New Technology Bolsters the Future of Expedition Cruising

Courtesy Windstar

Cutting-edge tech is making expedition cruising both cleaner and cooler.

Crystal Endeavor

The new 100-suite ship from Crystal was made for extremes: The polar-class vessel is tough enough to sail through the ice off Antarctica, yet gentle enough to glide over coral reefs in tropical destinations, thanks to anchorless mooring technology. Wherever they cruise, guests can explore their surroundings with the ship’s submarine, two helicopters, 18 Zodiacs, and a host of water toys.

Related: How to Plan an Antarctica Cruise Aboard These Luxury Ships

World Navigator

The first vessel from new adventure brand Atlas Ocean Voyages is also using the latest tech to protect the marine life around it: The 98-cabin ship—which will make its premiere sailings this July with routes in the Aegean and Black Seas—is equipped with an innovative hydro-jet propulsion system that can quietly steer it forward at a gentle five knots, allowing for closer encounters with fish and other undersea life. A hybrid power-management system also means the Navigator consumes as little as one-fifth the fuel of conventional cruise liners.

Windstar’s Star Plus Class Ships

Windstar Cruises’ latest renovations might be the most impressive large-scale recycling project ever seen on the high seas. Rather than commission new, larger ships to replace its existing vessels Legend, Breeze, and Pride, the company sliced each of the boats in half and inserted an 84-foot midsection, making room for 50 additional suites, two restaurants, a fitness center, and a spa. New engines that run on cleaner fuel have also been installed.

Seabourn Venture

Seabourn’s first purpose-built expedition ship will soon debut with a Polar Class 6 designation, making it capable of cruising in diverse environments, from the Amazon to the Arctic Circle, where it will debut this December with a series of Norwegian Winter voyages. Made for adventurers, the 264-passenger vessel will have two custom submarines that can reach depths of nearly 1,000 feet.

Ponant’s Le Commandant Charcot

The world’s first hybrid-electric icebreaker cruise liner will be able to sail up to eight hours on zero-emissions electricity and the rest of the time on cleaner-burning LNG (liquefied natural gas). The 135-stateroom ship—which will be capable of sailing to the true geographic North Pole, as well as to more remote parts of the Antarctic such as Peter I Island— also comes equipped with high-tech diversions, including a hovercraft, a hot air balloon, and a fleet of snowmobiles.

Related: The Best Luxury Cruising Experiences of the Year

Silver Origin

In the Galápagos, this 100-passenger expedition vessel—Silversea Cruises’ first to be customized for a specific destination—has a dynamic positioning system that allows it to move over delicate seabed ecosystems without dropping anchor or disturbing the coral reefs and marine life below. The Origin is also a plastic-bottle-free ship, thanks to an onboard purification system that turns sea water into drinking water via reverse osmosis.