Our choices for the best Expedition & Adventure Cruises

Lindblad Expeditions allied with National Geographic, offers soft-adventure voyages on a fleet of five capable vessels (as well as several charters) that carry from 28 to 148 passengers. Forget big-ship accouterments like in-cabin TV's, casinos, and multiple bars (though the newest ship in the fleet,  has a decent-sized spa and alternative eatery). The ships are comfortable, and there are some great touches like the local, organic foods used in meals.


But Lindblad's ships serve more as base camps for exploring the world's waters, with cruises to the Galapagos, South Pacific, Antarctica, Greenland and the Arctic Circle.


The line has become especially well regarded for the staff of top-flight naturalists, historians, undersea specialists and expedition leaders who accompany each of its trips.


Cruise line Hurtigruten plies the poles with 12 ships of varying sizes, including its pathfinder, 276-passenger Fram. Onboard, this ice-hardened polar expedition vessel offers some stylish twists like a minimalist Arctic-chic design (iceberg sculptures, austere destination photography) and flat-screen TV's in cabins. Don't let the trappings fool you -- these cruises are all about nature.  Fram has its own small landing craft that take passengers to incredible seaside locations. Passengers are an international mix, and the ship, which operates in English and Norwegian, adds other languages, such as German or French, if needed.


The Un-Cruise Adventures Difference. Unrushed. Uncrowded. Unbelievable. Built on a reputation of quality and experience, our small ship cruise explorations—intended to inspire and satisfy your curious nature—are an unbeatable combination of activity and discovery, service and expertise, awe-inspiring encounters, and value. Guests rave about the Un-Cruise experience and how genuine our crew is, often commenting that it’s not like a cruise at all. Yet the biggest endorsement from our guests: they come back, and they refer us to their friends.


We engage experts and historians to interpret, narrate, or bring history to life. In Alaska, a National Park Ranger might join you on board, or a U.S. Forest Service wilderness ranger kayaks right up to the vessel and hops aboard to talk about natural history and their special bond with the land; and in Hawaii, a respected elder teaches you to make poi.


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