Expedition cruises are all the rage, as they have the things travelers want these days: fewer crowds and off the beaten track adventures.
These odysseys take place in (relatively) small but powerful boats, built to navigate icy waters so they can reach remote destinations like Antarctica.
I was able to experience one of the most amazing additions to this class when it was docked in Greenwich, London, last week: Crystal Cruises’ new megayacht, Crystal Endeavor, the first expedition ship in the company’s fleet. It features 100 terrace suites with butler service for 200 passengers, a one-to-one crew-to-passenger ratio and, at 10,000 cubic feet per guest, claims to have the largest space per guest of any ship at sea. .
Crystal Endeavor, Crystal Cruises’ first expedition ship, is designed to travel to remote destinations
Looking at the shape of the ship: Palm Court, pictured, offers afternoon tea, cocktails, and floor-to-ceiling views
But it was actually the level of intimacy that caught my attention.
The ship, which made its maiden voyage on July 17, a 10-night circumnavigation of Iceland, has a wonderful homey feel that you just don’t get on the big ocean liners.
Upon arrival, I was greeted by my personal butler, who was available to take my luggage. He showed me my room and made sure I had everything I needed to settle in.
Crystal Endeavor made her maiden voyage on July 17 this year – a 10-night circumnavigation of Iceland. She is in the photo above docked during that trip in the Icelandic town of Seydisfjordur.
Samantha Lewis of MailOnline Travel stayed in a luxury suite, pictured, and had her own personal butler
Suites have king-size beds with crisp white lines, sleek marble bathrooms (Deluxe Suite pictured), and spacious private terraces
I stayed in one of the deluxe suites, which had a king-size bed with crisp white linens, an elegant marble bathroom, and, as with all other room types, a spacious private terrace.
Rooms are peppered with thoughtful details like binoculars and a heated cubicle for drying wet clothes outdoors.
I also loved finding a Nespresso coffee machine, a stylish Dyson hair dryer, and a free minibar with champagne.
Pictured above is the living room of Crystal Endeavor’s opulent Penthouse Suite.
Sometimes the best things happen by the sea – upstairs is the terrace and living room at the Crystal Endeavor Penthouse
The ship’s two-story sundeck houses a casual restaurant, swimming pool and hot tub.
Samantha dined at Waterside, which serves modern cuisine. She said the Valrhona chocolate dessert was a ‘fitting ending’
200 bunk beds
100 guest suites
One Owner Suite – 1,130 sq. Ft.
An ‘expedition’ penthouse – 985 square feet
Eight Penthouse Suites – 457 sq. Ft.
90 luxury suites – 304 square feet
Staff to guest ratio 1 to 1
Length: 539.7 ft (164.5 m)
Width: 76.7 ft (23.4 m)
Toys: submarine, 18 zodiacs, 14 kayaks
The attention to detail continues in other parts of the ship, where the common areas have been designed to show the exterior landscape.
Canary Wharf’s gleaming skyscrapers looked fabulous from the ship’s Palm Court social hub, which offers afternoon tea, cocktails and floor-to-ceiling views.
Then there’s the glass-roofed sun terrace, which houses a casual restaurant, pool, and hot tub. If the thought of diving in and dining doesn’t make your boat float, don’t worry.
The ship is not lacking in restaurants.
I had dinner at the main restaurant, Waterside, which serves modern cuisine like gin-cured salmon gravlax and fried Atlantic halibut.
Unsurprisingly, the service was impeccable and I now believe that all bread baskets should be served with truffle butter, and the Valrhona chocolate dessert was a fitting ending.
Meanwhile, specialty restaurants on board include Prego for traditional Italian food and Umi Uma for sushi and Japanese specialties.
Prego is also home to Crystal’s exclusive Vintage Room, which is an exclusive food and wine pairing experience.
After dinner, guests can head to the casino, an unusual addition to an expedition ship, and live music continues until late at Crystal Cove, a “gathering space” that Crystal Cruises describes as “the heart of the ship.” .
Others may opt for an early night knowing that a long day of adventure awaits them.
After all, the ship carries its own fleet of zodiacs (18 of them), a submarine, kayaks (14 of them), and snorkeling gear ready to help you explore the polar regions.
Crystal Cove, pictured, is a ‘gathering space’, the ‘heart of the ship’ where guests can enjoy cocktails and evening entertainment.
At 10,000 cubic feet per guest, Crystal Endeavor claims to have the largest space per guest of any ship at sea. In the photo is the Crystal Cove bar
Of course, living the good life on the high seas doesn’t come cheap.
An 11-night ‘wildlife and culture discovery’ of Africa and the Ivory Coast departing April 5, 2022, costs from £ 8,516 per person and a 19-night cruise to Antarctica from Ushuaia starts from £ 24,367.
But it’s worth the splurge if you want to travel to the ends of the earth in serious style.
A 19-night ‘Falklands, South Georgia & Antarctica Wildlife Expedition’ cruise departs Ushuaia on November 23, 2022 and includes stops in the Falkland Islands, South Georgia, Elephant Island, South Shetland Islands and the Antarctic Peninsula. Cruise-only prices from £ 24,367 per person for the 19 night cruise in a luxury terrace suite with butler service, all meals and drinks on board, most excursions, tips, port taxes, transfers abroad, One night in a hotel before the cruise in Buenos Aires. Aires and round trip from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia.
There is also an 11-night Antarctica cruise departing on December 12, 2022, costing £ 13,244.
An 11-night ‘African and Ivory Coast Wildlife and Cultural Discovery’ cruise departing on 5 April 2022 costs from £ 8,516 per person.
These prices include a luxury suite with terrace and butler service, all meals and drinks on board, most excursions, transfers abroad, port taxes and tips.
For more information call 020 7399 7603 or visit www.crystalcruises.co.uk.