You’ve heard all about, or maybe have already taken, many of the popular Caribbean cruises, perhaps to the Bahamas and Grand Cayman as well as cruises to Mexico and even Alaska. But why not embark on a journey that’s a bit more unique? It seems that new and fascinating cruises are popping up all the time – many of which you may not even be aware of. Here are just 22 you should, but haven’t thought about taking.
The Suez Canal and the Middle East
Sailing the Suez Canal and exploring the Middle Eastern countries along the way offers the chance to take one of the most historically significant cruises as the home of some of the most ancient civilizations on earth. Along the way, you’ll explore significant religious sites as well as practically endless beautiful beaches. Via P&O Cruises, you can experience the extraordinary beauty of Oman as well as the striking architecture of Dubai, Egypt’s Valley of the Kings, Petra, and the breathtaking illusion of sailing through oceans of desert sand as you cruise the 100-mile Suez Canal.
British Columbia, Canada’s Inside Passage
The Inside Passage is well-known as a scenic waterway filled with large cruise ships headed for Alaska, but there’s another way to experience the beauty of this region. Hop aboard the MV Parry, a 1941 heritage wooden 12-passenger tugboat for a more up-close-and-personal adventure through the dramatic fjords bordered by snow-capped mountains, glaciers and endless evergreen forests. Wildlife is abundant in this area, watch whales and porpoise play in the bow waves and bald eagles soar through the skies while dining on gourmet cuisine and fine wine. Day excursions include wilderness hikes, clam-digging, beachcombing, and even bear spotting.
A cruise from Norway’s North Cape is an adventure of a lifetime with the opportunity to see polar bears in the Arctic, although it’s not as cold as you might think. During the cruise season, from June to August, temperatures range a fairly moderate 35 to 70 Fahrenheit. The Midnight Sun brings the chance to see thousands of rare seabirds, beluga whales, walruses, reindeer and more, although the highlight of this cruise is seeing the amazing wilderness filled with massive icebergs and dazzling glaciers. A 10-day cruise aboard Polar Cruises sails from Tromso, Norway to the remote island of Svalbard, one of the last major European wilderness areas with spectacular mountains, deep fjords, picturesque icebergs and massive ice sheets.
Halong Bay is one of the most enchanting places in Vietnam, and Cruise Halong offers the chance to take in the majesty of this archipelago that few in the world are able to see. The three thousand islands that dot the bay are home to many rare plants that aren’t found anywhere else on the planet – and you’ll board a boat with names like Halong Ginger, Halong Jasmine and Halong Violet, complete with beautiful golden sails, polished woodwork and Asian décor that fit in with the environment perfectly. Get up early in the morning and watch the sun rise as the islands are enveloped in mist – it’s sure to be one of the most breathtaking sights you’ll witness in all of Southeast Asia.
The Cook Islands
The Cook Islands may be less-traveled, especially when compared to Tahiti or Fiji, but after the reality TV show “Survivor” filmed a season there, they became a bit more well-known. Some cruise lines, like Paul Gaugain Cruises, now schedule a stop in stunning Aitutaki. An 11-night cruise includes the opportunity to explore this unique part of the world, including Aitutaki, which is so flat you can see the ocean from any point on the island. It also features several days in the Society Islands, where you’ll visit Bora Bora, Taha’a, Moorea, and Papeete.
Ushuaia: The southernmost city in the world
Sitting on the tip of South America, Ushuaia is the world’s southernmost city, the capital of Tierra del Fuego in Argentina, and the city closest to Antarctica. Bordered by the rocky peaks of the Andes and the Beagle Channel, Ushuaia is surrounded by forests, glaciers, lakes and bays, and is a fabulous cruise destination in itself, with attractions like glacier trekking, hiking and horseback riding. Passengers arriving into this port can also take advantage of excursion boats venturing into the Beagle Channel, the historic “Train at the End of the World,” and into Tierra del Fuego National Park. Australis is just one line offering a variety of cruises through this region at the end of the world.
