Cruise ships with a science twist bring a fresh perspective to guest experiences.
A spoon, bucket and piece of rope may not seem like fancy scientific equipment, but working alongside a scientist in Antarctica is a simple way to help reduce one of the biggest health threats to our waterways.
Collecting sand samples to test for microplastics is one of many opt-in projects Aurora Expeditions offers guests as part of their citizen science program.
“By involving guests in data collection, it demystifies the science,” says Dr. John Kirkwood, marine biologist and Aurora’s Citizen Science Program Coordinator.
Science is at the heart of Aurora expeditions. Named after Dr. Sylvia Earle, marine biologist, oceanographer and explorer, their latest ship, the Sylvia Earle, pays homage to women scientists with each deck dedicated to a conservation pioneer and a beautiful glass lounge spanning two levels which integrates a dedicated scientific laboratory designed to support scientific research and on-board projects.
Ponant is another company embracing science with its luxury polar expedition flagship – Le Commandant Charcot featuring an innovative research area including wet and dry labs, sonar, beacon buoys, salinometer, forget about the ship’s drone.
“For us, putting our technical and human resources at the service of science to create research opportunities is a logical extension of raising our guests’ awareness of the issues related to the protection of the planet”, declares Hervé Gastinel, CEO of Ponant.
And like Aurora, guests aboard Commandant Charcot can take part in a range of projects such as cloud surveys, sea ice studies, whale identification and phytoplankton sampling designed to provide data to organizations like NASA or to individual researchers.
In other fragile regions of the world, targeted scientific expeditions also contribute to research and enrich the experiences of guests.
The rules surrounding any vessel sailing into the Galapagos Islands, let alone a new one, are thankfully strict. So since Celebrity Cruises launched its game-changing Celebrity Flora a few years ago, it has continued to generate buzz in expedition cruise circles.
As well as being the most “energetic” ship of its kind sailing the islands, the 100-person luxury floating masterpiece that meets nature is also the first in the region to house oceanographic research equipment. called “Oceanscope”. With the ability to measure sea surface temperatures, this advanced technology can help scientists make predictions of weather conditions such as El Niño and La Niña.
As a totally unique destination, life onboard Celebrity Flora revolves around the environment. From presentations and activities led by marine scientists to “glamping” outdoors under the stars (a first for Galapagos), guests are immersed in thought-provoking experiences.
Small, intimate cruises focused on the environment are also a signature of Coral Expeditions. For over 35 years, this Australian company has stayed close to home and developed a niche market for inquisitive minds.
“In recent years, we have seen a desire for more guests to engage in hands-on travel experiences in the science engagement elements that result in a cause or greater good. In response, we have developed, in partnership with the Australian Geographic team and others, a series of ‘citizen science’ trips. says Jeff Gillies, Commercial Director, Coral Expeditions.
Scheduled for October 2023, the next citizen science trip with Australian Geographic will “combine environmental impact with an expedition vacation” to explore the outer reefs of the Great Barrier Reef.
Limited to 66 guests and researchers, it’s an opportunity for people to work alongside scientists on projects like helping to record species of sea creatures and conserving sea turtles at a rehab on Fitzroy Island.
Aquatic to Astronomical
The science of the night sky fascinates many, and in recent years there has been a concentration of cruise lines coordinating itineraries to give guests unobstructed views of the Northern Lights – those dancing lights that dazzle the sky. deep within us. the northern hemisphere.
Quark Expeditions offers a wonderful Northern Lights cruise every September through Iceland and East Greenland; Cunard sails to Southampton to explore the picture-perfect Norwegian coast on their 12-day ‘Norway and Northern Lights’ voyage, and Aurora Expeditions has a jewel in the crown, a 22-day ‘Northern Lights Explorer’ itinerary each September. year spanning the Norwegian coast as well as eastern Greenland, Iceland and even the Faroe Islands – all possible hotspots for the Northern Lights.
When it comes to a phenomenon like a solar eclipse, planning ahead to position a ship in the perfect spot takes ingenuity. In April 2023, a hybrid eclipse, the rarest of all eclipses, will occur and be visible in Australia for the first time in almost 1000 years.
In partnership with the Astronomical Society of Australia, the five nights of P&O, “Ningaloo king of the eclipse cruise”, will give “umbraphiles” (people who like eclipses) experienced or novice, the best possible chance to experience this incredible moment. back in time and be immersed in stories and presentations surrounding the eclipse.
Coral Expeditions also offers a special 13-night Solar Eclipse Expedition, departing from Darwin and sailing along the upper end of Australia’s west coast to the gloriously remote Australian territory of Ashmore and Cartier Islands. Guest presenters from the Australian Geographic Society, Professor Fred Watson AM, a pioneer in the use of fiber optics in astronomy, and Marnie Ogg, founder of Australia’s Dark Sky Alliance will bring another dimension to what will be an incredible expedition.
The sky really is the limit when it comes to science cruising.