Preparing for Your Expedition Cruises Trip
Expedition Cruising Training
Check your itinerary before going to ensure your physical abilities match what is required of you during the voyage. Expedition cruising can be physically demanding and suits people with some fitness. Most ships use Zodiac inflatable rafts which sometimes necessitate a "wet landing", a jump over the side into the water to wade ashore. Remote spots often lack a pier or they may have a rocky shoreline. So you will need a level of agility to safely negotiate the transfer to and from ship.
Onshore explorations can be taxing and there may be little support if you have difficulty keeping up. Likewise on board you may be expected to assist in excursion preparations or stand watch for polar or other wildlife. If you are not already exercising regularly, start an exercise regime. And if you aren’t already a strong swimmer you should work at improving your skills.
If you are undertaking some solo voyaging or joining a more hands-on ship it will be important to have completed a coastal navigation course. If you can manage craft like a dinghy or wind surfer this will hone your skills and give you a better sense of wind direction and ocean conditions. If your expedition requires some kayaking, rappelling or other skilled activity you should familiarize yourself with these before setting out.
Expedition Cruising Gear
Expeditions will provide you a list of essentials to bring when you book the trip. Limit your luggage to one piece per person as storage space onboard is limited.
The clothing you take will depend largely on which expedition you have chosen. However the usual garments for luxury cruising will not be required as most evenings are informal - jeans and sweaters will be far more comfortable.
At sea the weather can be cool and wet. Take tested wet weather gear that covers you from head to toe and plenty of warm garments like a fleece or thermals. Hats and gloves for all weather are recommended. Bring pants and shorts for the activities. If your expedition involves some sea kayaking (eg. expeditions to Baja, Alaska, Arctic, Antarctica and Galapagos) you may need some additional kit – consult the cruise line.
Good, comfortable walking shoes are essential and should be appropriate for the activities on your itinerary. They should be closed toe and ideally water resistant, although you can also use waterproof rubber boots for the wet Zodiac landings. Be sure to take good socks.
Day packs for the various ashore excursions are vital. Things like binoculars, cameras or wildlife books might be useful. Most ships provide current for charging your camera or downloading images but you may need to bring your own charger. Be sure to check any electrical equipment will be compatible to that onboard.
Always come prepared for a variety of weather conditions. You should check the weather forecast for the area before your departure.
Most expedition ships sail fairly close to land and don’t encounter rough waters. However check the itinerary first if you are susceptible to seasickness. Usually ships keep some medication onboard and may even have medical personnel. Bring any personal medical items with you.