Maine Windjammer cruises offer the opportunity to cruise aboard schooners among the spruce-clad islands of Maine the old fashioned way. They sail just like they did more than 100 years ago, with no inboard power – only the wind and canvas powering travel. Three to six day cruises are available, sailing around the bays and isles off the coast of Maine. No two trips are alike, and each passenger is given their own chart to keep track of where it sails as well as to record impressions along the way. Five-day cruises feature a real New England Lobster Bake cooked over a driftwood fire on a deserted island.
Crusing the Nile
Cruising down the River Nile with Viking River Cruises offers the chance to explore the power of the ancient world while learning about the myths and mysteries of Egypt from Egyptologists. See the convergence of ancient history and modern society in Cairo, visit the Temple of Horus in Edfu and sail along the Nile to Kom Ombo – here you’ll take a guided tour of the unusual double temple dedicated to Horus and the crocodile god Sobek, a fertility deity believed to have created the world.
Amazon River through Peru
When cruising the Amazon, you may want to choose a smaller ship, as larger vessels can sail only as far as Manaus, whereas, more traditional river-style boats can venture deeper into the river’s Peruvian roots. Aqua Expeditions’ nature-based cruises on the Amazon River offer the chance to get up close to exotic wildlife and the natural beauty of the region at a leisurely pace. You’ll watch for channel billed-toucans, squirrel monkeys, yellow spotted Amazon River turtles, the endangered pink Amazon dolphin, three toed sloth, and, if you’re very lucky, the elusive black jaguar.
Cruising the Indonesian archipelago provides the opportunity to see the world’s largest lizards, Komodo dragons, in their natural habitat. A five night cruise aboard the custom-built Amanikan via the Amanwana Resort on the island of Moyo, will bring you to Komodo National Park, where you’ll look for wild horses and buffalo, as well as dive or snorkel the brilliant clear waters around the Nusa Tenggara islands. This protected marine park is known for its pristine reefs that boast a rich array of marine life.
The North Pole
A cruise to the North Pole might be about as unique as it gets. This destination offers the chance to say you’ve literally stood on top of the world, in the one spot on earth where every direction is south. Witness some of the most magnificent wildlife scenes and stunning landscapes of ice among the Midnight Sun including seals, walruses and even a polar bear or two. Quark Expeditions offers this once-in-a-lifetime experience through a 14-day adventure that starts in Helsinki, Finland with a charter flight to Murmansk, Russia followed by crushing through the ice on the way to the North Pole.
West African Coast
For many years, Africa was known as the final frontier in terms of travel, and today it’s still a fascinating, mysterious destination with its wide range of cultures, landscapes and wildlife. Many of the most beautiful African countries can be reached via the water, and exploring the west coast is particularly impressive. Silversea Africa Cruises offers an 18-day journey from Cape Town, South Africa to the Canary Islands along the west coast, making stops in ports and bays of Namibia, Ghana, Senegal and Cape Verde before arriving in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria. In Cape Town, you’ll have the chance to explore famous Table Mountain with its majestic views across the coastline and the city. And, while in Takoradi, a port city on the southern coast of Ghana, you can visit Monkey Hill, a tropical located in the heart of the city that’s inhabited by monkeys.
The Kimberly Coast, Australia
This remote Northwestern region of Australia is the home of one of the most dramatically beautiful coastlines on earth, with fiery red cliffs and white sands set where the Indian Ocean meets the Timor Sea. North Star Cruises offers a luxurious 13-night cruise featuring views of impressive waterfalls that plunge 328 feet into the sea, roaming saltwater crocodiles, billion-year-old sandstone gorges, and remote islands that are home to bird reserves and turtle breeding grounds. You’ll even get the chance to soar in a helicopter to Eagle Falls and swim in tranquil freshwater pools.
Australia to Micronesia
Orion Expeditions offers a 19-night cruise from Cairns, Australia to Palau, Micronesia where you’ll get the chance to explore the biodiversity of the Great Barrier Reef, experience unique ports of call like Rabaul, known as the “Pacific Pompeii,” snorkel among hundreds of surreal, stingless jellyfish in Palau, get acquainted with diverse cultures of the South Pacific and even watch or take part in local dances and demonstrations of thatching, loom weaving and rope making.
