Photo courtesy of Ponant
A good number of new ships are being launched in 2018 and 2019, with more coming in 2020.
This year will bring Seabourn's Ovation, Scenic's Eclipse Discovery yacht, Viking's Orion and Ponant's new explorer class Le Laperouse and Le Champlain ships. Celebrity is showcasing the new Edge and Holland America is introducing the Niew Statendam, the sistership to the lovely Konigsdam. Carnival, Norwegian and Royal Caribbean all have new mega ships.
Not to be outdone, Amadeaus, AmaWaterways, American Cruise Lines, Avalon Waterways, CroisEurope, Crystal, Emerald Waterways, Uniworld and Viking will all have new river ships in 2018 and 2019.
Whew! That's a lot of new ships!
While they all have distinct personalities, four of these ships stand out with unique and exciting features : a Magic Carpet, the Blue Eye, 34 extra feet, a submarine and helicopter!
Photo courtesy of Kakslauttanen
Simply put, the Aurora Borealis and Australis are the Northern and Southern Lights. These mesmerizing, beautiful green, blue, red and purple lights that flash over the polar skies. As we move into the winter months, they become more and more visible in the polar regions.
Have you ever wondered what these "lights" really are? I never put a lot of thought into it until I listened to a presentation by a photographer who was taking a group to Norway. Not being a scientist, the discussions around solar flares, magnetic fields, electrons and who knows what else could have made my brain go blurry. I appreciated his simple presentation in layman's terms, and found all of it to be quite fascinating. I'm certain you will too.
Photo courtesy of Linblad Expeditions
A few weeks ago I wrote about seeing puffins in the wild, and what surprised me the most about these birds was how small they are. Being the size of a duck, puffins are bit difficult to observe from 15 decks up. This made me think about a number of other wildlife encounters that are best experienced on a small ship cruise. In fact, some of the best wildlife viewing around the world is on a small ship.
Why? Small ships get you up close to nature. Because they are smaller, these ships can navigate into areas that big ships just can't - areas that wildlife prefers as well - away from people and crowds. And equally as important, small ships tend not to follow strict itineraries. Captains have the flexibility to change course, so when Mother Nature does her thing, small ships can follow her time clock versus a set time clock.
This flexibility turns into some absolutely amazing adventures all around the world, like the itineraries below.
I saw puffins for the first time in Alaska. Beautiful, colorful, adorable, funny little creatures.
We were cruising along the Kenai Peninsula, near the Fjords National Park, when we came across a fairly large breeding colony. Thousands of birds sitting on the cliffs, floating on the water, flying with their short wings flapping crazy fast. Their "crash" landings were quite funny (especially after learning they don't hurt themselves!). Quite a memorable moment.
What surprised me the most about these birds?
Is exploring nature and watching wildlife one of your favorite ways to vacation? Do you like to hike, paddleboard, snorkel, kayak? How about snapping pictures of whales, bears or flying manta rays? Maybe sitting back and watching beautiful scenery go by is more your style? If you said yes to any of these, you are in luck! Fantastic destinations on small ship cruises await you all around the world.
I'm not sure exactly why I am so fascinated by the polar regions. Maybe it's the beauty of the mountains, snow, fjords, glaciers and icebergs. Having flown over/near the arctic circle a number of times on my way home from Europe, I always wondered what these islands below looked like at sea level. It could also be the allure of the polar bears.
I'm not alone in having an interest in the arctic, seeing how tourism to the region has really grown over the past several years. One area that has been attracting a lot of interest these days is Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago located about 800 miles south of the Arctic circle, and more specifically, the island of Spitsbergen.