11 of the most unusual places you can visit on an expedition cruise

Travel Advice

If you thought cruise holidays were limited to middle-of-the-road destinations like the Mediterranean or the Caribbean then think again. Here are 11 of the most unusual places you can visit on an expedition cruise.

One of the great things about travelling by ship is that it opens up a whole host of remote and inaccessible destinations around the world, places with little or no tourist infrastructure that even the most intrepid independent traveller would struggle to reach.

From isolated tribal communities to remote desert outposts, from windswept isles in the South Atlantic to whole countries that you may never have even heard of, here are some of the most unusual places that you can visit on board an expedition cruise…

Most unusual places you can visit on an expedition cruise

1. The North Pole

For an Arctic adventure with a difference, Ponant's pioneering polar exploration ship Le Commandant Charcot is the vessel of choice to take you all the way to the mystical North Pole on voyages between July and September 2025.

As the world's first passenger ship with a Polar Class 2 hull, this luxury hybrid ship has the ability to sail between sheets of drifting sea ice in some of the most extreme environments on Earth. Follow in the wake of celebrated explorers who have attempted to reach the elusive destination few have ever visited.

Ponant's Le Commandant Charcot at the North Pole

2. Japan's tropical islands

Think of Japan and you probably picture trees pink with cherry blossom, neon-lit megacities or snow-capped Mount Fuji. But the southern reaches of the Japanese archipelago are an altogether different proposition, a string of sub-tropical islands blessed with beautiful white-sand beaches and crystal clear waters that are perfect for snorkelling.

Ponant's explorer ships operate several itineraries between March and May, this year and next, taking you to island gems including the jungle and mangrove covered Iriomotejima.

Kabira Bay, Ishigaki, Okinawa

3. Guinea-Bissau

Hurtigruten's expedition voyages to the Bijagos Archipelago offer a true off-the-beaten-track adventure. These idyllic (and mostly uninhabited) islands belong to the little known West African nation of Guinea-Bissau, and are renowned for their wildlife.

Explore palm-fringed beaches and mangroves by zodiac, with the chance to spot crocodiles, turtles, monkeys and the rare saltwater hippo. You'll also visit the local Bidyogo people, whose way of life has barely changed in thousands of years.

Village in the Bijagos Archipelago, Guinea-Bissau

4. Tanna Island

The island of Tanna is part of the Pacific nation of Vanuatu, and is notable for its spectacular and easily accessible active volcano, Mount Yasur, its beautiful beaches, and fascinating cargo cults such as the Prince Philip Movement, which venerates the late Duke of Edinburgh as a divine being.

You can visit Tanna as part of Scenic Eclipse II's Cairns to Lautoka cruise in September 2024, an in-depth exploration of the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.

Mount Yasur volcano on Tanna, Vanuatu

5. Faroe Islands

Marooned in the North Atlantic, midway between Scotland and Iceland, the windswept Faroe Islands archipelago is a self-governing Danish territory with its own unique culture and language. Breathtaking coastal scenery, quirky turf-roofed houses and a fascinating Viking heritage have begun to put the islands on the tourist map, as has the distinct Faroese style of knitwear.

Several cruise lines visit the Faroes, but we particularly like the look of Seabourn's June 2025 itinerary from Reykjavik to London which makes two stops in the archipelago and also visits the Orkney Islands, and spectacular Iceland destinations such as the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, and the whale watching capital of Húsavík.

Turf roofs in Torshavn, Faroe Islands

6. Sepik River

The legendary Sepik River takes you into the remote and unspoilt heart of Papua New Guinea, a place where headhunting and cannibalism existed within living memory. The region is also known for its remarkable art, and for the ceremonies where young men are ritually scarred so that their skin resembles that of a crocodile.

True North Adventure Cruises offers some truly unique voyages to this part of Papua New Guinea on their intimate 36-guest mega-yacht True North, which is able to penetrate deep into the jungle.

 unusual places you can visit on an expedition cruise

7. Robinson Crusoe Island

Part of the Juan Fernández archipelago, hundreds of miles off the coast of Chile, you may not have heard of this curiously named remote isle. Robinson Crusoe Island and its neighbour Alejandro Selkirk Island are both visited by Seabourn Pursuit on a journey between South America and the South Pacific and they are home to an incredible array of endemic flora and fauna.

The region is designated as a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve and an Important Bird Area and you can spend your time trekking, diving or snorkelling.

most unusual places you can visit on an expedition cruise

8. Tristan da Cunha

The British territory of Tristan da Cunha is the world's most remote inhabited island, situated way, way out in the South Atlantic Ocean. To reach the nearest human settlement you have to travel over 1,500 miles to St Helena, and there is no airport on Tristan da Cunha, so this really is a destination that you can only reach by ship.

If you're looking for splendid isolation, and the bragging rights that go with visiting such a remote part of the globe, then we recommend Silversea's epic 21-night voyage from Puerto Williams to Cape Town in March 2025 and 2026 which also includes the Falkland Islands and South Georgia.

Tristan da Cunha (Photo by The Official CTBTO Photostream)

9. Easter Island

The enigmatic moai statues of Rapa Nui (Easter Island) remain one of the world's most intriguing archaeological mysteries. Descendants of the Polynesian settlers who carved them still live here, though these days the island belongs to Chile, despite being separated from the mainland by over 2,000 miles of Pacific Ocean.

Seabourn Pursuit's March 2025 voyage from Santiago to Tahiti includes an overnight call at Easter Island, allowing you plenty of time to explore this fascinating place.

Easter Island statues

10. Devon Island

For an iconic expedition, look no further than the legendary Northwest Passage, sailing through the labyrinthine waterways above North America and exploring the remote islands of Arctic Canada.

One gem along the route is Devon Island, the largest uninhabited island on Earth, and AE Expeditions call here in July and August this year and next for guests to immerse in the otherworldly landscape, exploring the stunning geology and unique terrain. At the western end, you may visit Beechey Island, where Roald Amundsen landed in 1903 during the first successful voyage by ship of the Northwest Passage.

unusual places you can visit on an expedition cruise

11. Jan Mayen

A Norwegian volcanic island rising from the depths of the ocean 450km east of Greenland, Jan Mayen is rarely visited on the usual Arctic itinerary. The island is home to large numbers of breeding seabirds and the waters surrounding it are rich feeding grounds for marine life.

Often shrouded in fog, the imposing symmetrical cone of Beerenberg volcano is a distinguishing feature and if conditions allow, Quark Expeditions hope to explore during their Arctic Saga voyage from Aberdeen to Spitsbergen in April 2024 and 2025.

Meet the author

Louise is Marketing Executive at Mundy Adventures, having worked with the company for nearly a year and in travel for over 8 years. Her most recent adventure was a cruise on Seabourn and she's also cruised with Explora Journeys, Crystal Cruises, Paul Gauguin Cruises and Ponant. Her favourite adventure destination is New Zealand however she's also enjoyed cruises in the Mediterranean, Pacific Islands, Norwegian Fjords, Indian Ocean and South Africa. When she’s not travelling she loves cooking and trying new restaurants.

More about Louise

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