What drives us to sail away is what compels us about the sea itself––her limitless wonders and boundless unpredictability, her savage beauty and exotic ports of call. A sense of freedom that can only be found on blue water––what sailors term the open sea, far from land. And isn’t that where all our most powerful adventures take place? Where we dare to let go of the certainty of land, and whatever we’ve been clinging to, to head for the unknown where we take life to the next level and discover something in us we never knew before. Here, you will get a behind the scenes look at beyond the ordinary cruises that could quite possibly change not only your perspective but your life as well.
Gorillas in the mist, Rwanda
What makes travel priceless? Thrilling experiences that transform travel into life’s defining moments. Perhaps travel doesn’t get any more transformative than looking into the eyes of gorillas as they play all around you in the unimaginable beauty of Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda. The experience brings peace to the soul in a way nothing else will in this world.
Imagine that you are in the jungle at elevation watching gorilla families play and forage while a Silverback leads the pack. The adult male mountain gorilla, so named for the silver spine of hair on their backs, casts a spellbinding communion with nature which comes only once in a lifetime and requires an exclusive license for a one-time visit of one hour. Offered as a post-tour, four-night extension this incredible opportunity to get away from it all and feel the heartbeat of the wild will be offered during AmaWaterways 2019-2020 season and also includes viewing the area’s golden monkeys.
New cruises for 2018 include ‘Wildlife & the Falls’, a 12-night adventure on the Zambezi Queen where you will visit Victoria Falls, one of the seven natural wonders of the world, and walk in the steps of Nelson Mandela, on a behind-the-scenes tour to learn about the region’s historical struggles and rise of the human spirit. Other new cruises feature Medieval Treasures, three nights in Zurich and two nights in Prague, as well as Charms of the Mekong, with stops in Hanoi, Siem Reap, and Ho Chi Minh City. amawaterways.com
James Bond in Monaco
You’ve had the dream––gambling in Monaco, drinking fine wines on your yacht and racing a Ferrari. Yes, you can have it all when you take the ‘Monaco to Monaco’ Cruise on SeaDream I with the Monaco by Ferrari Super Car adventure. You’ll be drinking your martinis shaken, not stirred in no time.
Climb into your ready-and-waiting Ferrari at the village of Eza high atop the breathtaking Middle Cornice Road. You choose whether to pilot or co-pilot with a professional driver running shotgun or in command for the ride of your life. Afterwards, enjoy breathtaking landscape views and a visit to a perfume factory. A stroll in Old Town Nice prepares you for your drive on the streets of the Monaco F1 Grand Prix.
It’s yachting, not cruising. And because service is paramount at SeaDream, you don’t have to be James Bond for them to remember your name. The small scale of the ships allow a certain level of service and intimacy that define luxury yachting and form connections with a family feel. A visit to their sea level pool means you won’t have to leave stunning views behind in order to enjoy fun onboard entertainment. Go ahead and throw in a helicopter ride for stunning aerial views of the Cote d’Azure just because you can. seadream.com
Boldly go into the wild
They had me at bear viewing. The newest ship in the fleet, the Quest has been outfitted with more toys than most ships on the high seas. Enjoying adventures on customised landing craft transport you to places no other ships can––floating beside a pod of bubble-net feeding humpback whales on Alaska’s Inside Passage, sailing along ethereal glaciers, or landing at the perfect spot for bear viewing. Walking among otherworldly brilliant colours of Alaskan foliage with naturalists and experts like photojournalists is just one more thing to cross off your bucket list.
Unobstructed views onboard allow for an expansive observation deck so you can connect with the natural world beyond the bow in ways you have never been able to before. The latest materials give you the clearest, most natural view possible. An open invitation to the high-tech bridge finds the crew showing you the latest in satellite and navigational technology. The Quest’s environmental savvy streamlined hull design minimises vibration, allowing her to consume less fuel than much smaller ships.
The National Geographic Quest is the first expedition ship to be designed and purpose-built from scratch in the United States by Nichols Brothers Boat Builders on Whidbey Island, Washington. The National Geographic Venture (Quest’s twin ship) will also be built there in the Fall of 2018. www.nationalgeographicexpeditions.com
Beyond inspiration on the Atlantic
Artists like Francis Ford Coppola and Ed Sheeran have used Cunard luxury cruises as the ultimate retreat in order to get in touch with their muse free of distractions, where endless days at sea allow them to rededicate themselves to their works in progress. Slower travel helps them detach from everyday demands enabling them to rediscover their inspirations and dig into the heart of their work. Cunard offers many event cruises like ancestry/genealogy voyages to help guests tap into their own epic stories too.
New 2018 event cruises include a photographic journey on a voyage to the land of the Midnight Sun, and the third annual Transatlantic fashion week crossing where guests set sail with fashion great Hal Rubenstein, known for founding In Style magazine. The line has also partnered with The New Yorker to explore the world of cartoons with celebrated cartoonists offering hands-on demonstrations, workshops and caption contests.
