By Susan Hanson
If the concept of sailing through ice-filled waters or tramping across glaciers seems intriguing but maybe a bit too spirited for your adventurous soul — there are ways to explore remote terrain without leaving your comfort zone. Here are three warm-weather voyages where expeditions and relaxation go hand in hand.
Personal Butlers in the South Pacific
Pack that underwater camera: You’ll be snapping photos of rays, sharks, dolphins and reef fish galore as Silversea’s Silver Explorer sails across the Polynesian Triangle, including several Fijian island gems.
A hike up the steep, jungle-clad Mount Pahia pays off with views across Bora Bora, while Aitutaki’s reef-encircled lagoon is a dream for snorkelers. Take part in a kava ceremony on Vanua Balavu, then dive Beveridge Reef off Niue, a submerged atoll that draws gray reef sharks and endangered sea turtles.
Purpose-built for adventure with a fleet of 12 Zodiacs, the 144-guest Silver Explorer navigates these remote waters in luxurious fashion. Tired muscles are miraculously soothed with a steam and a body wrap in the Zagara Beauty Spa, while your taste buds are treated to gourmet fare. After dining al fresco on fresh fish and local vegetables prepared over lava stones, have your butler draw a relaxing bath in your warmly appointed suite, where a menu of nine different pillow types promises a heavenly sleep.
An Intimate Side of the Mediterranean
Kayaking along Cartagena’s scenic shores, off-roading the serpentine pass up Lovcen Mountain in Kotor, stand-up paddleboarding on a popular Barcelona beach. Even if you’ve been to the Mediterranean before, you’ve never experienced it like this.
Crystal Cruises sends its all-suite Crystal Esprit on a seven-night voyage to Spain for a chance to spelunk through Malaga’s Nerja Caves — home to the oldest Paleolithic art on the planet — or perhaps give back while helping to clean up Valencia’s Buñol River. Then again, you might zip line over unspoiled Cetina Canyon in Split or hike through black pine forests in Paklenica National Park near Zadar on a dreamy weeklong sailing around Dalmatia.
There’s such an easy elegance aboard Crystal Esprit, such an intimacy and sense of camaraderie, that you instantly feel part of a private club where a staff of 90 spoils just 62 guests. Innovative, Michelin-inspired cuisine is complemented by premium pours such as Château Lafite Rothschild or Krug Clos d’Ambonnay — always complimentary, of course.
Over-the-Top Adventures Down Under
Otherworldly red ranges and serene billabongs. Thundering falls and thick mangrove forests. Beehive-shaped sandstone towers and Aboriginal rock art created tens of thousands of years ago. Western Australia’s isolated and untamed Kimberley region is so filled with riches, you’ll feel as if you’re the first to set eyes on them.
A 10-night Ponant expedition reveals them in singular fashion — soaring above the Bungle Bungle massif aboard a Cessna aircraft, see the tidal phenomenon known as Horizontal Falls, hearing Dreamtime stories from your Aboriginal guides while witnessing Gwion Gwion art that is more than 30,000 years old.
The casual, uncrowded ambiance on board the 184-guest Le Laperouse is equally remarkable. Every aspect of your yacht experience — from the refined gastronomy to signature treatments in the Sothys spa to the customized, attentive service — exudes a sophisticated French flair. Swim laps in the counter-current saltwater pool or gain easy access to the sea from the hydraulic marina platform. An LED wall serves as the high-tech theater’s backdrop for presentations, film screenings and musical performances.
Award-winning writer Susan Hanson regularly hits the road from her home in Bellingham, Washington, to uncover upscale and exciting travel adventures.