In Pursuit of Luxury Expedition Experiences

Published on: July 8, 2024
Discover if a Seabourn expedition is the perfect match for you on this in-depth guide. From packing essentials, what's included, to so much more, let us take the guesswork out of planning your next adventure.

Have you cruised to some of the more highly frequented Pacific Islands and been looking for new immersive experiences? Are you seeking a more adventurous voyage compared to conventional cruises with their onshore excursions? Have you travelled on Seabourn previously and want to experience the newer expedition ships in their fleet? 

 Whatever the reason, to help you decide whether expedition cruising is the right choice for you, we have put together an in-depth guide based on our own experience on Seabourn’s Remote Shores of New Guinea and Indonesia expedition cruise on Seabourn Pursuit. From what to expect onboard and onshore, packing essentials, and so much more, we hope this guide can provide some hard-to-find answers before you sail on your own expedition voyage. 

For more information on expedition cruising, contact our knowledgeable reservations team at 1300 950 622.

*This article is based on the experience of a Seabourn expedition cruise onboard Seabourn Pursuit in the tropics, through Papua New Guinea and Indonesia. Some experiences will differ from one cruise to another, for example, on cold climate expedition cruises such as in Antarctica. The information contained within is correct as of June 2024 but subject to change at any time.   

Quick Links

What's Included? | What's Not Included? | How do Included Excursions Work? | What are Optional Excursions? | Onboard Lectures | Packing Guide | Dining Options | Pre & Post-Cruise Inclusions

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Offering a marvellous selection of itineraries to destinations across the globe, learn more about Seabourn expedition cruises today.

Seabourn Pursuit and Zodiacs

What is included on Seabourn expedition cruises?

Like Seabourn’s non-expedition ships, all dining venues are included complimentary on Seabourn Pursuit and Seabourn Venture. 

In addition, a wide selection of wines and spirits are also available at all times, and you may choose to have your mini bar replenished each day with either one bottle of wine and one bottle of spirit, or two bottles of wine. Moreover, a chilled bottle of French champagne will welcome you to your suite upon embarkation. 

Excursions are included at every stop on the itinerary and may include two activities per day. We provide an explainer of how excursions work on Seabourn expedition cruises below, so stay tuned! Snorkelling equipment is provided for guests’ use, along with a water bottle, and there are plenty of beach towels available to take off the ship with you.  

High-quality Swarovski binoculars are provided in your suite for your use, and unlimited Wi-Fi is available for one device per guest throughout the ship. The high-speed Wi-Fi is provided by Starlink and is more than adequate for everyday internet usage. Some may consider the switching of your Wi-Fi connection from one device to another a little inconvenient, for example from a laptop to a phone, but we didn’t find it too troublesome.  

A very limited number of scuba diving places are also available complimentary for certified divers.   

What is not included on a Seabourn expedition cruise?

Two types of optional excursions are available to purchase. A two-hour professionally led kayak tour costs US$200 per person, whilst a 45-minute underwater experience in Seabourn’s submersible costs US$900 per person. We’ll dive into what happens in each of these optional excursions later in the guide. 

The finest of wines are available for purchase for that special treat, and your Wi-Fi package can be upgraded for use on up to four devices, and to allow streaming video, at an additional cost.  

How do Included Excursions Work?

Guests are assigned one of six different groups for the entire cruise, identified by the coloured sticker on their key card. Zodiac embarkation times are scheduled by group, and the order of the groups rotates daily so that no guest is on the first Zodiac departure every day, allowing everyone the opportunity for a later start.  

What activities should I expect?

Typically, there are two activities per day wherever possible. For example, in more tropical climates, the morning may see you visiting a remote village, followed by an afternoon of snorkelling, with lunch onboard the ship in between. In colder climates like Antarctica, the morning may offer a landing to visit a penguin colony, while whale watching could be offered in the afternoon.

Be mindful that there will likely be a mix of dry (e.g. jetty) and wet (e.g. beach) landings on your cruise. Snorkelling will be offered from a beach access point wherever possible. Don’t be surprised to see a Seabourn beach bar popup offering a welcome cold beverage. 

Sometimes beach access may not be possible, in which case snorkelling will be made available between two stationary Zodiacs; In those instances, you will likely not be able to place your feet on the ground at any point during snorkelling. Be sure to consider your own fitness level and ability to do certain excursions comfortably. The Expedition Team will be on hand throughout the entire excursion and will gladly assist with anything you might need.

Plenty of beach towels are also available daily for you to take with you on the Zodiac. Zodiacs are stored on the top deck of the ship and are lowered into the water, and retrieved, by the onboard cranes. 

