Explor Cruises Welcomes You

We provide purposeful travel to interesting destinations, designed to create
lasting memories and fulfilling experiences by going beyond the expected.

We are a family owned company, focused on our mission statement to provide the best possible travel experiences. We take the perspective of the traveler to create experiences that promise to be the most rewarding. We are NOT mass market. We provide personal service with attention to detail. We choose the best small ship operators, hotels, and ground tour companies in all the destinations we offer around the world.

Our comprehensive set of travel documents is unsurpassed, providing far more destination information than most other tour companies, including “Know Before You Go” and “Exploration Preview” information.

Wherever you wish to travel, we can put together a memorable travel program for you, designed with you, your interests, time, and budget in mind.

Our Team

It is our goal, and pleasure, to provide our guests memorable, life enriching travel expereinces.

Dick West

The accomplishments of Richard (Dick) West were a keystone for the development of the small ship exploration cruise segment. He was co-founder and small ship visionary of Cruise West, once the largest American owned and operated cruise line, and the largest small ship cruise line in the world. Today, Dick is following his passion in charting a course for his new family owned company, building on the successes of Cruise West without the financial and operational constraints he faced at the former enterprise.

Annie Marie

Annie has been working with Dick West and Explor Cruises since its beginning in 2011. Annie began her travel career in 1986 working onboard small ships, starting as a room steward and ending as head chef. She then started working as a travel agent with a focus on individual and group tours; later specializing in the South Pacific for both retail and wholesale markets.

Annie travels annually to her family home in Germany’s Black Forest. Her favorite places to visit are those with remote beaches, palm trees or snowy areas below freezing with blue skies and anywhere she can get her feet wet!

In her free time she enjoys cooking, visiting the Pacific Northwest’s Wine Country and making soap to sell at her local farmers market. Annie lives in Oregon with her husband, 2 cats and puppy.

Why Choose Us?

Exploring the world…up close, casual, and personal.

With a lifetime of experience providing memorable adventure travel to amazing destinations, I am very excited about Explor Cruises.  At Cruise West, which I co-founded with my father, Chuck West, I was able to fine tune our programs with the help and feedback from hundreds of loyal and dedicated guests and associates. We found a formula that resonated with our guests – the heart of which was our theme “Up-close, Casual and Personal”. We focused on the destination, with life enriching experiences and “edu-tainment”, with our Exploration Leaders and select special guest speakers. Each itinerary was choreographed to be at the right place at the right time, with a focus on the art of seamless service and precise logistics.

During the last few years at Cruise West we took our unique travel concept to new destinations working with other small ship operators who offered a similar experience. We added the elements our guests appreciated, such as comprehensive land tour programs and all inclusive pricing. We focused on providing unique “insider” experiences that other travelers would likely miss. These new programs were very popular and well received by our customers. Explor Cruises is based on continuing this concept.

Today, the small ship expedition cruise sector is booming! New, modern ships offering all-inclusive luxury explorations to amazing destinations are being added each year. I have found and partnered with a number of high quality, destination-focused small ship operators, to offer programs of interest to our curious travelers.

We understand that our guests want most things included – they do not want to be “nickeled and dimed” – so we try to include most of the necessary “extra” costs travelers face, such as pre-cruise hotels, transfers, gratuities, shore excursions, port fees and taxes – even open bars – things that are common in the all-inclusive segment. Depending on the program, we may also include meals on land tours, especially for group departures.

EcoTourism

Ecotourism is a form of tourism involving visiting fragile, pristine, and relatively undisturbed natural areas, intended as a low-impact and often small scale alternative to standard commercial mass tourism. Ecotourism focuses on socially responsible travel, personal growth, and environmental sustainability. Small ships, and small groups, enable our guests to get up close to…

Our Guests

Our Guests are the reason for our work - to see our passion for creating unforgettable memories, fulfulling dreams, discovering more of our world come to fruition. If not for our guests, we have no purpose! Our rewards are our happy guests, who return, and who write years later to…

