Shake up cruise routine with adventurous options

Phil Marty
Chicago Tribune

Cruisers who are tired of the Caribbean and Mediterranean and want to spice up their next water-based vacation should check out new offerings for 2018 from AdventureSmith Explorations.

Destinations include Tasmania, Patagonia and remote areas of Indonesia. Or, to get really off the grid, there’s a 17-day journey into the high Arctic to explore the Northwest Passage.

The 132-passenger Ocean Adventurer is offering northbound and southbound itineraries that venture into the northernmost reaches of Canada and down the coastline of Greenland. Outings on inflatable Zodiac boats will get passengers up close to glaciers and icebergs. Musk ox, walruses and seals are among the wildlife that cruisers likely will spot along the way. Shore expeditions may visit remote native hunting and fishing villages and gravesites of early Arctic explorers.

Prices start at $9,695 per person for a triple cabin or $12,595 for a double. There’s also a charge of $2,495 for one night’s pre- and post-expedition hotel accommodation in Ottawa and internal flights. Air to get to Ottawa is extra.

Boats and bikes

If you think the physical activity on a cruise should be more than the walk to the buffet, VBT Bicycling and Walking Vacations has the answer. The company has seven trips that combine sailing or river barging with bicycling.

Several of the trips are in Holland, a biking mecca. Others explore the waterways and bike paths of Luxembourg, France, Germany and Belgium. All of the biking is rated easy, lasting between two and five hours a day. If that sounds too strenuous, most of the trips also offer e-bikes. Bookings can include airfare or be land-only.

Touring the delta

Pandaw Expeditions may not be well known to cruise fans in the U.S., but it’s the longest-established river cruise company in Southeast Asia, with itineraries in Myanmar (formerly Burma), Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, China and India.

New this year is the eight-day/seven-night Great Irrawaddy Delta cruise in Burma. Sailing round-trip from Yangon (formerly Rangoon), the 16-cabin RV Katha Pandaw will meander through a network of major and minor channels that radiate through the delta.

Highlights include the potteries of Twante, the Mein Ma Hla Kyun Wildlife Reserve and its saltwater crocodiles, and shrines and markets in Bassein.

There is a Sunday departure for this cruise, with pricing as low as $2,095 per person. If you prefer to book far ahead, there are dates listed for 2019 and 2020 at lower prices.