By Linda Coffman
Don’t make the mistake of thinking of cruise travel only in terms of popular Caribbean beaches or Alaska glaciers. Today’s worldwide itineraries offer much more intriguing destinations. With mid-cruise voyages to distant landlocked spots as well as uncommon ports of call closer to home, here are some top choices for the most unique cruising itineraries of 2012.
From Arabia to India
First, head to the other side of the world, where midway through an 18-day cruise aboard Seabourn Legend from Singapore to Dubai, you can hop off in Mumbai for three nights and visit the Taj Mahal at sunset and again at sunrise before moving on to other sites in Agra, the second capital of the Mughal Empire during the 16th and 17th centuries, and finally Delhi for a flight back to the ship.
Details: Departing February 28, 2012, this Seabourn Legend cruise has oceanview suites starting from $5,599 per person.
Cruise China, Korea, and Japan
Passage on the Crystal Cruises’ 18-day World Cruise segment from Hong Kong to Osaka aboard Crystal Serenity not only features overnight stays in Shanghai, Seoul/Incheon, South Korea, and Japan, but also spends an unusual two nights in Xingang, where you disembark the ship and travel to Beijing to visit to the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, and the Great Wall before returning to port.
Details: Learn more about this Crystal Serenity cruise; trip starts on March 13, 2012. At this writing, deluxe staterooms are available at the special "2-for-1 Fare Per Person" rate of $14,665.
Southeast Asia by Land and Sea
A 9-night cruise from Bangkok, Thailand to Singapore on Silversea Cruises’ Silver Shadow boasts a 2-night mid-voyage land adventure to Angkor Wat and Phnom Penh where the highlight is the temple city of Angkor, a World Heritage Site rated among the world’s premier architectural and cultural attractions.
Details: This trip begins on November 5, 2012 aboard the Silver Shadow. Vista suites start at $5,999 per person.
Black Sea Beauty
You don’t have to leave the comfort of your ship on a unique 7-night Silversea Cruises’ Silver Spirit Black Sea cruise. Ideal if you have limited time, yet yearn for off-the-beaten-path, the round-trip sailing from Istanbul, Turkey calls on Ukrainian ports Sevastopol, Odessa, and the more well-known Yalta, as well as ConstanÅ£a, Romania and Nessebur, Bulgaria.
Details: The Silver Spirit week-long Black Sea cruise departs on June 18, 2012. With free air available, the silver savings per person fare is $5,899 for a veranda suite.
Hidden Caribbean Isles
Closer to home is Bequia, one of our favorite unspoiled Caribbean islands where the dive sites are noted as some of the region’s finest and the big cruise ships steer clear. Small ship cruises anchor in the harbor and tenders you ashore where you’ll seldom encounter other visitors. From the pier it’s a short walk to lively bars and restaurants and a lovely uncrowded beach. To get there, hop aboard Star Clippers’ Royal Clipper or Windstar’s Wind Spirit, both sailing 7-night cruises round trip from Bridgetown, Barbados, or Silversea Cruises’ Silver Cloud, sailing 9 nights from Fort Lauderdale, Florida to Bridgetown.
Details: The Grenadine Islands Royal Clipper sails on multiple dates through early March, with per person rates starting at $1,975; Wind Spirit departs on 9 high season dates throughout 2012, from $1,499 per person; Silver Cloud has just one date, March 12, 2012, from $3,999 for a vista suite.
Fodors.com contributor Linda Coffman has been dishing out cruise-travel advice for nearly two decades and is the author of Fodor’s Complete Guide to Caribbean Cruises, as well as a contributor of cruising content to other Fodor’s guidebooks. You can find her at CruiseDiva.com and the Cruise Diva blog.
Photo Credit: Pride/Spirit/Legend in Hong Kong Harbor courtesy Seabourn