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There’s no doubt that expedition cruising is a booming sector of the industry, which is why cruise lines are thinking outside the box for new ships, destinations and offerings to beat out the competition.

Over the past few weeks there have been several new developments in the sector, including major refurbishments aboard two popular expedition vessels and commercial cruising’s first trek into the Northwest Passage.

If you’re struggling to keep up, here’s a list of what’s new in expedition cruising:

New ships

Ecoventura has commenced construction on a 20-passenger yacht, which the line says will be the most comfortable and environmentally friendly vessel to cruise the Galapagos.

The company’s founder Santiago Dunn said he hopes that when MV Origin

launches on 3 January 2016 she will cruise on 1,000 gallons per week.

That’s 45 percent less than the 1,800 gallons currently required on other yachts.

Additionally, Mr Dunn said she will bring new levels of comfort to the Galapagos Island with ten deluxe staterooms with panoramic windows and other luxurious features.

Quark Expeditions is also looking to expand its polar business, with plans for a third Antarctic expedition ship.

Although details of the new ship are yet to be confirmed, TTG Digital reported that it will be used during the 2015/16-season.

The ship is also expected to carry less than 200 passengers like the line’s other Antarctic vessels and is likely to be equipped with Zodiacs for shore excursions.

Click here for more information on Quark’s new expedition ships.

New Destination – the Northwest Passage

Crystal Cruises is taking its passengers on a route no other major cruise line has sailed before.

The line is sending Crystal Serenity on a month-long cruise through the remote Northwest Passage in August 2016.

Until recently, the passage has been frozen in ice and has been inaccessible by cruise ships.

However, the retreat of polar ice has made it possible for Crystal to send Serenity on the 32-day cruise.

Departing from Alaska, the itinerary includes visits to Kodiak, Dutch Harbor, Nome, Cambridge Bay, Pond Inlet, Sisimiut, Nuuk, Bar Harbor, Boston, Newport, Rhode Island and New York

Activities will include polar bear-viewing, whale-watching, glacier-cruising, scenic helicopter flights, hiking, climbing and golfing at the world’s northernmost nine-hole course.

Guests will also partake in arts and crafts with locals, traditional drum dancing and throat singing and local food tasting.

Click here for more information on Crystal Cruises first cruise through the Northwest Passage.

Onboard changes

Lindblad Expeditions’ National Geographic Orion will undergo changes in September this year, to streamline the vessel with the Lindblad fleet.

Changes will be made to two public spaces – the Lounge and the Observation Lounge.

The library in the Lounge will be removed to make way for a ‘circle of truth’ in the centre of the room. The circle will be used as a focal area for presentations and discussions by the ship’s team and experts.

The Observation Lounge will receive a complete new layout featuring an intimate library, a nautical chart and a self-serve beverage station.

Click here for more information on National Geographic Orion’s refurbishment.

Silversea Cruises has also revealed 100-passenger Silver Galapagos will enter drydock next month to undergo a month-long refurbishment.

The ship will receive new interior décor, with a blue and beige colour palette.

The suites will be completely redesigned with the new colours and the Explorer Lounge and corridors will receive a few minor upgrades.

Click here for more information on Silver Galapagos’ upgrades.