Every year Heritage Expeditions voyages with small groups of between 18 and 140 intrepid travelers to some of the most unique and remote islands, coasts, and shorelines on Earth aboard the expedition ships Heritage Adventurer, Heritage Explorer, Spirit of Enderby, and Akademik Shokalskiy on voyages ranging from 5 – 31 days. Founded in 1985 by the Russ family in Christchurch, New Zealand, Heritage Expeditions is still proudly family-owned and operated. Contributing to conservation through experiential learning and providing funds for research and management, Heritage Expeditions are pioneers in environmentally-responsible expedition travel offering intimate group excursions to Antarctica and the Subantarctic Islands, around New Zealand (Stewart Island, Fiordland, Marlborough Sounds, Hauraki Gulf, and Bay of Islands) through the Pacific, and around the Russian Far East and Wrangel Island on purpose-built expedition ships including the 140-guest ship Heritage Adventurer.
Join us as we explore the ends of the Earth, from remote shores and unknown islands to unforgettable wildlife encounters, thrilling cultural exchanges, and bucket-list adventures. Our one-of-a-kind itineraries have been created by our industry-leading expedition team specifically for those with an appreciation of the natural world, conservation, and history.
Travel in style alongside fellow expeditioners who share your spirit of adventure, our authentic small group expeditions ensure each journey is as unique as our rarely visited destinations and the people, cultures, and wildlife we encounter. Designed to engage with a wide range of interests, expedition days start early in order to observe wildlife starting their day and make the most of the morning light excellent for photography. Explore by Zodiac safari, on foot and local transport well off the beaten path, engage in citizen science projects, and actively support conservation efforts as we follow in the footsteps of some of history’s most famous explorers.
Discover new frontiers alongside our world-renowned team of naturalists, botanists, geologists, historians, and experts interpreting the natural and human history as your voyage unfolds.
What is Expedition Cruising?
Expedition cruising is a unique form of travel and offers intrepid travelers (not tourists) the opportunity to go where few have been before and experience wilderness, wildlife, and cultures in a genuine and responsible way.
For those who have never experienced authentic expedition cruising, we recommend joining your voyage with an open, inquiring mind and a sense of adventure. Authentic expedition cruise ships are smaller vessels, designed to navigate areas inaccessible to larger ships and thus avoid the negative impact of large cruise ships and groups on culture or ecosystem.
Compared with traditional cruising where the ship is the main destination, with expedition cruising the ship is more akin to an exclusive lodge that provides access to wild and remote destinations. On a Heritage Expeditions voyage, the aim is to get guests ashore and out enjoying Zodiac safaris as much as possible with the clear objective of gaining a greater understanding and appreciation of the region or culture, not simply just sightseeing.
As pioneers in expedition cruising, Heritage Expeditions has acquired an internationally renowned expedition team of naturalists, botanists, historians, and experts to interpret the natural and human history discovered during each voyage. Regular presentations ensure guests maximize every opportunity to learn, discover and experience as much as possible during their voyage. Our expedition teams are teachers and interpreters, not entertainers – their objective is to inform, enthuse and create ambassadors for the conservation of the regions visited.
Genuine expedition cruising appeals to people from all walks of life from around the world and can be enjoyed regardless of age, interests, knowledge, or physical prowess. Expedition cruises are embarked on with a sense of ‘rigid flexibility’, with their itinerary able to change to take advantage of any opportunities as they arise.
Heritage Expeditions was founded and is still owned and operated, by a family of biologists and adventurers committed to providing authentic expedition cruising.
Responsible Expedition Travel
Heritage Expeditions was founded with the purpose of sharing the natural world, and preserving, protecting, and respecting the environment is at the core of everything we do. As pioneers and leaders in responsible expedition travel to remote places, our objective is to tread, and cruise, lightly wherever we go.
Each expedition is led by an experienced Expedition Leader familiar with the region and our expedition teams incorporate both internationally recognized and local experts who share their knowledge, experiences, and unique insights with our guests. Throughout our voyages, scientific research is incorporated, both through the logistical support of research projects and as an integral part of our voyages.
Heritage Expeditions supports conservation programs with funds, advocacy, and logistical support. We are a Birdlife International Species Champion for the critically endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper, have worked alongside the New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust to ensure the ongoing preservation and protection of the historic huts of Scott, Shackleton, and Borchgrevink, collect air samples for GNS Science and their ongoing research into the Southern Ocean and regularly welcome scientists on board.
Through our True Young Explorer Scholarships, we enable young scientists, conservationists, educators, authors, and artists to travel and experience wild places otherwise off-limits. We minimize waste and employ recycling practices on our ships and in our head office by selecting environmentally friendly products and local produce, and minimize fuel consumption and emissions on our vessels with regular servicing and a proactive maintenance program.
We choose to travel in small groups, maintain industry-leading staff to guest ratios ensuring we operate in the most environmentally responsible manner while maximizing the opportunities for education and advocacy both ashore and aboard. We are proud to work alongside the government agencies to develop and deliver sustainable best practice visitation from the Department of Conservation in New Zealand to Beringia National Park and Wrangel Island Reserve in Russia.
Heritage Expeditions holds active membership in a number of conservation and travel organizations including the International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators (IAATO), Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO), and the New Zealand Tourism Sustainability Commitment.
Kate was great to work with in the planning stage. She was prompt, helpful, and efficient. Our tour guide, Edwin, was knowledgeable and passionate. We were very happy to have traveled with Adventure Life, it made the trip easy and a true pleasure. We could concentrate on enjoying the experience rather than the details of travel.