Seabourn Pursuit Zodiacs

What happens after your shore excursions for the day?

After and in between excursions, your Seabourn-provided snorkelling equipment can be stored in your personal cubby hole on deck 3, where embarkation and disembarkation of the Zodiacs occurs. Deck 3 also houses two ‘mud rooms’, one on each side of the ship, providing shower hoses to rinse off your shoes and equipment at the end of your adventure.

Additionally, a recap and briefing session is held usually at 5pm or 6pm in the Seabourn Discovery Centre. This session is also live-streamed to your suite, a nice option after an active day if you wish to relax with a drink and room service rather than attend the lecture theatre in person. 

This briefing session is a crucial part of your day as the Expedition Leader recaps the day's events and outlines the detailed plan for the following day. Expedition schedules need to remain fluid due to tides and weather, so this session is vital to understanding the following day’s plan and will provide you with the disembarkation time for your group if it is an expedition day. 

What are the Optional Excursions?

Kayak Tour

Seabourn Pursuit and Seabourn Venture have eight double kayaks for use by guests (plus two more for expedition guides), which are available at US$200 per person for approximately a two-hour excursion. The kayak tours are led by an expedition guide and are at a relaxed pace. A Zodiac also escorts each tour for safety.

Submersible Experience

Seabourn Submersible

Both expedition ships also have two six-seater submersibles, which are available at US$900 per person, for a 45-minute excursion. The Dutch-built US$5m submersibles are operated by specially trained expedition guides, and whilst they are designed to descend to a depth of 300m, many dives are around the 30-50m mark. The submersible is removed from its garage on deck 3 by a winch and lowered into the water, and guests are then transported to the submersible by Zodiac and descend into the vehicle through a hatch on the top. 

 Three guests are seated in each of two glass bubble viewing areas situated at either end of the vehicle, and the pilot is seated in the middle, making a total of seven people, the maximum allowed. The glass is thickened, and items in view will appear somewhat closer and smaller than they are. You will be diving in places where people have potentially not dived before, therefore it might not be known what you will see. However, research is done where possible to identify things of potential interest, for example, dive wrecks. 

Safety is paramount, and a full-time engineer lives onboard the ship to maintain the submersibles. During excursions, the pilot remains in regular contact with the team on the surface, and should strict contact procedures not be followed every 60 seconds, the submersible will return to the surface automatically.  

Scuba Diving

Scuba diving is also available complimentary, but spaces are very limited and certification, as well as recent dive experience, is compulsory. Unlike kayak and submersible tours which are for a single event on a single day, scuba diving bookings are per person for the entire duration of the cruise.  

Note that some longer cruises may comprise multiple shorter cruise legs, that can themselves be booked individually. If a guest has booked a scuba diving experience on the longer cruise, that scuba diving place will be booked for that person for the entire length of the longer cruise, including all the shorter cruise legs.  

All three optional excursions are bookable via the Seabourn Source app before the cruise. Kayak and submersible tours are all initially on a request basis only, and confirmed bookings are subsequently allocated during the cruise. You will receive written confirmation of your booking in your suite mailbox the day before your optional excursion. You have until 8pm that evening to cancel the excursion if necessary. After that time, you will be billed, including for no-shows. Note that the optional excursions often occur at the same time as the included excursions, so you may miss some time on an included excursion to participate in a kayak or submersible tour.  

At some ports, normally those with infrastructure not requiring Zodiac landings, there may be alternative optional excursions available for purchase if you choose not to take the included excursions.  

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Looking for Expedition Cruises?

Discerning Traveller have a marvellous selection of expedition cruise options sailing to breathtaking destinations across the globe. Learn more today.

Onboard Lectures by Expedition Guides

Seabourn’s expedition guides and crew include a selection of subject matter experts who provide interesting lectures throughout the cruise, that were topical to the geographical locations through which we were cruising. We enjoyed lectures from the resident marine biologist, war historian, meteorologist, geologist, ornithologist and more. 

An onboard photographer offered coaching for both SLR and mobile phone photography. In addition, a complimentary professional collection of photos is provided to guests at the end of the voyage and is available via AirDrop to your device, or via transfer to a USB dongle.  

Lectures are delivered in person at the Discovery Centre throughout your voyage. Very conveniently, they are also live-streamed to your suite and are available to watch in-suite on-demand approximately two hours after the end of the lecture, to allow for production time.  

What should I wear and bring onboard a Seabourn expedition cruise?

