Expedition cruises: unveiling South America and Antarctica by river and sea

March 11, 2024


As we challenge ourselves to reach more remote areas of the planet and engage in intense experiences more responsibly, expedition cruises have emerged as one of the biggest travel trends for 2024. Profoundly different from the traditional cruise experience, expedition cruises are increasingly focused on connecting travelers with the essence of the places they visit through history, science, connections with local communities and immersive experiences.

 Adapted for comfortable adventure expeditions, these vessels carry far fewer passengers than large cruise ships, something extremely necessary when visiting fragile areas of virtually untouched nature. At the same time, they offer incredible opportunities for the world to experience and fall in love with these hard-to-reach places and help protect them.

 In South America, some amazing updated expedition cruises allow travelers to go off the beaten path and explore phenomenal destinations such as the Galapagos Islands and the Amazon. In addition to unparalleled experiences, these cruises are focused on developing trips that positively impact destinations and travelers alike, ultimately contributing to the conservation of these special, remote regions. Check out some extraordinary expedition cruises in South America and Antarctica that are worth the trip of a lifetime:


Amazon, Brazil – Kaiara 

Kaiara aims to connect travelers with the Brazilian Amazon, in the state of Pará, by promoting immersive experiences and encounters with local communities, who are the guardians of the forest. The charming vessels, Amazon Dolphin (22 guests), Belle Amazon (16 guests) and Tupaiú (8 guests) are different in size and can vary in itinerary, but they all offer essential comfort and countless reasons to fall in love with the Amazon. The trip begins in one of the most charming villages in the Brazilian Amazon, Alter do Chão, and navigates three different rivers, accompanying the transition between ecosystems and the changing color of the water, to visit different riverside communities. This is a unique journey of exchange, learning and positive impact.


Amazon, Amazonas, Brazil – Untamed Amazon

An inspiring journey into the heart of the Amazon, navigating remote waters. The Untamed Amazon is a sustainable vessel, powered by solar electricity with state-of-the-art water treatment and fuel-efficient engines. The eight luxury accommodations have floor-to-ceiling windows, providing guests full views of the Amazon’s majestic rivers and rainforests, and travelers can choose between two-day and six-day itineraries. Expert guides lead daily excursions into the jungle, where guests can encounter a dazzling array of wildlife, including monkeys, sloths and exotic birds. Whether cruising the river at sunset or trekking through the jungle in search of rare species, the Untamed Amazon offers an unforgettable adventure for nature lovers and adventurers alike.


Amazon, Ecuador – Anakonda Amazon Cruises

Anakonda Amazon Cruises offers a remarkable journey deep into the Amazon rainforest, showcasing the region’s unparalleled biodiversity and stunning landscapes with a dedication to sustainable tourism. The only cruise line navigating the Ecuadorian Amazon, Anakonda has two luxury boutique vessels, Anakonda and Manatee, allowing guests to sail in different regions, visit and support local indigenous communities and participate in conservation programs. Expert naturalist guides join travelers on daily excursions to unveil some of the most remote, pristine areas in the Amazon.


Amazon, Peru – Aqua Expeditions

Aqua Expeditions loves to explore the world’s most biodiverse and culturally significant destinations aboard best-in-class vessels of stylish contemporary design. The luxury expedition cruise company operates in the Peruvian Amazon with two superb vessels. The 16-suite Aria Amazon was custom-built to explore the famed Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve in absolute comfort with minimal impact on the delicate environment, while the 20-suite Aqua Nera draws design inspiration from the region’s mystical black water lagoons. Both vessels have comprehensive dining menus created by Pedro Miguel Schiaffino, one of Peru’s most accomplished chefs known for using local produce and ingredients.


Amazon, Peru – Delfin Amazon Cruises

The idyllic Pacaya Samiria National Reserve, in the Peruvian Amazon, is the backdrop for the unique, responsible-tourism expeditions run by Delfin Amazon Cruises. The upscale river cruise operator invites travelers to connect with the heart of the jungle and local, ancient indigenous traditions through exciting activities. As part of its fleet, Delfin I (8 guests), Delfin II (28 guests) and Delfin III (44 guests) are classic luxury vessels with a touch of intimacy. Explorers can choose between a three or four-night cruise and enjoy multiple ecotourism activities, including birdwatching, hiking trails and visits to local communities. Delfin Amazon Cruises holds social and environmental responsibility as its major values, helping to positively impact riverside communities.


Antarctica – Albatros Expeditions

Travelers can prepare for a transformative, breathtaking journey when boarding one of Albatros Expeditions’ epic Antarctica adventures, set to explore some of the most remote regions in the world. The family-owned company is a pioneering polar expedition cruise operator led by experts always keen to offer impeccable service, memorable and safe activities and unique educational content. Its modern, stylish vessels, Ocean Albatros and Ocean Victory, allow passengers to experience Antarctica on either sea or land-based adventures, unveiling the continent’s unique landscapes and wildlife in comfort. Expeditions are carefully designed to surprise even the most seasoned travelers.


Galapagos Islands, Ecuador – Ecoventura

 The unparalleled scenery of the Galapagos Islands is the perfect setting for Ecoventura’s transformative experiences. With a commitment to sustainability and conservation, Ecoventura provides guests with an immersive, educational journey through these remarkable islands, guided by expert naturalists. Chic and stylish, the vessels Origin and Theory bring luxury to the seas with two intimate expedition yachts for just 20 guests, allowing travelers to discover the incredible wildlife, pristine landscapes and rich marine environments in two different itineraries. The company is part of the esteemed Relais & Chateaux collection.


Galapagos Islands, Ecuador – Golden Experiences & Travel

With a fleet of premium luxury catamarans that sail around the mystical Galapagos archipelago, Golden Galapagos Cruises has been taking travelers to explore the Darwin Islands for over two decades, demonstrating a serious commitment to sustainable travel and environmental conservation. Its carbon-neutral vessels, Endemic and Elite, offer different programs and itineraries to explore the Galapagos like true scientists. Whether snorkeling with sea lions, hiking volcanic trails or observing giant tortoises in their natural habitat, a Golden Galapagos Cruise promises a once-in-a-lifetime adventure in one of the world’s most extraordinary destinations. Adventure-filled days always end in style with comfortable, intimate settings, gourmet dining and a range of amenities to ensure a relaxing, enjoyable journey.


Read more: Innovation meets sustainability in Ecuador with Golden Galapagos Cruises 


Galapagos Islands, Ecuador – Metropolitan Touring – Yacht La Pinta

You’re in for a dream-come-true expedition when you board Metropolitan Touring’s charming yacht La Pinta. The vessel navigates the waters of the Galapagos archipelago, offering trailblazers a haven for rest and refueling their energies after a day of adventures spotting sea lions, blue-footed boobies and marine iguanas. La Pinta is the perfect combination of conscious, experiential and luxury travel, with spacious comfortable cabins, exclusive island visits, gourmet cuisine, dedicated specialist naturalist guides, pleasant social areas and a doctor on board. With sustainability and care for the Galapagos Islands being the main priorities, La Pinta is a carbon-neutral vessel with low fuel consumption, waste recycling, water desalination treatment and energy efficiency systems.

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