As incentives and recognition programs rebound, there is more demand for unique travel adventures and authentic destination experiences. Sustainability concerns are also on the rise as organizations and program participants seek eco-friendly travel options.
A cruise ship is a perfect venue to include unique and memorable experiences during an incentive travel program or corporate event. Planners can rest assured that cruise lines are implementing responsible environmental practices while supporting the communities they visit.
When it comes to shore excursions, one size doesn’t fit all!
Cruise lines have created a range of sustainable, thoughtfully crafted, and locally-inspired tours to please everyone in your group. Your participants can immerse themselves in local culture, embark on an active adventure, explore hidden local gems, join an immersive culinary tour, or take an eco-conscious excursion.
With these factors in mind, we’ve curated 7 unique destination experiences.
This is just a small sampling! There are literally thousands of exciting, eco-friendly excursions on ships of all sizes sailing around the globe. We’ve listed our samples in ascending order of ship size – from intimate expedition vessels and mega-yachts to midsize and mega resort-style ships. All these destination experiences are designed to motivate, inspire, and create lasting memories for everyone in your group.
1. Lindblad-National Geographic – Discover Wild Alaska
America’s final frontier is a vast, pristine wilderness of snow-capped mountains, breathtaking fjords, and extraordinary wildlife. Lindblad-National Geographic’s intimate ships, seasoned expedition team, and extensive connections to the region will reveal the magic of Alaska. Every voyage has tools specially designed for exploration, so you and your guests can go further and get closer to the wonders of nature.
Destination Experience – Wild Alaska Escape
This six-day adventure expedition features some of the most active glaciers in untamed regions of Southeast Alaska. Your participants will witness the electric blues of iceberg-dotted LeConte Bay and navigate narrow channels into Misty Fjords. They can board Zodiacs to explore Prince of Wales Island and use kayaks and paddleboards to trace the rugged, wildlife-rich shorelines of Kupreanof Island.
- Venture by Zodiac into a fjord laden with blue ice from the Leconte or Baird glacier.
- Sail into Misty Fjords National Monument searching for humpbacks, orcas, and sea lions.
- Roam small, uninhabited islands, hiking through the moss-draped cedar, or tide-pooling along the craggy shores.
- Scan the shorelines along Sumner Strait for a chance to spot black bears and bald eagles searching for salmon.
About Your Expedition Ship
American-flagged National Geographic Sea Bird and twin ship National Geographic Sea Lion accommodate 62 guests in 31 outside cabins. Inviting public spaces foster a sense of shipboard life where everyone is integral to the adventure, engendering a rewarding sense of community and esprit du corps.
Sustainability: Building on a legacy of over 50 years as a leader in responsible travel and sustainability, Lindblad is a 100% carbon-neutral company committed to green business operations. Traveler contributions to the LEX-NG Fund in Alaska support their regional partner, Alaska Whale Foundation, in its efforts to study and conserve Alaska’s whales and other wildlif
2. Celebrity Cruises – Enchanting Galapagos Islands
The mega-yacht Celebrity Flora was designed and built to navigate the waters of the Galapagos Islands. This environmental paradise destination offers opportunities to spot exotic wildlife, walk on volcanic islands and black-sand beaches, and witness beautiful, otherworldly landscapes.
Destination Experience: Once-In-A-Lifetime Wildlife Encounters
Your program participants can follow in the footsteps of Darwin to meet incredible wildlife and trek fantastic landscapes during a 7-night Galapagos expedition. And they’ll see it all through the eyes of certified naturalists. Since the animals don’t fear humans, you and your group can truly get up close and personal.
- Look into the eyes of a Galapagos marine iguana.
- Watch the blue-footed booby dance.
- Walk among penguins.
- Snorkel with sea lions.
About Your Mega-Yacht
Celebrity Flora is a 100-passenger all-suite mega-yacht designed and built specifically with this destination in mind. The vessel features an innovative, outward-facing concept to embrace views of the Galapagos Islands. Celebrity Flora was constructed with the latest environmental technologies to practice responsible tourism while delivering ultimate luxury.
Sustainability: Your entire Galapagos experience practices the highest levels of environmental stewardship. Celebrity has done so much to leave these islands virtually untouched that Ecuador’s Secretary of Tourism holds Celebrity Cruises as the standard of excellence for reducing their carbon footprint.