For expedition days, reef shoes are required, and you won’t find them for sale in the onboard shop so make sure you are prepared in advance. Seabourn has recently relaxed its rules to now allow thongs in a Zodiac, but reef shoes will offer much greater stability, comfort and protection. Being barefoot in a Zodiac is not permitted. 

 For tropical regions, swimming shorts or board shorts, a long-sleeved rash vest and a hat offering good sun protection for your ears and neck are also strongly recommended. You can find all these items in your local adventure, fishing or dive store (e.g. Anaconda/BCF). Stock up on polarised sunglasses, sunscreen and mosquito repellent (for tropical destinations) while you are at it!  

For evening attire, whilst jackets are required in the main dining room on Seabourn’s non-expedition ships, they are not on Seabourn Pursuit or Seabourn Venture. The official dress code is listed as elegant casual; a collared shirt and tailored pants for men, and a dress or blouse and skirt for women are acceptable.  

For cold-weather destinations, we recommend reading our Antarctica guide which includes a detailed packing list as well as plenty of tips on what to expect when exploring the South Pole. 

What are the Dining Options?

Dining Options on Seabourn

The Seabourn Pursuit and her sister, Seabourn Venture, offer a few dining options.

The Colonnade offers a buffet for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. Breakfast opening hours are earlier on expedition days than sea days to ensure guests can meet any commitments to early Zodiac or optional excursion departures, which may typically commence around 8am, though could be earlier. A small a-la-carte menu is also available for breakfast and lunch in The Colonnade. Dinner is themed nightly and may offer anything from Indian to Italian. Watch out for the popular Earth and Ocean Night offering a selection of delectable meat and fish dishes.  

Specialty coffee and breakfast items such as muffins, pastries and croissants are also available casually from Seabourn Square from 6am.  

The Restaurant is the main dining room, open every evening from 7pm to 9pm. This venue is also open for breakfast and lunch on sea days only. 

Other dining options include The Patio, which is the poolside alfresco section of The Colonnade offering the same menu options, and The Club offers a selection of sushi and sashimi from 6pm to 9pm every evening. 

The in-room dining menu is available 24 hours every day including expedition days, sea days and even disembarkation day. During the opening hours of The Restaurant, guests may also select any items from that menu, for in-room dining.  All menus are provided in-suite every day.  

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Thinking about Antarctica?

We have a comprehensive guide talking about all things Antarctica. From your packing list, day-to-day activities, who to sail with, and so much more, read on and see if Antarctica is your next great adventure.

Sunset view on Seabourn Pursuit

What can I expect if my cruise has pre- or post-cruise inclusions?

Some expedition cruises may include pre or post-cruise accommodation and charter flights, particularly where the embarkation or disembarkation port is in a more remote location. Our expedition cruise included one night of pre-cruise accommodation in Sydney, and a flight chartered by Seabourn to the embarkation port of Honiara, in the Solomon Islands. 

What did we experience?

Upon arrival at Sydney Airport following a domestic flight from Queensland, we were met by Seabourn representatives for the transfer by coach to the Shangri-La hotel, where check-in was smooth and fast via a dedicated Seabourn Hospitality Desk. 

 The room had a beautiful vista of Sydney Harbour including the Opera House, the Overseas Passenger Terminal where another ship was in port, and Circular Quay. Bags had to be packed and placed outside your room by 10pm at the latest for transporting, which meant that we didn’t see them again until Honiara airport. For us, it was a welcome pleasure to just travel light with hand luggage for the outbound international flight.

The following morning, breakfast boxes were made available from 4am, and we were assigned a 7.20 am bus departure for a 10am non-stop charter flight to Honiara. A fast check-in process (without luggage) to obtain boarding passes at the dedicated desks for charter flights had us through to Departures in no time.

Seabourn chartered two 737-800 Qantas flights that morning and ensured that every passenger had either a window or aisle seat by keeping the middle seats vacant, remaining consistent and on-brand with their luxury proposition. Business class was reserved for those customers booked into the most premium of suites on the ship, such as Penthouses, Signature Suites and Wintergarden Suites. 

 On arrival in the Solomon Islands, we were transferred by local buses to the elegant Seabourn Pursuit, accompanied by a local guide who provided commentary on the local history and sites along the way.  

Ready to book your own Seabourn expedition cruise?

Whether you're ready to start planning your Seabourn expedition cruise or still have a couple of questions, Discerning Traveller is here to help. You can also contact us today or call us on 1300 945 811 and one of our experienced specialists will be with you shortly to help plan your next grand adventure. From exploring the mystical shores of Papua New Guinea and Indonesia, the breathtaking fjords of Iceland and the Arctic, or beyond, let us help you book that bucket-list journey you've been thinking about today.

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