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Spirit of Endery sails the Far Eastern Russian coast

Heritage Expeditions

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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 expedition ships 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 through the Pacific, and around the Russian Far East and Wrangel Island on purpose-built expedition ships including the 140-guest ship Heritage Adventurer. 

Heritage Expeditions Cruises

Heritage Expeditions Ships

Photo Gallery

Locals watch the Beringia Baydara Races off the Chukotka peninsula Arctic Fox Take a zodiac to Commonwealth Bay Explore the lush flora and fauna A remote sandy bay filled with sea lions Two Kamchatka brown bears enjoy the view Board your zodiacs for shore excursions on these remote shores A photographer quietly oberves a local bird


Our Itineraries

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.

Responsible Travel

Traveling with Heritage Expeditions is to travel responsibly. As biologists and ornithologists, we are intimately aware of the many issues that confront animals and their habitats, the world's oceans and isolated ethnic groups. We also take action: we actively contribute to the conservation of the places we visit in several ways; we 'buy local' and employ locally; we make sure that travellers are respectful of local customs and traditions; and we dispose of waste responsibly.

Heritage Expeditions supports conservation by providing advocacy through responsible travel and providing funds and logistical support for research and management. Since 2011 we have continued BirdLife International as a Species Champion for the Critically Endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper. In addition providing transport and logistics for several researchers, we are committed to making financial contributions as a company and welcome our guests to join us in support of this programme. All funds donated will be spent on BirdLife International's activities preventing extinction. 70% goes to the Spoon-billed Sandpiper conservation project directly and 30% is retained and pooled with other contributions to fund three other vital aspects of BirdLife International's work:
  1. To fund vital development of conservation (capacity) for Critically Endangered species who do not yet receive support.
  2. A contribution to the BirdLife Partnership's International Science, Policy, Advocacy, Conservation and Coordination work that underpins the programme.
  3. Vital communications and publicity that raises international awareness of the extinctions crisis and promotes the programme to help recruit new BirdLife Species Champions.
We also make significant annual contributions to the New Zealand Department of Conservation, the Tasmanian National Parks and Wildlife Service, Antarctic Heritage Trust and the Russian State Reserve Agency. In addition to these contributions, Heritage Expeditions provides transport of freight and personnel to and from nature reserves. We support the New Zealand Meteorological Service and non-governmental research agencies, including the World Wildlife Fund (Russia), the University of Canterbury and The Last Ocean Charitable Trust.
We travel in small groups and endeavour to maintain a guide-to-client ratio of 1:12. Each expedition is led by an experienced Expedition Leader who is familiar with the region being visited. When selecting our specialist expedition equipment, vehicles and vessels, we research carefully to ensure that they are the most suitable and the most environmentally responsible. All waste generated on our expeditions is disposed of in a responsible manner: onboard it is treated as prescribed by MARPOL and on land expeditions recycling is encouraged. Non-recyclable waste is brought back for disposal at approved sites.
We partner with True Young Explorer to provide scholarships for young people, who could not otherwise afford to travel, to join our expeditions. Heritage Expeditions holds active membership in a number of conservation and travel organisations, including the International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators (IAATO) which promotes responsible travel to Antarctica, Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO), Department of Conservation and Forest & Bird.


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