3. Avalon Waterways – Experience Europe Your Way
During Active & Discovery European river cruises, Avalon offers activities for travelers with varying interests and for all energy and fitness levels. Excursions were designed to please everyone in your group, whether they’re an art lover, a food and wine lover, a history buff, or an active adventurer. Every port gives your participants a world of possibilities as they interact with the locals and choose the dynamic, interactive activities that appeal to them most.
Destination Experience: Active & Discovery Danube River
From the Black Forest of Germany to the Black Sea, the Danube is the best way to explore Central and Eastern Europe. During this 7-night cruise, your group will discover history and culture at each port. Whether participants prefer browsing the art collection of the Habsburg Empire, sipping local vintages at an Austrian wine tasting, or joining a canoe or biking excursion, your Active & Discovery Danube River cruise is packed with authentic and immersive destination experiences. The adventure is up to them!
- Sample cheese and beer made by Trappist monks and explore their Abbey gardens.
- Experience Vienna like a local during an insider’s tour.
- Join a canoe excursion, hike, or take a bike tour.
- Watch a Medieval Knights Tournament at a Visegrád castle.
About Your River Ship
Each of Avalon Waterway’s state-of-the-art fleet of Suite Ships accommodates 166 guests. They feature the widest-opening, wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling windows and open-air balconies in river cruising for optimal views of the passing scenery.
Sustainability: Avalon Waterways has been honored by Europe’s Green Award—recognized for their fleet’s high safety and environmental standards. This prestigious award is given to river cruise ships based on the environmental impact of engines, fuel consumption, waste and maintenance, pollution prevention, and more.
4. Atlas Ocean Voyages – Luxe Adventure in Antarctica
Take your group on an intimate yachting expedition to Antarctica and immerse them in one of the world’s most remote, pristine regions. Your Atlas Ocean Voyages Captain will expertly navigate icebergs, glaciers, and ice floes to bring you and your incentive winners up close and personal to incredible wildlife and otherworldly landscapes.
Destination Experience: Adventure Meets Luxury in Antarctica
Landry & Kling CEO Joyce Landry fulfilled a bucket-list dream when she explored Antarctica with Atlas Ocean Voyages. This is what she had to say about her 9-night “luxe adventure” expedition:
“An Antarctica expedition is an experience like no other. No words can describe this vast continent of stunning, quiet beauty. The other-worldly beauty of Antarctica, with its landscapes of blue ice, is staggering. Antarctica is home to land and sea creatures not found anywhere else on Earth, including several species of unique (and adorable!) penguins.”
Highlights (From Joyce Landry’s Report)
- The World Navigator Expedition Team accompanied us on zodiac tours and land excursions.
- They guided us to the optimal sightseeing locations and shared their in-depth knowledge about the fascinating wildlife we encountered.
- We visited the largest colony of Gentoo penguins in the Antarctic.
- We kayaked close to two Crab Eating Seals with their two pups.
About Your Luxe-Expedition Ship
World Navigator is the first of Atlas Ocean Voyages’ three polar-class expedition yachts, each accommodating 196 guests in 98 suites and staterooms. The mega-yacht features luxurious amenities, gourmet cuisine, and impeccable service during all-inclusive journeys to remote destinations.
Sustainability: Atlas Ocean Voyages’ intimate yachts realize the possibilities of environmental stewardship with the latest hybrid power management and propulsion systems, maximizing fuel efficiency and consuming as low as one-fifth of the fuel compared to conventional cruise-ship systems, reducing their environmental impact.
5. Silversea – Mediterranean Culinary Immersion
A Mediterranean cruise through Croatia features azure seas, white beaches, and charming medieval villages. When your group sails on a Silversea ship, they can also taste their way through regional specialties with Silversea’s Sea And Land Taste (S.A.L.T.) immersive culinary program. Your attendees will enjoy in-depth, engaging excursions and connect food to their destination in a unique way.
Destination Experience: Hidden Corner of the Mediterranean
While sailing from Venice on a 7-night cruise, your epicureans can discover the “hidden gems” of Hvar Island during a S.A.L.T. Program excursion. A scenic drive drive brings them to Jelsa Village and the Duboković Winery to meet Ivo Duboković, one of the most diverse winemakers in Croatia. Ivo will esscort his guests to his atmospheric, 80-year-old wine cellar to savor four to six award-winning wines accompanied by a selection of cheeses and olive oil.
