The opportunities for finding new destinations both in colder and in warmer waters are huge, according to four itinerary planners at a focussed panel discussion during Seatrade Cruise Virtual: Expedition Cruising.

‘I think we’ve just scratched the surface of what expedition vessels can do in warm water environments,’ Tim Littley, senior director, development & itinerary Seabourn Cruise Line told moderater Liz Gammon, Creative Cruise Consulting.

Seabourn has been overlaying elements of the expedition experience on its other ships in anticipation for the arrival of its first dedicated expedition ship Seabourn Venture,  scheduled to enter service in December with a sister ship to follow in 2022.

Hybrid cruises like this are proving to be a promising gateway to encouraging existing customers to explore full on expedition cruises, Littley noted.

‘Once you get guests hooked on the zodiac experience and interacting with real communities, you open their minds to warm-water expeditions as well – it’s a transition,’  – Claudius Docekal vp deployment at Crystal Cruises which is also due to receive its first purpose-built expedition ship Crystal Endeavor later this year.

‘The potential for expedition is huge, because it’s a perfect tool to visit remote communities – this applies to islands in Indonesia just as much as the Arctic,’ said Hugues Lamy,  director of ports ops at Scenic Cruises.

He asked for more flexibility from some destinations, ‘to find out a way for us to develop these off-the-beaten-track destination experiences, whilst Docekal added, three times a day zodiac cruises can get exhausting. You need variety, and these smaller destinations provide that – and that’s what I look for.’

​ Pam Le Noury head of expedition field operations Noble Caledonia said, ‘You don’t need to have everything be an UNESCO World Heritage site for it to be rewarding. We want to find stepping stones in between the big ports that people have the time for… and often remember the most.’

​‘Observing is at the core of what we do. Sustainability is high on my focus list. I’ll do whatever it takes to avoid overcrowding, which entails deep engagement with the destination and entwining it into our product,’ Littley reminded.