Because of this, you might be forgiven for thinking expedition cruising is not for you: why would you embark on something that is potentially treacherous, away from creature comforts and outside your personal comfort zone?
But if you are imagining lengthy treks with crampons and pemmican, think again. Contrary to the definition above, on board your expedition vessel you can enjoy good food, drink and company, learning lots in the most inviting of relaxed environments.
So what exactly is an expedition cruise, and why would you choose one? We look at the key aspects of this exciting travel opportunity...
1. Small Ships
Expedition ships are by their very definition small. They need to access locations way off the beaten track, and to give passengers an easy opportunity to get ashore, which simply wouldn't be possible for large numbers. When we say small, this could be anything from a tiny vessel for a family group in Alaska, to something carrying 200 - 300 guests.
2. Unique access
Unless they are built specifically for warmer climes (for example Galapagos vessels) they will likely have ice strengthened hulls allowing for travel into the ice of the polar regions. Many will have advanced technology allowing them to sit in a specific location without lowering the anchor and damaging the fragile sea bed. And passengers can go ashore in locations where there is no tourist infrastructure in sturdy rubber RIBs (rigid inflatable boats) which can land you straight onto the beach, or come alongside a primitive landing stage.
Travelling off the beaten track, you will get to see some stunning scenery, in wilderness regions entirely untouched by modern civilisation - dramatic fjords, icy wastes, extraordinary volcanic peaks and alien rock formations will give you a spectacular travel experience.
In many of your destinations, you will see wildlife such as you have never seen before - not only an extraordinary variety of birds, but also marine mammals, fish, and amazing land creatures such as bears (grizzly, brown, polar and more, depending on destination). Naturalists travelling with you will help you to understand and learn more about everything you see.
Travelling as you are, away from the crowds, you will be introduced to cultures and peoples you have never met before, learning more about their lives, their customs, their music and their folklore.
6. Active adventure
If a sedentary travel experience is not for you, you have come to the right place. Activities on offer include hiking, cross-country skiing, exploring on the water in kayaks or on stand-up paddleboards, or right in the water as you snorkel or dive in search of marine wonders. Whatever your tastes, an expedition cruise is never dull.
So on a typical day you might rise at dawn for a particular adventure on the water, when the wildlife enjoys the cool of the morning, followed by a hearty breakfast and time ashore to hike or swim from the beach. Maybe a nap after lunch before setting forth in the zodiacs in the late afternoon. Back on board, as you enjoy a pre-dinner drink the expedition leader and his team review the sightings of the day, and lay out the options for tomorrow. Now it is time for an excellent dinner mulling over your plans, and a nightcap with new-found friends, before tumbling into bed, exhausted, and ready for the excitement to begin again in the morning.
To find out more about the exciting world of expedition cruising, visit the Mundy Adventures website or call us on 020 7399 7630.