Our History

The West family patriarch, Chuck West, was the pioneering Alaska bush pilot who opened Alaska to the world. He had three great loves - flying, his wife, Marguerite Lee, a goldminer's daughter from Nome, and Alaska - and they all came together to create a grand legacy. He started the…

Core Values

Our individual and team actions, programs and work are governed by our Core Values - INTEGRITY - AUTHENTICITY - RESPECT - RESPONSIBILITY - HONESTY - SINCERITY - VALUE - FRIENDSHIP - HAPPINESS - CURIOSITY - FAMILY - MAKING A DIFFERENCE  

Eco Adventures

Eco Adventure is the combination of adventurous activity with environmentally responsible awareness. They are typically outdoor recreational programming opportunities that are joined with ecologically positive action. We like to promote sustainable use of the outdoors through modeling positive user relationships with the environment. Destinations and activities vary widely. Some representative…

Working with Locals

Working with Locals, there’s no better way to see a destination than through the eyes of a local. Whether in a big city or a small village, and no matter if you want to see the popular sites or you’d prefer to get off the beaten path, we endeavor to…

Our Mission

It is our Mission to provide purposeful travel to interesting destinations, designed to create lasting memories and fulfilling experiences by going beyond the expected.

Sustainable Travel

Sustainable Travel is businesses that support environmental conservation, social development, and local economies.

FAQ

You have questions.  We have answers.

How do I make a reservation?

It’s easy. Just call 1-855-EXPLOR1 (1-855-397-5671), email info@explorcruises.com, or see your travel agent.

What kind of clothing do I need to bring?

UP-CLOSE, CASUAL AND PERSONAL Our style is always informal. It is also very active. Pack light – (For example, no more than a combined 20 Kilos (44 pounds) of luggage may be checked on flights to or from the Galapagos Islands. These restrictions do not include small carry-on flight bags or camera cases.) – and bring comfortable clothes. Clothing in “layers” is always a good plan. Depending on the destination, you may encounter a range of climates and temperatures.

A special note about footwear: As you can imagine, the wrong footwear can ruin your travel plans. Good walking shoes are essential. And waterproof, close-toed sandals or shoes are best for “wet landings” and island explorations. Consider “Keen”, ”Teva” or similar brands. Polar expeditions require much more in the way of winter clothing and footwear.

What will I do each day on an EXPLOR CRUISES ship-based tour?

Our programs are specially designed to give guests a unique, up-close, and personal perspective and insight about the destination, wherever it may be. The details will vary by itinerary, but typically there will be at least one, and sometimes  two or more excursions or events each day. We usually land somewhere that gives you a choice of activities: a short walk or a longer hike, bird watching, snorkeling,  beachcombing or cultural or historic tour. Instead of bingo, floor shows, or other typical “big ship” diversions, there will usually be intellectually stimulating presentations concerning the destination including flora, fauna, culture and history.

What are EXPLOR CRUISES’ ships like?

They are “small” by today’s standards, and range in size  from 16-guests up to about 250-guests. The larger ships may be very luxurious, and all-inclusive, with large suites, some of which may have balconies. They are all comfortable, have a generous amount of public space, and are specially equipped to travel in the particular destination, whether Galapagos Islands, Antarctica, Greek Isles, Alaska or the Great Lakes. You will not find casinos, floor shows, or other typical big ship features. The focus is on the destination, rather than the ship. The ships are small enough that you will get to know other guests and the crew, adding to the development of meaningful experiences and memories.

What are Zodiac (Panga) landing craft that your ships carry?

Carrying small inflatable landing craft is one of the keys to our style of expedition cruising. These small landing craft allow us to go almost anywhere, anytime. We can venture to places where larger vessels can’t go, such as remote bays and inlets. We can get ahore where there are no docks , or simply explore up close where even our small ships cannot go. With the combination of our agile ships and our fleet of Zodiacs, we’re not tied to larger ports of call. In many areas, such as the Galapagos Islands and the remote Polar regions, they are the only way to get to and from the ships, as there are no docks or piers to accommodate vessels.

How is EXPLOR CRUISES different from any other tour?

