G Expedition Entertainment & Activities
G Adventures is all about providing passengers with an authentic and sustainable experience of the destinations being visited; shore excursion options, most of which are included in the fare, include a host of Zodiac and walking tours. Passengers are fully briefed at the outset of the cruise on dos and don'ts in order not to damage the environments being visited. They are also given safety instructions for embarking and disembarking the Zodiacs.
As G Expedition sails in cold weather regions, the amount of time out on excursions is shorter than those in hot climates and the Zodiac cruises and shore walks are between one and two hours, usually with two per day. With no docking facilities in the destinations visited, Zodiacs are used to access the shore so passengers need a reasonable level of fitness to get in and out of the boats. Two crew members and the Zodiac driver are always on hand to help each passenger in and out of the Zodiac, but these tours are not suitable to people with mobility issues.
At the start of the sailing passengers are split into groups, usually four, and rotate in the order they set out on excursions. So, for example, one group will go out first on one day and last on the next.
Zodiac cruises may be divided into different language groups -- on our cruise there were English and German tours. On the land tours, a crew "scouting" party goes ashore in advance to check the area is safe and there are no wild animals in the vicinity; then they set out a flagged trail for passengers to follow at their own pace. There are usually three or more points along the trail staffed by members of the team who are on hand to explain the local history, geology, fauna and flora and answer any questions. It should be noted that the excursion program is flexible and dependant on weather conditions and wildlife sightings.
On certain sailings, additional activities can be booked in advance at extra cost. These include kayaking in the Arctic and Antarctic and camping in Antarctica.
G Adventures was launched by globe-trotter Bruce Poon in 1990 to provide authentic vacations in a responsible and sustainable manner. The company opposes and discourages any practices that have a negative impact on animal protection and welfare so there are no activities where travelers come into direct contact with animals or swim with them. Zodiacs keep a set distance from wildlife to avoid interfering with natural behaviour or scaring the animals, while still providing ample opportunities to photograph them. If the "scouting party" spots polar bears in an area planned for a shore expedition, then for safety reasons the excursion will take place by Zodiac instead and all polar bear viewing opportunities are from the water.
The captain and officers on the G Expedition bridge are constantly on the lookout for wildlife and will make announcements whenever sightings are made. These may be fleeting, so the best way to see wildlife while sailing is to be out on deck or sitting by a window. Due to the nature of expeditions, sightings might be announced during the early or late hours and during mealtimes or lectures. Passengers are also asked to inform a crew member if they spot any wildlife so the sighting can be shared.
Depending on the itinerary, sightings might include whales, polar bears, penguins, walruses, seals, reindeer and abundant birdlife.
To make the most of the wildlife viewing, take a good pair of binoculars and a high-capacity memory card as you will take plenty of pictures.
With a team of 14 expedition staff, the enrichment program -- included in the fare -- is outstanding and provides an in-depth and detailed insight into the regions being visited. The team aboard during our cruise, including a geologist and glaciologist, historian and six naturalists with different areas of expertise, were all experts in their subjects and passionate about their work. The lectures were well presented and structured and there was also plenty of time for questions and answers. Additionally, the lecturers and expedition leaders mingled with passengers during the day and joined their tables at mealtimes, providing the opportunity for one-to-one conversations.
The team included a resident photographer who hosted lectures and shared tips. He was available in the library at set times for passengers who wanted to chat about anything to do with photos and cameras. His inclusive talks could be enjoyed by amateur and serious photographers alike.
Every evening, before dinner, the team held a recap of the day and a briefing covering the next day day's schedule in the Discovery Lounge, covering wildlife that had been spotted and answering any questions. This session also included mini-presentations by some of the staff providing introductions to subjects such as astronomy, rocks and climate change. Some evenings, after dinner, members of the expedition team led wildlife spotting sessions on deck, such as looking at cliffs with large populations of nesting birds, or gave informal chats in the bar about their travel experiences. On some nights, wildlife documentaries were screened in the lounge. There are large notice boards in the area between reception and the lounge with maps of the route, information on places being visited, indigenous wildlife and conservation issues.
An overview of the daily program is not left in cabins but is posted up at various points around the ship, such as the reception desk, Discovery Lounge and notice boards.
Daytime and Evening Entertainment
With days mostly taken up by wildlife spotting, excursions and lectures, the entertainment onboard G Expedition is fairly low-key. Our cruise had a singer and guitarist along with a talented crew band who played on some nights in the Polar Bear Pub. There are also quizzes, a raffle and a costume night, where people can dress up using accessories from the box provided. Other than that, passengers spend their spare time chatting to other shipmates or reading.
The Penguin Library can be found on Deck 4 and is a cozy room overlooking the port side of the ship. Decorated in shades of red and blue, it has three round tables with a mix of comfortable swivel armchairs, banquette seating and tables. It has a wide selection of reference books, including geography, geology, nature and wildlife on the destinations visited by the ship. Passengers are requested not to take these books out of the library. There is also a fiction section and passengers are welcome to take these novels out of the library for the duration of the cruise and are invited to donate any of their own books at the end. There is also a small selection of board games.
