Your Next Romantic Vacation: Discover and Connect on an Expedition Cruise

Cruising as a couple is romantic just by its nature: the beautiful vistas, the indulgent spa treatments and the intimate bubbly-drenched dinners for two. Relaxing in the sun or exploring a region’s historic charms are the vacations of honeymooners’ dreams.

A remote but romantic vacation

“What really has changed the tenor of expedition cruising, particularly but not limited to couples, is that travelers want at least the same amount of comfort when they travel as they do at home,” says Carolyn Spencer Brown, travel journalist and editor-in-chief of Discover. She’s speaking from experience, having recently returned from an Antarctica Bridge voyage on Silversea’s Silver Endeavour, with her husband, Teijo Niemela.

It was a busy cruise, as she expected, with two on-land landings per day and occasionally an extra ride around icebergs on Zodiacs. “Still, Teijo and I managed to carve out some precious downtime,” she tells us. A ritual post-dinner cocktail in the laid-back Observation Lounge most nights, and meals at romantic La Dame and Il Terrazzino, Silver Endeavour‘s intimate French and Italian restaurants, “gave us a chance to share our experiences of the day in a setting quite unlike any other place in the world.”

Spencer Brown is by no means alone when it comes to expedition travel offering unexpectedly romantic vacation moments. Whether already coupled or single, we spoke to numerous travelers who agreed (in fact, several had met their significant others on the actual expedition cruise itself).

Despite a dress code that leans toward utilitarian and the extra exertion that may come with hills and dales, something about these adventurous, often remote itineraries intensify a bond.

That chill in the air? It encourages couples to get closer on a Zodiac outing like this one in Svalbard in the Arctic./Silversea

Of course, it depends on your idea of romantic,” says Theresa Russell, a journalist who specializes in cruising. “[If you] travel with the right person, you can celebrate a hike or something that pushed you to your limits and find a quiet place on deck and enjoy the scenery with your favorite beverage.”

And, she adds that you can “revel in knowing that you experienced something great with somebody you love.”

The following first-person accounts may entice you to step away from your routine and consider an expedition cruise for your next voyage.

Chilly temperatures can be hot

One inveterate cruiser, who asked us to withhold her name, met an “exceptionally attractive man,” at a hosted officer’s dinner on board an Arctic expedition ship. Soon, they were inseparable.

She credits the “expedition vibe” for the extra spark. Who wouldn’t want to cuddle up with someone special by a faux fireplace when it’s freezing outside or soak together in a hot tub at the top of the world with a crackling ice field sprawling as far as you can see?

More cruises together have followed, and the connection remains strong, thanks to many experiences, that, she says, beg to be shared.

Shaking up a routine can up the passion

Sharing adventures, like this hike to Alaska’s Davidson Glacier, may make you feel even closer to your partner./Lucia Griggi/Silversea

“Part of my passion for expedition cruising lies in the pursuit of the unexpected, which only heightens my sense of romance,” says Janice Wald Henderson, a journalist who specializes in luxury cruising. “It’s easy for couples, whether married a few years or a few decades, to fall into relationship patterns.”

Expedition cruising means no two days are the same, so patterns are “shaken up,” she says, “because you are suddenly doing everything differently, every single day.”

“With all our senses heightened by adventure — be it bouncing on a Zodiac, trekking through an Indonesian jungle eyeing orangutan or ogling chinstrap penguins in Antarctica — it’s only natural to see each through equally fresh eyes,” Wald Henderson adds.

That change in perspective makes a huge difference. “We tend to fall in love with each other all over again,” she explains. “I say to all couples, ‘Go on an expedition cruise. You will rediscover love anew.'”

Destination wedding: Antarctica

clip from The Kelly Clarkson Show shows actress Kate Walsh (best known for her role as Dr. Addison Montgomery on the long-running medical drama “Grey’s Anatomy”) dishing about her love life. Nothing unusual about it, except she acknowledges she met the love of her life and her now-fiancé on an expedition sailing to Antarctica. “I saw the penguins, check,” she tells Clarkson, “the ice, check, whales, check — and man, check.”

Finding love close to the South Pole isn’t as rare as you might think. Even more common? Exchanging vows where the penguins are witnesses.

Australian cruise and travel journalist Louise Goldsbury, who met a boyfriend on an expedition itinerary to Alaska, knows firsthand the power ice has to melt a heart. “My friends got married in Antarctica [on the ice with the penguins] by the captain,” she says.

As writer Jennifer Billock notes in a story for Travel + Leisure, the penguins are already in tuxedos. Billock was planning her wedding throughout summer and fall of 2022 but decided eloping on an expedition cruise would be even better.

Although expedition vessels usually are not equipped to accommodate last-minute weddings, this late-October trip allowed the couple to exchange vows on the White Continent’s Half Moon Island near a chinstrap penguin colony.

“Through laughter we exchanged Sea Bands instead of rings,” Billock writes. “We waved as we headed out (followed by echoing cheers, applause and penguin squawks) on a serene private Zodiac ride around the bay with Champagne and macarons.”

Alone together in far-flung destinations

A couple stargazes in Zanzibar, off Tanzania, where Silversea expedition cruises call./Shutterstock

Stepping foot in the most remote places on Earth with someone you love also is a chance to reflect on ideas of beauty, fragility, the power of nature and the tenacity of explorers who came before. Pair these life-altering moments with the luxuries of fine dining and intuitive service onboard your cruise ship, and it’s a recipe for pure bliss.

Simply “stargazing is romantic with the right person,” Goldsbury says. “The remoteness of the destinations [offers] the ultimate privacy and intimacy for couples.”

Ready to go remote with the one you love? A romantic vacation awaits on these expedition itineraries.