Top 10 off the beaten track cruises - Cruise International

Top 10 off the beaten track cruises

By Mary Ann Pickford | 3 Aug 2016

Want your next voyage to be something that takes you off the beaten track, challenges you or gives you a glimpse into different cultures? Here are 10 itineraries that will give you a different view of the world

1. Look for wildlife in the South Atlantic

Indulge your inner Attenborough by answering the call of the wild on a voyage to the remote South Atlantic island of St Helena – home to rare birds such as the Wirebird, and offering opportunities for dolphin and whale spotting too. You can soak up history here, as this is where Napoléon was imprisoned in 1815. Sailing on board one-of-a-kind cargo-passenger ship RMS St Helena offers an unforgettable adventure cruise experience.

GETTING THERE: RMS St Helena offers a 10-day cruise-only return voyage from Cape Town to St Helena from £2,228pp (

2. Cross the Arctic Circle

Cruise through icy waters as you venture through the rugged, desolate charms of the Arctic Circle. Budding photographers will be wowed by the stark, expansive setting of the magical landscape, while another picture-perfect moment will present itself when the midnight sun bathes the frozen scenery with warmth. You can even indulge in skiing or simply take in the magnificence of the West Fjords in the Icelandic fishing port of Isafjördur.

GETTING THERE: Iglu Cruise offers a 14-night Icelandic Insights cruise-only tour with Voyages of Discovery from £1,569pp, departing from Portsmouth on 31 May 2017. Ports of call include Akureyri and Reykjavik (

3. Follow in Charles Darwin’s footsteps

Hike, snorkel or kayak your way around the Galápagos islands, one of the most isolated archipelagos on earth, taking in the unique variety of plants and bird species that later inspired Darwin to form his natural selection theory. Experience first-hand the distinctive wildlife that has made the Galápagos a favourite of nature lovers. Watch the stars of these bio-diverse islands – the sea lions and fur seals – lounge around the shoreline and get up close with a thriving seabird colony as you traverse Prince Philip’s Steps.

GETTING THERE: Silversea offers a seven-night expedition on board Silver Galápagos from £5,850pp, departing on 22 October 2016 from Baltra, Galápagos. Ports of call include El Eden, Rabida and Plazas Sur (

4. Cruise along the Amazon

Luscious tropical scenery awaits on the mighty Amazon river, where there is the chance to witness indigenous lifestyle in remote jungle village Boca da Valeria. Explore this diverse ecosystem and get your fill of nature at its best with trips to an ecological park for a closer view of jungle vegetation. One of the itinerary’s highlights includes a stop in Parintins for the hugely popular Boi Bumba Festival, where around 100 dancers and musicians put on an exhilarating display.

GETTING THERE: Cruise & Maritime Voyages offers a 39-night Amazon, West Indies & Azores adventure from £4,859pp. It departs from Bristol Avonmouth on 5 January 2017 (

5. Explore China

As one of the world’s oldest civilisations, China is steeped in remarkable history and offers some unforgettable sightseeing, but a cruise along the legendary Yangtze River gives you the chance to immerse yourself in local culture and traditions, too. Start your journey in bustling Shanghai and end it in Beijing, where a patchwork of modern architecture and ancient buildings stand side by side. Here you can see the famous Terracotta Warriors, awe-inspiring sculptures of an army that represents this Asian gem’s imperial past. Also tour UNESCO World Heritage Site the Forbidden City, where opulent palaces won’t fail to impress, and visit pandas in Chongqing.

GETTING THERE: Viking offers a 13-day Imperial Jewels of China voyage from £3,295, departing on 9 November 2016 from Shanghai. Ports of call include Xian and Yueyang (

6. Sail through the Panama Canal

Linking the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, the Panama Canal is a historic man-made waterway built more than 100 years ago that epitomises 20th century engineering. Traversing this wondrous thoroughfare allows travellers to explore the heart of Central America, where a variety of landscapes such as ruins, a volcano and botanic gardens await. Other ports of call include Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, where you can go snorkeling for a glimpse of marine life.

GETTING THERE: Regent Seven Seas Cruises offers a 15-night Exotic Panama Canal journey from Los Angeles to Miami, departing 15 January 2017 from £5,799pp. Ports of call include Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala, Puntarenas, Costa Rica and Cartagena, Colombia (

7. Search for the Big Five 

If you’ve always wanted to see the Big Five – lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants and Cape buffalos – and more in their natural habitat, then this epic South African adventure takes you on safari at the Tala Game Reserve near the coastal city of Durban, and there’s more animal spotting on Seal Island, home to around 2,500 Cape fur seals. Other highlights include Maputo, Mozambique and Walvis Bay, Namibia.

GETTING THERE: Oceania Cruises offers a 15-day South African safari-and-cruise adventure, departing from Cape Town on 21 November 2016 from £5,122pp. (

8. Be captivated by Myanmar

Only open to Western travellers since 2012, there is still plenty to inspire and impress in the country that Rudyard Kipling immortalised in his 1890 poem The Road to Mandalay. Uncover the ancient legends of this mysterious Southeast Asian country as you take in the scenes along the Ayeyarwady River. Grand temples such as the Shwesandaw Pagoda in Bagan, monks and scenes of rural life play out along the route, enabling travellers a glimpse into a country steeped in fascinating culture and history.

GETTING THERE: Belmond offers a seven-night Ayeyarwady Adventure voyage between capital city Mandalay and Bagan, with Maymyo as a port of call, departing on 16 November 2016 from £2,718pp (

9. Go Down Under

An exhilarating combination of thrilling excursions and vast landscapes make Australia a hotspot for adventure cruisers. The excitement of wildlife tours, water sport activities and bustling city tours is tempered with opportunities to sample exquisite cuisine. Ports of call on this itinerary on board Golden Princess include Hobart, Tasmania, where guests can visit the Bonorong Sanctuary, a site dedicated to rehabilitating and releasing Tasmania’s injured and orphaned animals. There is also the chance to visit vineyards at Port Arthur, the gateway to the scenic Tasman Peninsula.

GETTING THERE: Princess Cruises offers a five-day roundtrip Tasmania voyage from £568pp, departing on 31 March 2017 from Melbourne (

10. Gaze at the Northern Lights

The enchanting beauty of nature’s greatest light show never fails to mesmerise, enticing travellers to Norway from across the globe to witness this glorious celestial display. And the best place to experience them is on a cruise, where there is no pollution to interfere with their glory. It’s an unforgettable experience that will be cherished forever – just remember to take the best camera you can afford to capture their beauty. For the truly adventurous, climbing Trollveggen – or ‘Troll Wall’, Europe’s highest vertical cliff face at 1,000m – in Åndalsnes will be a unique challenge.

GETTING THERE: Saga Cruises offers a 15-night Northern Lights Adventure, departing Southampton on 28 February 2017 from £2,768pp. Ports of call include Tromsø, Narvik and Stavanger (

Whether you’ve been inspired by these off-the-beaten-track cruises or you’re looking for something different, find your perfect cruise here.