“Unique,” “experiential,” “in-depth,” “expert” are just some of the words these days used to describe ‘adventure’ cruises – most of which consist of soft adventure landings in well-known ports. Sea Voyager Expeditions, headed by former executive director of International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO) and eco-tourism expert Denise Landau, says that it is “absolutely dedicated to those descriptive words” and has announced the launch of the expedition cruise line, beginning February 2012.
The cruise line is setting itself apart from many competitors by focusing on four of the world’s most fauna- and wildlife-rich countries — Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica and Ecuador, and doing so with attention to untouched wilderness, rarely-visited small villages and Indigenous peoples.
“We have chosen to specialize in this region and share its spectacular diversity as exploration from the sea floor to the rainforest canopy is possible,” states Denise Landau, CEO and president. “Our itineraries are as varied as the noisy monkeys, the myriad of colorful butterflies, and the thousands of species of birds unique and endemic to this region.”
Fares for the numerous itineraries range from $2,930 to $5,365 per person, double, and include all meals, pre-post hotels, shore tours, admission to museums and parks, tax and port fees, and transfers when the SVE air program is used.
Developing sailing itineraries that are dedicated to a year-round presence in the market, which offers a seasonal diversity to the already comprehensive offerings, Sea Voyager Expeditions takes in dozens of hidden gems: the wetlands of Humedal de San-San Pond Sak, with its great variety of flora and fauna, dolphins and manatees; the World Heritage Sites of Cartagena, Coiba and Darien; humpback whale migrations; Indigenous people such as Colombia’s Arawak, Catio and Embera; the pristine rainforests and rugged natural beauty of the Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica, named by National Geographic as “the most biologically intense place on Earth”; and the Choco-Darién region with its 8,000 plant species, 400 species of trees, 4 species of mangroves, and nearly 600 bird species as well as many unique mammal species, including Jaguars, Ocelots, Giant Anteaters, Tapirs, and Tamarins.
Accompanied by experienced naturalists and guides, guests take in as much or as little as they wish – hiking the near-virgin forest trails one day, relaxing in the warm waters of a secluded beach or kayaking the calm waters of a hidden bay the next. Naturalists span the sciences – birds, marine mammals, plants, history/culture, etc. — sharing their love and knowledge of the tremendous offerings of the region, while the friendly international crew ensures the onboard comfort and needs of the guests are met. Meals are prepared by talented chefs making use of local ingredients, freshly caught seafood and, of course, locally grown coffee.
The M/V Sea Voyager, a winner in Condé Nast’s 2009 Best Small Ships Awards and currently undergoing outfitting to get ready for its 2012 launch, is a versatile expedition ship designed for the tropics. Its 60-passenger capacity allows for easy on/off access, a more personal experience, and close to nature feel. All staterooms are air-conditioned with outside views through panoramic windows, ample storage, and private bath. The ship has a roomy lounge with large windows, bar, fitness room, library with WiFi, massage room, dining room with 2-12 guests per table, buffet, deck space, fore, aft and covered decks, and a platform for getting on/off Zodiacs, kayaks, swimming and snorkeling.
Sea Voyager Expeditions, 888-912-2572, www.seavoyagerexpeditions.com