Want a cruise experience that challenges you, takes you out of your comfort zone and showcases the world’s most extraordinary natural beauty? Here’s everything you need to know about adventure cruises

Go mountain biking as part of a shore excursion © iStock
Go mountain biking as part of a shore excursion © iStock

Whether your idea of an adventure is dog sledding, snowmobiling, heli-skiing, looking for the Big Five on safari, exploring remote areas of the world or immersing yourself in ancient culture and traditions, there’s an adventure cruise itinerary to suit you.

“Adventure cruises are a fast-growing travel trend,” says Simone Clark, Managing Director of Iglu Cruise. The company’s sales to the Galápagos Islands are up by 138 per cent, and they are already booking cruises on the new Scenic Eclipse luxury discovery yacht, which doesn’t launch until 2018.

“We are certainly seeing an increased demand for adventure cruises, especially with those who have had a taster of a more traditional cruise and are now looking for something a little more active,” she says.

“This sort of cruise is especially popular with those who enjoy incorporating agility and fitness into their holidays, but they’re also growing in popularity with tri-generational families, where grandparents take their children and grandchildren on such an experience, particularly those that incorporate wildlife spotting or bucket list experiences such as seeing the Northern Lights.”

Paul Ludlow, Senior Vice President at P&O Cruises, agrees: “The popularity of itineraries such as the Northern Lights and our Amazon adventures underlines the increased interest we have seen from P&O Cruises guests – regular and also those new to cruising. Eight ships allow us to sail to more unusual and off-the-beaten-track destinations, allowing our guests to savour unique perspectives while travelling by sea.

“We have also seen huge interest from guests taking adventurous shore excursions such as zip wiring through the rainforest, husky sledding, underwater bubble treks or memorable experiences such as trackside seats for the Monaco Grand Prix.”

The beauty of going on cruises with adventurous excursions is that you can easily get to several destinations in just a week or two. These may be off-the-beaten-track places for hiking, cycling and sea kayaking, or those who love a cold climate might want to go dog sledding, snowmobiling or hiking across glaciers.

Chasing the Northern Lights, going on safari or looking for wildlife from birds to bears are also on offer from the growing number of excursion options that make a cruise an adventure.

“Our Northern Lights cruise is one of our most popular cruises,” says Naomi Thornton from Saga Cruises. “We run a minimum of one a year, sometimes more, and they sell out at least six months in advance, so we strongly advise early booking.

“Adventurous excursions are also on the increase, with whale watching, kayaking and glamping under the Northern Lights. Our guests want to add more to their holiday cruise experience and we are also constantly expanding the excursion options to cater for the lust of adventure.”

Bernard Carter, Senior Vice President & Managing Director EMEA for Oceania Cruises, adds: “We have a range of energetic shore excursions ranging from snorkelling or diving in the Indian Ocean to off-road desert tours and a multitude of game reserves and safaris in Africa.”

And once you’ve had your daily dose of adrenalin doing whatever activity you chose to do, you can then return to your luxury stateroom to get ready for a first-class dinner, a fabulous evening’s entertainment and a good night’s sleep to prepare you for the next day’s adventure.

TIP: Check your insurance covers you for all the activities you plan to do on your adventure cruise.

For more tips on booking an adventure cruise, read part two of the Cruise International guide to adventure cruises.

Whether you’re looking for a cultural holiday or relaxing break, find your perfect cruise with our Cruise Finder.