Time of Year
Expedition cruises are often seasonal depending on weather conditions, animal migration, ice flows or similar. Bookings may need to be made up to 18 months in advance so check what season your expedition choice departs and make sure you book in time. You may need to be flexible with dates as weather or unforeseen conditions can delay or alter departure or finishing dates.
If you want a twin room / cabin for sole use you should specify this at the time of booking. However it does mean a single supplement will be charged. If you want to share on these expedition ships you will not be charged the supplement. If they can’t find someone to share with you they will not charge any extra.
If you are traveling alone do note the great thing about expedition cruising is that many of the other travelers may be independent photographers, researchers or like minded people and will have similar interests making it easy to mingle. The dining areas are usually at unassigned tables and seats so you simply pull up a chair wherever you want.
Aboard an expedition ship the expedition leader has a lot of say in the day-to-day scheduling and destinations. This is a lot more flexible than on conventional ships, to allow for changes in course to take advantage of weather, sea conditions or wildlife sightings. So learn to be flexible and keep an open mind, particularly if meal times are changed each day!
Most expedition boats provide some form of communication via a satellite phone or may even have Internet, although connections can be unreliable. Alternatively you can make calls when you reach port. They should provide you with a list of numbers before you go, so those at home can reach you in case of emergency.
Currency and Credit Cards
Expedition ships will make port in foreign places. The ship itself might be able to provide a small amount of local currency but take cash to change or traveler’s cheques with you. If it’s a small port there may not be money-changing facilities. All services and products purchased onboard can usually be paid for by cash, cheque or credit card.
Expedition ships usually have a bar, lounge, a small library stocked with books about the destination and its natural features and frequent talks by the ship’s resident experts about what you can expect to see at the next stop. Evenings are often spent in discussion; the captain and crew will usually sit down to meals with their guests.
Expedition cruises are pricey. They generally last from one to three weeks and can set you back $4000–5000 per person or more, especially Antarctic cruises. However the price is usually all inclusive of lectures and observations aboard, meals, shore trips and excursions and airport transfers.