Going Ashore: Getting your feet wet

MiR submersible heading for the Titanic

There’s more to adventure cruising than just spying spectacular destinations from afar.

Getting off your expedition ship can often be more exciting than getting on. Shore excursions to some of the world’s most isolated and fascinating locations are what attract passengers. Often, your vessel is simply the means to experience the world.

Among the different excursions, there are the ‘must-do’s’ and the aspirational that gain maximum dinner party points. Here are just five of the most popular and rewarding excursions available on the world’s expedition fleet.

Top of the World.

Ninety degrees north is about as far as you can go. The North Pole has to be the pinnacle in adventure cruising and it is available on the world’s most powerful icebreaker, the brand new, nuclear-powered Russian vessel 50 Let Pobedy (meaning 50 Years Since Victory). At the top, enjoy a barbecue on the ice and an obligatory dance around the pole. Adventure Associates and Peregrine Adventure Tours can get you there.

Secret Ceremonies

Papua New Guinea is a land of magic and sorcery. Much of this is kept away from prying eyes, but the islands of the Kula trading ring in the Solomon Sea occasionally burst into colourful celebration, particularly during the yam harvest. The dancing and ceremonies are eye-popping as the most beautiful and eligible young men and women dance in a vivacious routine. Orion, Aurora, North Star Cruises and Coral Princess Cruises all have PNG itineraries.

Extreme South

One hundred years ago, during the so-called heroic age of exploration, men endured unimaginable privations to explore Antarctica. Many died, including the famous Robert Falcon Scott on his return voyage from the South Pole. Now it’s possible to visit some of these carefully preserved and restored timber huts. Those of Mawson, Shackleton and Scott are all packed with equipment and history that require careful attention to keep them from disappearing forever. Quark, Aurora and Orion all have itineraries that include visits to these ‘shrines’.

The Origin of Species

The enchanted islands of the Galápagos have long held our imagination and been the subject of countless documentaries and television specials. To walk the volcanic shores of these islands is to truly visit another world. The ghastly iguanas, the majestic albatross and lumbering giant tortoises all conspire to create a scene from The Land Time Forgot. Adventure Associates and Peregrine can help you.

Beneath the Waves

Not every excursion involves a beach, a jungle hike or an iceberg. Below the surface is a fascinating marine world full of wild and colourful life. All vessels offer snorkeling at the very least and several carry fully qualified PADI divemasters to guide you into Neptune’s realm. The Great Barrier Reef, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu all offer exceptional diving opportunities that include not only the fascinating marine environment, but also wrecks and artifacts from the World War II. Coral Princess Cruises, North Star Cruises and Captain Cook all offer onboard divemasters.