If a cruise holiday has never been high on your agenda, you may be surprised to hear that some destinations are actually best seen by boat.
Forget the increasingly impressive onboard experience that cruise ships now offer, these destinations have enough allure of their own to get you pulling those deck shoes on.
Still don’t believe us? Then you need to read on.
Papua New Guinea
A nature lover’s paradise, Papua New Guinea may only be a fraction of the size of Australia but it has just as many mammal species and even more types of frogs and birds.
Papua New Guinea’s basic tourism infrastructure means the country poses a challenge to even the most intrepid of travellers. As a result, cruises have become a popular way of seeing this destination which is home to a high percentage of the world’s biodiversity, volcanic terrain, a pristine underwater environment teeming with fish, as well as a vibrant culture.
The southernmost continent in the world has earned its place on many a bucketlist thanks to its dramatic landscapes and abundant wildlife. Think vast glaciers and ice-capped mountains which are home to adelie and emperor penguins, south polar skuas, snow petrels, southern fulmars and many more species of bird. You'll also find whales and seals feeding in the waters around the ice edge around this time of year.
Although locked under ice for most of the year, the brief summer months bring with them enough warmth to make the area accessible.
Cruising is really the only way for travellers to access this region, so it's simply a case of picking the right cruise: Operators, such as Lindblad and Aurora Expeditions, set sail from South American ports such as Ushuaia in Argentina. Some depart ports closer to home such as Hobart and Port of Bluff near Invercargill.
If Sir David Attenborough describes somewhere as “one of the greatest natural wonders of the world”, you know it’s got to be worth a look. So put Horizontal Falls in Talbot Bay in the Kimberley’s Buccaneer Archipelago on your list.
The Kimberley’s other spectacular sights are an added bonus. At Montgomery Reef, the tidal ebb and flow reveals a semi-submerged world of waterfalls, reef birds and marine animals such as turtles, manta rays and the occasional dugong. Then there are the tiger-striped rock formations of the World Heritage Bungle Bungle mountain range in Purnululu National Park.
Remote and unspoilt, this breathtaking region of waterways and rivers is definitely best explored by cruise ship. APT, Aurora Expeditions, Silversea, Northstar Cruises, Lindblad National Geographic, Kimberley Quest, Princess Cruises all operate itineraries in the area.
This giant of a river flows through no less than six countries, starting its 4,350km journey in South Vietnam and making its way through Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, China, Myanmar (Burma) to finish up in the Mekong Delta.
While rice paddies are plentiful along the river’s length, it remains one of Asia’s least developed rivers – great news for wildlife. Monkeys may be the most common sighting on any Mekong river cruise, but the river is home to a whopping 20,000 species of plants, 430 mammals, 1,200 birds, 800 reptiles and 850 fish. In fact, the only river in the world that can boast more biodiversity than this one is the Amazon.
Beyond the nature, there are dreamy Buddhist temples, traces of the region’s bloody history and vibrant cities such as Phnom Penh and Ho Chi Minh City. But perhaps most special are the glimpses of everyday life - fishermen trawl the waters for their daily catch, kids splash in the shallows, women wring their laundry.
With the Mekong one of the hottest river cruise destinations right now, you’ll have no trouble finding an itinerary to suit you. Check out Insider Journeys, APT, Uniworld and Scenic for the latest offerings.
What better way to get to know a country as diverse and confusing as India than by leisurely sailing along its most beloved waterway, the Ganges?
More than just a river, the Ganges is actually considered to be a Hindu goddess. It has played a vital role in the country’s history and continues to be of utmost importance in the daily rituals of the people that live along its length. Beyond being simply the site for the undertaking of daily chores such as washing, laundry and watering the animals, its sacred properties make it a place of prayer, reflection and farewell.
Most people yearning for an encounter with the holy waters generally head for Varanasi – the spiritual capital of India with more than 2,000 temples and probably as many cows. But despite the city’s chaotic charms, there is far more to the river. Think colonial cities, gangetic dolphins and even tigers.
So the perfect way to see it? Obviously by boat. More and more operators are cottoning onto this, and now you can make the journey in a style not previously available.
Information is current as at 31/08/2016 and may change.
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