Exotic Small Ship Trips/Happy Holidays!

A good company to know: AdventureSmith Explorations operates a treasure trove of small expedition ships along a vast variety of itineraries, perfect for “soft” adventure-lovers. Their ships carry from 36 to 189 guests and feel like private yachts so if one is sailing solo, one is bound to meet, travel and celebrate with like-spirited travelers. The top destination for dynamic social interaction, and thus great for solos, is always their Antarctica trips.

Anchors aweigh. “From the Antarctic Peninsula to Panama, guests can enjoy either ice-capades or blue-sea snorkeling,” says Todd Smith founder and owner, adding that “trips just before and right after the holiday season come with “terrific discounts” and better availability.

More good news: unlike mega ships that usually charge extra for shore excursions, guests on small expedition ships enjoy exciting, clever and stimulating treks, rides and outings on land at no extra charge.

A sprinkling of cabins is still available for the 2013-2014 holidays
—and here we go:

Range of prices: $3,000 to $16,000 pp.

The company is also fully set up to assist with hotels to bookend your cruise and if a particular cruise is sold out, contact them for alternatives.

Founded in 2003, California-based AdventureSmith Exploration’s Todd Smith was named Condé Nast Traveler Top Travel Specialist of 2013. Call: 800-728-2875 for full scoop.


Take A National Geographic Arctic Expedition

Summer sail – high and cool in the Arctic Svalbard (northern Norway)

During the Arctic summer the tundra, miraculously carpeted with wildflowers, awakens to the thunder of glacial ice cracking and crashing into the sea. Polar bears, seabirds, reindeer, arctic fox, seals and great pods of walrus are out sunbathing, foraging, and camera-ready in up-close viewing. Temperatures push up to a toasty 30° – 45°F, perfect for walking, hiking, kayaking and Zodiac sorties under the sun that never sets.

Maximize your experience by travelling with one of the best teams in the biz: Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic offers exceptional itineraries aboard their 148-guest National Geographic Explorer — a state-of-the-art, ice-strengthened Arctic cruise ship with the best Ice Team on earth. Great guest speakers, professional photography instructors, oceanographers, and filmmakers.

Choose from:

  • Northern Norway and Fjords -13 days of deep fjords and ice-capped mountains and the best place on earth to observe polar bears in their natural habitat — on pack ice.
  • Norway to Greenland via Scotland -26 days of fairytale villages and the Lofoten Islands jagged peaks.
  • The Faroe Islands and Iceland.

Cabin discounts (up to $1000) and free air offers are available now through March 31, 2012. So rush! Click: www.expeditions.com for all details or call 1-800-EXPEDITION.

Chill Out

….break the ice, literally, and sail in the wake of Norway’s heroic explorers, Fridtjof Nansen and Roald Amundsen, for 7 amazing days aboard the the 691-passenger MS Nordkapp. Dip into small fishing villages, bustling towns and remote islands along the “world’s most beautiful voyage” according to Lonely Planet.

As the MS Nordkapp wends along the rugged, wiggly fjords of Norway’s west coast, Scandinavian historian Arne Kertelhein will reveal some of the mysteries, history, culture and lore of the land.

Push off from Bergen on October 14, 2011 and sail up to the Art Nouveau town of Ålesund, medieval Trondheim, head into Arctic Circle and the really rugged Lofoten Islands. Port of call: the colorful, charming Tromsø, capital of Arctic Norway, and Honningsvåg for a shot at the spectacular wonders of the North Cape.  The last port is Kirkenes, near the Russian border.

Prices, including all meals and all onboard programs for the Oct. 14, 2011 voyage range from $1,550 to $2,949 per person, double occ.,. And hey, they toss in a wind- and water-proof jacket to boot.

Operated by Hurtigruten, a world leader in expedition cruising sailing to the most remote destinations — Antarctica, Greenland, Norway’s coast has a fleet of 12 ships.

Cruise to:  www.hurtigruten.us; or call: (877) 301-3117.

Earn your Taiga Stripes

Great Slave Lake is the place for a thrilling 10-day journey high in the Canadian Subarctic, and an adventure you can redeem for bigtime bragging rights in exchange for 43 miles of kayaking and tented camping.

Not on everyone’s GPS, one flies from Edmonton or Calgary on a chartered plane into non-bustling Yellowknife, Canada on the northern shore of the Great Slave Lake, the deepest lake in North America and one of the largest in the world.  This lake, framed by Islands of the Taiga, is 318 miles south of the Arctic Circle and framed by a maze of forests, sheltered bays, shale beaches and red granite cliffs sculpted by glaciers.

During the one-weather-window a year, California-based operator, Explorers’ Corner, leads the “Great Slave Adventure” in early autumn to catch peak fall colors and plentiful wildlife – large flocks of migratory birds, bear, moose, muskrat, and mink and more.

Act now! 2011 departure dates: Aug. 12, 19, 26 and Sept. 2.  Price per person in a small group is $4390.  To hop in, click: www.explorerscorner.com/ for all details or call 877-677-9623.