Done the Caribbean and the Med? Then add these surprising routes to your list.
The Suez Canal
The Panama Canal is at the top of most cruisers’ bucket list, but the less famous Suez Canal has lots to offer. It’s a vital sea passage between the Mediterranean and Red seas, and directly connects Europe and Asia. You’ll sail through an ocean of desert on just a narrow strip of water that’s only around 200 metres wide. The transit requires no locks, as both bodies of water are around the same height, and it’s a slow stately journey that’s not to be missed.
Destinations don’t get much more off the radar than the coast of West Africa. Countries like Ghana, Senegal and Cape Verde are starting to open their ports to international cruise ships with passengers eager to discover these fascinating cultures. You’ll call in at historic Portuguese settlements, ghost towns in the desert and tiny islands lost in the wild Atlantic.
Marquesas Islands (pictured above)
For an unusual take on the South Pacific, head to Tahiti’s remote Marquesas Islands. These ruggedly beautiful islands are thousands of kilometres from any other landmass, rising dramatically from cobalt blue waters and covered in lush green forest. They attained an almost mythical quality and have captivated writers and adventurers like Robert Louis Stevenson, Hermin Melville and Paul Gaugin. Only one ship cruises here, the converted freighter Aranui 5, that makes a 3,000 kilometre round trip once every three weeks.
Another hidden gem of the Pacific, Micronesia is made up of over 2,100 islands cover some 4.5 million square kilometres of ocean. It’s been a favourite of liveaboard dive boats and expedition vessels for years, but is now starting to welcome more mainstream lines. Snorkel and dive on impossibly beautiful reefs, visit WWII sites and stop off at tiny villages accessible only by water. Get in quickly before the rest of the world discovers Micronesia.
Russia is one of the few countries in the world that offers both ocean and river cruising. Sail around the very top of Europe and into the Baltic Sea to visit St Petersburg, one of the world’s great cities. Travel at the height of summer to experience the unique White Nights, when the sun never sets and the cities celebrates for 24 hours a day. Inland, smaller vessels wind along the Volga and Swiv rivers, passing through expansive lakes and along banks lined with potato farms and spectacular onion-domed churches.