Unique and Adventure Cruise Lines

Looking for a historic or geographical adventure? These smaller lines offer unique experiences visiting areas and ports less travelled by the major lines. Their focus is on fascinating itineraries rather than onboard luxury though some ships feature high end creature comforts.

Hapag-Lloyd Hurtigruten Lindblad Expeditions Un-Cruise
Star Clippers Voyages of Discovery Voyages to Antiquity Windstar Cruises

Other Cruise Genres:

Family and Casual Lines Premium Lines Luxury Lines River Cruise Lines

 

Hapag-Lloyd Cruises

Considering a Hapag-Lloyd Cruise? Call 800-427-8473, extension 7961 for friendly, helpful and expert advice.

Highlights:Hapag-Lloyd is a German-owned cruise line with a long history and a mostly German clientele. The two oldest ships are adventure vessels able to sail the coldest waters. While the three newer ships are more luxurious and focused on cultural travel all over the world, English is not commonly spoken on the ships and tours and cultural lectures are offered primarily in German. The line has recently added some bi-lingual sailings to expand their market. Food and services are also designed for the primarily German cruisers. That said, the level of luxury and the accommodations are excellent in the Columbus 2, Europa and Europa 2. And the Bremen and Hanseatic are excellent choices for Expedition sailings. Hapag-Lloyd tends to be more formal and traditional than American-based lines. The Europa is consistently rated as one of the most luxurious of cruise ships. Pricing includes taxes. Gratuities are not required. Shore excursions and drinks are not included in pricing.

The Crowd:  Well-educated, wealthy and conservative, the clientele is mostly German-speaking and older, but there are a few families and children on the newer, non-expedition ships.

Ships:
Bremen (built-1990): 188 passengers, 7,000 tons
Hanseatic (built-1991): 184 passengers, 8,000 tons
Europa (built-1999): 408 passengers, 29,000 tons
Europa 2 (built-2013): 516 passengers, 43,000 tons

Regions Offered: Europe, North America, Middle East, South America, Caribbean, Far East, South Pacific, Africa, Antarctica and Arctic.

Category Stars Comments
Children's Programs ★★ The three newer ships offer a Kinder Club. The expedition ships do not offer children's programs.
Luxury ★★★★★
Cuisine ★★★★★
Service ★★★★★
Adventure ★★★★★
Price $$$$-$$$$$  
Star Ratings: ★★★★★ - World Class | ★★★★ - Excellent | ★★★ - Very Good | ★★ - Good | - Fair

Hurtigruten

Considering a Hurtigruten Cruise? Call 800-427-8473, extension 7961 for friendly, helpful and expert advice.

Highlights: Hurtigruten (meaning fast way) provides transportation to locals between Norway's coastal cities as well as cargo shipping services. And many of the passengers on the ship are still local point-to-point travelers. But the line has expanded its marketing to offer international visitors the opportunity to experience the local scenic voyage. And more recently the itineraries have expanded beyond Norway. The key to enjoying a Hurtigruten cruise is to understand that it is not a traditional cruise. Ships are practical and well-designed, but space is limited. Cuisine is fresh, local and well-prepared, but not fancy. And entertainment is very limited. It is assumed that you came to see the scenery. The line has a no-tipping policy. Alcoholic beverages are expensive, but the line allows passengers to bring their own.

The Crowd:  Mostly local Norwegians, but with a good portion of cruisers from all over the world.

Ships:
Nordstjernen (built-1960): 164 passengers, 2500 tons
Lofoten (built-1964): 171 passengers, 2700 tons
Narvik (built-1982): 312 passengers, 6250 tons
Vesteralen (built-1983): 312 passengers, 6250 tons
Richard With (built-1993): 490 passengers, 11,000 tons
Kong Harald (built-1993): 490 passengers, 11,000 tons
Nordlys (built-1994): 482 passengers, 11,000 tons
Nordkapp (built-1996): 490 passengers, 11,000 tons
Polarlys (built-1996): 482 passengers, 12,000 tons
Nordnorge (built-1997): 464 passengers, 11,000 tons
Finnmarken (built-2002): 639 passengers, 16,000 tons
Trollfjord (built-2002): 646 passengers, 16,000 tons
Midnatsol (built-2003): 674 passengers, 15,000 tons
Fram (built-2007): 318 passengers, 13,000 tons

Regions Offered: Norwegian Coast, Baltic, Arctic, Antarctic and a few itineraries in other parts of the world.

Category Stars Comments
Children's Programs NA None offered.
Luxury ★★ Space is limited on these practical ships, but they are well-designed.
Cuisine ★★★ Local, simple, fresh and healthy.
Service ★★★
Adventure ★★★ Mostly Norwegian Coast and Arctic with a few itineraries to the Antarctic and other areas.
Price $$$$  
Star Ratings: ★★★★★ - World Class | ★★★★ - Excellent | ★★★ - Very Good | ★★ - Good | - Fair

Lindblad Expeditions / National Geographic

Considering a Lindblad Expedition / National Geographic Cruise? Call 800-427-8473, extension 7961 for friendly, helpful and expert advice.

