With spectacular mountains, fjords and forests, Antarctica and Alaska are places of wild natural beauty that beg to be explored. Visit on a cruise and you can enjoy all that raw nature from a comfortable, convenient floating home. Here’s our pick of the best Antarctica and Alaska cruises for 2019 to 2020:
Glide to the South Pole
Sail from Punta Arenas to Antarctica on the Roald Amundsen, the world’s first hybrid cruise ship. Launching in May, she will be able to glide quietly through mesmerising landscapes under electric power, and will have a science centre full of hi-tech gadgetry, including underwater drones. Landings let you get up close to penguins and seals.
Climbing in wild Alaska
Alaska’s dramatic wilderness offers the perfect setting for rock climbing and rappelling, which you can try on Oceania’s Glaciers and Gardens cruise. Starting in Skagway with a trip down the Klondike Highway, a hike along a nature trail leads to the base of granite cliffs that have been smoothed by retreating glaciers. The dozen routes on offer mean there’s a difficulty level to suit all abilities.
Ice to see you, to see you…
Get up close to Mendenhall Glacier this summer during an active excursion in Alaska. Canoe along Mendenhall Lake, passing majestic icebergs, giant waterfalls and Arctic tern nesting sites. Then trek over the surface of Mendenhall Glacier. Geared up with backpacks and crampons, you’ll explore ice caves, dark crevices, mineral streams and blue pools with commentary from expert guides.
Dive in at the deep, cold end
Alaska’s underwater wonders aren’t out of reach for snorkellers – full wetsuit, gloves, boots and hood required – though in summer water temperatures reach 65F (18C). On Princess Cruises’ Voyage of the Glaciers you can join a snorkelling excursion at Mountain Point. With Scubapro twin-jet fins you’ll see multicoloured sea stars, urchins, sea cucumbers and the giant sunflower star, as well as myriad fish and invertebrates. ?
Discover your inner Tarzan on a zip-lining excursion from Skagway, available on Disney Cruises’ seven-night Alaska cruise. Admire the views from the forest canopy as you walk on raised balance beams, cross rope bridges and loop and soar on a series of zip lines. ?
Off-roading in the rainforest
Take the driver’s seat and navigate Alaska’s rainforest on a specially designed off-road adventure kart in Ketchikan. Available on Regent Seven Seas’ Vancouver to Anchorage cruise, this excursion will take you on a remote forest trail. After climbing steep terrain, staggering views of the Tongass National Forest, Behm Canal and the Inside Passage will be revealed. Look out for eagles, bears and deer along the way. ?
The rapid route through Alaska
Another high-octane option for exploring Mendenhall Lake is white-water rafting. Mendenhall River’s six-mile routes include class II and class III white water rapids (the second and third-lowest levels of difficulty). As the river levels out and gives way to thick forest and 7,000ft high mountains, keep your eyes peeled for otters, bald eagles, black bears and seals. Safe for beginners, there’s also plenty to please experienced rafters. ?