The Five Best Destinations for Expedition Cruises, According to the Experts

Ashley S. Crofoot

Expedition cruising is on the rise and, according to Travel Market Report’s predictions for 2021, could be one of the segments of cruising that gains the most market share during the travel industry’s inevitable rebound – with small, luxury ships giving travelers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see and experience things […]

Expedition cruising is on the rise and, according to Travel Market Report’s predictions for 2021, could be one of the segments of cruising that gains the most market share during the travel industry’s inevitable rebound – with small, luxury ships giving travelers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see and experience things they’ve never have before.  

Late last year, pre-pandemic, TMR queried a total of 764 agency owners and advisors from across North America as to what they are seeing in the region, including why exactly their clients are increasingly opting to sail on expedition ships and what regions are driving the most interest.

The research, part of TMR’s Expedition Outlook for 2020, sponsored by Seabourn, proved that the niche is growing and now is the time for advisors who haven’t yet considered selling it to do so.

To prepare those advisors who haven’t yet dove head first into the segment, and to keep the ones who have informed, here are the top five destinations, according to travel advisors:


Blue-footed boobies in the Galápagos. Photo: Don Mammoser/Shutterstock.com. 

1. Galápagos Islands (72%)
The Galápagos Islands have long been the destination for cruise passengers wanting to sail to bucket list destinations, which is the top reason clients say they opt for expedition cruising (80% said so according to the Outlook).

The islands, which are volcanic land that sit about 1,000 kilometers off of the Ecuadorian coast, have limited air travel with only two airports servicing all of the islands, making it the ideal destination for cruise travel. The islands are home to a wildlife population unlike any other area on earth including Marine iguanas, Blue-footed boobies, and the Galapagos tortoise.

Cruise lines that service the islands include Silversea, Seabourn, Celebrity, Hurtigruten, and more.

Best destinations for expedition cruising
Humpback Whales in Antarctica. Photo: MZPhoto:Shutterstock.com.

2. Antarctica (66%)
Almost two-thirds of advisors said that Antarctica is their most popular destination for expedition cruise sales, making the southernmost continent the second most popular destination among travel advisors.

The popularity of Antarctica sailings have increased throughout the last decade as both first-time and loyal cruise clients have opted to spend their money sailing to a distant world more accessible by sea than by land.

Silversea, in its marketing for Antarctica, calls the region “the closest thing on earth to another planet” and for good reason, too—Humpback and Minke whales, massive glaciers, and mountain peaks are all regularly scenery during the journey.

Aside from Silversea, sailings to the region include offering from Seabourn, Hurtigruten, Abercrombie & Keny, Lindblad, Ponant, Quark, Scenice, and more.