The Oberoi Motor Vessel Vrinda takes passengers on a three night cruise through the tranquil backwaters of Kerala, India, soaking in the beautiful scenery while coasting through picturesque lakes and canals, like Vembanad Lake and the Alleppey canal. Guests also have the opportunity to meet local fisherman, take a rice boat excursion, and watch a Kaathakali dance which tells ancient Hindu legends.
Scotland and Ireland
The Hebridean Princess, a small luxury vessel, offers a number of voyages throughout the waterways of Ireland and Scotland. The seven night Gaelic Tapestry adventure visits three Gaelic nations, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man. Though they have a shared history, the nations also encompass significant diversity. It begins in Scotland’s seafood capital of Oban, making her way to the whisky Isle of Islay, Belfast in Northern Ireland, and calls on the Isle of Man as well as Tynwald Island and the Isle of Kerrera.
Moscow to Petersburg, Russia
Uniworld, a boutique river cruise line, offers a 15-night cruise, “Imperial Waterways of Russia,” traveling from Moscow to St. Petersburg. This fascinating journey brings passengers along the Volga, Neva and Svir Rivers to Goritsy and Yaroslavl to experience 15th- and 17th-century cathedrals, palaces and medieval fortresses, world-class museums, a Russian ballet performance, and plenty of the country’s signature vodka along the way.
The family-owned Wanderbird embarks on research trips to Greenland, Newfoundland and Labrador. In 2014, passengers are welcomed to join Rick and Karen Miles on a 10-day journey from the French island of St. Pierre to the small out port communities found along the spectacularly beautiful south coast of Newfoundland. You’ll visit and explore some of the largest navigable fjords in North America with sheer walls over a thousand feet high as well as many remote out ports that are only accessible by sea.
Pandaw River Cruise Expeditions offers a 14-night excursion through Myanmar, embarking from Yangoon traveling to the city of Prome, Katha and the great 2nd Defile on the Upper Irrawaddy. Stops include tours of the historic capital of Pagan, famed for its 3,000 monuments; Mandalay, with its stunning royal palace; the culturally rich lower Chindwinth; visits to local markets in the colonial town of Thayetmyo, teak monasteries in Sale, and the ancient center of the Pyu civilization.
Thorshavn, Faroe Islands
Thorshavn is the capital and largest town of the Danish Faroe Islands. This small city isn’t located near Denmark, but rather about halfway between Iceland and Norway. The more than 1,000 year-old city was founded by the Vikings, named for Thor, and has a population of only about 17,000. Some of its highlights include brightly colored homes with grass roofs, a rugged coastline and pristine fjords. A number of cruise lines will bring you here, including Norwegian Cruise Line which offers a 14-day Norway, Iceland and Faroe Islands cruise embarking from Copenhagen, Denmark.
A ten-day cruise on the Orion II brings passengers to the heart of the Malay Archipelago to explore the coastline of Borneo, the third-largest island in the world. Orangutans are the highlight here, with the cruise providing the chance to observe the apes in the wild, on jungle treks in national parks, and at the Camp Leaky rehab center. This region of the world also has one of the most biologically diverse ecosystems which allows passengers to glimpse all types of birds and animals in an ancient rainforest as well as exploring remote islands and offshore reefs to view colorful coral and marine life.
The Scottish Hebrides are one of the most unique and alluring cruise destinations in all of Europe. You’ll find more wildlife than people as well as stunning lochs, castles, towering mountains, waterfalls, tranquil pools and striking rock formations. Hebrides Cruises offers the six night cruise, “Skye and the Small Isles Odyssey,” which brings passengers to some of the most beautiful, remote and otherwise inaccessible locations to see the jewels of the Inner Hebrides from an entirely new angle. Along the way, you’re likely to spot minke whales, harbor porpoise, dolphins, lots of seal, and possibly orca and humpback whales.