Adventure cruise: outside ‘the Big Three’

Away from the Arctic, Antarctica and the Galápagos Islands, there’s a whole world of adventure to be discovered. Anthony Pearce looks at some of the best options

When we talk about adventure and expedition cruise we mostly think of the ‘Big Three’: the Arctic, Antarctica and the Galápagos Islands. But, as this once niche part of the industry continues to grow, there are more options than ever – from Cape Horn to Greenland, the Kimberley to Cape Verde. Here are some fantastic options available to intrepid guests. 

For those that have sailed the Arctic and want to try something different but similar, the Northwest Passage offers great adventure, giving guests the chance to follow in the wake of seafaring explorers of the past. Crystal Expedition Cruises’ luxury yacht, Crystal Endeavor, will embark from Anadyr, Russia for Tromsø, Norway on August 18, 2021 on a 28-night expedition. The 200-guest ship, will visit some of the world’s most remote islands and coastlines. It will sail the East Siberian Sea, the White Sea, the Barents Sea and the Laptev Sea, calling at Russian Federation ports Provideniya; Cape Dezhnev & Uelen Village; Kolyuchin Island; Ayon Island; Novaya Zemlya; Arkhangelsk; Solovetsky and  Zayatsky Island (from £41,803pp). Hurtigruten, the Norwegian shipping company, also sails the passage on MS Roald Amundsen, which became the first hybrid ship to navigate the crossing; on August 20, 2020, MS Fram will sail from Reykjavík to Edmonton, Canada calling at Kvanefjord, Nuuk and Sisimiut in Greenland (from £10,714pp)

Down Under, Coral Expeditions have pioneered cruises to the Great Barrier Reef, Tasmania and the Kimberley, with others now following suit. It has expanded its programme to include Papua New Guinea, Raja Ampat, the Spice Islands, West Papua and Indonesia (see a profile of the company here). Ponant’s Iconic Kimberley itinerary is a10-night cruise in the Pacific and Oceania on board Le Lapérouse from Broome to Darwin. Departing on May 18, 2020, ports of call include the Lacepede Islands, Collier Bay, Careening Bay and Hunter River and Mitchell Falls (from £7,408pp). APT offer a 15-day Grand Kimberley Coast cruise, exploring Montgomery Reef, Horizontal Falls and King George River (from £7,495pp). Guests on Silversea can explore Melanesia, a subregion of Oceania, on the fourth segment of its expedition world cruise, sailing from Lautoka to Cairns (departing March 23, 2021). Calls include Pentecost Island, home to the land divers that provided the inspiration for bungee jumping, and Rabaul, home to the Baining tribespeople and their fire dance (see for prices). 

In the Western half the southern hemisphere, intrepid types can explore Cape Horn and Patagonia with the expedition specialists Australis. On either the 200-guest Stella or Ventus Australis, guests can journey to the “uttermost end of the earth” on a four-night cruise that takes in the fjords of Tierra del Fuego, Pía Glacier, Cape Horn and Ushuaia (from $1,440pp). Similarly, Silversea offers a 19-day cruise from Lima (Callao) to Ushuaia on board Silver Cloud (departing October 28, from £8,910pp), taking in Chile’s considerable coastline, with stops including Puerto Montt, Valparaíso and Punta Arenas, as well as a day cruising the Chilean fjords. Further north, the Amazon offers adventure in abundance. Its Brazilian part is well-explored, with numerous cruise lines traversing its widest stretches, including ocean-going ships. Seabourn offers a 21-day Brazil & The Amazon cruise, from Buenos Aires to Manaus, Brazil, the capital and largest city in Amazonas, and near the confluence of the Negro and Solimões rivers. Calls at Rio de Janeiro, Recife and Natal make this a cruise with it all (from £5,854pp). Less well known is the narrow Ecuadorian Rio Napo tributary. Guests on either the Manatee Amazon Explorer and Anakonda Amazon Explorer can visit the little-explored region on itineraries up to seven-nights. The longest cruise costs $3,931pp and takes in one of the world’s most fascinating and biodiverse regions, which includes a canoe trip to Pañacocha Lake, a chance to see the parrot clay licks (where dozens of exotic birds gather), and meetings with local tribes. It’s perfect for wildlife lovers. 

Off the coast of west Africa, guests sailing with National Geographic explore Cape Verde and the Bijagós Islands with a 12-day sailing on Ponant’s Le Dumont-d’Urville. In Cape Verde, guests can enjoy São Nicolau and its mountainous landscapes; Mindelo’s culture, and the sugar cane plantations and savannah of Fogo, also known as “volcano island”. The Unesco Biosphere Reserve of the Bijagós Islands is located off the coast of Guinea-Bissau and is one of the most protected archipelagos in the world (from £7,833pp). 

On the continent, Hapag-Lloyd has a South Africa and Namibia itinerary that sails from Cape Town on March 7, 2021 for 15 nights to Walvis Bay. It includes calls visits to the Inkwenkwezi Private Game Reserve, with a chance to see the Big Five, and a kayak tour
on the Nahoon River. In Durban a game drive through Tala Game Reserve takes guests through the bush, and past hippos, ostriches and various species of wading birds and birds of prey, while in Richards Bay guests can head with gamekeepers on a night safari to watch sea turtles. From £8,351pp. 

Anthony Pearce

Anthony Pearce is the co-publisher of CRUISE ADVISER. He can be contacted on 

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