Cutting-edge technology isn't just about toys. The luxury expedition ships of the next few years are safer and more ecologically friendly than ever before.

All new-builds, for instance, will use the latest "zero speed stabilizers," results in ships that remain steady in the water, even when at a standstill, which makes boarding Zodiacs and kayaks easier, as well as keeping mal de mer at bay aboard ship.

Scenic is a standout in this area, incorporating custom-designed stabilizers and fins that are 50 percent larger than standard, cutting 90 percent of the roll commonly felt on ships both big and small. Scenic -- which won an award in 2017 for cruise ship design, also placed part of its propulsion system at the front of the ship, a unique design that enables its propellers to also act as ice-breakers.

Technology is also enabling luxury expedition cruise lines to be more environmentally friendly. The new ships boast positioning systems and stabilizers that enable them to stay in one place without dropping anchor -- avoiding possible damage to sensitive reef beds. And they feature the latest in wastewater processing and recycling.

Ponant has been especially proactive on the green front. Its current four-ship polar fleet has earned the Cleanship label from Bureau Veritas, an international standards organization, for its innovative green equipment, citing its systems for silent and fuel-efficient electronic propulsion; FarSounder sonar for providing 3D vision of the sea bed; and diesel engines that can run on lighter, less-polluting MDO (Marine Diesel Oil); low-energy bulbs for lighting; and sustainable practices within the regions they visit.

Look for more cutting edge "green" factors on the expedition ships of the future, such as LNG (liquefied natural gas), a clean-burning fuel source and hybrid energy systems as they are perfected and become more economically viable.

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