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Sponsored by Azamara
Why do we travel? Would you agree we travel to immerse ourselves into new places and seek connection in both the familiar and the foreign? Italy is one of these places where so many of us feel an immediate sense of coming home. That’s what happened to me when I first stepped foot on the Italian boot -- I felt a lightness, joy and sense of belonging that has kept me coming back and each time going deeper into its magical culture.
Italy’s 4,720 miles of coastline make it the perfect place to explore via a cruise. Nearly every destination you might want to visit is close enough to the coastline to easily explore on port visit.
And, on a cruise, you can cover more ground in Italy than you ever could by traveling on land; popular around-Italy itineraries may start or end in Venice or Rome, and make stops in Amalfi, Sorrento, Sicily, Portofino, Florence, Elba and Brindisi (along with a foray into nearby Montenegro’s Kotor).
With stops in so many Italian ports you will feel truly immersed in the culture and might just be speaking some of the language by the end of your cruise.
The Arctic is an otherworldly land of boundless vistas, perpetual daylight in summer, glistening ice floes and abundant wildlife. No wonder that taking a North Pole cruise is becoming a growth industry in once rarely visited realms.
One caveat: Unlike Antarctica, which is on a solid land mass, the North Pole has no true fixed location. It lies on a mass of always-shifting ice chunks in the Arctic Ocean. Consequently, few ships actually sail to the pole. But many do get close, venturing within the Arctic Circle, above 66 degrees latitude.
These are truly remote areas, so it's not surprising that Arctic trips to the North Pole tend to attract seasoned travelers looking to tick off one more spot on their bucket list. The expansive region takes in northern parts of Norway and the Svalbard archipelago, Sweden, Finland, Greenland, Iceland, Canada, Norway and Russia.
Here's a breakdown of popular areas, and some lines and outfitters that'll take you there. But first, some general guidance.
Remote villages, icy fjords and rare wildlife make the world's Arctic region a compelling destination for cruisers looking for a little adventure. Encompassing Greenland, Iceland, the North Pole and the northern reaches of Norway, Russia and Canada, the Arctic is mostly traversed by small-ship expedition and luxury lines.
On many such cruises, you won't experience traditional shore excursions. Because the ships are small and landings occur in isolated areas, hikes, nature walks or Zodiac trips with the expedition staff are typically the only activity options -- and they're usually included in the cruise price. (For more information on Arctic cruising, check out Arctic Cruise Tips.)
However, in larger or more developed Arctic ports, cruisers can choose from a wider variety of activities. We've rounded up a few of our favorite excursions across the Arctic region.
Sponsored by AmaWaterways
For fans of river cruising, times have changed.
There's no one better to help us trace the evolution, or dare we say revolution, that European river cruise travel has undergone than Rudi Schreiner. Schreiner, who ushered in Europe river cruising for lines such as Viking River and Uniworld before creating AmaWaterways, says his experiences go way back to the 1990s, when river cruises as we know it hadn’t yet evolved. Vessels were cramped, and service was bare-bones. “You had small cabins with bunks beds you would pull down at night,” he says.
A decade later, when he helped start a company that became AmaWaterways, ships had already begun to change. Cabins were big enough to hold a queen bed. Dining had become a multi-course event, with gourmet food paired with wine.
“It started getting more luxurious,” he said. “People would spend more time on the ship.”