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10 Little-Known Cruises That Leave the Bahamas in the Dust

Sure, we love a beach vacation as much as the next guy — Sun? Sand? Frozen drinks with tiny umbrellas? We're there! But sometimes you want a little more adventure, and these exciting, exotic cruises have that in spades.

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Inside Passage, Alaska

Yes, you can see the ruggedly beautiful coastline of Alaska’s Inside Passage—complete with whale (and eagle and bear) sightings, and glacier calvings, and kayak tours—without giving up creature comforts. After a day in a National Park, what about a “Caviar on Ice” deck party, anyone? Now, that’s how to see the Last Frontier. Not only is this one of the best cruises in this part of the world, this is also a new experience, as the ship has just moved to Alaska for the first season there this month.

Ship: Seabourn Sojourn

Where it Goes: Sails from Vancouver to Seward, stopping at Alaskan ports along the way.

Price: 11-day Alaska sailing starts at $3,499 per person double occupancy.

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southamptonLeonid Andronov/Shutterstock

Transatlantic Crossing

You can still cruise from America to the United Kingdom on one of the last great ocean liners, which makes regular sailings across the Atlantic Ocean. Best of all, the experience has many nods to the glamorous crossings of the past, from afternoon tea with white-gloved service to formal nights with dancing to an orchestra. On deck, you can still watch the horizon and sip bouillon in a teak lounge chair. In addition, the ship was recently refreshed and also has solo cabins for individual travelers. These are the best vacations everyone should take by themselves.

Ship: Cunard’s Queen Mary II

Where it Goes: This ship sails out of Brooklyn’s port in Red Hook to London’s port of Southampton, and doesn’t stop along the way as is crosses the Atlantic Ocean.

Price: 7-night sailings from New York City to Southampton start at $549 per person double occupancy.

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Eastern Mediterranean

This decadent 68-passenger ship—part of Crystal Cruises, one of the best cruise lines in the business—travels up the Dalmation Coast, stopping to, say, water ski or jet ski or even use the ship’s submarine, along the way. Service is impeccable, and the meals are unusually memorable for such a small vessel. How attentive is the crew? Say you love the salted caramel parfait dessert one night, and you may just find handmade salted caramels in your cabin the next afternoon. While cruising with class, make sure to avoid these onboard etiquette mistakes.

Ship: Crystal Esprit

Where it Goes: Sail from Dubrovnik to Athens, stopping at Greek ports along the way.

Price: 7-day cruises start at $6,395 per person double occupancy.

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Chobe River, Botswana

Think of this gorgeous little 28-passenger ship as a chic little bed and breakfast on the Chobe River. The décor is all white, with bright colors, and you can watch elephants and hippos grave along the water’s edge as you sail in comfort.

Ship: Zambezi Queen

Where it Goes: Sail from Namibia to Botswana; most travelers tack this onto a longer safari vacation.

Price: 3-night sailings start at $1,485 per person double occupancy

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sainttropezRastoS Photographer/Shutterstock

Western Mediterranean

Oceania Cruises is one of the best lines to take to this gorgeous part of the world, and their two newer, purpose-built ships are the way to go. Onboard, you’ll find cooking classes—some of which take you to a local market to pick out ingredients first—as well as art instruction, allowing you to, say, create a watercolor of the port of Saint-Tropez to memorialize your day there.

Ship: Oceania Riviera

Where it Goes: Cruise from Monte Carlo to Barcelona starting at sexy French, Italian and Spanish ports—such as Saint-Tropez and Ibiza—along the way.

Price: 7-day sailings start at $1,499 per person double occupancy

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galapagosJess Kraft/Shutterstock

Galapagos Islands

This small ship holds less than two dozen passengers and gives you a look at the famed flora and fauna of these islands, which are located off the coast of Ecuador, without scrimping on either nature or nurture. Look for the rare blue-footed booby bird, snorkel among sea turtles, and admire land iguana in their natural habitat. These are the best cruise lines for every month of the year.