Next, participants continue to the remote village of Malo Grablje. This nearly-abandoned, 15th-century village remains a testament to life as it once existed on Hvar Island. Surrounded by rugged cliffs dotted with olive trees and vineyards, this is truly unique setting for a delicious Dalmatian meal at a traditional tavern.
- Travel to Jelsa Village to visit the Dubokovic Winery.
- Enjoy wine tasting and local bites in an 80-year old wine cellar.
- Step back in time and explore a 15th-century village.
- Visit a traditional tavern for a Dalmatian meal.
About Your Ship
With a capacity of 596 passengers, Silver Moon offers the small-ship intimacy and spacious all-suite accommodations that are the hallmarks of the Silversea luxury travel experience. This is the first ship to feature Silversea’s S.A.L.T. concept offering culinary excursions, an interactive cooking lab, and destination-focused restaurants onboard.
Sustainability: As a member of the Royal Caribbean Group of cruise brands, Oceania Cruises is committed to supporting sustainable and resilient ocean communities worldwide. They are accelerating their ongoing decarbonization strategies and innovating with partners to achieve Net Zero by 2050.
6. Oceania Cruises – Authentic Adventures in the Caribbean
Oceania Cruises promises to deliver small-ship luxury, curated travel experiences, and exquisitely crafted cuisine. With at least 2 staff members for every 3 guests, your group can also expect exceptional personalized service. During a 7-night Western Caribbean cruise, authentic experiences ashore include immersive culinary, wellness, and Maya cultural tours, all customizable for groups.
Destination Experience: Mayan Culture & Medicine Trail
During a stop at Harvest Caye, Belize, your participants can experience Mayan culture with the help of a Belizean village shaman. They’ll follow their guide through a canopied jungle path in an area full of medicinal plants and herbs. After pointing out their uses, the Mayan shaman, herbalist, and healer will prepare traditional medicines while explaining which plants are said to cure which illnesses. A visit to a village home to enjoy a traditional Mayan beverage adds to the immersive cultural adventure.
- Visit an authentic Mayan village next to a jungle wildlife reserve.
- Stroll a natural trail with a Mayan guide who will point out the medicinal plants.
- Watch a renowned Mayan shaman concoct medicines from plants and herbs.
- Visit a house that has been cleansed of negative energy through smudging to sample a traditional Mayan cocoa drink.
About Your Ship
Vista was launched in 2023 and accommodates 1200 guests in a warm and welcoming ambiance. Stunning interiors and harmonious spaces reflect a fresh, new perspective through organic elements inspired by the land and sea. Your group will enjoy “The Finest Cuisine at Sea,” exceptionally personalized service, and Oceania’s first purpose-built holistic wellness center.
Sustainability: Oceania Cruises continuously seeks and invests in new technologies and innovations to improve its environmental performance. The cruise line is pursuing net zero by 2050 with plans to set short- and near-term GHG reduction targets.
7. MSC Cruises – Sustainable Private Island Getaway
MSC Cruises designed Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve to show the cruise line’s appreciation of the environment while giving their guests a slice of paradise. With docking directly on the island, visitors can walk straight off the ship and onto 2 miles of white sand beaches where chairs, umbrellas, and cabanas await. Beach bars and food trucks are also spread across the island.
Destination Experience: Ocean Cay, Bahamas – Nature Reclaimed
MSC transformed an abandoned industrial facility into a biodiverse and sustainable island destination, Ocean Cay Marine Reserve. Here your guests can relax beside crystal blue waters and connect with their natural surroundings. Three and four-night getaway cruises include late-night or overnight stays at Ocean Cay Marine Reserve. Both day and night, there are plenty of activities for all ages to enjoy on your private island.
- Snorkel with beautiful fish among the coral.
- Relax on a plush floating mat or explore the island by kayak.
- Take a beachside stargazing stroll.
- Experience glow paddle boarding and watch as the lights attract small tropical fish.
- End the night with a spectacular Lighthouse light show.
About Your Ship
With a capacity of 5078 passengers, MSC Seashore is equipped with the latest advanced environmental technology to increase energy efficiency. Seashore’s stunning exterior has been designed specifically for warmer climates, with more outdoor space to bring guests closer to the sea than ever before.
Sustainability: New technology and low-carbon fuels are fundamental to MSC’s carbon reduction strategy. MSC Cruises is collaborating with technology and energy providers to support and test innovative technologies, deploy renewable fuels, and further reduce emissions. In summer 2023, the cruise line will deliver MSC Euribia, their first ship powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG).