Where we come from
Oceanwide Expeditions embarked on its epic journey in 1993, originating in a university research program in the northern Netherlands. Employing a former oceanographic vessel, this program became the first in the world to provide civilian voyages to the Arctic island of Spitsbergen. These original routes still form the core of some of our most popular voyages.
Unlike many polar providers, we own and operate the bulk of our vessels, all of which comply with the highest safety standards: m/v Plancius (116 passengers), m/v Ortelius (116 passengers), and s/v Rembrandt van Rijn (33 passengers). We also manage a historic schooner, s/v Noorderlicht (20 passengers) and in 2019 will launch m/v Hondius (174 passengers), our newest vessel. Designed from the ground up for swift and adaptive polar exploration, Hondius is the world’s first-registered Polar Class 6 ship and one of the most advanced vessels on the market.
Oceanwide is a family company whose focus has always been expedition-style voyages. We provide our passengers maximum firsthand engagement with the polar terrain, its wildlife, and all the exciting activities the environment makes possible. Owned by Wijnand van Gessel and operated by his son, CEO Michel van Gessel, our staff is composed of pioneering polar experts who keep our voyages innovative and adventurous. It is this philosophy that makes the Oceanwide experience truly memorable.
Where we go, who we see, what we do
Plainly put, we visit the most iconic landscapes in the polar regions. We specialize in seeking the full wealth of polar wildlife and partaking in activities that highlight the many unique attributes that define the surreal polar world.
In the Northern Hemisphere, our voyages include the multifaceted archipelago of Svalbard, the mountainous shorelines of east Greenland, and the aurora-lighted wilderness of Northern Norway. Alternately, our Southern Hemisphere voyages tour the snow-swept wonders of the Antarctic Peninsula, the glacial waterways of the Weddell and Ross seas, and the verdant sub-Antarctic gems of South Georgia and the bird-filled Falklands.
While visiting these locations, our passengers become as acquainted with the terrain as with the wildlife that inhabits it. Our expedition guides are ever on the lookout for encounters with polar bears, penguins, whales, seals, walruses, and all the other precious polar animals that call these regions home.
Not only that, our invigorating outdoor activities equally characterize our voyages: Hiking, kayaking, mountaineering, skiing, diving, camping, photography workshops, and interactive presentations are among the many ways our cruises compliment their sightseeing and wildlife-watching aspects with invigorating outdoor adventures.
Even so, it’s not the special areas we tour (like the rarely-visited Ross Sea), the wildlife voyages we deploy (such as our polar bear or whale cruises), or the activities we partake in (like those offered on our basecamp trips) that most sets us apart. Rather, it is our drive to go the distance: We don’t merely show our passengers the polar environment, we immerse them in it.
Where we’re headed
Over the last five years, Oceanwide Expeditions has undergone growth of such seismic proportions that we felt the need to make a few changes.
We’ve hand-picked several new teammates from all over the world, built a sleek central office in the southern Netherlands port town of Vlissingen, and designed the newest addition to our nautical family: m/v Hondius. When it sets sail, Hondius will nearly double our passenger capacity and represent one of the most advanced, fortified, technologically green vessels on the polar seas.
All of these developments describe not only a passionate continuation of our exploratory spirit, but a doubled-down investment in our mission to provide the best expedition-style cruises in the industry. It’s this dedication that has made us a polar cruise leader for the past twenty-five years and makes us look forward to being one for the next twenty-five.