With more than two-thirds of the planet’s surface area submersed by oceans, it’s fair to say there’s a world of gorgeous areas that are only accessible by boat. Here, we’ve asked the travel experts over at Insight Guides to pick out the top five luxury sightseeing cruises in the world.
Formed by glacial erosion, fjords are waterways that are characterised by steep cliffs that tower over a thin inlet below. Scandinavia is renowned for its fjords, and Norway has the most: more than a thousand. The Scandinavian landscape defines picturesque: Jagged snow-capped peaks stand tall over fresh, turquoise water. With such a large network of fjords, many cruise options are available. Perhaps the most famous is the Hurtigruten route, which runs from Bergen to Kirkenes and back, stopping at 34 locations over 11 days.
Northeast Vietnam’s Ha Long Bay is made up of thousands of tiny limestone islands, which climb vertically out of the water and are topped by dense tropical vegetation. The area spreads over 500 square miles and is home to a huge array of unique wildlife, so the range of sightseeing tours are incredibly varied. The islands are home to approximately 1,600 fishermen who live on floating villages. Many of whom have never – or will never – step foot on land. After cruising the bay, you might want to join them.
Of course, San Francisco Bay isn’t an area exclusively accessible by boat. But viewing this area by boat will give you an entirely different perception of it. You can take in the local cityscape along with the notorious Alcatraz Island. From there, you can head out, passing under the Golden Gate Bridge and along some of the picturesque views on the entire West Coast.
When it comes to trips that belong on every bucket list, Kerala’s backwaters more than qualify, thanks to their singular scenery and wildlife. Kerala is India’s southernmost state, renowned for its relaxed approach to life. Much of the state comprises lakes and lagoons, interconnected by a series of palm-fringed canals and rivers. Cruises around this languid region vary from an 8-hour shared cruise to a 4-day sail on your own private houseboat. The scenery and wildlife in Kerala are unlike anything else you will have experienced.
It’s no secret that Venice is a city best experienced by water. In fact, there are no roads in Venice, so its 150 canals and waterways are the only ways you can explore. The famous Grand Canal snakes through Venice, past the popular San Polo and San Marco areas, with a labyrinth of smaller canals branching off in every direction. There are many tour options available, and a remarkably efficient public transport network of vaporettos (water buses) service the area. If you’re looking for something a little more personal, take a one or two-person gondola ride.