J5Travel visited Maui as a team at the end of last year. Kendall, our Luxury Sales Director is an expert through and through and loves the Hawaiian Islands with a true passion.
As many of you have likely seen in the news, the islands of Maui and the Big Island of Hawai'i have been devastatingly affected by wildfires over the last few days - most specifically, the town of Lahaina on Maui. Residents of Lahaina have lost their belongings, homes, businesses, and town.
This is truly catastrophic, and our hearts go out to all of those affected. If you would like to share the "spirit of Aloha" by donating to organizations in need, below are some links where we can help:
J5Travel will be donating 10% of every client Planning Fee to a selection of these funds from today thru the end of 2023.
This month's cruise article is all about expedition cruising. Expedition cruising is for those who seek an experience beyond the normal. Leisurely cruising is fun, but expedition cruising is the ultimate adventure! Trade in your cocktails on the beach for insulated parkas on a zodiac because an expedition will test your imagination and push your limits. Every cruise will be filled with stunning natural environments and immersive experiences with local tribes and communities. And of course, us being J5, we want to share how you can pair exploration with luxury. One minute you can be hiking the polar caps and the next getting a massage in a top-of-the-line spa at sea. Many of these ships are much smaller (16-100 cabins) so you have the chance to foster deeper connections with the environment, your expedition leaders and fellow travelers.
Here are the top 5 cruise lines that excel in expedition cruising.
Top 5 - Expedition Cruises
1. Lindblad/National Geographic (above and below)
Everyone has heard of National Geographic, but did you know you can join some of your favorite experts in wildlife, photography and science on a cruise. In 2004 Lindblad Expeditions partnered with National Geographic to continue their shared mission of discovery and exploration. Lindblad visits destinations all around the world and incorporates not just adventure, but also learning. In Zanzibar you can search for the hiding red colobus monkeys and in Vanuatu you can learn all about the secret Rom Dance of warriors on Ambrym Island. When the adventure is over you can return to your comfortable suite onboard one of their luxury ships and experience their all-inclusive amenities.
2. Ponant (above and below)
Ponant is known as one of the leaders in luxury expedition cruising with an emphasis on the Polar regions. Their comprehensive itineraries will leave you wanting for nothing as they often include everything from charter flights and transfers to pre/post hotels and meals on land. Every voyage has a team of at least 10 expert guides that cover history, geography, ornithology and marine biology. Most of their ships are brand new or completely refurbished so you can enjoy all the modern-day comforts while you're off the grid. Their focus on expeditions does not lessen their focus on the good life. Onboard they have a photography studio, world class spa, a heated saltwater pool, cooking demonstrations and nightly entertainment in their theater. They even coordinate a polar plunge for the ultimate exhilaration.
3. Quark Expeditions (above and below)
Quark Expeditions is another cruise line for the polar explorer. Quark's forte is curating unique itineraries and going where other ships can't or won't go. Once of their philosophies is, where there is a will there is a way. They will uncover the most remote and rugged terrains whether it be by kayak, zodiak, helicopter or hot air balloon. They don't just expect the unexpected, they embrace it. Their newest ship, the Ultramarine not only has a helipad, but two twin engine helicopters that allow them to reach isolated areas that ships can't reach. They were even the first to confirm the fabled Emperor penguin colony at the remote Snow Hill Island in Antarctica, one of the rarest wildlife sightings on the planet. Since they only focus on the Arctic and Antarctic, they have wide variety of itineraries that can fit any traveler. You can cross Antarctica off your bucket list with a 7-day cruise that touches the continent or delve deeper into the icy interiors on a 23-day cruise with a local chef who will show you local ingredients and then create a magnificent meal. The choice is yours on Quark Expeditions.
4. Atlas Ocean Voyages (above and below)
My next pick, Atlas Ocean Voyages, also visits the polar regions, but I would like to focus on their unique Epicurean Expeditions. An epicurean expedition is a journey of discovery that explores culture and cuisine. How is that different from any other cruise line? Well on Atlas Ocean Voyages the ENTIRE itinerary is curated to bring you a deeper understanding and appreciation of local gastronomy. Your voyage includes sommelier led wine tastings, culinary demonstrations, market visits and informative lectures. They also have their own version of iron chef onboard where one of their chefs compete in a cookoff against a guest chef or one of your fellow passengers. Every voyage is complete with an included Josper Grill dining experience where you can enjoy the best cut steaks and finest seafood poolside.
5. Aqua Expeditions (above and below)
Expedition cruising doesn't always mean sailing through the polar regions. There are many other destinations that evoke the sense of exploration and that is where Aqua Expeditions shines. Aqua takes you to the warmer climate regions of Southeast Asia, Peru and Ecuador. Their small vessels allow you to get up front seats to the wonders of the Amazon River, the Mekong River, the Galapagos Islands and the waterways of Indonesia. Nature and cultural immersion are the highlights for these cruises. Depending on the region you can experience the calm of paddling with local merchants in floating markets, the thrill of fishing for piranhas or the amazement of viewing rare komodo dragons in their natural habitats.
If you're ready to start planning your next cruise let us know by clicking the button below.
I love travel and I love travel planning just as much and I am proud to have built a team as passionate about exploring the world as myself. It took me a very long time to align my career with my undeniable passion for exploring, but now I and the team are here for you. Your personal travel tailors - award reservation and luxury custom itinerary experts. We provide a bespoke service, imagining and creating itineraries for independent minded families and groups.