By Ginger Dingus, Cruise Critic contributor
No cruise tickets, no cabin keys, no set-in-stone schedule. No worries. A cruise aboard Sea Adventurer is, in a word, adventure. It's all about flexibility and being in the moment -- whether it's watching gannets dive for capelin (small, smelt-like fish) or exploring abandoned fishing villages and ancient native dwellings with whale-bone roofs.
Does your bucket list include seeing polar bears resting on an iceberg, watching musk oxen in marshy fields, visiting remote Inuit villages and hiking over seemingly barren Arctic landscapes? Do you prefer Zodiac rides to soaking in a hot tub? Is meeting fellow cruisers more important than hanging out on your private balcony? Then this may be the cruise for you.
Music is an unexpected feature of Adventure Canada cruises. It seems every staffmember from naturalist to geologist can sing or play a musical instrument. In Newfoundland, for example, the daily wakeup call ends with a timely ditty written and sung by the traveling culturalist/musician.
Sea Adventurer was built in 1975 in the former Yugoslavia as the passenger ship Alla Tarasova, a sister ship to Lyubov Orlova. Adventure Canada first chartered the ship in 1994 under its original name. Renamed Clipper Adventurer in 1997, the ship underwent a $13 million refit in 1998 that included cabin makeovers and newly installed stabilizers. As Sea Adventurer from 2013, the A-1 ice-rated ship sails to northern and southern polar regions for Adventure Canada (and its subsidiary Cruise North), Quark and Zegrahm Expeditions. Each company charters the ship individually, completely taking over tour operations, usually on a seasonal basis.
Sea Adventurer is currently owned by International Shipping Partners of Miami, owners of a fleet of expedition vessels and older ships available for lease.
Sea Adventurer Fellow Passengers
The majority of passengers come from Canada, with others split between the U.S., Australia and the U.K. The average passenger tends to be in his or her 60s, and many are repeaters with a surprising number cruising solo. They are active, fit, curious and take a keen interest in learning about the region they are visiting. Several small kids and teens usually sail on each trip, as family-owned Adventure Canada encourages families to travel onboard. English is the language for announcements and written material.
A discount may be offered to cruisers under the age of 30. Single travelers willing to share a cabin will either be matched with another willing single or guaranteed the double occupancy rate, even if a roommate is not found.
Passengers should be aware that there is no elevator. Everyone must be able to navigate often-shaky transfers between the ship's gangway and the 11 rubber Zodiacs used as tenders. Cruisers with mobility issues may not be able to fully enjoy the physically active shore excursions, though there is often an easy walk as an option.
Sea Adventurer Dress Code
Casual and comfortable says it all. Khakis or jeans with a pullover or fleece are fine for breakfast, lunch and dinner. For the Captain's dinner, dressing up means adding a scarf or wearing a clean shirt. Pack for the weather -- sweater, jacket, wool hat, rain jacket. For Zodiac landings, knee-high rubber boots and rain pants are musts, and you need to bring your own. You'll also want hiking boots or sturdy shoes for exploring ashore, plus a light backpack to tote your gear.
Sea Adventurer Gratuity
The recommended gratuity of $15 per person, per day, is automatically added to your shipboard account. You may adjust the amount up or down. The ship operates in U.S. dollars.