Whether it’s sailing around a volcanic archipelago, along a coast of a hard to navigate country or on a magnificent river, cruise journeys are guaranteed to be exciting expeditions. We take a look at our favourite water bound options, our diverse list including entire trips spent on a cruise or jumping onto a boat for a thrilling day excursion.
On a cruise to Antarctica you’ll inevitably feel like an intrepid polar explorer, the vast untouched wilderness waiting to be discovered. Setting sail from Ushuaia, the southernmost point of Argentina, a cruise is the best way to immerse yourself in this last frontier. While not an easy journey through Drake’s Passage, those who go the distance will be rewarded with days spent stopping to enjoy the majestic winter landscapes and the abundance of extraordinary wildlife it holds including penguins, fur seals and whales. While it’s not a cheap trip, a cruise to this land of snow, ice, water and rock is an unforgettable experience and one that, at the moment, only a handful can say they have done.
It’s hard to put into words the beauty of Norway’s landscape without sounding hyperbolic and over the top. However, the fjords of Norway create some of the world’s most spectacular vistas. Explore this land of glorious glaciers by boat, gliding along the emerald waters of the picturesque fjords, surrounded by the raw beauty of the country. Highlights include the UNESCO-awarded Geirangerfjord and the Lysefjord, past the dramatic Pulpit Rock. Or add a cruise into your Norway journey sailing from Harstad back to Tromso.
3. Galapagos Islands
While the term ‘nowhere else like it’ is often overused, the phrase rings true when used to describe the Galapagos Islands. The volcanic archipelago has incredibly high levels of endemic creatures with 97% of the reptiles and land mammals, and 80% of the land birds, unique to the islands. Spend the night on board a first class catamaran before disembarking in the morning to explore the islands of Santa Cruz, San Cristobal, Floreana and Espanola, among other, taking on the role of intrepid naturalist to see the bizarre species of Galapagos tortoise, marine iguana, blue-footed booby, magnificent frigatebird and sally lightfoots up close in their natural habitat.
The best way to experience Greenland, to marvel at its glorious nature and learn about its intriguing history, is by cruise. While the ice-covered island is starkly beautiful, it’s not the easiest landscape to travel across with the small population living mainly along the ice-free coast. Sail along the rugged coastline stopping at Umivik where Fritjof Nansen began the first crossing over Greenland and the island of Uunartoq Qeqertaq for the hot springs. Depending on the time of year, enjoy the natural phenomena of summer’s midnight sun or winter’s Northern Lights.
5. River Nile, Egypt
Flowing through 11 countries, the Nile starts in Egypt snaking 6,853 km south to Burundi. A wonderful way to experience this vital life source, which has played an important part in the development of many civilizations is by taking a felucca, a traditional and simple Egyptian sailboat. These boats have negotiated the waters of the Nile for centuries with the wind propelling them forward. A typical day on a felucca is spent watching everyday life unfold on the banks of the river, relaxing in the sun on the boat’s desk and passing local villages.
6. Adriatic Coast, Croatia
Croatia has over a thousand islands, sprinkled along 3,300 km coastline in the Adriatic Sea, and as you can expect this high number of isles provides a diverse offering, perfect for a summer sailing holiday. Start an island hopping adventure in Dubrovnik or Split, stopping at the islands of Hvar for Mediterranean glitz and glamour, or Mjlet for spectacular nature and the untouched national park, or Korčula for the charming old town and lush vineyards.
7. Halong Bay, Vietnam
In the top right-hand corner of Vietnam is Halong Bay, a natural wonder of the world made up of 1,600 islands and islets scattered through the Gulf of Tonkin. A UNSECO World Heritage Site, Halong translates as ‘where the dragon descends into the sea’ with ancient folklore telling the tale of a great dragon running towards the coast, its swinging tail creating the unusual layout of valleys and caves. As you sail the emerald waters on a traditional junk boat through the stunning seascape, passing towering limestone pillars covered in moss green forest, it will be easy to envision the poetic tales of how this stunning area came to be.
8. Volga River, Russia
Due to the country’s enormous size, the longest river in Europe is contained just within Russia stretching from the top, just 200 miles from St Petersburg, 2,293 miles down to the Caspian Sea. A popular Volga River cruise route takes passengers from St Petersburg to Moscow, traversing the majestic waterways and stopping at Mandrogi, Kizhi Island and Yaroslavl along the way – a great opportunity to discover the culture of the Land of the Tsars and its beautiful scenery.
9. Patagonia, Chile
A barren region in Chile full of dramatic fjords, glacial fields and a spectacular backdrop of the Andes with a small number of visitors each year, Patagonia is a natural wonderland. Cruising this area will take you through a maze of remote channels and to isolated islands – areas barley touched by man. It’s also possible for passengers to journey south to finish nearby to Torres Del Paine, a national park that’s an absolute gem with stunning scenery.
10. River Rhine, Europe
The River Rhine intersects through Switzerland, Germany, France and Holland, flowing through some of Europe’s most splendid natural landscapes. Cruising along this monumental river you will get to experience the dramatic mountain slopes of Switzerland, the German river gorges and the windmills of Amsterdam along with stops at picturesque vineyards, enchanting castles and storybook villages. Any cruise itinerary guarantees to be a quintessential European experience.
Have you been on a river cruise or sailing expedition that you think should have made our Top 10? Leave a comment below!