Alaska is arguably the favorite choice for cruise travelers looking to get their feet wet in expedition cruising. When it comes to the natural world (biology, ecology, geology, climatology etc.), Alaska has it all, and there’s no better way to capture nature’s magnificence. For one thing, small passenger vessels or larger expedition yachts are small enough to navigate areas that normally only shore excursion craft could tackle. Also, they almost always anchor overnight in these remote coves so that, at dawn or dusk — when most animals wander down to the shore to hunt — you’ll be right there to capture a glimpse from your vessel’s deck or through your cabin window. If the action doesn’t take place right next to your ship, there undoubtedly will be daily Zodiac excursions.

When to go?
The primary season runs from May through August. During the edges and on the shoulders of that season, many expedition operators extend the wilderness experience into the milder climes of British Columbia.

What to do ashore?
It’s all about nature. You can hike to see a glacier or, on one of the ship’s Zodiac crafts, get close enough to icebergs to hear the snap, crackle and pop of 1000 year-old air bubbles as they’re released from the ice, go kayaking (perhaps with a seal catching a ride on the back of your boat) or cruise along the shoreline to see bears and sea lions from a safe distance. You can enjoy visiting with Tlingkit Indians in their own villages or watching for whales from the deck, staying up late as twilight lasts past 10 p.m.



While there are voyages in the Brazilian Amazon, Peru is more popular and accessible. Travelers fly to Lima before connecting with flights into the jungle-locked city of Iquitos (the only way in or out is by airplane or boat; there are no roads connecting Iquitos with the rest of Peru). Ships embark in Iquitos or the newer port just upriver in Nauta.

When to go?
The weather remains consistent year round in the Amazon Basin so you can have your pick of months to visit. The water levels do fluctuate up to an astounding 40 feet! From Decemberuntil May, being the high-water season and the rest of the year low-water season. High-water season floods the forest, allowing you to move deeper into it via skiff and zip around smaller tributaries that otherwise are inaccessible. Low-water season permits more onshore walks.

What to do ashore?
Depending on water levels, you could take walks through the rain forest to look for monkeys, sloths, insects and fascinating plant life. Most trips also stop at small villages along the way, where you can interact with locals by visiting their schools and buying handicrafts. But, plan on little time ashore because the voyages tend to focus on the river itself, with motorboat rides along the water’s edge to look for bird life.



Little-known among most travelers, except in expeditionary circles, Arctic Norway — specifically the archipelago of Svalbard — sits higher north than Siberia or Alaska, providing some of the most spectacular scenery on the globe. Like Antarctica, the region requires ships with ice-strengthened hulls and has a very short visitor season. Most tours depart from the Norwegian cities of Tromso or Longyearbyen (though some expeditions embark in Iceland or Greenland) and generally weave among the islands of the Svalbard archipelago, including the largest, Spitsbergen. With a few exceptions, they generally make landfall at all of the same noteworthy spots.

When to Go?
The cruising season is short — generally June through August — because it’s too risky to try to navigate through pack ice other times of year. Ships generally can reach the most northerly points in July, increasing your chances of seeing polar bears.

What to Do Ashore?
You can take naturalist-led guided hikes across the spongy tundra to see arctic foxes in their brown coats, molting caribou, lazing walruses and the remnants of this region’s beluga whale-hunting history. Carpets of wildflowers add a surprising burst of color against an otherwise brown and grey landscape. Zodiac rides take you close to icebergs — and to the smaller chunks of ice known as “bergy bits” and “growlers” — bobbing on the chilly water. You’ll also zoom by the steep, rocky cliffs of islands inhabited by thousands of sea birds, making a cacophony of noise that cannot be imagined.



Could there be a more inhospitable spot on Earth than Antarctica? Unless you’re a penguin, orca or seal – probably not. But what could make a place more desirable to the traveler looking for the under-visited than that? There is no native population in Antarctica or within 500 miles of its coasts, yet, the sea abounds with life.

