Five new, action-packed cruise itineraries for 2023

From exploring the capitals of Gambia and Senegal to combining river and ocean cruising on the east coast of North America, here are the most action-packed new itineraries for the year ahead.

Peggy's Point Lighthouse on Peggy's Cove, Nova Scotia, Canada - part of Viking's Canada & Atlantic Coastline itinerary. 

Photograph by AFP Getty Images
By Nick Dalton
Published 14 Dec 2022, 18:00 GMT

Whether it's exploring a tropical paradise aboard an extravagant superyacht or diving head-first into an untamed wilderness while enjoying the comforts of an art deco-inspired ship, these thrilling new cruises are worth getting excited about. We've picked five of our favourite action-packed itineraries for 2023.

1. Explore the volcanic islands of the Pacific

There’s nothing quite like sailing into the lagoon that surrounds tiny Bora Bora, little more than the tip of an extinct volcano, and leaving the ship for a walk up the lush hillsides. The Reefs & Volcanic Isles: Tahiti to Fiji voyage is a 16-day South Seas adventure with Scenic’s extravagant new superyacht Scenic Eclipse II, a vessel deft enough to reach areas larger ships can’t (and with its own helicopter and submarine); not least Vava’u, the Tongan archipelago of 40 coral islands, the breathtaking lagoon of Aitutaki Atoll in the Cook Islands. It starts with two days in Papeete, Tahiti’s capital, with its black volcanic beaches, and ends with two Fijian islands. Sails on 29 March 2024, from £10,980 including flights. 

Mount Otemanu, in Bora Bora, can be visited on Scenic's Reefs & Volcanic Isles: Tahiti to ...

Mount Otemanu, in Bora Bora, can be visited on Scenic's Reefs & Volcanic Isles: Tahiti to Fiji voyage.  

Photograph by AFP Getty Images

2. Sail the length of North America's Atlantic coastline

Not only does this new Canada & Atlantic Coastline voyage from Viking Cruises mix the sun of the southern US and the wild greenery of eastern Canada, it also manages to combine both ocean and river cruising. Heading north, it sails from the beach lined Fort Lauderdale in Florida and calls at sophisticated Charleston, South Carolina, as well as Norfolk, Virginia, before sailing past the famous Statue of Liberty into New York City.

After one day at sea, it all changes as you reach the stunning Canadian province of Nova Scotia, before heading up the St Lawrence Seaway into Quebec City. From here, the river heads on and passes through Montreal, eventually reaching Lake Ontario and the towers of Toronto, where guests will have the opportunity to see the sights of the city on bike. The luxurious Viking Octantis, a polar expedition ship launched in 2022, is a dream with its contemporary Scandi design and modern amenities. The trip also includes expert-led excursions. Sails on 13 and 18 April, and 15 and 26 September 2023, from £8,095, including flights. 

Charleston, South Carolina, can be visited on the Viking cruise.

Charleston, South Carolina, can be visited on the Viking cruise.

Photograph by AFP Getty Images

3. Immerse yourself in Alaskan wilderness

If you’re heading for Alaska, you want to do it right. Summer 2023 is the first season there for Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth, which means luxury and art deco elegance, but also an old-school air of exploration. Each of seven cruises round trips from Vancouver features a famed adventurer telling tales of derring-do and wilderness wonders.

The first stars Bear Grylls, former Royal Marine, climber of Everest and star of seven seasons of Running Wild on the National Geographic channel. This is his first Alaskan visit since he took then-US president Barack Obama there for the show in 2015, and his first cruise speaking engagement. Names on other sailings which cruise the Inside Passage and tick off Alaskan wonders such as Glacier Bay National Park, Tracy Arm Fjord and Hubbard Glacier include Felicity Aston MBE, the first woman to ski alone across the Antarctic, and British maritime archaeologist Mensun Bound, who discovered Shackleton’s ship Endurance in Antarctica in 2022.

After listening to the wit and wisdom of the engaging speakers, not to mention enjoying the evening West End-style performances, the Queen Elizabeth is the place to relax think smart dining, a conservatory and even a croquet lawn. The 12-night Alaska cruise with Bear Grylls sails from Vancouver on 8 June 2023 and starts at £1,189, cruise-only. Return flights from £1,100. 

Muscat, the capital of Oman, is a stop on Windstar's Sparkling Sands & Cities of the ...

Muscat, the capital of Oman, is a stop on Windstar's Sparkling Sands & Cities of the Persian Gulf sailing.

Photograph by AFP Getty Images

4. Visit the Persian Gulf's enticing cities

Windstar starts a winter of Arabia cruises in November 2023. The 10-day Sparkling Sands & Cities of the Persian Gulf sails between Dubai to Muscat, Oman. Highlights include Doha, the capital of Qatar, where the extravagant cruise terminal featuring an art museum and gardens is only a short stroll from the historic Souq Waqif market.

There are also two days in Abu Dhabi, plus calls at Ras Al-Khaimah, Khasab in Oman’s Musandam enclave, Manama, capital of Bahrain, Damman in Saudi Arabia and Sir Bani Yas, an 11-mile island that’s a nature reserve with Arabian oryx, cheetahs and hyenas. Sails between 3 December 2023 and 2 March 2024, from £4,999 all-inclusive, including flights. 

5. Go river cruising in Central Africa

World Voyager is the first ocean expedition ship from European river cruise company Nicko. The 13-day Cape Verde and Africa cruise sails from the tourist haven of Tenerife deep into the Atlantic for visits to four of the Cape Verde islands, then it’s off the tourist trail for days in Banjul, Gambia and Dakar, Senegal. The ship is new and modern with a pool and an auditorium for films and lectures from experts. Sails on 22 April 2023, from £4,895, all-inclusive, including flights. 

Published in the Cruise 2023 guide, distributed with the Jan/Feb 2023 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)

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