When you think of cruising, your mind probably goes to you lazing on a sun deck with an umbrella drink and a good book. Despite the stereotype, not all cruises head to tropical locales.
Today’s ships are stocked with extreme attractions that make it so you don’t ever have to leave the boat. But you definitely should disembark and explore these interesting destinations that will allow you to chase wildlife, search for the Northern Lights and adventure across every inch of this beautiful world.
Click through to discover unique cruises that don’t come cheap — and then see the ridiculously amazing ship cabins you could stay in.
Price: Starting from $2,610
This trip through Central Europe gives you a taste of the Balkan Peninsula down the mighty Danube River. For 11 days, you’ll contrast the capital cities of Belgrade, Serbia, and Zagreb, Croatia, and visit nature parks and medieval cities in Hungary, Croatia, Bosnia and Serbia. CroisiEurope offers all-inclusive cruises, which include food and drink.
If a luxurious cruise like this is your first, get tips to avoid wasting too much money.
Price: Starting from $6,960
Expedition cruises led by National Geographic naturalists, these scientists are there to educate you as you explore Darwin’s playground. And you’ll want to enjoy this destination before it disappears. Look at protected wildlife as you snorkel, kayak and paddle among the most endangered marine species on the planet. You’ll be taken by Zodiac boat to see iguanas and giant tortoises up close as part of a glimpse into this rare ecosystem. The 10-day trip begins and ends in Guayaquil, Ecuador. National Geographic Expeditions currently is offering special cruise deals with complimentary airfare from Miami.
Upper East Coast
Price: Starting from $1,299
Called the Independence Day Cruise, this Celebrity Cruises ship travels from New Jersey and Maine up through the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia and back down to Boston, Rhode Island and New Jersey. With the right preparation thanks to insider secrets from cruise pros, this 12-day sojourn can be even more special. And it’s fun to note that Cape Liberty was the first cruise port to be built in New Jersey in 40 years. You can look out over the deck at the Statue of Liberty, New York Harbor and all of lower Manhattan.
Price: Starting from $2,997
Halfway between Norway and Iceland, the Faroe Islands are famous for their colorful painted houses with green turf roofs. On the island nicknamed “Thor’s Harbour,” after the Norse god of war, you can dive into the sagas and legends of this idyllic spot as you explore the culture and cliffs. Don’t forget to book your cruise for the right time of year if you want to make the most of it. The 14-night cruise leaves Hamburg, Germany, and sails along the coast of Norway, with stops in Iceland and the United Kingdom.
Price: Starting from $479
If you dream of pink-sand beaches and swaying palms, you might have Bermuda on the brain. On the main island of the 138-island chain — home to one of the world’s top public golf courses — you can waste away the day playing 18 holes or get active swimming with the dolphins, whale watching or exploring caves, grottos and gardens. Maybe you can even enjoy some romance on this adventure. With cheap cruises from the East Coast, a seven-day cruise from New York City to the British overseas territory will set you back less than $70 a day.
The Nile River
Price: Starting from $5,099
An experience once reserved for queens and pharaohs, a trip down the Nile is a trip back in time. You’ll spend 12 days exploring the temples and ruins of Egypt, including riding a felucca, a traditional sailing vessel. The ship is all suites, and each room is equipped with a French balcony for incredible views.
Price: Starting from $5,950 for a shared cabin
This magical 14-day journey begins in Svalbard, an archipelago of Norway. You’ll take in the walruses, seals and maybe even polar bears before sailing to Greenland and the Antarctic Sound Islands in hopes of seeing more wildlife, intuitive living, glaciers and even the Northern Lights. One of the cruise lines designed for special environments, Oceanwide Expeditions operates its own fleet of ice-strengthened vessels so you can handle the Arctic chill.
Price: Starting from $7,010
You might have thought to cruise across America on four wheels, but it’s doubtful you ever imagined sailing across the Midwest. The Grand Heartland Cruise is a 15-day trip down the Mississippi River on a paddle wheeler. You’ll float from St. Paul, Minn., to New Orleans through landlocked states such as Wisconsin, Iowa and Missouri, passing the hometown of Mark Twain and visiting a plethora of Civil War sites. You’ll swing through Memphis for blues and barbecue and fill your belly with Cajun and Creole in the Bayou, partying every step of the way.
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Price: Starting from $6,858
In Scotland’s magical isles, explore the place that inspired the Peter May Lewis Trilogy. Walk or cycle through the green countryside and see birds of prey in their natural environment. It’s one of Europe’s last untouched natural habitats, with white-sand beaches and rugged hills. After departing the mainland, you’ll island-hop for seven nights and get a feel for each island.
