Tools for Exploration

Discover and learn more with our suite of modern tools for exploration

We believe that travelers don’t want to be passive tourists, so our expeditions foster active engagement. National Geographic Explorer is equipped with tools for exploration—to get you out there for up-close forays, or to let you see deeper into the marine or terrestrial environments surrounding you.
Zodiacs 
Explorer carries 15 Zodiac landing craft—a full fleet—allowing us to get the entire expedition community out, engaged in activities quickly, comfortably, and safely. Widely regarded as the most robust watercraft available, they can push through pack ice and run up on sandy shores. Our Zodiacs are equipped with reliable, 60hp four-stroke Yamaha outboard engines that zip over the water, but are also quiet enough that you can slowly approach without disturbing wildlife. And while Zodiacs can carry 15 people, we usually limit capacity to 12 or less to ensure everyone has plenty of room, and an opportunity to get that perfect shot.

Kayaks
Explorer is equipped with 36 two-person AIRE inflatable kayaks—a fleet large enough to ensure everyone who wants to can paddle at every opportunity.

Specifically chosen because of their inherent stability and suitability for polar waters, AIREs are virtually untippable. Consequently, prior kayaking experience isn’t necessary—many of our guests have their first kayaking experience in extraordinary locations. Our custom-designed floating platform lets us deploy kayaks from the ship, or any location we want—including the middle of the ocean.

Kayakers are usually free to explore where they want within boundaries set by the undersea specialist and officer of the watch.

Underwater camera
Our undersea specialist will dive almost every day of your expedition, even in Antarctica or the Arctic, with almost 200 pounds of gear, to shoot high-definition, Cousteau-like footage of the deep. Colorful nudibranchs, swimming, plant-like crinoids, and mysterious fish with antifreeze blood that thrive in the frigid sea will give you an entirely new appreciation of the marine environment.

Remotely Operated Vehicle
Capable of reaching 1,000 feet, far beyond the range of any Scuba diver, the ROV allows you to literally view parts of the undersea that are as unexplored as the moon. In polar waters, for example, we may be the first ever to explore and record in vast areas. By sharing videos of potentially new species with scientists, such as a large worm our specialist captured in the Weddell Sea, we actively contribute to science. Chances are you, like many of our guests, will be struck by how surprisingly colorful undersea life is in these unlikely places. And this glimpse may fundamentally change how you view the ocean.

Video microscope
Naturalists will use the video microscope to help explain all elements of the environment, including tiny organisms that are the building block of the marine ecosystem. Spellbinding images of a krill’s body, at 80x magnification, fills the plasma screens in the lounge with vivid detail, and fills every onlooker with a sense of wonder at the importance of an otherwise unobservable creature.

Crow’s nest camera
Perched high atop the vessel on the ship’s mast, this camera provides a continual view on the outside world that can be seen on your cabin TV. From zooming in on a distant polar bear to simply watching the bow crush through ice flows, you’ll get a unique perspective on your surroundings. The extra height from the camera also aids the captain by allowing him to peer at ice conditions further ahead.

Hydrophones
These underwater microphones are deployed to listen to the vocalizations of marine mammals. Real time transmissions of their eerie, haunting sounds can be broadcast through the ship or recorded for later playback.

Electronic charts
An electronic chart showing the ship’s location, course, and speed is always on display on a dedicated channel on your cabin TV.

Open bridge
You’ll find our captains are engaged, knowledgeable members of your expedition who are eager to share their passion with you. Explorer’s open bridge is features comfortable benches where guests often sit for hours, enjoying the view, having morning coffee, or simply chatting with the officers.

Snorkeling gear & wetsuits
On warm weather itineraries where there will be snorkeling, you’ll select a mask, snorkel, fins, and wetsuit that remain yours for the duration of the expedition. There’s no need to pack and tote your own gear, although guests who prefer to are welcome to bring their own.

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