In years past, only a handful of people had the means and the ability to enjoy genuine expedition cruises. Indeed, for several years the cruise line industry revolved almost solely around the concept of warm Caribbean ports of call and the utmost in relaxation and luxury. These days, much of that has changed; expedition cruises are making up more and more of the popular itineraries among some of the most popular cruise lines in existence today. No matter where your interests lie, you are sure to find an expedition cruise itinerary that will thrill and captivate you.

We’ve rounded up ten of the best examples of expedition cruise itineraries; check them out below.

Photo Credit:  Bill Gracey

Lindblad Expeditions’ Baja California: A Remarkable Journey

Although some of the most popular expedition cruises in the world head far north – or far south – to the planet’s two poles, it’s important not to overlook the adventurous examples that hit other parts of the globe, too. Lindblad Expeditions’ Baja California itinerary whisks passengers along through the Sea of Cortez and its impressive desert islands, all the way around along the Pacific coast. Along the way, dolphins and whales abound.

Photo Credit: NOAA Photo Library

Quark Expeditions’ Crossing The Circle

The Antarctic Circle is one of the most remote, least-explored parts of the planet. Quark Expeditions ferry passengers along on a remarkable itinerary that including camping, kayaking and explorations of the Drake Passage and the Antarctic Peninsula. Check out penguins and learn more about this icy locale during intriguing educational programs on the ship.

Photo Credit: vgm8383

Zegrahm & Eco Expeditions’ Hidden Gems of the South Pacific

While the islands of Oceania are best known for offering some of the most resplendent relaxation opportunities in the world, Zegrahm turns that concept on its head by allowing passengers to explore impossibly remote atolls, along with a vast array of tropical islands including Tahiti, Bora Bora, Nive, Wallis, Fiji, Tonga and the Cook Islands. Onboard, marine biologists, ornithologists and other experts regale guests with compelling stories and informative lectures.

Photo Credit: Max Ruckman

Celebrity Cruises’ Xpedition: The Galapagos Unveiled

Several expedition cruise lines boast itineraries in and around the Galapagos Islands, but none do it better – or with more aplomb – than Celebrity’s Xpedition. Celebrity’s Galapagos Islands itineraries allow passengers to enjoy the comforts of a first class ship with the adventure and excitement of a tour through one of the most diverse ecosystems on the planet. From rare and unusual creatures to amazing plant life, the Galapagos are a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Photo Credit: Cortto

Quark Expeditions’ Ross Sea Sojourn

Antarctica is a place that few people ever get to experience. Fewer still get the opportunity to visit the Ross Sea. Quark Expeditions boasts an itinerary that follows the paths of some of the first explorers of this remarkable continent. Along the way, passengers learn more about Robert Falcon Scott and Amundsen, who both forged the first forays into this icy, seemingly barren place. Emperor penguins are just one of the many highlights of this stunning itinerary.

Photo Credit: Dhilung Kirat

Lindblad Expeditions: Alaska’s Coastal Wilderness

These days, it seems like every major cruise line is hopping on the Alaskan itinerary bandwagon. However, few of them allow passengers to experience the truly raw, natural beauty of this place quite like Lindblad’s exceptional itineraries there do. The fjords and islands of southeast Alaska are explored, along with special explorations by kayak and Zodiak. Meanwhile, passengers can learn more about the compelling Native American history of the region.

Photo Credit: Paxson Woelber

Zegrahm & Eco Expeditions’ Northern Ring of Fire

With Zegrahm’s truly exceptional Alaskan expedition itinerary, guests can combine visits to some of the remotest islands on Earth – including the Aleutian and Pribilof islands – with compelling history. Indeed, stops at famous World War II locales like Attu and Kiska allow passengers to check out old rusted military artifacts; cruises also take people along the Kamchatka Peninsula, where mind-blowing vistas mesmerize at every turn. This is one expedition itinerary that is not to be missed.

Photo Credit: Ville Miettinen

Quark Expeditions’ Greenland Semi-Circumnavigation

Learn more about the largest island on the planet by embarking on Quark Expeditions’ 21-day expedition itinerary around part of Greenland. Along the way, enjoy stops at the most northerly national park on Earth, along with visits to Ella Island and other remote locales. Musk oxen roam at will along frozen expanses, and it’s not unusual at all to spy a polar bear or a walrus as you sail along.

Photo Credit: Arturo Sotillo

Lindblad Expeditions’ Monte Verde, Costa Rica and Panama Expedition

Central America is a largely untapped area in terms of expedition cruises. By taking off on a Lindblad Expeditions itinerary along this impossibly verdant part of the planet, you can experience some of the densest and most tropical forests in the world. As you explore this stunning area, it will become apparent why the ancient Mayans considered this region to be so divine and special. From trails along the forest floor to canopy tours at lofty heights, this is one itinerary that will create some amazing memories.

Photo Credit: NOAA Photo Library

Quark Expeditions’ North Pole Excursion

Although you probably won’t find Santa and his elves when you touch down at the top of the world, you will get the honor of being able to say that you’ve actually stepped foot on the roof of the planet. Indeed, a nuclear powered icebreaker ferries passengers along and around gorgeous sections of the Arctic Circle, then they are airlifted to the true North Pole. Helicopter tours also help give a sense of the awe-inspiring landscape along the way.