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Expedition Cruise Travel Guide

Frequently Asked Questions


How many passengers are on board expedition cruises?

Expedition cruises are all about fostering an intimate connection with nature and the surrounding environment. Expedition cruises are notable for their high staff-to-guest ratio when compared to a traditional cruise. Zodiacs have a capacity ranging from four to 20 people and many remote destinations have a cap on the number of passengers allowed ashore at one time.

How many passengers will be on my excursion?

Expedition cruises are all about offering intimate experiences in some of the most remote regions of the world. In order to protect the serene landscapes, some regions have restrictions on the number of passengers allowed to visit. Only one ship at a time is allowed to visit a landing site in the Antarctic, with a maximum of 100 passengers ashore at a time. Ships visiting the Galápagos must adhere to size restrictions that vary by island — from 40 to 100 passengers — and excursions on the Galápagos are limited to 20 passengers at a time.

What are the differences between a wet and dry landing?

A wet or dry landing is all about the likelihood of your feet getting wet. In some ports, the ship or Zodiacs aren’t able to land firmly ashore. In this case, you will have to step off the Zodiac into water — usually no higher than the knee — when landing. When you have a wet landing, it is best to wear waterproof sandals or boots (climate depending) and bring a change of footwear for the excursion. Your expedition team will always announce the type of landing ahead of time so you can properly prepare.

Is there a swimming pool or sauna on board?

Each ship is different but many feature either a pool or a sauna, sometimes even both. Of our four favorite expedition ships, only the National Geographic Sea Lion does not have either amenity on board. Ships that spend most their time in the colder regions of the world have either a heated pool or a sauna.

Is Wi-Fi available? How much does it cost?

Most ships these days offer Wi-Fi, though the reliability is still unpredictable. Satellite Internet has improved drastically over the years but the connection is not going to be as reliable as it is on land. Ships that offer Wi-Fi often limit the bandwidth available — ideal for a quick email or check-in, but not suited for browsing the web or uploading photos. For more information about the Wi-Fi policy, please check your program materials or directly with the cruise line.

What equipment is available on board? Is there equipment for rent?

Expedition ships are well equipped for immersive excursions, supplying equipment including kayaks, paddleboards and snorkel equipment sometimes at an additional charge. For swimming excursions in cold waters, many ships have wet suits that are available to guests.

For apparel, expedition cruise lines typically supply passengers with a waterproof, insulated parka and boots to be worn during land excursions but please check your program materials. These waterproof boots are especially helpful for wet landings. Apparel is not usually available to rent while on board, though there are onboard shops that sell adventure gear recommended by the cruise line. While the gear will be high quality and reputable brands, it is far more efficient to plan ahead using your program materials and apparel recommendations on the cruise lines website.

Can I pay with cash and credit card on board?

Expedition ships will accept cash and credit cards while on board, requiring bills to be settled at the end of the cruise. The currency accepted on board varies by cruise line; most cruise lines operating in Europe use Euros while ships in North America use U.S. dollars. Some may offer services converting currencies. It is always a good idea to carry small bills in the local currency for when you are in port; there may be a minimum purchase amount required to use your credit card. On Antarctic expeditions, the onboard currency depends on the country of the cruise line.

Are there any special amenities on board?

Part of the thrill of an expedition cruise is the central focus of understanding the destination, its ecosystem


Educational Expeditions with Road Scholar

Go where nature leads on a rugged expedition ship that brings you close-up to wildlife and natural wonders. With no set schedule, your captain charts a general course determined by weather, sea conditions and recent wildlife sightings.


At Road Scholar, our expedition cruise programs can bring you across the world. With a diverse cohort of shipmates, you’ll be able to learn and discover the wildlife, landscapes, and cultures around you. From riverboat cruises to ocean voyages and expeditions, we have several cruise programs to choose from.

35+ Number of educational expeditions with Road Scholar See them all

“Ice conditions caused many changes to the original itinerary but that did not interfere with the overall experience in this Arctic landscape. Wildlife sightings were great and included the elusive narwhal! The onboard staff were extremely helpful and friendly. A wonderful adventure!”

— Jane, Road Scholar Class of 2017, from Monroe, N.C. —