Caribbean Cruising: Explore the most beautiful islands in the world

Volcanic archipelagos where blue-footed boobies roost. Arctic drops of land home to polar bears. Hurtigruten Expeditions cruises take you to some of the world’s most fascinating – and fragile – islands.

Glide through icy waters where polar bears dive off remote isles. Visit lands where Indigenous peoples live in the same way that they have since the beginning of time. Or reach far-flung islands, where geysers spout and waterfalls tumble from towering fiords. A journey with pioneering cruise line Hurtigruten Expeditions will take you to places often only accessible on a small cruise ship.

Hurtigruten Expeditions cruises sunset
Sunsets in the Galápagos hit different © Ashton Ray Hansen

The Norwegian line has mastered manoeuvring into the world’s most remote corners. And, always with sustainability in mind, their fleet of expedition ships are some of the most technologically advanced in the world. In addition, there’s always a team of skilled experts on board to make sure your journey is as informative and it is inspirational.

Bring your sense of adventure and your stamina – these islands are all-consuming.

Visit the Caribbean without the crowds

Sitting pretty in the Caribbean, around 70 kilometres off the coast of Nicaragua, are the Corn Islands. Still largely undiscovered, aside from a few surfers who come here to tackle the epic, unpeopled waves, Hurtigruten Expeditions cruises here with ease.

The Corn Islands Caribbean
A warm welcome in the Corn Islands © Andrea Klaussner

Although the beach is the obvious draw, there’s also eye-popping street art, feet-in-the-sand restaurants and colourful wooden houses. Nearby, Isla de Providencia – once a base for pirates – has water so clear you can see the mantas a mile away. Hike to the island’s highest point for horizon-bending views. Or swim in the coral reefs of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Seaflower Biosphere Reserve, where you can snorkel among clownfish and turtles.

Try this: 11-day ‘Tropical Waters and Remote Island Communities in the Caribbean’ aboard MS Roald Amundsen.

Discover the Galápagos Islands with Hurtigruten Expeditions cruises

Imagine coming whisker to mask with a playful sea lion. Or exploring a volcanic outcrop where the eyes of thousands of marine iguanas stare back at you. Their inky bodies completely at one with the rocks. These are just two examples of what awaits on one of the Hurtigruten Expeditions cruises around the Galápagos. The island’s are home to a huge number of endemic birds and animals. Furthermore, thanks to an absence of predators, they’ve grown accustomed to having humans in their midst.

Galápagos Islands
Be awed by nature on the Galápagos Islands © Christopher Cepeda

That’s a limited number of humans, mind you. There are strict visitor numbers thanks to Ecuador’s vigilant National Park rangers. Perhaps the star of the archipelago is the giant Galápagos tortoise, which lumbers around the greener parts; followed by the Galápagos penguin and flightless cormorant. Much of the flora is as fascinating as the fauna, with some of the plant life as endemic as its animals.

Try this: 10-day ‘Galápagos Island Expedition, in Darwin’s footsteps’. aboard MS Santa Cruz II.

See Svalbard’s incredible wildlife up close

Hurtigruten pioneered expedition cruising in this Arctic wilderness in 1896. A few hundred miles from the North Pole, the Norwegian archipelago is all pristine fiords and mountain peaks.

Polar bears roam icy shores; its waters are home to beluga and minke whales; Svalbard reindeer and Arctic fox frequent the protected reserves and national parks.

Polar bears Svalbard Hurtigruten Expeditions cruises
Search for polar bears amongst Svalbard’s snowy scenes © Linda Drake

Twitchers will delight on the east coast of Spitsbergen. To explain, these are among the largest nesting sites in North Atlantic. There are more than 30 different species to spot, including kittiwakes, Brünnich’s guillemots, pink-footed geese, little auks, king eider and Atlantic puffins.

Try this: 10-day ‘Circumnavigating Spitsbergen: In the realm of the polar bear’ aboard MS Spitsbergen or MS Fram.

Hop onboard Hurtigruten Expeditions cruises to Iceland

A vastly uninhabited Nordic island nation, Iceland is a place where nature takes centre stage. Home to some of the largest glaciers in Europe, and the world’s most active volcanoes, it’s all bubbling hot pools and spurting geysers.

Iceland’s pretty puffins © Camille Seaman
Iceland’s pretty puffins © Camille Seaman

Two-thirds of the population live in the capital, Reykjavik. Which means there’s a lot of room for wildlife across the rest of the island. The country is home to some of the world’s largest bird populations. On Grimsey Island, for example, the birds – including the pretty orange-beaked puffins – outnumber humans by 17,000 to one. You might want to rug up for shore excursions. Temps in summer max out between 10 and 13°C. Finally, don’t miss a drop at one of the many micro-breweries scattered across the country.

Try this: 11-day ‘Circumnavigating Iceland, the land of elves, sagas and volcanoes’ aboard MS Fram.

Spot rare species on a cruise to the Bissagos Islands

You might not have heard of the remote Bissagos Islands before, located off the Guinea coast of western Africa. This whole area has been declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, due to the abundance of rare, protected species of wildlife. Expect to see the Nile crocodile, hippopotamus, African manatee and the bottlenose dolphin. In addition, there are more than 500 types of birds.

You can also meet and visit the Bijago people. This is a fiercely independent, matriarchal society. Here, women choose their husbands and manage the religious, political and economic aspects of the community.

Try this: 13-day ‘West African Archipelago Expedition: Cape Verde and Bissagos Islands Cruise’ aboard MS Spitsbergen.

Hurtigruten Expeditions cruises to Greenland

Greenland might be the world’s largest island that is not a continent, but it’s also one of the most remote. Eight per cent of the nation – which lies between the Arctic and Atlantic oceans – is covered in ice. To add to the remoteness, there are virtually no roads.

Kayaking at Camp Frieda in Greenland Andreas Kalvig Anderson
Kayaking at Camp Frieda in Greenland Andreas Kalvig Anderson

You can try your hand at dog sledding. Or, even better, kayak along the waters of misty fiords. The kayak was, after all, invented here, and originally used by the local Inuit peoples. Venture to Disko Bay, the largest of its kind in Greenland and a place where whales glide through icebergs. The bay’s main town, Ilulissat, is within walking distance of the region’s first UNESCO World Heritage-listed site: Ilulissat Icefjord.

Try this: 16-day ‘Disko Bay – the heart of Greenland’ aboard MS Fridtjof Nansen.

Whisky, wildlife and music on Scotland’s remote Outer Hebridean islands

Music is a huge part of life in the Outer Hebrides off the northwest coast of Scotland. Passed down through generations for centuries, traditional Gaelic music of the Hebrides can be heard in churches, shops and bars throughout the isles.

On one of Hurtigruten Expeditions cruises to the region, you’ll experience it all. From visiting tiny folk museums to seeing the world-famous Callanish Standing Stones, built around 3000 BC. Not to mention the mysterious Carloway Broch – the best-preserved fort in Scotland dating back more than 2,000 years.

Try this: 13-day ‘The Scottish Isles – Whisky and wildlife from the Hebrides to the Shetlands (northbound)’ aboard MS Spitsbergen.

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