Cruise & Ferry Review - Autumn/Winter 2023

83 Photo: credit Expeditions’ Citizen Science programme allows travellers to help experts collect and share important data on the natural environment they are visiting. While Dewing acknowledges the scepticism that such initiatives can be greeted with, he argues that they create a very real impact. “When you first hear about citizen science, it can sound gimmicky,” says Dewing. “But its real data and real projects. At AE Expeditions, we’re able to mobilise an army of scientists that nongovernmental and research organisations couldn’t afford to send to the places we visit. They’re doing real research and they’re feeding back really important information.” On some occasions, an expedition cruise allows guests to experience new scientific developments in real time. Dewing highlights an example of the unique educational experiences that expedition cruising can provide from a voyage around the UK. “We were photographing gannets living on Grassholm Island off the coast of Wales with Miranda Krestovnikoff, the former president of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB),” he explains. “Just that day, news had broken from the RSPB that they had detected the irises of gannets went black if they’d recovered from avian flu. Our photographer was able to take pictures of gannets showing black irises, then show them to all the passengers in the lecture theatre after dinner to explain the news. It was science in real time, and that’s what an expedition team can deliver. They can take passengers to the experience and demonstrate it first-hand in a way that’s very emotional and moving.” With the climate emergency continuing to be a clear and present danger, however, the industry will need to continue its efforts to reduce the environmental footprint of its own operations. Dewing is optimistic that innovation will continue to push the industry closer to sustainability. “Sustainability is getting to a point where guests expect it to be embedded by now,” he says. “Travel has been a bit slow – it wasn’t that long ago that we were just talking about taking plastic straws off ships – but it’s catching up. Companies are developing technologies to reduce the emissions produced by fuel, and certain operators are even looking at the possibility of fully electric ships using wind power. The future is really exciting, and the conversation is moving towards net zero, which is exactly where our aim needs to be.” Photos: AE Expeditions