The beaches of the Caribbean and cities of the Mediterranean are some of the most popular places cruise ships visit. But you know what they say about the path less travelled! If you’re keen to venture off-the-beaten-track, check out these lesser-known cruise destinations. They are every bit as good as the competition.
Waking up in the Amazon’s lush, mysterious rainforest to the sounds of exotic wildlife is on many people’s bucket lists. And one of the best ways to do this is from the comfort of a cruise ship. A journey into the beating heart of the Amazon is more like a wildlife safari than a traditional cruise. It opens up a world teeming with more incredible creatures and beautiful plants than you could ever imagine. Avalon Waterways offers cruises departing from Lima, Peru, while Silversea and Seabourn also have itineraries that pass through northern Brazil.
Sir Bani Yas
Picture the United Arab Emirates and you probably see a vision of a dusty desert, dotted with dazzling ultra-modern cities. You would never dream it was one of the lesser-known cruise destinations. Sir Bani Yas, the largest island in the UAE, totally turns that image upside down. Home to Arabia’s greatest wildlife reserve, this island allows cruisers to discover the park’s impressive population.
Residents include giraffes, peacocks, hyenas, gazelles and cheetahs. Sir Bani Yas is also home to 30-plus fascinating archaeological sites, plus a coastline favoured by dolphins and sea turtles. Celebrity Cruises is one cruise line that visits this part of the world; their Constellation ship home-ports in Abu Dhabi.
Bali is one of the most popular stops in Indonesia, but Semarang in Central Java gives the island a run for its money. The city boasts a historic Dutch quarter and a plethora of beautiful Chinese temples. But for many cruisers, the city’s highlight is Borobudur. The world’s largest Buddhist temple is also a protected UNESCO world heritage site. Hidden under ash for almost 1,000 years, the temple was restored in the 1970s and features magnificent triple-tier terraces. Many cruise lines, including Seabourn, Costa, Holland America and Regent Seven Seas sail to Semarang.
The surge in budget airlines has resulted in tourists outnumbering locals in Iceland, especially in the country’s capital, Reykjavik. To ease the burden Akureyi, Iceland’s fourth largest city, is earning a place among the lesser-known cruise destinations. During summer, the midnight sunshine lights up buzzing nightlife and makes relaxing dips in natural outdoor baths possible. You can take a flight from this city to the minute island of Grimsey; it’s the only part of Iceland that crosses the Arctic Circle. Disney Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean and National Geographic all have Akureyi down as a port of call.