Best cruises for adventurous travellers
If you’re not a seasoned cruiser, cruise and adventure are not two words you might necessarily associate with one another. But adventure cruises – or expedition cruises, as they are more commonly known by in the cruising world – are becoming increasingly more common as cruising enters the mainstream and travellers yearn to discover more exotic parts of the world.
Expedition ships are fitted with a high capacity for fuel and food and made with shallower hulls to ply new, previously uncharted waters. They also prove that “roughing it” and “adventure” are not synonymous, with some of the world’s most-respected luxury cruise lines owning a dedicated expedition ship within their fleet.
But where to? Expedition ships have the benefit of being able to reach corners of the world that train or plans can’t. Unlike other modes of transport, there’s very little water or land still unchartered by the world’s many cruise lines. If you’re an adventurous traveller (or even an experienced cruiser) who has exhausted many of the usual bucket-list destinations – now is the time to explore further afield with this selection of adventurous cruises.
Celebrity Xpedition to the Galapagos Islands
There are many reasons why the Galapagos Islands should be on everyone’s bucket list, but one stands out in particular: it is home to a vast number of endemic species. The ecological system here is so profound that it even inspired Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. Its remote location has allowed many rare species to thrive, and the lack of natural predators has brought about a harmonious relationship between humans and animals – so the animals don’t fear travellers.
The Celebrity Xpedition sails only to the Galapagos Islands and knows the waters well. The smaller, 96-passenger ship is the perfect place to relax after a day exploring – whether it’s in the library, the sun-soaked sunrise desk, or the Blue Finch Bar on the Panorama Deck.
The Galapagos Islands are not the only beautiful cruise destination in the South Pacific. Whether it’s the famous beaches of Fuji, the aquamarine life of the Conflict Islands, whale watching in Vava'u, or the peacefulness of the uninhabited Mystery Island.
The South Pacific isn't overrun with cruise ships, so picking one is usually a simpler task than booking a European or Caribbean cruise. It is also a popular destination for Repositioning Cruises as they switch between their Alaska and Far East itineraries. Most itineraries focus on one particular part of Oceania - usually French Polynesia, Melanesia or Micronesia.
Mekong River Cruise
It’s not just ocean cruises that are travelling into new waters - several river cruise lines offer incredible itineraries along the Mekong River. These include AmaWaterways, Avalon Waterways, Uniworld, and Viking Cruises. Most of the itineraries take two weeks and usually include hotels stays on post and pre-cruise (it’s also the perfect excuse to book a twin-centre with somewhere in the Middle or the Far East). The majority of Mekong River cruise tours start and end in Vietnam, beginning in Hanoi and ending in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) or vice versa. They include a flight to Siem Reap and a sail on the Mekong, with ports in Cambodia and Vietnam.
Antarctica is the ultimate bucket list destination – and it’s becoming more accessible than ever. Silversea, Scenic, G Adventures and Hurtigruten are just a handful of cruise lines that venture into the most southern continent of the world. Antarctica Cruises typically start in Argentina and usually stop off at a few ports in South America (including the Falkland Islands) before entering the icy waters of Antarctica. How many nights you’ll stay in Antarctica will depend on the itinerary (and how far you’ll be allowed on land).
Northern Polar Regions
From the most southern point of the world to the most northern. If you want to explore the Arctic, you have plentiful options – in terms of both destinations and cruise lines. Since the Arctic is not technically a landmass in its own right, Arctic cruise destinations are any country that lies within the Arctic Circle. This includes the northern regions of Norway, Sweden, Greenland, Finland, Iceland, Canada, Russia and Alaska. Such a vast area is home to a rich array of wildlife, including polar bears (nicknamed Kings of the Arctic) whales, seals, walruses, Arctic foxes, musk oxen, reindeer and numerous birds. Saying all this, the most popular cruise itinerary is northward along the Norwegian coast toward Spitsbergen.
In terms of cruise ships, you’d be pleasantly surprised how many cruise lines offer itineraries into the Arctic Circle. Cunard, P&O Cruises, Princess Cruises, Celebrity Cruises, Costa and Holland America Line all offer cruise lines that pass over the Arctic Circle. Hurtigruten is considered the expert at Arctic Cruises, however, and provide passengers with highly immersive experiences.
Eastern Russia with Silver Explorer
Remember we mentioned that even luxury cruise lines have a dedicated expedition ship? The Silver Explorer is Silverseas offering. It comes with everything you would expect from the ultra-luxury cruise line (from two high-end restaurants, Zagara Beauty Spa, and the Connoisseur’s Corner) but also comes equipped with a strengthened hull and a fleet of 12 Zodiac boats.
The destinations it sails to are wide-spread. Most famously it visits Antarctica, with itineraries that vary between 10 days to 18 days. Other destinations include the South Pacific, Greenland, and South America. But it’s most unique itinerary is to the East of Russia. The sailings vary between 12 days to 29 days, with most of the itineraries including a stop off in Alaska and Canada – and a trip over the International Date Line.
Edited by Morag@BarrheadTravel