Discovering the unique and diverse wildernesses that lie around the globe can be found on most people’s bucket-lists. I have put together my top 5 best wilderness cruises to the Arctic and beyond as there is no better way to explore these regions than by sea. Perhaps you fancy exploring the vast and spectacular oceans of ice in the Arctic and Antarctic which offer rich diversities of life including indigenous tribes, birds and sea life and the unique chance to follow in the footsteps of explorers from many years ago? Or is it expeditions exploring the far reaches of Australia that appeal, with its vibrant coral reefs, impressive landscapes and abundant wildlife? Or do you want to discover the hidden depths of the jungles, volcanic mountains and plentiful birdlife in Papua New Guinea? Whatever wilderness takes your fancy, there’s a cruise out their designed to suit you.
Top 5 Best Wilderness Cruises To The Arctic & Beyond:
1. Top of the World (North Pole)
This cruise is 13 nights / 14 days aboard 50 Years of Victory (up to 128 guests). Operated by Poseidon Expeditions, this wilderness adventure begins in Murmansk, Russia where you will embark the impressive nuclear-powered and state-of-the-art icebreaker known as ‘50 Years of Victory’. This ship is the largest and most powerful icebreaker ever built and is capable of crushing a clear path through multi-year ice up to three metres thick! Despite the fact that the ‘Victory’ was never designed with tourists in mind, it offers simple, yet comfortable accommodation and gourmet cuisine for its guests and its public spaces create a friendly, casual atmosphere for socialising. Cruising aboard this marvel of engineering is truly an unforgettable experience in itself. Your roundtrip voyage will see you smashing through the frozen Arctic Ocean taking you to the geographic North Pole in a matter of days. During your trip, you will also have the opportunity to explore the rarely visited Russian Arctic archipelago of Franz Josef Land which comprises of 191 islands as well as incredible helicopter flights above the snow and ice (weather permitting). This is an extraordinary voyage for true adventurers on a one-of-a-kind vessel.
2. Kimberley Ultimate (Western Australia)
This cruise lasts 13 nights / 14 days aboard True North (up to 36 guests). Operated for more than 25 years by North Star Cruises, the Kimberley Ultimate is their flagship adventure and one of Australia’s most exclusive holiday experiences. This 13-night expedition takes you between Wyndham and Broome and packs in all of the region’s icons as well as many ‘secret’ locations that other ships can’t reach. On-board you will enjoy exemplary service from an all-Australian crew, a great expedition team and superb modern cuisine dining. Accommodation is more luxurious than on many expedition cruises with 3 levels of spacious staterooms, all with modern décor, comfortable beds, large ensuites, portholes (some panoramic), in-cabin entertainment and satellite telephone. Your cruise will take in sights including: the Mitchell, Hunter and Prince Regent Rivers, the stunning Horizontal and King George Falls and the Montgomery Reef. North Star Cruises prides itself in offering ‘adventurecruises’ that are activity-based and specifically designed for the most discerning adventurer. Daily activities can include scenic walks, helicopter flights (on the on-board helicopter!), fishing, snorkelling, culture, picnics, nature, diving, exploring and more.
