The submarines will be in a short time the no more than the adventure or expedition cruises, a type of tourism for people without budget problems and eager to explore places that nobody or few have reached.
Companies such as the luxury cruise ship operator Seabourn Cruise, based in Seattle and 10 years as a leader in the sector, have announced that they plan new expeditions with submarines.
This week Seabourn Cruise announced that it has commissioned an Italian shipyard to build its first two expedition ships with built-in submarines.
Each ship will weigh 23,000 gross tons, can accommodate up to 264 passengers and will have reinforced helmets and other features that will allow them to operate in the frozen waters of Antarctica and the Arctic.
“This is an innovative moment for luxury travelers, who will find a new standard of authentic but luxurious expedition adventures in new and surprising destinations that few people will see,” said Richard Meadows, president of Seabourn, a company that reaches more than 30 glaciers in Alaska.
The first of the two ships commissioned will sail in the Arctic in the late summer of 2021, followed by the “full winter season in Antarctica,” it said in a statement.
Before that, the veteran luxury cruise company Scenic will launch its expedition cruise in 2019 with a fleet of zodiacs, two helicopters and a submarine with capacity for seven people.
The offer of expedition-type luxury cruises is growing and companies, which until recently included landing craft to visit remote and difficult-to-access places like Antarctica, are taking the next step, including the most advanced means for passengers to get to know any possible place to explore.
The HMS Challenger corvette was the first ship in which a scientific expedition was carried out that gave place to the first great oceanographic campaign worldwide. It took place between 1872 and 1874. The crossing of this ship allowed the discovery of more than 4,700 animal species hitherto unknown.
National Geographic Venture is incorporating in its new ships remote operated vehicles, video microscopes and hydrophones and arc chambers designed to listen and film the vocalizations of humpback whales and watch the dolphins.
The Ponant line, of the company Silversea, based in France, already has five expedition ships, but has six more under construction that will include a hydraulic platform to board zodiacs, kayaks and paddle boards.
The objective is that passengers can reach remote areas and observe nature and wildlife in less accessible places.
This type of cruise, whose prices fluctuate between 5,000 and 40,000 dollars, in many cases with the entire trip included, offer routes across the seven continents. The crossings last between 5 and 20 days and offer costumes adapted for the client.
Many of the itineraries have waiting lists and are adventure options generally chosen by adventurous clients of high purchasing power who know much of the world and want to explore new routes to which they have access only with this type of specialized boats.
They count on their crew with biologists, glacier researchers and historians and experts in under exploited areas. Depending on the navigation area, the shipping companies hire the services of the most diverse experts, who not only give conferences on board, but also lead the excursions on land.
Expedition luxury cruises do not have many of the facilities of normal cruises that are only tourist and the number of places is not the same either.
These adventure cruises are more focused on ships whose objective is to offer a better view of the route with cabins with exterior views and a reduced number of passengers, generally about 200 per expedition.
There are rules established by the cruises themselves in some of the places they travel to, such as Antarctica, with a limited number of people that can disembark.
The boom in cruise ship bookings increasingly attracts the attention of the largest cruise companies in the world that join the new trend of cruise expeditions waiting to have in their fleet new ships or ships more up to date allow access to this new trend.
Ocean cruises take years to build, so it is likely that new orders made by cruise companies in 2018 are not ready for the adventure until 2021 at the earliest.