The cruise industry’s leading experts, Expedition Cruise Specialists, have revealed the Top 10 Best Expedition Cruise Destinations.
Ranked according to each destination’s “wow factor,” and how unique an experience it offers a traveller, a journey to the Top of the World featuring the North Pole came in at first place with Western Australia’s The Kimberley Coast following closely behind in second.
The results also reveal some unexpected gems along the way, such as Kiribati and Iceland.
Read on for the full list of the Top 10 Best Expedition Cruise Destinations for 2017:
1. Top of the World (North Pole)
Thanks to its pristine landscapes, abundant wildlife, indigenous tribes, and natural phenomena such as the Northern Lights, have placed this remarkable destination in first place. Throughout history, journeying to the Arctic and the North Pole has been the ultimate expedition for many explorers and adventurers, and while its no easy feat, its well worth it with the world’s most powerful icebreaker, the nuclear-powered 50 Years of Victory.
2. The Kimberley Coast, WA
The sheer scale and jaw-dropping beauty of the Kimberley is something that has to be seen to be believed, and every traveller that experiences this stunning region comes home a changed person. Coral Discover and True North take you through the dramatic canyons, amazing waterfalls and untouched wilderness of this natural wonderland
Offering the unique combination of amazing wildlife and incredible landscapes frozen in time, one of the most unique and adventurous ways to experience this destination is with the Base Camp Ortelius expedition. Designed specifically for Antarctic exploration, the Ortelius acts as a floating base camp while anchored for several days at different locations. You can venture out by kayak and zodiac, or go hiking in snowshoes, and even go mountaineering.
With its dramatic landscape of glaciers, ice covered mountains, frontier towns and pristine waters, Alaska has long been one of the most sought after destinations in the world. If you want to explore Alaska’s wonders off the beaten track, the new National Geographic Quest gets you far away from the normal cruise routes, and offers much more than just sight-seeing. Ideal for travellers with a passion for adventure, you’ll enjoy hiking and other physical activities while immersing yourself in a fairy tale-like world of fjords, ancient villages and stunning forests.
The locals in traditional dress, dancing and singing with great joy are what make this island destination such an inspiring place to visit. One of the world’s last great frontiers, PNG is home to the largest area of intact rainforest outside of the Amazon and spoils for choice with its magnificent scenery, which ranges from colourful coral atolls and pristine white-sand beaches, to towering volcanic mountains and mighty rivers. A small ship excursion is the best way to do it and Coral Discoverer will take you to rarely-visited islands for an unforgettable voyage, rich in culture, history and natural beauty.
6. Galápagos Islands
With its incredibly abundant wildlife and sea life, the Galápagos is a paradise for nature lovers, offering plenty of unique experiences. There are many expedition cruises that go through this incredible region, from smaller catamaran ships like Ocean Spray and Sea Star Journey, through to Lindblad Expeditions’ impressive National Geographic Endeavour II.
7. Canada’s North West Passage
Long seen as the “impossible” sea journey, modern specially designed ice-rated ships have made the daunting North West passage accessible. The Akademik Ioffe offers a crossing to Greenland that is one of “life’s great trips.” The 13-day expedition explores the remote Northwest Passage and the stunning fjords of the Baffin Island coastline before crossing to Greenland, venturing through the home of polar bears, musk ox, caribou and walrus.
8. Indonesian Archipelago
Beyond the tourist hordes of Bali lies a region full of friendly people, unknown islands, and crystal clear lagoons teeming with life. Cruise through a panorama of islands and encounter new wonders on a daily basis, such as the stunning Komodo National Park and Indonesia’s Lesser Sunda Islands. The seven-day discovery voyage aboard the Ombak Putih offers a cross-section of remote beaches, quiet coastal villages, jungle-clad mountain ranges, towering volcanoes, rivers, waterfalls, tribal rituals, a mysterious lake and the legendary komodo Dragons.
9. Iceland and Northern Lights
Iceland is the new wonder destination for expedition travellers. An expedition cruise here combines the incredible waterways of the region with the fjords of Greenland, remote settlements and the chance to experience the famous Northern Lights. The main season for expeditions is the northern summer between May and September, when the ‘Land of the Midnight Sun’ comes into its own with 24-hour daylight ensuring plenty of time to experience these incredible landscapes. The seven-day expedition aboard the Plancius cruises ensures the best opportunities to spot the King of the Arctic – the amazing Polar Bear.
10. Kiribati’s Southern Line Islands
Way out in the Pacific is a remote region which is virtually unknown to most adventurers, spoiling for choice with wonders both above and below the water. The National Geographic Orion expedition explores from Rangiroa’s sparkling lagoon to the verdant peaks of Tahiti’s neighbor, Moorea. This voyage maximises your time in some of the most vibrant undersea sites, boasting some of the world’s best dive and snorkel sites. Plus, there’s time to stroll pristine beaches, kayak peaceful coves, and experience true Polynesian hospitality.