A new brand of cruises is starting to blend luxury with more authentic travel experiences.
A range of luxury cruises to the planet’s least-visited destinations has been launched.
From 2022 travellers will be able to delve deeper into the Antarctic circle or discover some of Japan’s untouched regions. There’s also the opportunity to explore forbidden lands in Russia, which only opened to outsiders twenty years ago.
Authentic, immersive travel is set to be one of the key trends as we head into 2021 and tourism operators are creating innovative itineraries to meet demand for this.
Cruise companies in particular are seen to be rebranding and moving away from a typically sterile, polished and isolated type of holiday. Operators such as Scenic Eclipse are now asking to be seen as a way of accessing exclusive destinations, and connecting with remote communities and wildlife whilst still enjoying the luxurious lifestyle back on board.
“Scenic Eclipse allows you to explore further with highly personalised experiences,” says Lisa Bolton, General Manager of Product at Scenic. From exploring the volcanic regions in the Pacific Ring of Fire to seeing the historic west coast of Japan, the routes are planned to ensure “full immersion in the culture, nature and wildlife” of each destination.
These trips aren't cheap, with prices ranging from €13,000 to €28,000 - but the vessels do come with two helicopter pads and a six-seater onboard submarine.
Despite the cost, these aren't your traditional high-end cruises. Experts believe that the coronavirus pandemic has shifted our perception of what 'luxury' travel actually is.
"It seems that so many of us live in cities, we don't get to see the night sky as we should." Says Jenny Southan, founder of Globetrender. "And so actually, being able to see the Milky Way on a clear, dark night has become a luxury, so our perception of what luxury means is changing."
Although the boats are equipped with first-class finishes, the luxury of the trip is in the location rather than any more materialistic experiences.
Exploring Forbidden Russia
You can now discover some of the planet’s least visited regions in Russia’s Far East on a sailing trip through Chukotka and Kamchatka with Scenic. This area was off limits to foreigners following the second world war, as it was deemed a military zone. It wasn’t until 1991 that these restrictions were lifted.
Few people know about this region of the World and even less have been there, according to tourism provider Responsible Travel, who also run tours there. They say that boat is the only way to access some of the remote communities and abundance of wildlife living there.
Tourists can Kayak around the rocky cliff faces which are home to brown bears and reindeer, or learn about this region’s history during the Cold War.
The Kamchatka Peninsula made headlines around the world recently, after marine life began mysteriously washing up on the shores. The cause is still unknown, but the news also shone a light on one of the world’s most underrated regions.
The ecological disaster which took place in October is now under control, but has left the area in dire need of economic support - and tourism is one way the locals are hoping to kickstart a recovery.
Beyond the Antarctic Circle
As the polar ice caps continue to melt, excursions to the Arctic and Antarctic regions are rising in popularity. This is largely down to cruise providers with sustainability claims at the forefront of their mission.
“Nothing exists before you experience it,” says Nicolas Dubreuil, polar & tropical expedition expert and director of sustainability at luxury cruise provider, Ponant. He believes excursions like this have the power to drive sustainability by building greater awareness.
Scenic has now extended its cruise in the Antarctic, allowing tourists to delve deeper into the region. Tourists can venture out to the pristine frozen landscapes made up of never-ending icefields, towering rock faces, glistening blue icebergs and an incredible amount of unperturbed wildlife.
“An expert Discovery Team of up to 20 members is onboard to lead the Scenic Discovery excursions, and to host engaging lectures and education programs, while complimentary expedition parkas, water bottles and use of polar boots are available for all guests,” says Bolton.
As the travel industry begins to recover from the coronavirus pandemic, it’s clear that a new hybrid form of luxury cruises is being born, as more of us crave wide open spaces and authentic experiences.