Top 5 highly recommended destinations for expedition cruising

Here at Back Track, we love small ship cruising. The type of voyages that provide travellers the opportunity to explore remote and isolated destinations, sometimes only accessible by sea, and marvel at exotic wildlife and dramatic coastlines.

Expedition cruises allow you to get to know your like-minded fellow passengers and provide the opportunity to learn from the expert expedition team. Itineraries are quite often flexible, and you may even have the opportunity to watch the Captain and Expedition Leader at work as a lot of these smaller ships have an open bridge policy.

And with a focus on the safety and wellbeing of passengers through strict COVID protocols, it’s no wonder that expedition cruising bookings are flourishing!

Here’s some of our favourite expedition cruising destinations:

Leanne has travelled to all seven continents, so ask her anything. The  countries she has been to most recently are Uganda, Cambodia and India. Her favourite holiday is anywhere in South America!

1. The Sub Antarctic Islands of Australia & New Zealand

Home to some of the most unique flora and fauna on earth, these remote islands of the Southern Ocean are strictly protected by the Australian and New Zealand governments. These islands are a paradise for birders and photographers alike with the opportunity to discover multiple species of birds found nowhere else in the world, not to mention the incredible megaherbs.

Macaroni Penguin

Photo credit: PONANT / Nathalie Michel

2. Antarctica

There just aren’t enough superlatives to describe Antarctica, and you really do have to see it to believe it. Each part of the 5 month-long season offers something different and expedition ships allow you to step ashore and bear witness to it all. Whether you want to see wildlife courtship rituals early in the season, the hilarious antics of penguin chicks later on, a 360 degree vista of ice, or experience the thrill of the polar plunge, Antarctica is a destination that will leave you speechless

3. Spice Islands and Raja Ampat

Boasting world-class diving and snorkelling, lush forests full of exotic native birds, and fascinating history, these archipelagos of Indonesia are a must see. Venture beneath the glittering turquoise water to discover a kaleidoscope of colourful coral and fish, hike your way to breathtaking views of karst islands, and learn about the centuries of trade that gave the Spice Islands their name.

Spice Islands

4. Canadian High Arctic

The Canadian High Arctic is massive. Canada has more land mass in the Arctic region than any other country – but relatively little population base. Canada’s High Arctic includes lands in Northwest Territories, Yukon, and Nunavut. There are more than 35,563 islands in the remote Canadian Arctic Archipelago, of which Baffin Island, the fifth-largest island in the world, is just one. Canada’s High Arctic territory is bounded on the east by the Beaufort Sea, on the northwest by the Arctic Ocean, and on the east by Greenland, Baffin Bay, and Davis Strait. Its southern boundary is the Hudson Bay and mainland of Canada. This translates into endless mountains, glaciers, tundra, remote rocky shorelines, towering granite cliffs, and unending bodies of water to explore. The wildlife viewing is astounding; polar bears, grizzly bears, muskoxen, beluga whales, harp seals, walruses, and migratory birds, among other species.

5. Galapagos Islands

Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978, the Galápagos Islands are one of the most biodiverse places on the planet, with 97% of its islands forming a protected national park. Half of its land species and one-fifth of its marine species are endemic to the Galápagos! Situated 965km off the coast of Ecuador, this isolated haven of biodiversity remains nature’s greatest science laboratory, it’s no wonder Cherles Darwin formulated his theory of natural selection after spending time there.

Snorkel with sea lions, soak up the sun with iguanas or marvel at the natural beauty that surrounds you – just a typical day on a Galápagos cruise.

In the Galapagos Islands, you can encounter giant tortoises, blue-footed boobies, playful penguins, charismatic sea lions, elegant flamingos, and nesting albatross, among many other unique species.

The Kimberley

We’re cheating a bit here because you can see The Kimberley by land and not just by sea, but to truly capture the essence of this amazing corner of Australia, it’s definitely worth combining an expedition cruise with an overland adventure. Afterall there’s 12,000km of coastline to explore! Imposing cliffs, incredible waterfalls, stunning waterholes and Indigenous art and culture don’t even begin to scratch the surface of what awaits in the Kimberley. And it books out fast, so make sure you plan early for your Kimberley experience.

If these destinations are on your bucket list, dive in to know more here.

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