Our expedition team used to run a trio of Antarctic voyages – two out of Hobart, Tasmania, and one from Bluff, New Zealand – but our main trips were organized on posh Antarctica expeditions, with departures from Ushuaia and Buenos Aires. Generally speaking, South America is the preferred departure point, as it is closer to the region of Antarctica that is favored for cruise exploration.

When to Go?
Antarctica has a short cruising season, with harshly inhospitable weather the majority of the year. Being below the equator, the seasons are reversed, so the peak summer months of  November through February are the only times expeditionary travel is offered.

What to Do Ashore?
Antarctica is the juxtaposition of a rich biodiversity on the coast with the utter and spectacularly beautiful desolation of the Antarctic terrain. Expect to see whales of both toothed and baleen varieties, seals of multiple species, birds on the wing and waddling and diving penguins of varying species and sizes. Not to imply that human endeavors are slighted! You can expect to see various research stations, whose personnel will be surprisingly eager to discuss their work with you.



Famed evolutionary scientist Charles Darwin was a naturalist aboard survey ship H.M.S. Beagle, was fascinated by the variation of similar species evolving in nearby, but physically isolated islands. In the 20th century, Thor Heyerdahl reportedly uncovered shards of pottery in the Galapagos that, to him, suggested a match with shards from South American Indian archeological sites, leading him to the theory that the islands of the South Pacific were populated by ocean-crossing migrants from South America.

There is so much interest in the Galapagos in fact, that the government of Ecuador, which administers the islands, has designated 97 percent of them a protected national park, with tourism strictly controlled.

When to Go?
Because the Galapagos straddles the equator, the warm and tropical climate is relatively unchanging. Water temperatures are mild all year thanks to the varying movement of the Humboldt Current.

What to Do Ashore?
For the average eco-fascinated tourist, it’s all about being able to hike this unique biosphere, learn about the geology, come face to face with the islands unique species and learn firsthand what Darwin deduced, seeing his epiphanies through your own eyes. For those who dare to brave the unpredictable temperatures of the water, there is the draw of snorkeling or diving with sea lions, whales and schools of hammerhead sharks.



At a geologically infantile six million years of age, it’s one of Earth’s youngest seas, a long narrow body of water separating the Baja California peninsula from the main part of Mexico. On many maps it’s called the Gulf of California; on others, it’s printed with the more accurate Spanish name – Cortez.

It has also been called “the world’s largest fish trap,” as fish swept into it by tides and currents are often unable to find their way back to the Pacific through the narrow straits at the tip of Cabo San Lucas, where the Sea of Cortez meets the larger ocean. Or, perhaps they stay because of the rich and varied food chain, with an unusually abundant supply of plankton. At the top of the food chain are several varieties of whales, dolphins and pinnipeds (seals and sea lions), not to mention sharks and giant Pacific manta rays.

The islands of the Sea of Cortez are stark and arid and show the twisted striations and folded and refolded strata that reflect the regions tortured geological past. The biodiversity ashore may be subtler than in the undersea realm, but it is similarly rich in flora (desert plants, including varieties of cactus and succulents) and fauna (mainly birds and reptiles).

When to Go?
Most lines sail the Sea of Cortez between the months of December and April to avoid the hottest of the summer months, but also because this time frame is the peak of whale-watching season. Whales are found year-round in the Sea of Cortez, but gray whales migrate there annually to birth their calves between December and March.

What to Do Ashore?
Whale-watching is of prime interest to expedition cruisers in the Baja. By Zodiac (within the limits of environmental law), it’s possible to get incredibly close to these beautiful leviathans and their offspring. There are ample opportunities for both scuba and snorkeling; up-close and personal encounters with sea lions at the Los Islotes – Mexican National park. It is a sea lion colony and diving with sea lions is on top of everyone’s list. For those who prefer enjoying their explorations without getting wet, there are nature hikes that feature naturalist discussions of the geology and ecology, concentrating on desert flora and close-up encounters with its birds and reptiles.



