One of the many benefits of cruising has always been that it can bring so much to both the journey and the destination aspects of travel. Cruisers are able to “unpack once”, embrace all the activities and services of the transit on-board their ship while seeing new sights, sounds, people and cultures along the way.
Cruising companies are always keen to engage passengers which why many are developing new destination itineraries that focus on the experiential side of cruising for on-shore activities. Even though much attention is given to ship refurbishments and innovative on-board facilities, new types of itineraries and new destinations are always on the radar for cruise lines.
Royal Caribbean is a great example of this with its new marketing tag, "Come Seek". Along with introducing Dubai and the Emirates as new Royal Caribbean destinations, this new approach aims to target travellers with a keen interest in their destination. Sure, you'll still experience the same night-time entertainment and deck activities the cruise line is known for, but passengers are also encouraged to experience as much on land as they do on-board.
The Seven Night Arabian Gulf cruise is just one of the featured itineraries, which has ports of call in Dubai, Khasab, Abu Dhabi and Muscat – a very different type of itinerary for Royal Caribbean.
The first port is Dubai, home to towering engineering structures and iconic modern architecture. Cruisers can wander the historic districts of the souks and the winding alleyways of traditional Arabic areas of this great city. Then onto the towns of Khasab and Muscat where cruisers witness the influence of Portuguese colonists before proceeding to the thriving capital of Abu Dhabi. Then it's back to Dubai.
Other cruise line are providing that size can matter. Azamara's two smaller luxury ships, Azamara Journey and Azamara Quest, offer the benefit of sailing to more remote ports inaccessible to larger ships.
With access to areas like the Panama Canal, Azamara also gives their cruisers the opportunity to experience more authentic aspects of these exotic destinations. As a result, it has created itineraries with more time on land, more overnights, and distinctive special events on land.
Crystal Cruises and Seabourn are also pioneering new destinations for cruising. Recognising the emergence of luxury expedition cruising, Crystal Cruises has just launched the first-ever big ship voyage through North America's Northwest Passage. Also featuring a focus on big tracts of ice, Seabourn’s Quest is currently having its hull strengthened to enable more Antarctic cruises throughout the year.
For more go to Discover the 5 Lesser known Cruising Destinations
While current cruising trends are embracing more remote destinations, Lindblad Expeditions has long been taking passengers to all corners of the globe. In fact, the company was at the forefront of expeditionary cruising, carrying on the tradition set by its founder, Lars-Eric Lindblad, by exploring the most exotic and fascinating parts of the world.
Lindblad Expeditions sails to destinations across the world with an emphasis on the polar regions; however, it has recently embraced Europe's Nordic area with its new Europe 2.0 itinerary that cruises from Copenhagen to Tallinn. This new exploration takes place on the 106-passenger ship, the National Geographic Orion. The ship is engineered for absolute comfort and safety, with an ice strength hull and the ability to manoeuvre close to shore for some up close sight-seeing.
The itinerary is focused on cultural as well as natural attractions designed to encompass some truly different experiences in conjunction with some off-the-beaten-track locations. This includes Sweden's Visby, Denmark's Christianso, and Finland's Turku and Mariehamn.
The tours on offer are unlike any other. By way of example, on the isle of Denmark's Christianso, you can walk around on your own, go on a guided trek with one of three professional photographers onboard, sit down over a coffee with the locals, or do a history talk/biking tour of the isle with one of the onboard guest lecturers.
Lindblad Expeditions also has an eight-day Circumnavigation tour of Iceland filled with adventure and cultural activities on and off the water.
Perhaps it can be said that Lindblad and some others in the cruising sector are placing a larger focus on creating truly experiential travel journeys for passengers – reflecting the global mind-set shift from the importance of collecting material possessions to collecting memorable and amazing travel experiences.