Top 5 Unusual Cruise Destinations

For many who are considering booking a cruise holiday, often the first destinations that spring to mind are sun soaked beach breaks in the Mediterranean or the Caribbean.

A Sunny Cruise
A Sunny Cruise somewhere unexpected could be just what the doctor ordered!

Whilst cruise holidays are a great way to explore the stunning attractions these locations have to offer, the fantastic advantage of cruises is that the world is effectively your oyster. When cruising, travelling is made simple. Provided the area is accessible by water, there are hundreds of destinations to visit and experience cross the globe.

Many of these are once-in-a-lifetime places to holiday in and by choosing a cruise vacation, holidaymakers can take advantage of the multitude of must-see attractions and natural phenomenon our planet has to offer. With this in mind, you may want to research into what unusual cruise destinations are available and what each of these unique locations has to offer. Listed below are five of the top unusual cruise destinations that are guaranteed to ensure you have a holiday with a difference.

1. A North Pole Expedition:

As the North Pole is one of the world’s most unexplored areas, taking an expedition cruise to the Arctic is as different and unique as they come. Unsurprisingly, the North Pole offers some of the most stunning wildlife scenes and the breathtaking landscapes of ice and midnight sun are certainly something to experience first hand. Holidaymakers can witness flocks of seabirds; sun-worshipping seals and walruses, as well as have the potential to spot the elusive polar bear. Not only that, those who travel to the North Pole can quite literally be ‘on top of the world’ as you are able to stand at your unique 90-degree North point. In addition, the cruise ships that travel to the Arctic are a little different to the ships that are home to holidaymakers travelling to other parts of the world; to plough through the ice at the North Pole, it is necessary that the cruises take place on powerful icebreakers. These triumphs of engineering are specially designed to break through the ice in the Arctic as well as provide cruise-goers with a comfortable and luxurious life on board.

A Luxurious cruise ship in the North Atlantic

2. River Cruise in South Asia:

Cruises in Asia are relatively new; however this area is home to some of the most spectacular natural phenomenon across the globe. One of the best ways to explore South Asia is to take a river cruise, and the Mekong River is an ideal waterway for this purpose. As one of the world’s most vast water systems, the Mekong runs through China, Vietnam and Cambodia, which are all renowned for their beautiful natural scenes and interesting cultures. There is a huge range of attractions to visit; holidaymakers can explore historically significant cities like Saigon or simply browse the colourful trinkets in the floating markets along the river, for example. In terms of wildlife, the Mekong is hugely diverse and supports plant life and animals that are rare in other parts of the world. Cruise-goers can have the opportunity to spot endangered species like the Irrawaddy Dolphin and Giant Catfish as well as the famous Mekong river palm trees, which can’t be found anywhere else in the world. The cruise ships on the Mekong are also unique and have been described as being ‘fairytale like’ by travellers because of their distinctive character.

The Kerala Backwaters
South Asia has a delighful number of extraordinary sights

3. The Cape Coast in South Africa:

Historically, Africa was known as the final frontier of discovery and in terms of travel, it remains a place shrouded in fascination and mystery. People across the globe are captivated by the range of cultures, landscapes and wildlife species the continent has to offer and for this reason, cruises to African countries have become increasingly popular in recent years. Many of Africa’s most beautiful countries can be reached by water, and holidaymakers should consider sailing to South Africa when booking a cruise holiday. The country is diverse, both in terms of its people and its landscape; however it is renowned for it’s  exceptional beaches and African sunshine.

Exploring the Cape Coast is particularly impressive for travellers looking for a romantic cruise. The world-famous Table Mountain is the perfect romantic location, boasting majestic views across the coastline and city. Additionally, the Cape Coast is famous for its vineyards and winemaking, meaning couples can indulge in winetasting amongst the stunning scenery of South Africa’s coast. Other ports within the country are also well worth a visit, with Port Elizabeth offering some of the world’s most beautiful wild beaches and the bright lights of Durban providing glitzy hotels and world class gambling.

Table Mountain
A Stunning Photo of Table Mountain in South Africa

4. The Suez Canal and the Middle East:


Sailing through the Suez Canal and exploring the countries in the Middle East is one of the world’s most beautiful and historically significant journeys. The Middle East is world renowned as being the place where Christianity originated and it is also home to some of the globe’s most ancient civilisations. Travellers to this area can experience diverse examples of Middle Eastern architecture, significant religious sites and a plethora of stunning beaches.

For people that choose to take  cruises to the Middle East, it is this diversity of scenery that often appeals most. From the tallest building in Dubai to the ancient pyramids in Egypt, there is a huge range of places to visit and things to see in this area. Because of this, cruising can be the best way to discover what the countries in the Middle East have to offer. Holidaymakers can sail to a number of the Arab Emirates countries (like Dubai or Muscat), visit the stunning city of Aqaba in Jordan and explore the North African ports. It is worth noting that many of the countries in the Middle East are religiously conservative, so holidaymakers should bear in mind that there may be clothing requirements within some of the countries. Women in particular should ensure that they are covered up and headscarves should always be worn when entering a mosque.

