife, including penguins, marine and land iguanas, Sally Lightfoot crabs and sea lions as well as being able to walk on volcanic islands and black-sand beaches. However, if you’re keen to glimpse giant tortoises, the creatures the islands are most famous for, you’ll have more chance on the Outer option.

In the mood for a splurge? You can always book a top-deck cabana and get dinner featuring ‘campfire-themed delights and cocktails’, according to Celebrity, served to you under the stars.

Celeb Galap 2013 08 07 27182

Travel Details

The 7-day Inner Loop round-trip voyage from Baltra, departing 13 November 2022, costs from £5,438pp.

The 7-day Outer Loop voyage, departing 20 November 2022, costs from £5,579pp.

Silversea Explorers Antarctica

Gadgets and gizmos Fast-track flight programme

Silversea has three expedition ships deployed in the White Continent this year: Silver Explorer, Silver Cloud, and Silver Wind; and has added a new port stop: Puerto Williams, a sparsely populated frontier town on Isla Navarino in the Beagle Channel at the southern tip of South America, allowing for a direct flight from Santiago to begin Antarctica cruises. It has also launched the Antarctica Bridge, a new way of getting to your starting point that saves time and potential sea sickness crossing the notoriously rough Drake Passage. A BAe 146 plane, specially modified for Antarctic landing, will whisk you in business-class comfort from the southernmost town in Chile, Punta Arenas, to King George Island, the largest of the South Shetland islands, where you join the ship.

The 144-passenger, all-suite Silver Explorer has two Antarctica itineraries setting sail in February 2023, both 10-night round trips from Puerto Williams and including four stops in Antarctica and one on the South Shetland Islands.

Every suite grade includes butler service and in-suite dining with select spirits, wines and champagnes and, with almost a 1:1 passenger-crew ratio, service is impeccable. There are two restaurants with a Modern European emphasis; chefs try to source locally, though that can be a challenge in Antarctica. The line makes a point of moving chefs around the fleet so expect a varied menu that draws on their experience. A highlight is Hot Rocks at The Grill, where you cook your own food on volcanic stones.

The ship carries a fleet of 12 Zodiacs and an expert expedition team that will get you up close to the likes of penguins, elephant seals, leopard seals and, if it’s the right time of year, sperm, minke and humpback whales. After all that exertion, you’ll be happy to book a massage at the Zagara Spa.


Travel Details

The 10-night round-trip Antarctica Expedition Cruise from Puerto Williams, departing 16 or 26 February 2023, costs from £9,500pp.

Best of the rest


The German line’s 500-passenger MS Europa 2 sets sail on a 15-day cruise from Mahé in the Seychelles, calling in at a number of ports in the Seychelles and Madagascar, including Praslin, Antsiranana and Nosy Be, before reaching Richards Bay, South Africa, and visiting Durban, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town. Departing 13 October 2022, from £6,396pp.


The 378-passenger Viking Octantis is the first of the line’s expedition vessels and will explore North America’s Great Lakes this year, with 8-day cruises between Thunder Bay, Ontario, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Toronto and Milwaukee; and a 13-day St Lawrence River sailing between New York and Toronto. Departing 30 April 2022 (Toronto to Milwaukee), from £5,395pp.


Take a 12-day cruise to Canada’s remote Arctic along the Northwest Passage to Ellesmere and Axel Heiberg Islands on Quark’s newest ship, Ultramarine, with two twin-engine helicopters and 20 quick-launching Zodiacs. Expect to see sea mammals, polar bears, muskox and perhaps even the elusive arctic wolf. Departing 21 August 2022, from £7,900pp.


The French line has a 9-day Christmas cruise on the 184-passenger Le Bougainville from Dubai, taking in the rich history of the Persian Gulf. It will call in at Abu Dhabi, Doha, Qatar, Oman and Muscat, and include excursions to the Louvre Museum (in Abu Dhabi), Al Ain oasis and the conservation island of Sir Bani Yas. Departing 21 December 2022, from £3,200pp.


Expedition cruise specialist Albatros Expeditions has a 12-night cruise on the 198-passenger Ocean Atlantic that combines the four islands of Svalbard, the volcanic island of Jan Mayen, Greenland and Iceland. Highlights include polar bear spotting, a visit to a former whaling station and a shore landing by Zodiacs on Jan Mayen. Departing 23 July 23, 2022, price on application.


The Australia-based cruise line will stay domestic until the end of 2022, offering its iconic 10-night Kimberley Cruise between Broome and Darwin. New dates in April and May 2022 aboard Coral Geographer are timed to coincide with the waterfall season. Departing April 2022, from £5,436pp.


Travel Details

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