Price: Starting from $1,723
The “Land of the Midnight Sun” is a trip around England and Norway, hitting 10 ports in 14 days on Princess Cruises. One of the region’s most active fishing villages, the Lofoten Islands are as picturesque as they are inviting. Thanks to the island’s northerly geographical positioning, you can golf or kayak around midnight and still be bathed in light. Chasing daylight is a natural phenomenon worth experiencing at least once.
Sir Bani Yas
Price: Starting from $601
Called the “salt dome” island for its unique geographical features, Sir Bani Yas on the Arabian Peninsula is one of the most incredible sites. Thousands of indigenous and endangered giraffes, cheetahs, hyenas, oryx and ostriches roam freely in the vibrant wildlife sanctuary. This seven-day itinerary on MSC Cruises hops between Dubai and Abu Dhabi, with opportunities to explore both land and sea.
Price: Starting from $798
Russia has been front and center in the news lately, which has garnered a lot of attention and intrigue for the mysterious Cold War country. If you’re interested in exploring Europe by boat, Royal Caribbean has some of the best cruise deals around. On this eight-day journey, you’ll visit Stockholm, Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Russia, taking in the ancient architecture, elaborate palaces and culture of the ancient cities.
Papua New Guinea
Price: Starting from $679
Beginning in Cairns, Australia, you’ll sail to the remote region of Papua New Guinea to experience the Alotau Festival in this eight-day trek. An intriguing look into the island’s tribal culture, you’ll see warrior dances and games that offer a glimpse into the local village life. If that’s not enough of a party, P&O Cruises hosts a famed Gatsby Party on the boat, so pack your best flapper dress.
The North Pole
Price: Starting from $28,695
You’ve probably heard of sailing to Antarctica, but did you also know you could pay Santa Claus a visit up North? A 14-day journey to the pole, you’ll sightsee by helicopter and Zodiac boat in search of polar bears and walruses. Departing from Finland, you’ll visit the Franz Josef historical sites and take in all that the Arctic has to offer.
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Price: Starting from $6,149
One of the most exotic places on Earth, Easter Island is known for its carved Moai statues scattered throughout the island. Make it a scavenger hunt to find the most interesting statues and try to piece together the modern-day mystery. Easter Island is just one port on this 36-day adventure that will take you from New York to Sydney. Stopping on three continents, the journey features 13 ports of call, with visits to everywhere from Charleston, S.C., to Tahiti.
Price: Starting from $1,049
An important waterway that links the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea, the Suez Canal is a manmade maritime route connecting Africa to Asia. You can take in the modern marvel of engineering that allows only three ships a day to pass through. This 16-day Celebrity Cruises voyage starts in Italy — with ports in Greece, Jordan and Oman — and docks in the United Arab Emirates.
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Tristan da Cunha
Price: Starting from $7,250 for a shared room
The world’s most remote yet inhabited island, Tristan da Cunha, is the midway point between Africa and South America. The island, which just got its own postal code in 2006, is home to millions of seabirds, but landing there is highly weather-dependent. This 27-night trip through the Atlantic Ocean will take you to a handful of other lesser-known islands, starting from Ushuaia, the South American locale known as the southernmost city on Earth. You’ll follow the Drake Passage to the South Georgia penguin rookeries and end up in Ascension Island, a volcanic location where green turtles nest.
Price: Starting from $1,199
A mix of medieval houses and cafe culture, the Baltic republic of Estonia changed hands numerous times during the Soviet era, a place of warring czars, regal princes and stately knights. These days you can explore the castles, palaces and gardens as you’re transported to another era. This nine-day jaunt through Scandinavia, Russia and the Baltic region takes you from Copenhagen to Berlin, Helsinki, St. Petersburg, Tallinn and Stockholm.
Price: Starting from $4,549
Called “true Arabia,” Oman is a country you don’t hear much about. Home to desert landscapes, bustling souks and a kaleidoscope of history, the country includes everything from islands and reefs to mountains and fjords. This 18-day Azamara Club Cruises voyage is all about highlighting the opposites. From modern marvels to ancient worlds, you’ll explore nature and history and sail on a traditional dhow (sailboat) as you travel from the shimmering skyline of Dubai to the pyramids of Luxor, the ancient city of Petra and everything in between. You’ll journey from Dubai to Oman, passing through Egypt, Jordan, Israel, Cyprus and Greece, taking in all the Middle East has to offer.
Prince Edward Island
Price: Starting from $779
As the setting for “Anne of Green Gables,” millions of book fans have hightailed it to Prince Edward Island in search of their own inspiration from the novel. The seven-day New England itinerary hops between Boston and Maine before heading north to Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Quebec. Enjoy everything the East Coast has to offer, from seafood and craggy coasts to lighthouses and historic waterfronts. If you’re wondering when to go, late October can be a wonderful time as the autumn leaves promise a kaleidoscope of color.
Click through if you’re planning a water adventure and want to know which cruise activities are worth doing.