G Expedition Bars and Lounges
Discovery Lounge (Deck 4): G Expedition has one main lounge bar that doubles as a briefing room and lecture hall. Situated forward on Deck 4, overlooking the ship's bow, it can accommodate all passengers. It is decorated in fairly muted shades of blue, gray and red and has a large video screen at the front with three large flat-screen TVs and two smaller TV screens so passengers sitting anywhere in the room can see what is being shown. The lounge is surrounded on three sides by large windows occupying the upper part of the wall, and is a comfortable room that forms the social and cultural heart of the vessel. Most of the seating is made up of roomy bucket-style seats with arms that are fixed to the floor but swivel around. Each set of four seats is set around a circular table. There is further banquette seating down the port and starboard sides of the lounge, again with tables. There are six high stools at the rectangular bar located at the entrance to the lounge. The bar, which is open from 9 a.m. until midnight, is also the venue for the captain's welcome cocktail and farewell drink.
Drink prices start at $2 for soda and $4 for beer. Wine by the glass, measures of spirits, liqueurs and specialty coffees such as Irish, Mexican and Jamaican all cost $6. Cocktails start at $6, for gin and tonic or Cuba Libre, and all the rest are $8 and cover all the popular options such as margarita, Long Island iced tea, pina colada, etc. There is a changing cocktail of the day flagged up on the bar each morning, which costs $4, and a "happy hour" before dinner when all spirits and wines (not beer) are available at a discount.
Polar Bear Pub (Deck 5): This L-shaped bar occupies a great position aft on Deck 5 and has a cozy pub-like atmosphere. It is a popular and busy spot for an after-dinner drink and to listen to live music staged on some nights. The bar is decked out in polished brass and wood with a nautical theme and the decor includes ships' wheels and wooden barrels. There is also a dartboard. There are stools around the bar and the rest of the bar has tables and chairs that provide views on three sides through large panoramic windows. It serves the same drinks menu as the Discovery Lounge. The seating area of the pub is available at all times for passengers to enjoy the views.
G Expedition Outside Recreation
There is no outdoor recreation on G Expedition, though the viewing platform is in a prime position forward on Deck 4 and overlooks the front of the ship. It is situated on two levels and accessed via a door at the front of the Discovery Lounge. It is situated next to a working deck area and when the ship is docking and at certain other times, it is closed to passengers. The Sun Deck, another excellent outdoor viewing area, is located aft on Deck 5 behind the Polar Bear Pub. It is set out with wooden benches and tables and there is a further seating and smaller open deck area directly above on Deck 6. Passengers can also access other sections of outdoor deck at the sides of the vessel, but these areas are not large enough for a walking track.
G Expedition Services
The reception desk is midship on Deck 4 and is staffed from 7:30 to 10 a.m., 11 a.m. to noon, 1 to 2 p.m., 4:30. to 5:30 p.m. and 7 to 9:30 p.m. The times are displayed on a sign on the desk along with the daily program. When the reception desk is not staffed there is a pad where passengers can write out questions and leave in a box and a member of the staff will contact them later. There is a banquette, two chairs and a table in front of reception and on the wall is a real-time map showing the ship's position. Condensed daily international newspapers can also be found at the reception desk and in the lounge. These are for everyone to share and passengers are asked not to remove them. Reception also has a real-time map showing the ship's position.
Located on Deck 4 is a gift shop that is open from 8:30 to 9:15 a.m., 1 to 1:45 p.m. and 8:30 to 9:15 p.m. daily when the ship is not in port. It sells souvenirs, T-shirts, candy, expedition gear, G Adventures' branded items and toiletries.
Wi-Fi vouchers, priced at $50 for 250MB and $80 for 500MB, are available from the reception desk. Passengers are provided with a login code and password and the vouchers can be used for several devices, albeit only one at a time. Subject to connection, Wi-Fi is available throughout the ship, including cabins. It should be noted that as the G Expedition cruises to some extremely remote destinations, the Wi-Fi connections can be slow, intermittent and at times nonexistent for days at a time. For passengers that don't have their own devices, there is a computer room on Deck 4 with three terminals. Next to it is a phone booth, with one phone, where passengers can make calls. Voucher cards to use it are available from reception in $10 increments.
An inexpensive laundry service is available and passengers leave items in their cabin in the bag left on the desk/vanity unit. Charges start at 50 cents for handkerchiefs and $1 for socks, scarves, hats and gloves to $6 for parkas and waterproof pants. An ironing service is also available for $2 per item. Laundry is typically returned within 36 hours and the service is available until 48 hours prior to disembarkation.
G Expedition has an onboard doctor and small medical center located aft on Deck 4. Passengers requiring medical attention that is not urgent can contact the reception desk to make an appointment with the doctor. If passengers require urgent help, either during the day or when the reception desk is closed at night, they can contact the bridge immediately by pulling the emergency cord located by the bed in their cabins. All medical treatment is chargeable and will be added to the onboard account.
Ice is freely available on request from the lounge bar and Polar Bear Pub during opening times.
Smoking is allowed in a designated area on the Sun Deck (5) outside the Polar Bear Pub.
The ship does not have any elevators.