Imagine yourself taking the iconic Transatlantic crossing aboard the remastered Queen Mary 2 to work on your own passion project. With echoes of her classic ocean liner style, she exudes a whole new level of luxury. The remastered ship, the most expensive retrofit in the line’s 176-year history, includes thirty more Britannia Club Balcony staterooms with softer colours and more art deco, geometric patterns seen on the original Queen Mary. Twelve additional kennels have also been added to accommodate four-legged travellers.
If you enjoy ultra-luxury, fun-filled high-octane adventure and new, shiny things Norwegian Bliss is the ship for you. Making its maiden voyage in June 2018, it features the largest competitive race track at sea, an almost 1,000-foot two-level electric car track that crowns the ship.
Other fun factors aboard the Norwegian Bliss include an onboard Aqua Park, with a free fall slide and loops, called Ocean Loops, that extends out over the ocean and a slide called Aqua Racer where passengers can race side-by-side in inner tubes.
The Norwegian Bliss caters to solo travellers with The Haven by Norwegian®, Studio staterooms featuring virtual ocean views and also accommodates large parties and families in style with new connecting staterooms that add a luxurious dimension to sharing the fun together.
But Norwegian Bliss is much more than the newest fun-filled pretty face on the water; it plans to awe and inspire with a variety of ports of call from The Last Frontier to the Caribbean. The ship will feature an Observation Lounge designed for you to take in stunning vistas from glaciers to bald eagles, and teaming sea life in warm turquoise waters. Bring your sense of adventure and playfulness and discover your bliss.
Beyond the unexpected
Unique in the luxury world, Windstar offers elegant, private yacht-like experiences on cruise ships that are also sailboats. They not only locally source food but captains and first mates too, which provide unparalleled knowledge of the seas they sail. They don’t pretend to be the cruise for everyone, but they pride themselves on being the cruise for you.
Featuring voyages that are 180 degrees from ordinary, there are 49 adventurous new itineraries to tempt this year and an incredible 148 maiden ports of call with adventurous amenities that include a unique experience where food is zip-lined to guests. With an eye to doing things differently than other cruise lines they hope to focus on giving guests distinctive stories to share.
The Windstar story is all about exclusivity and anticipatory service. With a 1.5 to 1 guest-to-crew ratio, you will feel like family and enjoy an experience similar to a chartered private yacht. Unrivalled culinary experiences are yours as the official cruise line of the James Beard Foundation––inspired by the legendary American cookbook author and teacher, the organisation keeps his spirit alive by bringing his food revolution to the high seas.
But it’s really the fleet’s beauty that speaks to the heart of Windstar. Intimate and charming, find solace in her romantic canvas sails, and feel what it is like to be propelled by the wind. Intimate and enchanting the small ships are better able to deliver authentic, immersive experiences in every port of call.
Highlights from the 2018 voyage itineraries include the unique and less-travelled wonders of Ko Kut, Little Bay on Montserrat, and Isla Parida in Panama, as well as the stunning Pitons in St. Lucia, the diver’s paradise at Fakarava, the tree goats of Morocco and medieval alleyways of Monemvasia. windstar.com
Beyond your bucket list
Summer in the Arctic is about to get a whole lot more luxurious. The first purpose-built polar class megayacht, Crystal Endeavor, sets sail in late 2019 and will take you on an incredible journey as it navigates “first-year ice,” allowing you to get closer to nature and the thrills of polar bear sightings and ice flow viewings at the top of the world. Afterwards, follow the whale migration along the coasts of the Americas and Europe on an enchanting sail to Antarctica during the winter.
While exploring the world’s extremes, you will be able to get your adventure on in Crystal Endeavor’s submarines, helicopters, and fishing boats as well as snorkel and scuba gear. When adventuring turns to pampering, soothe those aching adventurous bones aboard Palm Court, a full-service spa paradise with incredible 360 panoramic ocean views.
Four new world cruises beginning in 2018 will find you filling your passport with stamps from all over the world, including 16 exotic maiden ports of call, on voyages that average 100 days at sea. Or tailor your globetrotting travels with Crystal Skye, the largest privately-owned tour jet for global chartered adventures. Its luxurious, spacious design accommodates up to 88 souls, enabling you to explore the world’s most remote locales quickly and opulently, with plenty of room for friends and family. Coming in January 2019 Crystal Serenity’s newest voyage from Los Angeles to Monte Carlo finds you on an 84-day exciting world wilderness adventure, highlights include Big Five safaris, treks in the Australian Outback, and experiencing some of Hawaii’s most breathtaking volcanoes.
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© This article was first published in June-July 2018 edition of World Travel Magazine.