A vacation to the majestic national parks throughout the U.S., the charming cities of Europe, or the pristine beaches of the Caribbean can be exciting and relaxing, but sometimes, you want to plan something a bit different.
That’s where a cruise comes in, making it not only possible, but practically effortless to travel to some of the most remote locations in the world. On board, you can revel in luxurious comforts with champagne, butler service, and WiFi on some ships, all while making it easier to explore places as far off as the North Pole itself.
Spend hours hanging out with king penguins on the Falkland Islands, stand beneath the towering and mysterious statues of Easter Island, and trek through the rainforest by the Amazon River before retiring for the evening with a glass of wine, watching the world pass by from the ship’s deck.
Head to these remote locations around the world by ship to make the most out of your adventure.
A visit to the world’s largest island will put you face-to-face with towering icebergs and immerse you in Inuit culture. Just over 56,000 people live in Greenland, an autonomous Danish territory, according to the BBC. And while flights to the island can be cumbersome and pricey, a cruise is a great option to get there and see several cities on one trip.
Cruise: Celebrity Cruises Iceland & Greenland Cruise; 14 nights
Cost: Starting at $2,869/person
Ship: Celebrity Summit
Ship capacity: 2,218 people
What you’ll love about it: Take a boat tour or check out a hot spring in Qaqortoq, the largest town in southern Greenland, before sailing the Prince Christian Sound where you can spot sheep farms and icy fjords. The cruise sails from New Jersey and ends in Dublin, hitting Canada and Iceland along the way. On board, enjoy vodka and caviar in The Martini Bar and indulge in dishes like cold smoked Atlantic salmon roulade with shaved cucumber salad and herbed cream cheese in the main dining room.
The seventh continent is one of the most untouched places on earth, governed by an international treaty to ensure Antarctica is used for science. Commercial tour ships that go to the continent are certified by the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO), which promotes environmentally responsible travel to the area. And while cruising to Antarctica is often one of the most expensive options for vacations around the world, nothing can quite beat visiting a wild penguin colony or watching an elephant seal lounge around.
Cruise: Silversea Ushuaia to Ushuaia; 10 days
Cost: Starting at $13,140/person
Ship: Silver Cloud
Ship capacity: 254 people
What you’ll love about it: Explore the remoteness of Antarctica with guided zodiac tours and enrichment lectures by experts as you sail around the remote continent. On board, a ratio of nearly one crew member for every guest and butler service in every suite will spoil you while champagne throughout the ship and unlimited free WiFi will make sure you can toast your animal sightings and upload them to social media.
There are only about 2,560 people living on the Falkland Islands, a British territory just east of Argentina, according to the BBC. Visit king penguins along the beach, and marvel at their majestic stature and inelegant, adorable waddling. While there, see some Gentoo and Magellanic penguins as well, making it a bird watcher’s paradise.
Cruise: Norwegian Cruise Line 14-Day South America from Santiago
Cost: Starting at $804/person
Ship: Norwegian Star
Ship capacity: 2,348 people
What you’ll love about it: This cruise offers the best penguin viewing in the Falkland Islands following your sail around the infamous Cape Horn. Marvel at the Falkland Islands’ beaches and greenery while spotting all sorts of penguins, possibly the cutest animal in the world. On board, 14 different dining options and 9 bars and lounges means you’ll never have to eat the same thing twice, and a casino means you’ll never be bored.
Rapa Nui, the indigenous name of Easter Island, was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995. The large sculptures that dominate the landscape of Easter Island were built from the 10th to the 16th centuries by a society of Polynesian origin. The island sits about 2,000 miles west of South America and the only way to get there (besides a cruise) is to fly — LATAM, a Chilean airline, is the only airline that flies there.
