National Geographic Explorer - the ship that 40 years of expedition experience built - debuted in August 2008. The newest addition to the fleet, it is designed for 21st-century exploration offering guests an environment of adventure, comfort and informality.
A state-of-the-art 1A ice-class expedition ship, National Geographic Explorer accommodates 148 guests in 81 outside cabins. It is fully stabilized, enabling it to navigate remote passages, and carries the most innovative tools for exploring from polar to tropical regions and the undersea.
Capacity: 148 guests in 81 cabins Registry: Bahamas
Public Areas: Main Lounge and glass-enclosed Observation Lounge, Chart Room, Library, Global Gallery, Fitness Center and Wellness Spa with two treatment rooms, sauna and relaxation area.
Meals: Guests are accommodated in a single seating in the Dining Room and Bistro, with no assigned seats for relaxed and easy mingling. Meals are international with local flair.
Cabins: All ocean-view cabins with windows or portholes, some with Balconies, have a stylish and comfortable ambience, decorated in warm woods. Each cabin has private facilities and climate controls An Elevator connects all guest decks.
Expedition Equipment: Zodiac landing craft and kayaks, hydrophones, HD underwater cameras and video microscopes, a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) that can dive up to 1,000 feet.
Special Features: Internet access, business center, full-time Doctor, laundry service, an Undersea Specialist and Wellness Specialist, LEXspa Therapist and Video Chronicler Our "Open Bridge" policy allows guests to learn about the art of navigation and state-of-the-art navigational equipment from our Captain and Officers.
The intellectual content, open bridge, fellow passengers
The ship is small (6,000 tons) and while it has stabilizers it may rock and roll
Date of cruise: December 2013
Region visited: Antarctic
Cabin category: Outside
Found through: Cruise line website,Cruise community site,Email newsletters,Travel agent's web site
Good for children: No
Good for teenagers: Yes
saw things this way
Value For Money
Staff and Service
I just came back from a virtually perfect expedition in Antarctica. Here are my experiences, but I would be anxious to hear yours.The two most important factors in setting up our vacation were the selection of the National Geographic Explorer and a travel consultant at Adventure-Life (Jodi Domsky).To say that we are inexperienced in adventure travel would be an overstatement. Except for a trip my wife took to the Galapagos about 25 years ago, we've taken more conventional vacations. When I was a kid I saw her a movie about one of Adm. Byrd's expeditions in Antarctica and it stuck with me. I realized my fantasy three weeks ago.Consulting a conventional travel agent give me one swift lesson – I knew more about this trip than the agent and I needed advice. Checking the web I found Adventure-Life. When the initial agent was promoted, Jodi was assigned to help us. And did she ever. No question was too dumb (and I had a few of those). Whether it was clothing, what the Explorer was all about, the nature of National Geographic expeditions, Jodi had the answers. I had become used to ill-informed, smooth talking and not very knowledgeable travel agents. The normal logistic issues were handled with aplomb. The only problem of importance (trying to sit together on our flights between Miami and Buenos Aires) was handled smoothly and to perfection.But the highlight was the trip itself. The Explorer is a 6,000-ton icebreaker that can only take 149 passengers. That is a crucial number because there is an international agreement on tourism in Antarctica and if you want to spend a maximum amount of time on shore you want a small vessel. Certainly, if your travel agent does not know all about this, switch.From a physical aspect the Explorer was fine for a Class 3 room, without a balcony and with a large window it was far more practical than a room with a balcony. It was located near the center of the ship, which can be important in rough waters.The ship has stabilizers they are vital in cruising from Argentina to the Antarctic Peninsula.This is designed as an expedition and not a luxury cruise (not that the ambiance and cuisine weren't excellent). But instead of a casino and bad comedians there were lectures about icebergs, meteorology, tracking whales using tags equipped with a GPS, and photography, a la National Geographic.Two top photographers, seven naturalists and the photo editor from National Geographic were aboard the ship. There were several lectures every day.But most exciting was setting foot on land and the waters close to it. Because of the size of the ship we were able to leave it two times a day, usually. What made this feel like a real expedition was that each day the staff needed to take wind, temperature, ocean currents, tides, ice and weather into consideration. And that is what determined the precise activities that we could have on that day.The choices were walking along the beach (along with the penguins), hiking up hills with spectacular views, going out in a kayak to gently move near the icebergs and ice or going on a trip, with a naturalist, through the ice in a zodiac. One special stop was using the icebreaker capabilities of the Explorer to break through 7-foot-thick sea ice and then stopping so we could all walk on the ice (followed by a barbecue with soda and beer).The bridge of the Explorer is open to passengers 24 hours a day and frequently a naturalist was up there to explain the ice, the whales, the birds and the beauty of what we were seeing. The officer of the day was always willing to answer smart and stupid questions. The captain, with over 30 years of experience in these icy waters, had that wonderful combination of a sense of humor and a sense of seriousness about what he was doing. Passenger and ship safety were stressed at all times.Many of us compared being in Antarctica as the feeling one must have been stepping on the moon. The huge continent has never had any permanent human inhabitants. Its mountains, glaciers and sea ice are extraordinary.Most of us have a fantasy at the end of vacation of having it continue for years – the South Pacific perhaps? With Antarctica there is little desire to spend the winter at 50 below. But before we left the ship we started the discussion of how many encores we wanted to take on the Explorer and in these icy waters.