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.





Asia Cruise Guide: Top 5 Cruise Excursions in Asia

If you’re looking for one of the most ethnically and culturally diverse cruises imaginable then Asia is a good option for you. In just a few days or weeks it is possible to visit countries as different as India and China, Japan and Cambodia, Vietnam and Indonesia, or all of them together. It should come as no surprise that Asia is still virgin territory for many cruise lovers – all of the top 10 most popular cruise ports in the world are in the Caribbean islands. However, this only makes it more of a unique experience for those who choose to go off the beaten cruise route and try something different…

Asia Cruises are off the beaten cruise path and  offer something unique to cruise holidays
Asia Cruises are off the beaten cruise path and offer something unique to cruise holidays

In recent years, many of the larger and more well-known cruise providers such as Princess Cruises and Royal Caribbean have begun to send cruise ships to Asia, enabling cruisers to flit between destinations as distant as Qingdao and Singapore. On the other hand, many smaller ships are also available for seeking out the many smaller cruise ports of the region such as the  tiny port of Larantuka(pic below), nestled at the base of a beautiful forested mountain on the island of Flores, Indonesia.

The Beautiful Port of Larantuka
The Beautiful Port of Larantuka

High season from December to March which means the best time for budget travellers is October/November or April.

Top 5 Cruise Excursions in Asia

1. The Great Wall of China

The Very Impressive Great  Wall of China can be part of your Asia Cruise Excursion
The Very Impressive Great Wall of China can be part of your Asia Cruise Excursion

If you’ve ever dreamed of visiting the Great Wall then an Asian cruise is an excellent way of going about it. Most cruises that stop at Beijing will have excursions to the Great Wall but if not then it is only about an hour’s journey by road if you would like to organise it yourself. Beijing actually has two cruise ports, Tianjin and Xingang, both of which are located in the city of Tianjing which is itself a two hour drive from Beijing. As such, if you want to take an excursion to the Great Wall it will take up a whole day but the trip is undeniably worth the effort.

2. Angkor Wat

Visit the Mysterious Ankor Wat
Visit the Mysterious Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat is the largest, grandest religious monument in the world and was described by one of the first Western visitors as “a rival to that of Solomon… erected by some ancient Michelangelo. This is undoubtedly one of the biggest must-sees in the East Asian area. Unfortunately, the nearest cruise port is a 7 hour journey away from Angkor Wat. Nevertheless, the cruise companies recognise its popularity and offer overnight stays in port in order to make this excursion popular.

It is possible to visit the temple from either Sihanoukville, Cambodia’s only cruise port and one which is surrounded by four beaches, or Bangkok.

3. The Grand Palace, Floating Markets and Many Temples of Bangkok

Colourful Bangkok Cruise Excursions
Colourful Bangkok Cruise Excursions

There are well over 20 highly ornate temples in the city of Bangkok (known in Thai as the City of Angels) as well as the Grand Palace of the King of Thailand and the world’s largest floating market. In fact, it’s hard to recommend the best thing to do in Bangkok when so many things compete for the top spot. Taking a walk around the city and soak in the sights and sounds might be enough on its own.

4. Kerala Backwaters, Cochin Port, India

The Kerala Backwaters
The Luscious Kerala Backwaters – Cochin Port, India

Many cruise ships offer boat excursions to the Kerala backwaters on the local ketuvallam, hand made house boats, with thatched roofs and private rooms. The Kerala backwaters themselves are a series of lagoons lined with tropical palm trees and known worldwide for their exceptional natural beauty.

5.  Tokyo. Just Tokyo.

Just Tokyo
Just Tokyo

It’s almost a cliché to point that Japan is about as different from America and the UK as it can get but as we all know there’s an element of truth to every cliché. There are a million exotic experiences you can have in Tokyo, even if you’re only docking for one day: meet a geisha, take a traditional Japanese bath at the Oedo Onsen Monogatari or hang with the famous rockabillies of Yoyogi Park. Like Bangkok, Tokyo is one of those larger than life Asian cities that represents a microcosm of the country it’s in. This makes it the perfect way to sample all that’s Japanese about Japan in a short period of time.

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