Our slogan – “UP-CLOSE, CASUAL AND PERSONAL” says it all. Our EXPLOR-ations bring you up close to the scenery, wildlife and cultural sites of a destination, giving you a deeper appreciation of each place we visit. You will be guided by experts, and you will typically have “insider” experiences not available to most visitors. And it’s important to note that you’ll be in a small group, where you receive personal attention.  But perhaps most importantly, it is the personal attention of our founder, Dick West, who has developed an art of designing, planning, and operating small ship cruises and tours around the world with a focus on the guest experience. He believes each tour is a production that relies on coordinated timing, logistics and an unwavering commitment to detail and the guest experience. Dick personally approves every itinerary, hotel, ship and restaurant used in our programs, Whenever possible, he visits each destination, selecting the best “ingredients” to create lasting memories. He goes above and beyond to scout out the best features and special highlights overlooked by other tour operators. The result has been thousands upon thousands of happy guests who have returned home with unforgettable memories.

What about sightseeing - are there extra costs?

Activities and shore excursions as outlined in the itineraries are usually included in the cost of every EXPLOR CRUISES’ journey. We don’t want you to miss out on anything. With EXPLOR CRUISES, all program activities and sightseeing are included – from guided walks to museum entrance fees to water activities like snorkeling. Sharing experiences creates memories and relationships with other guests that add to the overall travel experience. So we include activities that will be appropriate for our guests. There may be optional activities available at extra costs that are more specific to a particular guest’s interests and abilities, such as scuba diving, river rafting, or fishing. And a very few budget operators still charge for shore excursions.

What will we do in the evenings?

Entertainment onboard stems from the day’s explorations or the particular itinerary: perhaps videos  and informal talks about the destination, perhaps a performance by local dancers or musicians. Most evenings, we gather in the ship’s lounge for an EXPLOR CRUISES’ tradition called “Daily Recap,” where the cruise director, or expedition staff members talk about what you experienced that day and what to anticipate tomorrow.

Are there low-fat, low-salt, vegetarian or Vegan dining options?

Every destination has a “flavor.” And we believe our guests should have every opportunity to “taste” the destination. A great deal of thought goes into what is served. Full buffet breakfasts, casual lunches, and leisurely dinners with plenty of choice are served in our comfortable dining rooms in an open, single-seating dining environment, or on deck. If you have special dietary restrictions, please let us know in advance and we will accommodate you.

What's included or not included in the cost?

EXPLOR CRUISES’ rates are all-inclusive:

  • All ship and hotel accommodations
  • All meals aboard ship and most meals ashore as indicated.
  • Taxes, and port charges
  • In  most cases, all shore excursions and sightseeing, entrance fees, special access permits are included
  • Transfers as indicated in itinerary
  • Use of kayaks (where available), snorkeling gear and panga excursions
  • Services of Exploration Team and Naturalist Guides

Airfare to the program point of origin is a separate cost. Many of our travelers prefer to use their Frequent Flyer miles. There may also be departure taxes due at airports, if not included in your air ticket.

Are there any special incentives I should know about?

We offer a few special programs to encourage early planning:

Early Booking Discount – Explor Cruises may offer Early Booking Discounts (EBDs). Our intent is to reward those who book early, which helps us and our vendors plan more efficiently.

Group Discounts – For your party of ten people or more, booked together at the same time, you may receive an additional 5% discount off the cost of your cruise- tour with EXPLOR CRUISES. A deposit of 10% of the trip cost is required at the time of reservation, and an additional 25% is required 120 days in advance. Final payment is due 90 days in advance.

Note: if taking advantage of this discount, a variation of the cancellation policy may apply. Please ask upon making your reservation.

Our Policy on Combining Offers – If the cruise-tour with Explor Cruises that interests you provides more than one savings opportunity (e.g. it is eligible for EBD and Group savings), we won’t make you choose between them. You may combine any of the applicable savings offers. Discounts will be applied sequentially, with smallest discount taken off first. (IE: Early Booking, then Group discount).

Is EXPLOR CRUISES a good choice for families traveling together?