Cruise: Princess Cruises World Cruise Segment – New York to Sydney; 36 days
Cost: Starting at $5,779/person
Ship: Sea Princess
Ship capacity: 2,000
What you’ll love about it: This world cruise will take you from New York all the way to Sydney with jaw-dropping stops along the way like Tahiti, New Zealand, and, of course, Easter Island. View the moai up close, and enjoy a traditional Polynesian feast that includes food cooked over a stone heated with hot lava rocks. On the ship, dig into some fresh-popped popcorn or milk and cookies while you watch a movie under the stars, or sip your way around the world with the on-board Beer and Wine Festival, held twice during every cruise longer than seven days.
A nature-loving paradise and the inspiration behind Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection, the Galápagos Islands are the perfect place to discover wildlife. Galápagos National Park limits the number of tourist boats that can operate among the island chain to minimize the impact on the environment and avoid overcrowding, with most ships carrying less than 20 passengers each.
And while you can visit the area by land and stay on one of the inhabited islands, visiting by sea is one of the best ways to truly experience the wildlife and vast ecological habitats.
Cruise: Quasar Expeditions; 8 days
Cost: Starting at $6,900/person
Ship: M/Y Grace
Ship capacity: 16 people
What you’ll love about it: Grace Kelly chose this ship for her royal honeymoon with Prince Rainier III of Monaco, and you can feel like royalty yourself as you trace Darwin’s steps throughout the Galápagos Islands, from San Cristobal Island to Baltra Island. Go kayaking and snorkeling in the pristine, crystal-clear waters before relaxing on board in your sumptuously-appointed cabin looking out. And rest easy, knowing the ship is entirely free of single-use, disposable plastics, including plastic straws and single-use disposable soaps.
In 2011, Myanmar started to shed its decades-old isolationist policy, opening up for people to visit. While Myanmar’s history is as complicated as the country is beautiful, a trip to this interesting country can deepen your understanding of its complexities.
Cruise: Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours Luxury Irrawaddy; 11 days
Cost: Starting at $5,895/person
Ship: Scenic Aura
Ship capacity: 44 people
What you’ll love about it: Stand up on the deck and sip a cocktail as you sail up the river into Bagan, marveling at the thousands of red-hued temples and stupas from the 11th to 13th centuries that dot the landscape. Enjoy butler service for all guests on board and a crew-to-guest ratio of nearly 1 to 1 as you revel in a luxurious week spent seeing one of the most remote countries.
The winding Amazon River runs through large swaths of South America, one of the longest rivers on earth. About one-sixth of all fresh water that drains into the oceans passes through the Amazon, according to the World Wide Fund For Nature. With its source in the Peruvian Andes, the diverse wildlife and ecosystem of the river is best experienced by boat, making a cruise ideal.
Cruise: National Geographic Expeditions Upper Amazon; 10 days
Cost: Starting at $7,290/person
Ship: Delfin II
Ship capacity: 28 people
What you’ll love about it: Head out in search of monkeys and sloths on this small-ship cruise as you hike through the dense and humid rainforest. Discover the edible fruits in the jungle, learning about the medicinal qualities of the plants there. Back on board the 120-foot wooden river boat, kick back in one of 14 suites with large picture windows (all of which have air conditioning, a much needed luxury in the Amazon, trust us).
The North Pole
The North Pole is just about the most remote place you could ever travel to, and that travel isn’t easy. Thick sheets of ice mean only certain ships can even get there, and weather makes the journey unpredictable. But if getting away from it all is what you’re after, then this is just about the furthest place you could go.
Cruise: Quark Expeditions North Pole: The Ultimate Arctic Adventure; 14 days
Cost: Starting at $30,995/person
Ship: 50 Years of Victory
Ship capacity: 128 people
What you’ll love about it: Stand at the top of the world (literally) and drink champagne on this voyage to one of the most remote places on Earth. Hop on board a helicopter to look for walruses, seals, and polar bears and take a tethered hot-air balloon ride at 90º N (weather permitting, of course). The ship, 50 Years of Victory, is capable of breaking through ice up to 9.2-feet-thick and while the accommodations are basic, it does feature a polar library and an all-inclusive bar.