The region is, in reality, a combination of two main areas: the large island nations of Australia and New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands (Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia, spread-out groups of small islands differentiated by the indigenous peoples that populate them).

South Pacific expedition cruises offers a balance of culture and nature. The islands relative isolation has protected native traditions there more so than in many other regions. Numerous shore excursions take cruise travelers to visit those whose ancestral lifestyles are part of their day-to-day functioning, rather than a demonstration to educate First World visitors. Natural science exploratory forays in the Pacific Islands focus heavily on marine biology, with the biggest emphasis on coral reefs.

Australian itineraries feature a mix of nearly all scientific disciplines, with the proportion of elements of that mix dictated by the region cruised: Trips along the eastern coastline will focus most heavily on the marine sciences, due to the proximity of the Great Barrier Reef, with rainforest ecology a close second. Australia’s northern and southern coasts provide striking scenic and geologic viewing opportunities.

When to Go?
Pacific Island and Aussie destinations lie south of the equator, and, because the seasons are reversed, our summer and autumn months (June through November) are prime for visiting. It rains less frequently during this period, and there’s a reduced possibility of tropical cyclones. Because of its distance from the equator, Tasmanian itineraries are scheduled at the beginning and end of the southern hemisphere’s summer (March and December), bracketing the Antarctica season to minimize cold weather issues. Cruises along the Kimberley tend to run late April through early September.

What to Do Ashore?
In the Pacific Islands, snorkeling is an obvious choice. There, you’ll find some of the clearest waters in the world, especially in the lagoons of islands and atolls sheltered by circular barrier reefs. The region is also a mecca for scuba divers. Not only are the reefs on the outside of the lagoons spectacular, but they also are populated with awe-inspiring sea creatures of enormous proportions — sharks and manta rays, to name a few. Because these islands were key to the Pacific theater of World War II, there is much in the way of military wreckage; planes, destroyers and tanks beckon underwater explorers. WW II historical artifacts can be found ashore as well, adding additional interest for the expeditionary history buff. The Pacific Islands are also treasure troves for Polynesian, Micronesian and Melanesian native cultures, and expedition cruises offer ample opportunities for passengers to immerse themselves in those cultural experiences.



For decades the White Sea was a forbidden area and today because of its geographic isolation it remains a region of great mystery. During our set voyage Argiros team will lead you on Archangelsk and Solovetsky Islands – remember it was the Solovetsky Island that Stalin built one of its infamous Gulags, the ‘Red Army’ established a vital submarine base and an important shipbuilding industry was founded. However, the most fascinating aspect of these islands is the 16th century Solovetsky Monastery. This vast medieval fortress with its fascinating and turbulent history is remarkably well preserved. It is believed that Vikings, both English and Norman came to the White Sea to fish and trade for furs up until the 13th century when global cooling made navigation difficult. In 1553 captain Richard Chancellor was shipwrecked in the White Sea whilst seeking a northern sea route to China. Never one to miss an opportunity, he negotiated trade privileges with Ivan the Terrible which opened diplomatic relations between England and Russia and resulted with a monk from the ancient Nikol-Karelski Monastery becoming the first Russian ambassador to England.

When to go
The best time to explore White sea area is from end of May until end of August due to the warmer climate and fabulous experience of White nights during summer time.

What to do ashore?
Beginning our journey in Norway’s northern port of Tromso we also have the opportunity of exploring the region of the North Cape as well as Murmansk, the largest city north of the Arctic Circle in the world. Here we will visit the cemetery of the officers and soldiers of the Allied Forces who bravely manned the convoys during WW II. The region is awash with intriguing history, much of which both ancient and modern will be brought to life by our guest speakers.

Hoping our short introduction to expedition cruise helped you to decide and pick your destination, we wish you enjoyable vacation!

Your Argiros team.