Ship: Ecoventura’s MV Origin

Where it Goes: Cruise around the Galapagos islands for a week with just 20 other passengers.

Price: 7-night sailings start at $6,300 per person double occupancy

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buenosairesCelso Diniz/Shutterstock

South America

This truly all-inclusive ship comes with all the perks of a luxury cruise, from unlimited Champagne to a butler who will bring you breakfast in bed or even unpack your suitcase. Among all the restaurant choices onboard, we liked the impressive Italian restaurant—home to hand-made pasta such as carbonara and cacio e peppe. Just remember: This cruise will eventually take you to a beach in Rio, so consider saving that dinner for later in the cruise. Find out 28 secrets the cruise lines won’t tell you.

Ship: Silver Muse

Where it Goes: Sail from Buenos Aires to Bridgetown, stopping at Rio (for example) along the way.

Price: 17-day sailings start at $14,750 per person double occupancy

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dublinLeonid Andronov/Shutterstock

British Isles

It may be a point of discussion that the line claims this 600-passenger ship is the most luxurious ship in the world, but she sure is gorgeous. Picture beautiful suites with every bit of molding and paneling that you would expect in a private estate, as well as gorgeous marble bathrooms you’ll wish you could take home with you. Brush up on these British phrases before you set sea.

Ship: Regent Seven Seas Explorer

Where it Goes: You’ll sail round-trip out of Southampton (the port for London) to British, Scottish, and Irish ports including Liverpool, Edinburgh, and Dublin.

Price: 11-night sailings start at $12,499 per person double occupancy

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Scandinavia and Baltic

This sailing makes full use of Viking Ocean Cruises’ Scandinavian roots, allowing passengers to enjoy the sauna and Swedish bathing rituals of the gorgeous spa in the countries of these treatments’ origins. You’ll also find plenty of gorgeous Scandinavian design details onboard, as well as Norwegian-style waffles (with berries and creamy brown cheese), open-face smorrebrod sandwiches and split pea soup on the Nordic cafe.

Ship: Viking Sea

Where it Goes: Cruise from Stockholm to Bergen, seeing the Norwegian fjords and stopping in St. Petersburg, Russia along the way.

Price: 15-day cruises from $5,249 per person double occupancy

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cambodiaDmitry Rukhlenko/Shutterstock

Mekong River, Cambodia, and Vietnam

Sure, you can’t do this trip without schlepping to the other side of the world but, trust us, it’s worth the jet lag. Rolling down the Mekong River means a chance to see Buddhist monasteries, explore temples, take cooking classes in how to make green papaya salad and chicken curry, and shop for gorgeous raw silk scarves. Onboard, even though the 68-passenger vessel is small, there’s a sweet little pool to relax in after long days of sightseeing, and cocktails that use local ingredients, such as kaffir lime and Cambodian espresso. Next, check out the best cruise lines for the perfect all-inclusive vacation.

Ship: Scenic Spirit

Where it Goes: Travel from Siem Reap in Cambodia to Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam.

Price: 8-day Asia sailing starts at $3,025 per person double occupancy.

Sherri Eisenberg
Sherri Eisenberg is an award-winning glossy print veteran for top travel, bridal. food, and lifestyle magazines who is equally deft with digital, social, mobile, and branded content. She has written for Condé Nast Traveler, National Geographic Traveler, and Bon Appétit, and has served as cruise editor for Travel and Leisure and Travel Holiday as well as and She has also been a columnist for The Los Angeles Times and, as senior travel editor of Condé Nast's Brides, she won the Lowell Thomas Gold Award for best travel coverage in a non-travel magazine. Sherri is the author of "The Food Lovers Guide to Brooklyn," which was published by Globe Pequot Press in 2010 and covered by everyone from The New York Times to Time magazine. She keeps a bag packed at all times and has no plants or pets so she can hop on a plane — or a ship — at a moment's notice.