Cruise & Ferry Review - Autumn/Winter 2023

PLANNER PERSPECTIVE Perhaps somewhat controversially for the CEO of an expedition travel operator, Hans Lagerweij believes it is impossible to plan the perfect expedition cruise itinerary. “The ideal itinerary does not exist – expedition cruising is all about exploring remote natural areas and having the freedom to take advantage of local sea and weather conditions and wildlife opportunities whenever they appear,” he explains. “For example, if we are scheduled to visit a certain site but we learn that there’s a ‘feeding frenzy’ involving more than 50 whales just 20 miles further ahead, we want to be able to drop our planned itinerary so our guests can observe this unique moment. “Some new entrants to the expedition segment try to build itineraries in the same way as they would for traditional ocean cruises, but this is a worrying approach because it sets the wrong expectations for guests. At Albatros Expeditions, we focus on building the perfect expedition team that takes every opportunity Mother Nature offers to optimise the guest experience.” Albatros Expeditions operates two purpose-built expedition ships – the 189-guest Ocean Victory and Ocean Albatros, which joined the fleet in November 2021 and May 2023, respectively. Both vessels are built to Ice Class 1A and Polar Code 6 standards and feature Ulstein Design & Solutions’ X-Bow hull and various eco-friendly technologies to minimise their carbon footprint and enable them to operate in environmentally sensitive areas. In winter, they sail a mixture of shorter and longer voyages to Antarctica, South Georgia and the Falklands. In the summer, they explore the Arctic, calling at destinations such as Greenland and Norway’s Svalbard archipelago. “Ushuaia in Argentina and Longyearbyen in Svalbard are our main hubs in Antarctica and the Arctic, respectively, and we focus on Kangerlussuaq and Ilulissat in Greenland,” says Lagerweij. “As Greenland expert, we focus our innovation on this unique part of the Arctic and aim to offer the largest choice of itineraries there. However, we’re always looking for new opportunities to develop voyages in the months between our core seasons, which also help us reposition our ships.” In 2024, for example, Albatros Expeditions will offer a new ‘Viking Voyage’ from Copenhagen in Denmark to Scotland. “I’m very excited about this voyage, which will enable guests to follow in the footsteps of the Viking’s from our brand’s home through the North Sea to Scotland,” says Lagerweij. “There is so much history to encounter on the Unplanned adventures Hans Lagerweij explains to Rebecca Gibson how Albatros Expeditions’ flexible itineraries, diverse excursions and onboard teams of experts help it to deliver unique and immersive expedition cruises “We focus on building the perfect expedition team that takes every opportunity Mother Nature offers” 178