3. Antarctica Deep South (Antarctica)
This cruise lasts 11 nights / 12 days aboard Akademik Sergey Vavilov (up to 92 guests). Operated by One Ocean Expeditions this trip gives you the opportunity to travel further south than at any other time in the season. To begin with, you will fly to King George Island in Antarctica, saving you two days at sea which means you can enjoy extra time to explore the wilderness below the Antarctic Circle. On this cruise, you will experience stunning Antarctic landscapes, sizable Adelie penguin rookeries and admire large flat-topped tabular icebergs that calmly drift north from the Bellingshausen Sea. You will be taken along the glaciated coastline of the Antarctic Peninsula, passing through the Argentine Fish and Yalour Island archipelagos to the Gerlache Strait region which offers important scientific stations and significant historic sites to explore. The cruises’ aim is to escort you across the Antarctic Circle and, if the weather is favourable and ice permitting, you may even reach Marguerite Bay. You will be travelling aboard the Akademik Sergey Vavilov, a purpose-built and powerful oceanographic vessel with expansive observation decks which offer 360-degree views. She is modern, comfortable, safe and ice-strengthened and offers public spaces for small group sessions as well as briefing areas for all expeditioners. On-board there is a dining room, lounge, bar, library, theatre-style presentation room, gift-shop, fitness room, massage room, hot water spa, sauna, plunge pool and a dedicated expedition ‘mud-room’ where you will prepare for your off-ship excursions. Sumptuous meals will be prepared for you and served in the dining room, which can host all passengers in a single seating. Accommodation is modern and comfortable with 6 levels of rooms and suites to choose from which can accommodate 2-3 guests (most are ensuite, although some have a shared bathroom) with varying levels of spaciousness.
4. Exploring Alaska’s Coastal Wilderness (South East Alaska)
This 7 night / 8 day cruise is aboard National Geographic Sea Lion & Sea-Bird (up to 62 guests). This trip explores Southeast Alaska with Lindblad Expeditions on a small ship which offers an unrivalled opportunity to discover some of Alaska’s most impressive wonders. During the cruise, you will be able to hike over spongy earth on trails used by bears for centuries and walk along boardwalks built over bogs that wind through forests. You will visit sights including: Juneau, Frederick Sound, Petersburg Sitka, the Icy Straits and Glacier Bay. The vessel also comes equipped with expedition landing craft that will take you past floating icebergs for a closer look at passing glaciers. Each day you’ll have the choice of walking or kayaking to truly immerse yourself in Alaska’s remarkable wilderness. You will sail through the narrow, fast-moving channels among the islands of Southeast Alaska and take in secluded anchorages. Recent refurbishments have transformed and revitalised the ship creating an atmosphere more like being on a large private yacht than an expedition ship. On-board you will find lounges, bars, dining rooms, public areas and a spa. Accommodation comes in 31 outside cabins of 5 varying grades, which can sleep 1-2 guests. Some rooms feature a double bed, seating area and large windows, while other more compact rooms feature single beds and a writing desk. All rooms enjoy organic cotton duvets, crisp cotton sheeting, Wi-Fi access, temperature controls and botanically inspired bathroom amenities.
5. Papua New Guinea Frontier Lands (Papua New Guinea)
Cruise for 12 nights / 13 days aboard Coral Discoverer (up to 72 guests). On this luxury Coral Expeditions cruise, you will discover Papua New Guinea, one of the world’s last great frontiers. Experiencing magical and rarely visited islands and enjoying a voyage rich in culture, history and natural beauty. Papua New Guinea is of course home to the largest area of intact rainforest outside the Amazon and on-board you will be able to appreciate its magnificent scenery ranging from colourful coral atolls to volcanic mountains, pristine wilderness areas and mighty rivers. Papua New Guinea’s secret forests feature over 3,000 varieties of vibrantly coloured orchids and 700 species of birds including the stunning bird of paradise. Modernised and refurbished in December 2016, the state-of-the-art Coral Discoverer is equipped with latest technology and safety equipment to ensure a highly comfortable cruise. Known as one of the leading expedition ships, it is entirely staffed with an Australian and New Zealand crew. Accommodation feels much more like a modern, floating 4-star hotel with spacious guest rooms offering a modern décor with paintings on the walls, comfortable beds, deep sofas, ensuite bathrooms and some even enjoy a private balcony. This memorable cruise offers stunning scenery and smiling faces that will stay with you for a lifetime.
Hopefully, this whistle-stop tour of wilderness cruising has whet your appetite to explore some of the lesser-known wonders of the world and add them to your bucket-list. With breath-taking landscapes, stunning seascapes and wildlife as rare and diverse as your imagination can conjure, a cruise to one of these destinations is a must.
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