Whether you’re looking for the thrill of your lifetime or chilling on a cruise ship, here are 10 of the best boat journeys in the world, each with something unique to offer.
1. Fjords, Norway
The well-known Hurtigruten ferry route has a 100-year old, long-standing history of linking nearby coastal villages and towns. The 11-day-round-trip departs from Bergen, making 14 port of calls before heading North towards Kirkens. On your journey, expect to see the amazing fjords and wander through islands under the midnight sun, Art Nouveau towns, and ancient monasteries.
2. Island-hopping, Greece
An archipelago that begs being explored in Europe is that belonging to Greece. While it’s easier to travel between islands within one group than to archipelago-hop, many visitors to Greece regard island hopping in the Greek Islands as one of Europe’s unmissable adventures. Lined with 1,400 islands on its coastline, each island has its own unique experience to offer. The ferries that dock across the islands serve a variety of purposes, with larger ferries taking passengers through the major routes while smaller ferries serving the backwaters.
3. Halong Bay, Vietnam
Halong Bay is known to bear a close resemblance to a descending dragon, a direct translation of the Vietnamese word “Halong”. The most popular legend has it that a dragon-like creature and her children descended from heaven in order to protect the Viet people from invaders, spraying emeralds and jade. Over time, the jewels eventually turned into the current Halong Bay. Located 165kms from Hanoi, the Bay Chai Tourist Wharf along Halong Bay is peppered with over 300 tourist boats. While most visitors opt for the overnight tours, day tours lasting from 4-8 hours are also offered. Taking you through the UNESCO World Heritage site, you’ll be able to catch stunning views of the limestone formations surrounded by lush, emerald waters.
4. Amazon River, South America
Measuring approximately 6,200 km, the Amazon River’s flow is 12 times the volume of the Mississippi: it is massive and unrelenting. Coupled with dense vegetation, the Amazon River arguably has the planet’s most intense ecosystem. It sustains thousands of small fishing villages and communities whilst being home to countless fish species. Here, you can choose to hop on a slow boat (with varying qualities) between Belém and Manaus in Brazil or Guayaramerín and Trinidad in Bolivia which will take you on a trip through the dense Amazon jungle for a period of between 4-7 days. Hang up your hammock while on the trip and you’ll be able to enjoy the flora and fauna of the river from your humble temporary abode.
5. Kerala’s Backwaters, India
Hop on an eight-hour cruise from Alappuzha to Kollam and marvel at the network of brackish lagoons and lakes that lie parallel to the coast of Kerala state in southern India. Its lush green landscape, diverse wildlife, and houses and villages that line the backwaters offer you an ethereal experience. On your journey, you’ll have a chance to make a stopover at the Matha Amrithanandamayi Mission, home to one of India’s rare female gurus. It is a tradition for locals to use the backwaters for fishing, transport, and agriculture. If you are visiting during the monsoon season (June – September), you might be able to catch a glimpse of the yearly snake boat races which take place on the backwaters that serve as sources of entertainment for both visitors and locals.
6. Franklin River, Australia
Located in the Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, its unpredictability makes it unsuitable for the faint-hearted. Much of the Wild River’s landscape has been shaped by pre-existing glaciers and Huon Pines that grow to over 3000 years. Boat access to the Franklin River is only available to experienced rafters during summer (December – March), with day trip options as well as two-week adventures for more intrepid travelers. Rafters are encouraged to access the river through Collingwood River and finish their expedition at the Gordon River.
7. Quetico Provincial Park, Canada
Taking a canoe out on one of 2,000 lakes within Northern Ontario’s Quetico Provincial Park is a perfect way for you to explore the true Canadian wilderness. The 4,800 sq-km iconic park known for its robust beauty, with amazing waterfalls, lofty rock cliffs, scenic rivers, and lakes. If you are lucky, you might be able to spot mooses parading at the water’s edge while camping around the area. You can opt for a self-guided or guided tour in and around the park.
8. Milford Sound, New Zealand
The most visited fiord on New Zealand’s South Island, Milford Sound gives you a reason to unplug and truly bask in the grandeur of nature all around. Although Milford Sound can be explored in a variety of ways, most visitors opt for a cruise. Cruises run for approximately two hours and take you on a spectacular journey where you can catch a glimpse of the yellow-eyed penguin or the hoiho. The cruises depart from a huge wharf which is easily accessible from the carpark. Overnight cruises are also an option if you would like to journey through the full 22km through the Sound.
9. Disko Bay, Greenland
Traveling by sea is a magnificent way to experience Greenland. Cruise ships in Disko Bay take you through the town of Ilulissat, located at the edge of an ice ford that produces close to 20 million tonnes of ice each day. As soon as you look across the bay, these big icebergs are omnipresent, with a large bulk of its mass hidden beneath the water’s surface. Tour operators here are aplenty, each teaching you about the wildlife and storied history of Greenland. Staff will also keep watch for both seabirds and whales that can be encountered while cruising.
10. Galapágos Islands, Ecuador
Situated in the Pacific Ocean some 1,000 km from the South American continent, these 19 islands and the surrounding marine reserve have been called a unique “living museum and showcase of evolution”. In 1959, the Galápagos was declared the first national park in Ecuador. Nineteen years later, it was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Here, you can come up close and personal with sea lions, penguins and other marine animals. Depending on your availability, small yachts and cruise ships take you anywhere around the islands from a few days to three weeks.
At each continent, these places offer you the most stunning views and cruising down these bodies of water are excellent and unconventional ways of exploring the destination. Don’t hesitate to take an unforgettable journey on these boat rides on your next holiday!