Nature-lovers might be surprised to know that they can seek out birds, animals and outdoor activities on a cruise vacation. From small expedition ships staffed with naturalists and expedition leaders to bigger ships with wilderness or wildlife-themed shore tours, passengers have a wealth of options to embrace the outdoors. But which destinations lend themselves to the best nature-based cruises? From Antarctica with its penguins to the Arctic with its polar bears, cruisers are actually spoiled for choice. They can seek out closer-to-home Mexico or Alaska nature cruises or journey to exotic Africa for wildlife cruises. If you've got your binoculars, bird books and hiking boots all ready to go, here are some of the best cruise destinations for nature-lovers, by region.
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If you've got a reason why you couldn't possibly like cruising, we can guarantee we've heard it before. And while not every cruise ship or type of cruise will suit every vacationer out there, the explanations people give for why they'd dislike a vacation at sea are generally unfounded. In fact, we'd bet that for every excuse, a cruise line exists that proves the stereotype wrong. That's because cruise ships and itineraries come in all shapes and sizes, and not as cookie-cutter as the uninitiated might fear. If you think there can't possibly be a cruise you'd like -- or have a friend or relation who feels that way -- here are our favorite cruise lines for non-cruisers that defy cliches and win over skeptics.
Cruises on the Columbia River and its largest tributary, the Snake River, have long focused on the history of the Lewis & Clark expedition through the area and the Pacific Northwest's award-winning wine region. Yet, for those interested in more than history and wine, there's plenty of outdoor fun to be had, and cruise lines are taking notice. For some cruisers (namely on Lindblad Expeditions and UnCruise Adventures sailings), biking, hiking, kayaking and rafting excursions are included as part of the cruise experience. For those on other lines, you'll need to make your own plans (or pay extra for an active excursion offered by your cruise line). The best ports of call for independent arrangements are The Dalles and Astoria, both in Oregon, and Richland and Clarkston, both in Washington. Here are some of the active pursuits you can have on a cruise along the rivers of the Pacific Northwest.
Solos hoping to avoid the dreaded single supplement should know that select cruise ships have cabins designed and priced specifically as single-occupancy rooms. Called solo cabins or studios, these are usually small staterooms with most of the same standard amenities (including private bathrooms) as regular cabins, and can be inside, ocean-view and, on a few rare ships, balcony category rooms. For solo cruisers looking for ships with cabins created specifically for them, here is a list of cruise ships with solo cabins, organized by cruise line.
Kids running around in face paint, clutching melting ice cream cones; ribs and corn grilling on the barbecue; the splashing of pool games, the waving of flags and even the crackling of fireworks -- this isn't the Fourth of July in your backyard, this is the Fourth of July on a cruise. Whether you're sailing through Alaska's Last Frontier or far away in exotic waters, cruise lines find a number of ways to celebrate America's birthday. From traditional meals and red, white and blue decor to new traditions like an Americana-themed silent disco party, there are many ways to observe and revel in July 4th at sea. (One line even hosts its own grand fireworks display!) Find out which lines do what for an Independence Day cruise.