Everything about taking a cruise is classy and romantic. That is, of course, until you leave the boat, and you’re fighting for space in off-shore attractions along with your hundred or so companions. There are exceptions, though. We’ve listed the best cruises to take if you want to step out of the usual tourist hellhole. You can call them VIP cruises because you’ll be served like royalty when you take these tours.
Seven Seas Navigator’s Cruise to Italy
When you join the Seven Seas Navigator on one of their cruises to Italy, you get to enjoy an all-suite cabin, which keeps most of the ship’s passengers inside their quarters and out of the corridors. The crew also offers 24-hours of room service, so you can actually enjoy the trip without leaving your room too frequently.
The cruise starts off at Western Mediterranean and passes through Monte Carlo and Rome. You’ll also have a private access to Villa Olivia, whereas other cruise passengers only get to view the villa’s iconic cypress trees from a bus window. You’ll get to experience Italy at its finest in the villa’s fountain- and statue-filled garden. The Genovese family’s art collection, also in the villa, is also something you shouldn’t miss out on.
The Mediterranean cruise lasts for seven nights, departing every September, October, and June. The price range starts from $4,796 per head.
Pacific Explorer’s Panama Cruise
Are you tired of the usual tourist itinerary every time you go to Panama? If you are, then it’s high time you join 99 other passengers on a cruise to Panama in the Pacific Explorer. The cruise starts at Colon, Panama, and on to Los Suenos, Costa Rica. While the cabins aren’t fancy, the boat has a sundeck that’s good enough for your summer tan.
The trip’s focus is also on learning the culture of Panama, so be ready to mingle with locals who can give you the insider’s view of the “lost world”. On the fourth day of your cruise, the ship will be traversing the historical Panama Canal. Passengers will be issued inflatable Zodiacs so they can explore the virgin Darian Jungle. You’ll see macaws and monkeys overhead and your guides will be locals from the Embera Indian tribe, too.
Other cruises will probably take you to more accessible tribes like the Kuna in the San Blas islands. This cruise is the only one which takes its passengers to visit the Embera. Aside from the lessons on the tribe’s native language, you’ll also be entertained with dance in music. Take note, though, that these numbers are a far cry from the usual limbo dances you get in commercialized cruises.
The cruise between these two seas last for nine nights. They have scheduled tours between December and April, and rates start at $3,799 per head.
Silversea’s Egypt Cruise on the Silver Shadow
If you want a cruise you’re going to love for both its on-board and in-land activities, it’s time for you to board the Silver Shadow and go on the Silversea’s cruise to Egypt. The cabins of the Silver Shadow are first class, giving you all the amenities a five-star hotel can offer. Imaging sparkling crystals, marble baths and fine linens. Carrying up to 382 passengers, the ship has cabins which are bigger than most Manhattan apartments.
The cruise starts from numerous cities around the world including Florida and New York. Once you reach Egypt, you’ll be taken not only to the Pyramids but the Valley of Nobles, the Ramoza Tomb, the Valley of the Kings, and the Valley of the Queens as well. These in-land tours are guided by famous Egyptologist Zahi Hawass, so you’ll also get the dirt about these ancient nobles.
You will also be treated to a black-tie dinner, hosted by the secretary, at the Habu Temple which sits on the western bank of the Nile River. You can anticipate exotic Egyptian dishes like lemon-marinated lamb steaks with pistachio couscous. You’re also going to be entertained with some dance numbers which are dedicated to Ramses. Now, if they taught history like this in high school, students might actually pay attention.
The World Cruise lasts for 126 nights and departs sometime in January every year. It costs $56,887, which is quite pricey, but worth it.
Cruising to China on the M/S East Queen
Now is a very good time to go on that cruise to China as the “old civilization” slowly vanishes into the new capitalist haven. Abercrombie and Kent offer cruises to China in their 192-passenger M/S East Queen. The trip to China isn’t shabby at all as the Queen is made with a lot of grass and brass. The cruise itself lasts only for four days, but it is part of a longer overland tour which runs from Hongkong to Beijing.
In 2002, the water from a broken dam submerged ancient villages and old forests in China, drowning much of the country’s cultural heritage as well. When you take this tour, though, accompanied by trackers or local boatmen, you will still get a feel of the lost Chinese culture.
Cruise passengers will disembark in Badong where they’ll be boarding longboats which can explore the Shennong River. The mountains are almost always foggy during these tours, and the boatmen communicate with each other through songs. You’ll even hear their voices echo from the granite walls of the mountains.
In a nutshell, what you’ll get to see in this cruise has never even been seen by most Chinese folks themselves. It’s an even rarer experience for foreigners, so you shouldn’t pass out on the opportunity.
The inland river passage trips last for 18 nights (this includes the 4-night cruise in the Queen). The ship departs every September, October, and April. It costs roughly $8,545 per person.
Taking the Safari Quest to Mexico
If you want to experience Baja, Mexico’s wildlife, the only way you should do so is by signing up for a cruise in the Safari Quest, a 22-passenger ship owned by the American Safari. Because of the limited number of people who can join the cruise at a time, the boat really feels more like a private yacht. It has a hot tub on its upper deck and passengers can also relax in the dining area.
Once you dock at the Baja Peninsula, you’ll be guided away from the commercialized area of the resorts. Instead, cruise passengers will disembark on a fishing village where they can enjoy the company of wild animals like migrating whales and friendly sea lions.
Unlike other cruises, Safari Quest is also allowed access to the Isla Raza’s shore. This is a biosphere reserve which is also home to about a million, protected Hermann gulls. In Isla Coyote, passengers will also be given time to dive and go snorkeling.
The cruise lasts for nine nights, departing every November, December and April. The rate per head starts at $5,895.
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