Best Unique Cruises on Seven Continents

Written By: The Planet D

Most people have done a Caribbean Cruise, but there are many other unique cruises in the world. Now that cruise lines are lined up to begin possibly sailing again in July, will people flock to the large ships? While some small ship cruise lines have already resumed others are opening up from June 2021 through to the 2022 season. As vaccines roll out, the CDC has eased cruise ship restrictions if 98 percent of the crew and 95 percent of passengers are fully vaccinated.

According to cruise critic, 66% of people say they are ready to take a cruise in 2021 so to celebrate the news, we wanted to share our the best cruises we’ve taken that you should consider for 2022. We aren’t huge cruisers, but we have loved all of these trips on small ships and to unique destinations. Will you be cruising in the near future?

The Best Unique Cruises

We’ve had the luck of taking a cruise on every continent. While a Caribbean cruise is fun, it’s the other more unusual cruises that have been the most memorable for us. From the Arctic to Antarctica and the Orient to the Amazon that are the most unique cruises in the world. Enjoy!

Antarctica Expedition

unique cruise experiences antarctica small expedition ship

This is the mother of all unique cruises for your holiday. We were fortunate to explore Antarctica in style with Quark Expeditions on the Sea Spirit. If you think an Antarctic expedition is a bare bones experience, think again.

The Sea Spirit was an all suites ship with 5 star dining, elegant lounge, open bar and even a hot tub. Not only was it the greatest adventure of our lives it was a luxurious experience where we had thrills during the day and relaxing elegance at night. The scenery and wildlife in Antarctica is to die and you will have to pinch yourself every moment of the expedition.

There is so much to say about what you can see and do in Antarctica, we have to send you to our What to Expect on an Antarctica Expedition. Otherwise, we’d end up taking up the entire post on this trip!

Amazon River Cruise

unique cruises amazon river

An Amazon River Cruise is a dream trip. If you think you’re ever going to be bored on a cruise holiday, you’ll want to book an Amazon Cruise because there is so much to see and do, you’re senses will be blown away.

From the incredible scenery of the world’s largest river to the wildlife you could just float down the river and be content.

But there are excursions to visit the local culture, try some pirhanna fishing, swimming with dolphins and even kayaking.

Suites are spacious and all rooms have a balcony on the Estrella Amazonica by International Expeditions and there’s an elegant dining room for breakfast lunch and dinner. At night it’s a buffet feast and cocktails on deck.

Enjoy, 9 Reasons you’ll want to visit the Amazon

South Pacific Cruise

South pacific cruise hal cruises

From Australia to Hawaii, we joined the Holland America M.S. Amsterdam on a leg of their Asia Grand Voyage. Places like Fiji, American Samoa and New Zealand can be difficult to get to and this cruise is an excellent way to add some more off the beaten path destinations to your travel experience.

We started our journey at noon and finished near midnight. Once we got through the canal,  Lake Gatun and then the final locks, we were sailing on the Pacific Ocean taking a journey through Panama and Costa Rica.

Ha Long Bay Cruise

best unique cruises ha long bay
Beautiful sunset Tourist junks floating among limestone rocks at Ha Long Bay, South China Sea, Vietnam, Southeast Asia.

Ha Long Bay in Vietnam was our very first cruise we’d ever taken in our lives. We booked a short 3 day excursion from Hanoi to take us out to Ha Long Bay where we took a trip on a traditional junk boat.

This is one of the most beautiful locations on earth with tall Karst formations jutting out of the South China Sea for as far as the eye can see. Standing up on deck surrounded by these high sea cliffs is breathtaking. (and I don’t use that phrase often)

The islands disappear into the mist giving an other worldly feel. When you visit the caves and step out of the high lookout to view Ha Long Bay from above, you truly understand just how magical this place is on earth.

Alaskan UnCruise

unique cruises alaskan uncruise

An Alaskan Cruise is a destination that most avid cruises strive to visit one day. While many huge ships cruise through Alaska, it is the small expedition boats that really get you off the beaten path and into uncharted territory.

We were out on zodiacs and kayaks exploring glaciers and wildlife. We enjoyed five-star dining and watched orcas and humbpack whales breach in and out of the water. Alaska is an adventure lovers dream with flights over Denali, dogsledding, glacier landings, helicopter flights, hikes, trains, whale watching and ziplining.

The possibilities are endless and the towns in Alaska are filled with friendly locals. It’s the DisneyLand for adventurers. Everything is easy to do, but it costs you some cash. So be prepared.

Nile River Cruise

cruise the nile river

The Nile River is the longest river in the world and many river cruises sail from Aswan to Luxor (or visa versa) in Egypt each week. Imagine starting off your tour visiting the magnificent Luxor Temple and the Valley of the Kings to walk into King Tut’s.

Then sail down the ancient river in luxury to explore more temples and ruins and life on the river. Make sure to take a felucca to sail the traditional way it’s been done for centuries. If you want to take a truly unique cruising experience, the Nile River is magical and beautiful.

Three Gorges, China

unique cruises three gorges china

The Three Gorges of China is another bucket list item for many cruisers and probably one of the most unique cruises you’ll ever enjoy. When we went on this cruise, we thought we’d be the only Westerners on the ship, but there were many avid cruisers from Europe and North America on our journey.

We couldn’t get over the amount of places these people had cruised. They talked to each other about their trips to Europe and the Caribbean and we listened in awe.The Three Gorges is the trip you take when you’ve done it all.