Highlights:Lindblad Expeditions is the premier expedition cruise line and since 2004 has had a close association with National Geographic which provides naturalists, scientists and photographers as part of the ship staff. While quite pricey, the cost does not provide luxury, though a few cabins are large and well-appointed. What you pay for is the incredible experts provided on-board, along with the most eco-friendly cruise line in the world. Most ships have professional photographers, naturalists and underwater naturalists who demonstrate, narrate and lead expeditions for the guest to discover some of the world's most remote and fascinating locations. While there are no children's programs, during school holidays, families are common and family-oriented expeditions are offered. Lindblad owns 5 ships and leases 5 others for expeditions in Asian and European destinations. If you are planning to take a Lindblad cruise you should be ready for an active and fascinating journey.

The Crowd:  Mostly retired, but with a good mix of families during school holidays.

Ships:
Sea Cloud (built-1931): 58 passengers - Mediterranean, Caribbean - Tall Ship
National Geographic Sea Endeavor (built-1966): 96 passengers, 3100 tons - Galapagos
National Geographic Sea Bird (built-1981): 62 passengers - Alaska, Sea of Cortez
National Geographic Sea Lion (built-1981): 62 passengers - Alaska, Sea of Cortez
National Geographic Sea Explorer (built-1982): 148 passengers, 6500 tons
*Jahan (built-2011): 48 passengers - Mekong River
National Geographic Islander (built-2013): 48 passengers - Galapagos
*Delfin II (built-2013): 28 passengers - Amazon River
*Lord of the Glens (built-2013): 48 passengers - Scotland

Regions Offered: Alaska, Antarctic, Arctic, Mekong, Galapagos, Amazon, Central America, Baja California, Scotland, Greenland, West Africa, Columbia / Snake Rivers, Mediterranean

Category Stars Comments
Children's Programs ★★ Family expedition activities during school holidays.
Luxury ★★★
Cuisine ★★★ Basic, fresh, sustainable and locally sourced.
Service ★★★★ Excellent service especially with regard to expeditions.
Adventure ★★★★★
Price $$$$$  
Star Ratings: ★★★★★ - World Class | ★★★★ - Excellent | ★★★ - Very Good | ★★ - Good | - Fair

Star Clippers

Considering a Star Clippers Cruise? Call 800-427-8473, extension 7961 for friendly, helpful and expert advice.

Highlights:The sister ships, Star Clipper and Star Flyer, have the tallest masts in the world and the Royal Clipper is the largest tall ship built in the last century. Comfort and adventure, rather than luxury, are the focus on Star Clippers. Entertainment is minimal, but water sports like snorkeling and kayaking are available directly from the ship. While sailing under wind power is the attraction, there are times when this is not possible, so the ship has engines to make sure you get where you are going. Pricing currently includes airfare (Aug '13). Gratuities and beverages are additional.

The Crowd:  More Europeans than Americans with an average age in the 50s. Announcements are in English, French and German.

Ships:
Star Flyer (built-1991): 170 passengers, 2298 tons - sailing vessel
Star Clipper (built-1992): 170 passengers, 2298 tons - sailing vessel
Royal Clipper (built-2000): 227 passengers, 5000 tons - sailing vessel

Regions Offered: Mediterranean, Caribbean, Northern Europe, Costa Rica/Panama Canal

Category Stars Comments
Children's Programs NA None offered.
Luxury ★★★
Cuisine ★★★
Service ★★★
Adventure ★★★
Price $$$-$$$$  
Star Ratings: ★★★★★ - World Class | ★★★★ - Excellent | ★★★ - Very Good | ★★ - Good | - Fair

Un-Cruise

Considering a Un-Cruise Cruise? Call 800-427-8473, extension 7961 for friendly, helpful and expert advice.

In 2013, Un-Cruise Adventures came into being combining two brands based in Alaska during the cruise season there. While not the ultimate in expedition cruising, it provides a reasonably priced adventure experience at two levels of luxury and is adding a seventh ship focused on history and culture. The American Safari ships (whose names all start with Safari) offer a more luxurious yacht experience, while the Innersea Discoveries ships (with names starting with Wilderness) are more basic and rugged. Both sets of ships are small, comfortable and friendly and allow guests to get very close to nature. The Un-Cruise experience offers eco-tourism on the water, locally sourced cuisine, and rugged activities in stunningly beautiful wilderness.

The Crowd:  Well-traveled active adults from 30 to 70 with an interested in nature. Some families during school holidays.

