Some of the world’s great sights are best viewed from the sea as your ship sidles up to groaning glaciers, icebergs, waterfalls, or cliffs that are alive with screeching seabirds. Or you may be anchored in a glassy fjord when suddenly the calm is broken by a breaching whale. In Australia, along the Kimberley coast, you’ll be treated to the beauty of an ochre shoreline, rock ledges where dingoes stare back at you, and the occasional swish of a crocodile’s tail.
If you cruise into the South Pacific, there are lonely and deserted palm-fringed islands with white-sand beaches to see and explore on shore excursions. And along the Rhine River there are magnificent castles and medieval villages … just as mesmerising as the natural wonders.
Fiordland National Park is on the “doorstep” for Australians who want a close-to-home cruise with spectacular scenery. Sail into Milford Sound where jagged peaks and mountains, sometimes snow capped, soar out of the water. There are tumbling waterfalls, lush forest and rugged coastline with opportunities for scenic walks.
The remote Kimberley coast is an adventure in paradise where you’ll see stunningly beautiful coastline, indigenous rock art, and natural wonders such as Horizontal Falls and Montgomery Reef. You’ll also venture up rivers and inlets to safe swimming holes with waterfalls.
Experiencing the incredible power of the Horizontal Falls in the Kimberley, where seawater rushes through a gorge that narrows to 10 metres wide in some places. This massive tidal movement has been described by David Attenborough as “one of the greatest natural wonders of the world”, and you can get right into it with a thrilling jet-boat ride.
Viking River Cruises, Uniworld and APT River Cruising are among those that cruise the European waterways – including the Rhine, Moselle, Rhone, Seine and Danube rivers. MSC, Hurtigruten and the Norwegian Cruise Line are among the companies sending ships to Scandinavia.
The scenic destinations and ships sailing to them are so varied that it’s impossible to paint a precise picture of shipboard life. Your experience can vary from a small and affordable vessel in the Kimberley, where passengers may camp on the beach, to Regent’s Seven Seas Mariner, which cruises Alaska with gourmet restaurants, swimming pool and balconies for every suite. And then there’s everything in between. The difficulty is choosing how much comfort you want and how much you are willing to pay.
Often the magical moments of a cruise are early in the morning. Try to wake up before everyone else and take in the peace, solitude and scenery from the deck before the crowds arrive.