Wednesday, December 10, 2008

From Pole to Pole Onboard the M/S Expedition

Welcome to the M/S Expedition blog. Over the coming months this space will be updated regularly covering everything to do with G.A.P Adventures new ship the M/S Expedition. We will discuss the massive retro fit process that is going on at the moment, we will discover and look deeper into the destinations that the ship will travel too and I will answer questions and give detailed insight into what it is like to take an expedition trip onboard a G.A.P Adventures expedition cruise ship.

In early June, G.A.P Adventures announced the purchase of a new ice class ship to replace the famous M/S Explorer. While the Explorer can never be replaced we have taken this opportunity to rebuild a ship to make it more comfortable for our passengers and more efficient in the zodiac and technical operations. This multi-million dollar renovation is taking place in Rauma, Finland. The Finnish are some of the premiere ship builders in the world and build new ships there very often for some of the largest cruise lines in the world.

The ship will be there for the entire renovation process departing in late March to head down to the Azores for her maiden voyage. We have put together an exciting and diverse set of itineraries onboard the M/S Expedition taking our passengers to some of the most remote and least visited destinations on the planet. We will explore each of these trips in greater detail over the next few months and we will have live updates from our staff working onboard the ship during the voyages.

The upcoming itinerary of the M/S Expedition is as follows:

Explore the Azores 10 Days

Located slap bang in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean this Portuguese outpost is filled with unique and in habituated wildlife. Including large numbers of endemic sea birds, large pods of dolphins and I have been told it is sperm whale central. Eight of the nine islands are volcanic with massive volcanic lakes and other geologic phenomenon rarely seen The islands were colonized in 1439 and served as a battle ground for pirates fighting against the king. There are 2 UNESCO heritage sites including the Town of Angra do Heroismo, the 400-year-old San Sebastião and San João Baptista fortifications are unique examples of military architecture and the island of Pico with its unique vineyards and local wine.

Departures: April 8th to April 17th, 2009 and April 17th to April 26th, 2009

United Kingdom - Britain, Ireland and Scotland May 2009

Britain & Ireland in Bloom 13 Days

Cruising along the the coast of Britain and Ireland exploring some of the remote islands and shorelines of the United Kingdom. This is a trip of exploration to visit local communities and geological and natural phenomenon around the coast. We will visit the Giant's Causeway, a UNESCO Heritage site a massive area of 40,000 interlocking basalt columns the highest being 12 meters. A trip to Ireland is not complete without a visit to a whiskey distillery as well as soaking in some local culture and history.

Departure: May 1st to May 13th

Wild Scotland 13 Days

One of the last real wildernesses, the peaceful and uninhabited Hebridean and Northern Isles are an undiscovered world of deserted white beaches, lofty and craggy cliffs bristling with birdlife. A profusion of wildflowers cover the landscape, clinging to cliffs, sprouting from the sand and covering the meadows.

Departure: May 13th to May 25th, 2009

Norway and the Arctic May through September 2009

Norwegian Fjords and Polar Bears 15 Days

Starting in the ancient town of Edinburgh we cruise up magnificent coast of the Noway to the Arctic sanctuary, Spitsbergen (Svalbard). This expedition explores some of the worlds most picturesque fjord systems carved out by glaciers millions of years ago. We will visit the ancient monuments of the Orkneys and the Shetland Islands making our way north the days get longers as we visit historic towns and cities on the Norwegian Coast. A voyage filled with maritime and viking history, magnificent scenery and as we arrive into Svalbard wildlife like no other.

Departure: May 25th to June 8th, 2009

Spitsbergen Expedition Cruise - The Realm of the Polar Bear 9 Days

Spitsbergen, or Svalbard as it is known in Norway, is still a relatively unknown archipelago of islands that offer travelers an opportunity to experience the best the Arctic has to offer!! While navigating through pack ice we can expect encounters with polar bears and the prey that they stalk; the bearded, ringed and harp seals.

We round out our days in the ice by going ashore to view the lugubrious walrus, the unique subspecies of reindeer found only here and the more than 160 species of flowering plants that paint the tundra in purple, red, pink, yellow and white. Vociferous seabirds - little auks, guillemots, black legged kittiwakes, northern fulmars gather to breed in massive colonies at the edge of these productive marine waters. Breathtaking mountain and glacial scenery provide the backdrop to your daily encounters in this Arctic wonderland of natural and cultural history.

Departures: Mondays Starting June 8th to August 31st, 2009

Arctic Highlights - Spitsbergen, Greenland and Iceland
14 Days

Sailing from Spitsbergen to Greenland, follow the ice's edge always on the lookout for wildlife. Navigating south, explore this remote landscape not only by ship but also on foot and by zodiac. This journey highlights the contrast and change in the Arctic as you move south finally ending in the "land of fire and ice" Iceland. Inuit villages, unique wildlife and remote destinations are some of the highlights on this truly unforgettable voyage through the Arctic.

Departure: September 8th to September 21st, 2009


Beginning on October 31st, 2009 we begin our Antarctic program.

Antarctica is a continent unlike any other, removed, remote and mysterious. We offer 4 different cruise itineraries that focus on the last continent. The tip is a true expedition without a set itinerary we take into account the local conditions and weather systems to offer our passengers as much time as possible in the ice, with the penguins and visiting scientific research stations.

Grand Voyage to Antarctica 24 Days

Our most extensive voyage to the sub Antarctic islands of the Falklands and South Georgia and past Elephant Islands towards the peninsula takes place in November. This allows for amazing light conditions as the sun is still low in the sky and the opportunity to view male elephant seals during their courtship period are two very unique opportunities you will have on this voyage. With extended periods and 2 landings a day this expedition is with out a doubt the best and most economical way to spend the most time possible in these remote and breathtaking destinations.

Departure: October 31st to November 23rd, 2009

Antarctica Classic 11 Days

Our most popular Antarctic itinerary starts and ends with the once in a lifetime experience that is the Drake Passage while enjoying lectures and soaring albatross. With at least 4 full days down in the peninsula see adelie, gentoo and chinstrap penguins. Fur, elephant, weddel and leopard seals as we navigate through the waters of the world's most southerly continent.

Departures: November 2009 through March 2010

Spirit of Shackleton 20 Days

Tracing the backwards the path of Sir Ernest Shackleton's infomous voyage we visit his grave in the restored whaling station of Grytviken in South Georgia. Taking place in the middle of the season we will encounter hundreds of thousands of King Penguins with their chicks. Finally spending the last few days exploring the South Shetland Islands and the peninsula. We hope to take an Antarctic plunge in the caldera of Deception Island.

Departures: December 2009 and January 2010

Beyond the Antarctic Circle 13 Days

This 13 day voyage allows for some extra time exploring the Antarctic Peninsula and we will attempt to pass the Antarctic circle. Having more time doing landings give more opportunity to enjoy the wildlife and the once in a lifetime experience.

Departure: March 2010