Yes, Dubai really is as spectacular at night as it is in the day
Dubai is just as stunning at night

5. The British Isles:

When choosing a cruise holiday, many people would automatically think about heading abroad; however, taking a cruise around the British Isles is a great way of exploring what our home country has to offer. There is always something to discover in Britain, whether it be an old castle filled with history or a colony of puffins off the coast of Scotland, so it is a good idea to look into what is on offer. Furthermore, cities in Britain are renowned across the world for being historically significant, full of culture and architecturally stunning, so cruising can be best way of seeing places along the coast (like Edinburgh, Southampton and Dublin). Britain is also famed for the range of diverse eco-systems on its coastlines and holidaymakers have the opportunity to see picturesque natural scenery, a variety of wildlife and plant life. Whilst the weather can’t always be counted upon in Britain, cruising around the British Isles certainly is a cheaper alternative to cruises abroad, but it does not have to mean you compromise on your holiday experience. Being able to relax in the luxury onboard a cruise ship as well as exploring interesting places en route is what cruising is all about, so it is a good idea to look into what British cruises are available.

Cruise around the British Isles
Cruise around Great Britain

These are just a few of the fantastic unusual cruise destinations worth a visit across the world and with a bit of research and imagination, it is simple to find a holiday with a difference. With so many cultures to explore; natural wonders to see and unique experiences to have, it is often simply a case of choosing the right cruise to suit your needs. Once you’ve decided which destination to visit, the only thing left to decide is whether you’re interested in the comfort of a luxury cruiser or a cruise that is a little bit more budget friendly before booking. Cruises are one of the best ways to explore everything the world has to offer, so travellers should seriously consider what is on offer. For more inspiration, browse our Top Ten Cruises For 2013 article.

This Cruise guide was written by Claire Cavanagh.





Alaska Cruise Guide: Top Alaskan Ports & Best Cruise Lines Departing from the UK

An Alaskan Cruise
With thousands of miles of glacial scenery, gold-rush port towns and plenty of Native American cultural heritage, cruising through Alaska is a truly unforgettable experience.

[blockquote type=”blockquote_line” align=”left”]The main draw is the landscape and the wildlife. On an Alaskan cruise you can often see whales, eagles, bears, and meese from your boat against a backdrop of dramatic mountain ranges and endless pine forests. It’s no wonder that these cruises are getting more popular every year.[/blockquote] One drawback, however, is the weather and we don’t just mean that it’s cold. Most Alaska cruises go in the summer months when it is less cold but persistent rain and grey skies are common. Meanwhile, this unpredictability can make excursions hit-and-miss. Some cruise ships offer helicopter and plane tours so that you can spy out more wildlife but these are often cancelled at short notice due to inclement weather.

The most popular operators in Alaska are probably Princess Cruises and Holland America although the vast majority operate at least one itinerary in Alaska. It is important to remember that there is a trade-off to be had between the big and little boat cruises. The choppy seas of the Gulf of Alaska may be easier on the stomach if you take a giant cruise liner but you are far more likely to see a lot of wildlife if you take a smaller boat.

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What an Alaskan Cruise Itinerary Looks Like:

Inside Passage

The Inside Passage is a sailing route that passes on the inside of the many islands that make up the Alaska panhandle, on the south-west of the state. It can pass through Ketchikan, Skagway and Sitka, three Alaskan ports that are amongst the most popular with tourists. The Alaskan stretch of the route is around 500 miles long and generally takes about 7 nights on a cruise ship. Cruises on this itinerary generally leave from Vancouver or Seattle making them convenient for those travelling in by plane.

Gulf of Alaska

The Gulf Of Alaska
The Gulf Of Alaska

The Gulf of Alaska is an area of water more northerly than the Inside Passage and these tours generally go from Seattle or Vancouver up to Seward or Whittier which are near to the town of Anchorage. This area has markedly choppier waters than those of the inside passage, as mentioned above. Generally these cruises will  last 7 days and will also take in some of the Inside Passage route and may visit Ketchikan, Skagway etc.

Fortnight Trips

If you’re willing to spend a fortnight at sea then there are some cruises that will travel from as far away as San Francisco to destinations as northerly as Anchorage. Another benefit of these itineraries is that it makes it more possible to make trips over land that last a number of days.

Smaller cruise ships

It’s possible to book expedition cruises with a number of companies who will take you to more out of the way ports with shallower waters as well as allowing you to get more up close and personal with the marine wildlife.

Popular Alaskan Ports


The port of Ketchikan in Alaska

Creek Street is the main street in Ketchikan and it’s built on a wooden pier sitting on top of the water. It’s full of restaurants and independent stores as well as having colourful timber buildings reminiscent of a pioneer town. It’s Alaska’s fourth biggest town giving it a surprisingly vibrant atmosphere for a place out in the middle of the arctic wilderness.


The Alaskan Port of Juneau

Juneau is the state capital as well as the largest city, situated in the middle of the historic gold belt. Tourists on excursions may choose to take the Mount Roberts Tramway for aerial views of the mountains and harbor. The area also features bear viewing platforms and art demonstrations from native craftsmen and women.


Skagway, with a couple of cruise ships already docked.

Another former gold town, well known for its walking and mountain flying tours offering a birds eye view of the thundering Skagway river. There’s also a historic miners steam railway offering short trips for $110 dollars. Continuing the pioneer aesthetic, you can visit Jeff Smith’s Parlor famously run by the con artist and gangster Soapy Smith.


Sitka is a historic goldmine, and a great place to visit whilst on a cruise.

This town changed hands between the Tlinget Indians and the Russians before eventually falling under US rule as a result of the Alaska purchase in 1867. It remains the centre of the tribal government of the Sitka tribe and native arts and crafts are to be found all around the city as well as remnants of the Russian culture such as Saint Michael’s Russian Orthodox Cathedral. There’s also the Alaska Raptor Center which looks after injured American Eagles.

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