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Destination immersion: The best single country cruises

Cruise Advice

Cruise industry research tells us that when asked what their number one motivator was for choosing a particular cruise, travellers cite the destination.

One of the best aspects of cruising is that you can visit multiple ports and regions, which give you an insight into places you might like to visit in more depth. One of the reasons non-cruisers often give for resisting the experience is precisely that they won't have the opportunity to get to the heart of local life and culture.

Regent Seven Seas Cruises - Couple in Santorini

We have been looking at the trend for single country cruises, which addresses those very issues, getting you quickly and comfortably from one area of a country to another to see the contrasts and similarities, experience the cities and the countryside, and learn more about the local way of life.

Some cruise lines are known for being the very essence of the area in which they operate. Hebridean Island Cruises, for example, is Scotland distilled. With its Scottish country house décor, cosy welcome, piper at sailaway and vast choice of single malts, the Hebridean Princess (known to be the Queen's favourite) potters around the Inner and Outer Hebrides and Northern Isles.

Hebridean Princess in Scotland

Another such cruise line is Paul Gauguin Cruises, whose single vessel Paul Gauguin operates year round out of Tahiti to the Society Islands, Tuamotus, Cook Islands and Marquesas. Whilst other ships regularly stop off in the region, none has the same connections, nor the onboard team of locals who bring the culture of these lovely South Pacific islands alive.

Paul Gauguin Cruises in Tahiti

Visitors to our Mundy Adventures site may have seen Sharon's report on her Australis trip to Patagonia and Cape Horn, cruising through the fjords of Tierra del Fuego, and learning much about the wildlife, the landscapes, the original inhabitants of these remote shores, and the history of their visitors. Whilst other cruise lines might touch upon the region, nobody else understands it in such depth.

Ventus Australis in Patagonia

And of course in the Galapagos islands, which are a National Park, the vessels operate there and there alone, with a requirement to carry expert naturalist guides on board. Since 1975, regulations have stated that all visitors to the Galapagos must be accompanied by a certified naturalist guide, to share their knowledge with the visitors and act as the eyes and ears of the park service.

Blue footed boobies in Elizabeth Bay on Isabela, Galapagos

River cruising, both in Europe and in more exotic locations, is the perfect way to get close up and personal to the key cultural treasures of a single country, whilst also witnessing first-hand the local way of life, exploring markets, seeing what foods are grown, and travelling at an easy speed through the depths of the countryside. Popular river itineraries concentrating on a single country include the Douro, the Yangtze, the Nile and the Russian waterways.

Transfiguration cathedral at Uglich, Russia

Anyone wanting to get a real feel for life along the rugged coast of Norway need go no further than a Hurtigruten 12-day Coastal Voyage - these working ships leave Bergen every single day of the year, travelling the islands and fjords as far as the North Cape, within easy reach of the Russian border.

Hurtigruten - MS Finnmarken in Norway

In addition to those cruise lines totally dedicated to a particular region, we are seeing an increase in single destination scheduling. Consider the growth in cruises totally focused on Japan, for example, or take a look at the circumnavigations of Iceland scheduled by Windstar or Ponant. Another cruise line placing a greater focus on destination immersion is Azamara, with 'country intensive' voyages to destinations including Croatia, Greece and New Zealand.

Windstar's Star Legend in Iceland

If you have a destination in mind that you wish to explore in more depth, do give us a call to find out your options.

Meet the author

Edwina Lonsdale is Managing Director and together with husband Matthew, owner of Mundy Cruising. Most recently she's cruised on Windstar and has also sailed with Silversea, Seabourn, Regent Seven Seas, Crystal, SeaDream, Ponant, AmaWaterways and Aqua Expeditions. Her favourite destination is the Galapagos however she's also enjoyed cruises in the Mediterranean, Danube, Middle East, East Africa & Indian Ocean, Brahmaputra, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, the Mekong, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, the Caribbean and the Arctic. When she’s not travelling she loves reading, food and wine.

More about Edwina

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