I was both excited and circumspect as a meandered through the crowd and stumbled upon new destinations and adventurous itineraries.
You see, I went to the London Cruise Show. And these types of travel conferences leave me overwhelmed by the number of amazing sailing voyages available from cruise lines, many of which I was learning about for the first time.
I saw an array of ships and itineraries that I wanted to sail. Many of them looked so glorious I could already imagine the trips. My favorite discoveries come in the form of the expedition ships that sail with smaller passenger counts, provide more intimate and adventurous daily excursion activities and journey to the most beautiful and remote places on earth.
That is a wonderful and exciting thing. I get jacked up to go out and explore places that are new and interesting to me, spots where I can go hiking or swimming or biking or kayaking or even try new sports or spy new creatures. But here's the thing that left my head spinning.
As I walked the floor at Olympia in London and flipped through all the colorful brochures and chatted with people about these incredible the voyages and places and food, I realized that I'll never be able to do it all in one lifetime.
Life is precious, travel is fantastic. And the clock is ticking. Therefore, I better make the best use of my time!
Here are the new lines that I was especially drawn to after seeing the types of adventurous voyages they sail.
Noble Caledonia: The London-based tour operator runs river and ocean cruises around the world. The cruises that drew my attention, though, are an 18-day epic adventure from Mauritius, an island in the Indian Ocean, that visits Reunion and Madagascar on its way to Mozambique. The voyage carries 90 passengers on the MS Serenissima, and activities include snorkeling at coral reefs, beaches, hikes to waterfalls and tour of rainforests, bays and mangroves. The island of Madagascar is home to an immense number of unique creatures and plants and most famously, the lemur.
Noble Caledonia also offers a 12-day trip on MS Serenissima to the Peloponnese region and its islands in Greece. The Greek isles are my favorite place to sail on a small ship. I have been twice on yacht sailings with Mar-A-Mar Travel, and you can see how much we enjoyed those cruises in the Ionian and Aegean seas:
Noble Caledonia's trio is roundtrip from Athens and visits the magical islands and historical sites in such places as Olympia, Delphi, Corinth and Kythira.
Quark Expeditions: This line has a fleet of small expedition ships that go to the most remote regions of the world. Quark Expeditions' cruises to Antarctica, the Falkland Islands and South Georgia, the Arctic Circle, Greenland and the North Pole take you to icy straits and along rugged rocky coastlines to the lands of polar bears, penguins and other polar creatures. Activities include mountaineering, cross-country skiing, kayaking, paddleboarding, snowshoeing and camping.
Iceland ProCruises: Sailing on 199-passenger Ocean Diamond, you get to explore the Land of Fire and Ice. Iceland ProCruise offers circumnavigation sailings of Iceland from the world's northernmost capital, Reykjavik, to enjoy a range of adventures while exploring fjords and keeping watch for the Northern Lights. Hiking and boating excursions take you to black sandy beaches, picturesque waterfalls and iceberg-filled lagoons. Iceland ProCruises also has a pair of sailings to Greenland. I wrote more about the Greenland cruises for 2017:
Katarina Line: These Croatia cruises and tours explore the Adriatic and coastal Croatia across four ship categories, from the new deluxe ships to more austere vintage wooden sailing vessels. Cruise itineraries sail in Italy, Slovenia, Croatia and Austria, and Katarina features theme cruises focused on biking or yoga. You can also pick a combined land and cruise adventure. Whatever journey you take, you will be able to swim, snorkel, hike and bike in one of the most beautiful parts of the world, visiting such gems as Plitvice Lakes and the walled city of Dubrovnik.
CroisiEurope: This line operates a wide range of cruises in numerous waterways, from rivers in France and on the Rhine and Danube, coastal cruises in the Adriatic, sailings on the Mekong in Vietnam and Cambodia and on the Volga in Russia. CroisiEurope also sails hiking and biking themed cruises. But I am looking at the line's cruises in Southern Africa. You take nine-day trips on the Chobe and Zambezi Rivers and with stays in lodges to visit South Africa, Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe. During the safari, you'll be on the lookout for elephants, antelope, hippos, zebras, water buffalos, birds and more.
These smaller cruise lines with specific niches in adventure travel and active shore excursions will always be my favorite. I know I'll never run out of new experiences to look forward to.
Got any smaller expeditions that you have enjoyed? I'd love to hear about them.
Where are you going next in your travels? Tell us all about it in the comments below.
Thanks for reading and happy sailing!