Explore the old world empires of the Mediterranean starting in the beautiful port town of Haifa, Israel. Explore the old world empires of the Mediterranean starting in the beautiful port town of Haifa, Israel. Explore the old world empires of the Mediterranean starting in the beautiful port town of Haifa, Israel. (Photo: WDG Photo /Shutterstock)

5 unique cruises to enjoy that aren’t in the Caribbean

Leave the Bahamas behind and go on one of these adventures instead.

Long before airplanes and automobiles, steam ships and sailing vessels were the mode of transportation of choice for explorers, emigrants and just about anyone else looking to cover great distances. Today, a week or two aboard a luxury ship is a vacation, not a voyage, but there’s a lot more to cruising than the Disney Princess.

We’ve rounded up five of the most remarkable and unique cruises around the world. Each one offers an all-inclusive luxury vacation aboard a modern cruise ship that would make even Christopher Columbus wonder why he never went further than Florida.

Tahiti & the Tuomotu Islands Aboard the Wind Spirit

Wind Spirit uses six triangular, self-furling sails to supplement its engines to reach speeds up to 15.8 knots with prevailing winds.Explore the many islands of Tahiti on the Wind Spirit luxury yacht.

Board Windstar Cruises’ 148-passenger sailing yacht Wind Spirit from Papeete on the island of Tahiti for a 10-day adventure through French Polynesia. Wind Spirit was built in 1988 but has been completely refurbished with modern luxuries in the cabins and staterooms and additional on-deck seating for alfresco sunset dining under the brilliant white sails that adorn each of the four masts.

The ship heads first to the pristine atolls and crystal lagoons of the Tuamotu Islands, back through the Society Islands and Bora Bora, before returning to Papeete. Cruise highlights include diving in the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve off Fakarava, a visit to one of the world’s most unique vineyards in the middle of a coconut plantation and a stunning demonstration of Polynesian culture in Bora Bora.


Sail the Mediterranean on the Seven Seas Navigator

The Regent Seven Seas Navigator will be your home away from home as you cruise the ancient cities of the Mediterranean from Haifa to Venice.The Regent Seven Seas Navigator will be your home away from home as you cruise the ancient cities of the Mediterranean from Haifa to Venice. (Photo: Regent Seven Seas Cruises)

Regent Seven Seas offers a 12-night cruise from Israel to Italy during which you’ll stop at some of the most brilliant ports throughout the Mediterranean. The Seven Seas Navigator is a 490-passenger ship featuring luxurious cabins with private balconies, several dining options and an on-board spa.

You’ll embark from the Israeli port of Haifa bound first for Limassol, Cyprus, where you can visit the Lemesos Castle, where Richard the Lionheart married Berengaria of Navarre. Other ports of call include the Greek islands of Rhodes, Santorini and Corfu, Durres in Albania and the ancient Croatian port city of Dubrovnik before the cruise concludes in Venice.


Ultimate adventure to Alaska aboard the Wilderness Explorer

Un-Cruise Adventures' ships carry kayaks and other water toys for guests to explore Alaska's waterways on their own.Un-Cruise Adventures' ships carry kayaks and other water toys for guests to explore Alaska's waterways on their own. (Photo: Un-Cruise Adventures)

Explore the wilderness and wildlife of Alaska on a 14-night cruise aboard Un-Cruise Adventures’ Wilderness Explorer or its sister ship Wilderness Discover. But, this is not your average luxury cruise. In lieu of butlers and pillow menus, the 74-passenger expedition vessel is equipped with kayaks, paddleboards and inflatable skiffs, not to mention yoga mats and hiking poles. Guests will spend as much time exploring on (or near) land as they do cruising Alaska’s famous sounds and fjords. After a long day ashore, relax and watch the stars from the ship’s upper deck hot tub.

Itinerary highlights include whale watching in Frederick Sound, kayaking Stephens Passage and the Chatham Strait and exploring El Capitan cave on Prince of Wales Island.


Venture up the Mekong River on the Avalon Siem Reap

The Avalon Siem Reap was built in 2014 by local craftsmen.The Avalon Siem Reap was built in 2014 by local craftsmen. (Photo: Avalon Waterways)

Avalon Waterways' eight-day cruise on the Siem Reap will take you from Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam to Siem Reap in Cambodia. You’ll travel northbound along the Mekong River, stopping along the way to visit colorful local markets, take a bicycle tour of Phenom Penh and explore the Cambodian countryside by ox cart.

The tiny 36-passenger Siem Reap was built by local craftsmen in 2014 and offers an intimate experience with access to many places other larger ships can’t.


Take a voyage of the vikings aboard the MS Rotterdam

The MS Rotterdam sails around Europe during the summer and South America in the winter. The MS Rotterdam sails around Europe during the summer and South America in the winter. (Photo: Courtesy photo)

Holland America’s 18-day transatlantic Voyage of the Vikings cruise aboard the MS Rotterdam starts in Boston and ends in The Netherlands. The ship is one of Holland America’s flagships, offering large cabins, upscale dining and white-glove service.

From Boston, you’ll retrace the steps of Leif Erikson up the North American coast to Bal Harbor, Maine, on to Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, to Greenland and across the Norwegian Sea to Iceland and Norway before arriving in Rotterdam. There's a huge variety of guided and independent shore excursions available, from exploring the Bay Islands in the footsteps of Captain James Cook to touring Iceland by pony to sea kayaking through Norway’s fjords.

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