Cruise & Ferry Interiors 2020

1 0 0 INTERV IEW Designing authentic expedition adventures Our naturally adventurous spirit has propelled expedition cruising into the mainstream, but what constitutes a true expedition cruise ship? Jon Ingleton asks SunStone Ships’ Niels-Erik Lund T he expedition cruise market is booming as a growing number of operators look to cater for travellers who want to see and experience the world in new and more immersive ways. However, as the sector continues to expand, so does the definition of an expedition cruise. This is leading some to believe the term is becoming overused and that some ‘expedition’ ships may not offer expeditions at all. “We’re seeing several ‘expedition’ vessels entering the market that we would not consider to be expedition ships,” says Niels-Erik Lund, CEO of SunStone Ships, and a renowned expedition cruise expert. “For example, there are vessels with capacity for 300-400 passengers, but we don’t feel that you can provide a true expedition product with this size. We also see elegant upscale ships of 180-190 metres in length but, again, these are not the right type of ship for the expedition market.” For SunStone, there are several practical attributes that a ship must have to be considered an expedition cruise vessel. “Our main criterion is size – an expedition vessel should ideally be less than 125 metres in length, but certainly no longer than 140 metres,” says Lund. “This enables operators to sail into small bays and fjords in remote regions.” In addition, ships should carry fewer than 200 passengers. “Rules in places like the Antarctic prevent more than 100 passengers from landing onshore at a time,” he explains. “You can typically take half the passengers ashore while the other half are cruising in Zodiacs and then switch. This gives all passengers ample time to view and explore – both on the water and onshore – which boosts guest satisfaction levels.” Lund adds that the other top criteria for expedition ships are specialist onboard equipment and knowledgeable expedition staff. While desirable for many, luxury interiors are not essential. “I believe that the market can sustain many types of expedition cruise product”