Four Unusual Cruise Itineraries to Watch in 2016 and 2017

Costa Cruises’ new Costa Diadema launches a series of seven-night roundtrip voyages from Civitavecchia, the port for Rome.
Costa Cruises’ new Costa Diadema launches a series of seven-night roundtrip voyages from Civitavecchia, the port for Rome.

As the New Year looms, travel agents might be searching for some unusual new itineraries to offer clients in 2016 and 2017. These four offer clients something a bit different.

Cruising into Bangladesh: Silversea Expeditions Silver Discoverer will take the industry’s first cruise ship visit to Bangladesh on February 21, 2017, when the 120-passenger ship is scheduled to call in Chittagong as part of its “Remote Encounters on the Bay of Bengal” voyage. The ship will also visit Maheshkhali Island and the Sundarbans, the world’s largest saltwater mangrove forest, home to 350 Bengal tigers and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This 16-day sailing from Colombo, Sri Lanka, to Kolkata, India, departs on February 11, 2017.

From Chittagong, cruisers will head by motorcoach to nearby hills, lakes and rivers. The Chittagong Hill Tracts are home to several indigenous ethnic groups — the largest being the Chakma. Cruisers also will tour Rangamati, Bangladesh’s “Lake City,” and pass the Rampahar-Sitapahar Wildlife Sanctuary, a tropical lowland evergreen rainforest. They’ll also visit a tribal museum, learn about the tribes’ lifestyles and view local dances. After being transported across Bangladesh’s longest hanging bridge, cruisers will then board the Keari Sinbad, a local boat, for a Kaptai Lake cruise and visit to Master Para.

The following day, guests will head for rural Maheshkhali Island to explore a small village, visit its school and temple and travel by rickshaws and tuk-tuks. The next day, the ship will spend two days in the famed Sundarbans; the Indian section is a national park while the Bangladeshi part encompasses several wildlife sanctuaries. Numerous other wildlife and rural life experiences await on this intensely exotic cruise, which starts at $11,750 per person.

Rome Lovers’ Choice: Many contemporary lines have Mediterranean cruises starting or ending in Barcelona or Venice. For those wanting a more intensive Italy experience, roundtrip Rome cruises allow for more immersion on pre- and post-cruise stays. Starting this month, Costa Cruises’ new 3,693-passenger Costa Diadema launches a series of seven-night roundtrip voyages from Civitavecchia, the port for Rome.

Costa Diadema’s weekly roundtrip Rome voyages will call at La Spezia and Savona, Italy; Marseille, France; and Barcelona and Palma de Mallorca, Spain. On pre- and post-cruise stays, travelers have plenty of time to tour Rome’s Colosseum, Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, Vatican City, Pantheon or other sites. Or, cruisers can explore the villages, wineries and historic sites of Tuscany, local Etruscan archaeological sites or the ruins of Ostia, the ancient port for Rome. Another perk for cruisers is the availability of good airlift with many nonstop and direct flights to Rome.

Launched less than a year ago, the 132,500-ton ship is the world’s largest Italian-flagged vessel. Among the onboard features? A 1,640-foot promenade on Deck 5 features split-level public rooms overlooking the sea; they’re interconnected to create the atmosphere of a lively seaside resort. Dining onboard features new regional menus created by Costa’s Michelin-star Chef Fabio Cuccheli, plus guests who wish to savor a glass of wine at Vinoteca Gran Duca di Toscana will discover 80 labels from more than 50 Italian wineries. Fares for the weekly voyages roundtrip from Rome start at $499 per person double.

Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic’s new “Falklands 360” cruise includes a visit to the town of Stanley.
Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic’s new “Falklands 360” cruise includes a visit to the town of Stanley.

Wildlife & Marine Life Adventure: If clients are marine life or wildlife buffs, one particularly appealing new itinerary is Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic’s first ever “Falklands 360” cruise on the 102-passenger National Geographic Orion. The line is offering this 13-day expedition on both October 19 and October 28, 2016, roundtrip from Ushuaia, Argentina. The itinerary will circumnavigate the Falklands, plus call at Argentina’s Isla de los Estados (Staten Island), the Southern Hemisphere’s newest nature preserve.

Both departures include National Geographic photographers and Lindblad-National Geographic certified photo experts to help guests bring their photography skills to the next level. In addition, the October 19 departure is also themed as a designated Photo Expedition, developed by photographers for photography buffs. B&H Photo Video will even outfit the ship with the newest gear for guests to try out. 

Cruisers can choose to hike Carcass Island in search of rockhopper penguins hidden in burrows and tussock grass. At New Island, they’ll possibly see black-browed albatross, 8,000-pound bull elephant seals and the striated caracara (also known as the Johnny rook), one of the world’s most aggressive raptors. Either onboard or while out on Zodiac excursions, it’s likely travelers can spot Commerson’s and Peale’s dolphins. At Steeple Jason, travelers will look up to see thousands of black-browed albatross with a massive wingspan; the destination has 150,000 breeding pairs.

In Stanley, cruisers can learn about the Falklands’ complicated history from English to Spanish and even terra nullius (a free-zone established centuries ago for resupplying American whaling ships), not to mention the war with Argentina. Today, the Falklands comprise an independent democracy that’s aligned with the United Kingdom. Rates for this around-the-Falklands cruise begin at $10,850 per person double in a Category 1 cabin.

Southern Cross Sojourn: For those seeking an extensive voyage Down Under, Oceania Cruises’ new 684-passenger Sirena will circumnavigate the Australian continent with its 34-day “Southern Cross Sojourn” voyage. It sails roundtrip from Sydney on March 6, 2017. Port calls within Australia include Brisbane, Whitsunday Islands, Cairns, Darwin, Broome, Exmouth, Perth (Fremantle), Esperance, Penneshaw (Kangaroo Island), Portland, Melbourne, Geelong, Hobart (Tasmania) and Eden.

The itinerary also takes guests to Alotau and Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, as well as Komodo and Bali (Benoa), Indonesia. Among the lesser known Australian ports is Exmouth, a scenic town on Western Australia’s eastern edge.

It’s close to the massive fringing reef of Ningaloo, where cruisers might snorkel amid 250 species of coral and 500 species of colorful fish. Or, beach lovers can just relax on pristine, white sands. Also near Exmouth is Cape Range National Park with rugged gorges, limestone canyons and hiking trails. Cruisers who venture to the park might spot emus, wallabies and red kangaroos.

At Geelong, cruisers can enjoy one of the most vibrant waterfronts in all of Australia with walkways, shops, restaurants and public art. Shore trips might include winery visits, a visit to the national Wool Museum for shearing demonstrations, or a day of snorkeling, jet skiing or kite surfing. At press-time, promotional fares (with restrictions) for this round-Australia voyage started at $9,999 per person double for an inside stateroom; brochure rates started at $24,998. While suites were wait-listed, multiple inside, ocean view and balcony stateroom categories were still available for booking.

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