Ships:
Wilderness Explorer (built-1976): 76 passengers, 186 feet
Safari Voyager (built-1982): 64 passengers, 174 feet
SS Legacy (built-1983): 88 passengers, 192 feet
Safari Endeavor (built-1983): 86 passengers, 232 feet
Wilderness Adventurer (built-1984): 60 passengers, 160 feet
Wilderness Discoverer (built-1992): 76 passengers, 176 feet
Safari Quest (built-1992): 22 passengers, 120 feet
Safari Explorer (built-1998): 36 passengers, 145 feet

Regions Offered: Alaska, Hawaii, Columbia and Snake Rivers, Sea of Cortez (Baha California)

Category Stars Comments
Children's Programs NA None offered.
Luxury ★★⇒★★★
Cuisine ★★★⇒★★★★ Locally sourced, simple and fresh.
Service ★★★★
Adventure ★★★★ Close to nature and visiting Alaska and other destinations around the Pacific.
Price $$$⇒$$$$  
Star Ratings: ★★★★★ - World Class | ★★★★ - Excellent | ★★★ - Very Good | ★★ - Good | - Fair

Voyages of Discovery

Considering a Voyages of Discovery Cruise? Call 800-427-8473, extension 7961 for friendly, helpful and expert advice.

Highlights:The mid-sized Voyager offers moderately priced cruises to far-flung places with an emphasis on ports and basic accommodations. So for a price that you would pay for a contemporary line, you can have a real cultural adventure and visit small and unique ports. Voyages of Discovery fills a niche that is unique. On board activities and entertainment are limited and not exceptional. It is important to lower your cruising expectations in order to appreciate the adventure.

The Crowd:  Older clientele with a majority British on many itineraries.

Ships:
Voyager (built-1990): 540 passengers, 16,000 tons

Regions Offered: Mediterranean, Northern Europe, Caribbean, South America, Antarctica, Middle East, Indian Ocean, Far East, Africa

Category Stars Comments
Children's Programs NA None offered.
Luxury Basic facilities and mostly small cabins.
Cuisine ★★ Good basic food.
Service ★★
Adventure ★★★★
Price $$  
Star Ratings: ★★★★★ - World Class | ★★★★ - Excellent | ★★★ - Very Good | ★★ - Good | - Fair

Voyages to Antiquity

Considering a Voyages to Antiquity Cruise? Call 800-427-8473, extension 7961 for friendly, helpful and expert advice.

Highlights:Voyages to Antiquity offers longer sailings to historic ports, with enrichment and education as the focus rather than recreation or entertainment. Wine and beer at lunch and dinner, many shore excursions, and gratuities are included in all pricing. Air and hotel stays are offered in advertised pricing, but can be unbundled. Voyages to Antiquity offers an inclusive experience to clients wanting a cultural adventure, enrichment lectures, fine food, and friendly service. While not luxurious, the ship is more than comfortable and welcoming. Single cabins are available.

The Crowd:  Older and well-educated, the cultural and historical focus of the cruises attracts the intellectually curious.

Ships:
Aegean Odyssey (built-1973): 378 passengers, 11,500 tons

Regions Offered: Mediterranean, Middle East, Indian Ocean, Southeast Asia

Category Stars Comments
Children's Programs NA None offered.
Luxury ★★★
Cuisine ★★★ Local recipes add to the cultural experience.
Service ★★★★
Adventure ★★★
Price $$$-$$$$  
Star Ratings: ★★★★★ - World Class | ★★★★ - Excellent | ★★★ - Very Good | ★★ - Good | - Fair

Windstar Cruises

Considering a Windstar Cruise? Call 800-427-8473, extension 7961 for friendly, helpful and expert advice.

Highlights:Windstar offers adventurous cruises, luxury, and exceptional service on a small ship. Their three current ships are sailing ships, but in 2014 and 2015 they will add 3 small motor vessels which they are purchasing from Seabourn, allowing them to expand their itineraries, but remain a small ship company. While limited in their facilities, Windstar offers the highest level of luxury and service. Prices are moderate because the line does not include extras such as air, alcohol or shore excursions in the basic fare. However, water sports which are accessible from their sea platform are complimentary. All of Windstar's current vessels are at least 20 years old, but they are exceptionally well-maintained and regularly renovated.

The Crowd:  Most come from English speaking countries and are well-educated and well-off.

Ships:
Wind Star (built-1986): 148 passengers, 5350 tons
Wind Spirit (built-1988): 148 passengers, 5350 tons
Wind Surf (built-1989): 312 passengers, 15,000 tons
Star Pride (built-1988 and christened the Seabourn Pride, joined fleet-May 2014): 212 passengers, 10,000 tons
Star Legend (built-1991 and christened the Seabourn Legend, joining fleet-May 2015): 212 passengers, 10,000 tons
Star Breeze (built-1989 and christened the Seabourn Spirit, joining fleet-May 2015): 212 passengers, 10,000 tons

Regions Offered: Mediterranean, Caribbean, Baltic, Central America. Coming in 2014 Tahiti

Category Stars Comments
Children's Programs NA None offered.
Luxury ★★★★ The finest accomodations of any sailing cruise ships.
Cuisine ★★★★ Fresh fish is purchased whenever possible, so the seafood dishes are especially good.
Service ★★★★★
Adventure ★★★
Price $$$$  
Star Ratings: ★★★★★ - World Class | ★★★★ - Excellent | ★★★ - Very Good | ★★ - Good | - Fair