Families are welcome at any time on any of our expeditions. Some ships impose a minimum age, IE 8 years old, except on “Family Cruises”, when minimum age is 3 years old. Multi-generation travel with EXPLOR CRUISES is a popular way to create lasting family memories and bonds. And no one has to cook or clean!

Destinations with an emphasis on nature are perfect for families to share in the expedition experience. Kids and parents or grandparents can, for example observe the wildlife, walk through rain forests, swim from isolated beaches or kayak in remote waters. Everyone’s on the same wavelength, sharing life-enriching experiences that create lifetime memories.

I am traveling alone, please tell me what I can expect?

A growing number of men and women are traveling alone today, either by choice or necessity. EXPLOR CRUISES has always welcomed the independent traveler. You’ll find expedition life is very conducive to traveling solo. You’ll travel with fellow guests who have similar interests, making it easy to mingle. In the Dining Room, meals are served in a single seating with unassigned tables-so it’s easy to pull up a chair and make new friends.

Some of our ships and yachts have single cabins, or do not charge a single supplement. So please ask. Or, if you’d like to share cabin costs, we are glad to try to find a same sex roommate for you.

Will I have access to e-mail and the internet? May I bring my laptop?

Most ships and yachts are equipped with satellite communications for e-mail and internet access, telephone and fax for which additional charges may apply.

Tell me more about the ship cabins and shipboard amenities.

Air conditioning Most ships are climate controlled throughout. Some cabins have their own thermostat, allowing you to control the temperature level in your cabin. A few ships do not have air conditioning.

Cabin Amenities You may expect standard hotel style amenities, including beach towels. If you choose to bring your own shampoo and/or conditioner, we recommend that you bring biodegradable products.

Communications Prior to your departure date, we will provide you with a list of port contacts and phone numbers, indicating how you can be reached in case of emergency.

Currency and Credit Cards On most ships  the currency is the US Dollar. All services and products purchased on board the ship may be paid for by cash, or credit card.  Travelers Checks are not generally accepted aboard ships or ashore anymore.

Dining There will generally be one open seating for all meals, with tables unassigned to encourage mingling. The meal hours will be posted in the Daily Program.

Doctor There may be a doctor on board certain ships. There may be a fee charged for discretionary medical services.

Electrical Appliances In general, each cabin is equipped with at least one 110v (American) or 220V (European) electrical outlet which can be used for electric razors and other small devices. Hair dryers may be available in each cabin or from the Hotel Manager..

Elevator A few small exploration ships are equipped with an elevator providing access to all decks/guest areas.

Expedition Staff Knowledgeable and professional guides both ashore on land tours and onboard ship will ensure you have an intellectually enlightening, as well as enjoyable, travel experience. They may join you for meals and social hours as well.

Gratuities Gratuities are included on some cruises, such as Ponant and Silversea Expeditions.

Laundry Laundry services may be available at an additional charge aboard some ships.

Library Each ship features an onboard library with a selection of books pertaining to your destination.

Smoking For the comfort of all our guests, we use ships where smoking is permitted only in designated outdoor areas, if at all.

Snorkeling Snorkels, masks, fins and beach towels are available on board our ships where such activities are available. To ensure a perfect fit, you may want to bring your own mask and snorkel. In certain areas  wetsuits  may also be available for snorkeling. Our goal is to ease packing restrictions and provide added comfort in the water.

Valuables Some vessels are equipped with safety deposit boxes in the rooms and cabins. Others may have small locking drawers with a key where you can keep your valuables.  Or you may leave valuables with the Purser, Captain, or Hotel Manager.

Wellness Program Exploring the world can be a powerful reenergizing tonic. To that end, we are delighted to offer you more options to tap into your own personal wellness goals and help you rest and rejuvenate as best we can. Some of the ships we use offer spa and massage services at reasonable rates.

Zodiacs and Pangas Key to exploration cruises  is the use of Zodiac-style inflatable watercraft, or pangas, which are used to land on remote islands, communities  and beaches that would otherwise be inaccessible.

``Let us step into the night and pursue that flighty temptress, adventure.”