The Three Gorges cruise takes you down the Yangzi River through the incredibly massive gorges. Years ago many cities were flooded to create the Three Gorges dam and ancient civilizations are now underwater. The river level is much higher now, but the high cliffs are still massive. You stop at some cities that were moved to a higher elevation and you take smaller boat excursion to see the Lesser Three Gorges which is absolutely spectacular.

Panama Canal Cruise

unique cruises panama canal cruise
Dave and Deb on the Panama Canal

It’s a bucket list item for anyone going through the Panama Canal. This man-made structure is one of the new 7 Wonders of the World! A Panama Canal Cruise with UnCruise is Spectacular. Going through the canal takes a full day as you marvel at this feat of engineering.

European River Cruise

unique cruises

The European River Cruise is gaining in popularity as people search for unique ways to explore Europe at affordable prices. We must admit, that for the most part, you have the best room in the city when travelling by ship.

Most European cities situated on rivers are built around life on the river. For a hotel room on the water you’d be paying a fortune, but on the cruise, you’re parked right downtown at the port.

It you want to see a lot of Europe in a short time, this could be a good option for you. We gave some tips on how to make the most of your European River Cruise. Don’t make the same mistakes we did.

Read: European River Cruise Tips, for the Non Cruiser

Greenland Expedition Cruise

unique arctic cruises

We’ve been cruising around the world on 7 continents from the bottom in the Antarctic and now we take you to the top in the Arctic Circle.

Greenland was another incredible cruise experience. We were lucky enough to travel on the exact same ship we cruised Antarctica on so once again, we had a polar experience in complete luxury.

The Arctic rivals Antarctica for beauty. Greenland is home to the Western Hemisphere’s most active calving glacier creating enormous and beautiful icebergs in the sea.

Dave and I both agreed, that the ice of Greenland was more impressive than the ice of Antarctica (and that’s saying a lot) Greenland is different from Antarctica in the fact that a cultural experience is added to the trip.

There’s still all the same adventures like kayaking, zodiac tours and taking the polar plunge, but now you can visit Inuit villages and larger cities where you can learn about Greenland’s history and culture.

The wildlife is a little more skittish than Antarctica as whales and seals are still hunted for their meat, but the other experiences make up for the wildlife viewings.

It’s yet another magical cruise that avid and new cruisers alike, should take!

Read: Greenland, the Final Frontier of Adventure Travel

So that’s our round up of the cruises we’ve taken around the world. Have you ever taken a unique cruise anywhere?

What’s the best cruise you’ve ever been on?

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About The Planet D

Dave Bouskill and Debra Corbeil are the owners and founders of The Planet D. After traveling to 115 countries, on all 7 continents over the past 13 years they have become one of the foremost experts in travel. Being recognized as top travel bloggers and influencers by the likes of Forbes Magazine, the Society of American Travel Writers and USA Today has allowed them to become leaders in their field.

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19 thoughts on “Best Unique Cruises on Seven Continents”

  1. The very unique cruise I to need try with the cruise I think the amazing experience if a try the cruise in Antarctica

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  2. I think cruising in Europe is the best one, cruising around Mediterranean sea or Baltic, alot of nice places can be visited

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  3. Happy to know about the unique cruises. And after visiting the blog one can easily know why they are unique.

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  4. I think you have picked the six best cruises in the world with each being quite different from others….

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  5. The cruise in Antarctica looks incredible, those photos are amazing. I’ve never been much of a “cruise person,” but that Alaska one. Enjoy the Caribbean. Both an Arctic and Antarctic cruise are now on the “list” after reading blogs like yours.

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    • Yes indeed, The riverboat cruises are much better, the Felucca was just the only photo we had from the exterior. We didn’t take any photos of our boat!

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  6. Cruise can be an option for those seeking different experience, you definitely have good skill photography, nice picture

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  7. These are wonderful tips and fabulous photos guys! I don’t consider myself a cruise person at all, but surprisingly, I’ve been on a a few! I’ve been on the Nile Cruise in Egypt, the Ha Long Bay Cruise in Vietnam and the European River Cruise. My favourite was the Nile Cruise. We had a small ship of just 100 people in which I was the only British people with the other guests being German! Apart from fainting on the first day because of the heat, it was one of the best trips ever.

    I’ve been to Hong Kong before of course, but I’ve not yet been to mainland China so I would love to travel from Shanghai back to Hong Kong, and participate on the Three Gorges of China River Cruise along the way.
    Have a great cruise!

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  8. I have just done HaLong Bay cruise tour was realy realy fantastic. One of the unique place on the Earth, I recomend it also.

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  9. We are in Miami now to board our cruise in Saturday to the Caribbean and then down to a few spots in Central and South America. Maybe we will see you at tye cruise port! We did two Mediterranean cruises that got us hooked – one that focused on Italy and the Adriatic and then a second one focused on “ruins” which included Turkey and Greek ports. the Med cruises are very action packed as there is always so much to do at each stop. We spent little time on our ship but saw so much that we wanted to return to for longer periods. Enjoy the Caribbean. Both an Arctic and Antarctic cruise are now on the “list” after reading blogs like yours. Thanks for sharing. Linda

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  10. Wow, those photos are amazing. I’ve never been much of a “cruise person,” but that Alaska one, and Ha Long Bay one sound incredible!

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  11. The cruise in Antarctica looks incredible (all your articles about Antarctica makes me dream). Definitely on my bucket list, one day 😉

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  12. Helpful article, thank you. Know I want to go on a few of these trips! May I respectfully suggest a sailing trip in BVI? I just did one and it was amazing! I reviewed a spa at Peter Island, but the experience of doing as you please at your leisure in such a calm sailing enviornment on a catamaran was my favorite vacation ever.

    Reply