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Debbie Stevens of The Cruise Line reveals five of the best destinations for groups in search of adventure and escape
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Companies are expanding their geographical reach further than ever before, as well as their offerings both on- and off-board. While vast, magnificent ships, fitted throughout by high-end designers, are redefining luxury on the high seas, smaller and more agile vessels are enjoying a resurgence in order to navigate the narrower waterways of the world.
Whether your group is looking for a luxurious escape or the adventure of a lifetime, here are five of the best destinations…
As our feature on page 78 goes to show, Norway and its fjords are often hailed as one of the most beautiful landscapes Europe has to offer – and for good reason. With attractions both natural and manmade, visit the cobbled streets and quaint wooden houses of Bryggen, or take in the majestic peaks and valleys of Geirangerfjord – both sites of world heritage, protected by UNESCO.
No other cruise offers such spectacular scenery as the Baltic fjords, where snow-peaked mountains and vast green hills float past, and the Northern Lights illuminate the night sky. Trek the mountain trails and dare to scale the sky-high cliffs, such as the infamous Pulpit Rock, before retreating to a cosy, traditionally Scandinavian tavern to recover.
The Caribbean island of Bermuda is brimming with attractions for all tastes, and its white-gold beaches and glassy waters are the perfect place for exploration, with rock climbing, snorkelling and even shipwreck diving on offer.
With Bermuda boasting some of the most breathtaking sights in the Caribbean, adventurous groups can explore the island’s cave systems or take a walk through one of the island’s many gardens, forests and nature resorts, before unwinding in a local bar or restaurant.
Although the weather in the Mexican Riviera can be unpredictable at certain times of year, low season is most definitely worth taking advantage of. An ideal destination for both adventure and relaxation, the Mexican Riviera is a melting pot of Mexican and Mayan culture and natural splendours.
The famous Chichen Itza, widely thought of as one of the wonders of the world, is an essential visit on the Riviera, and will be a much less crowded experience during the low season (from now until early December).
White-knuckle riders can go diving and wild swimming in one of the Riviera’s many magnificent cenote caves, or among the Great Maya reef (the world’s second largest, behind the Great Barrier); while holistic spas and wellness camps provide a peaceful tropical retreat. The nightlife of the Playa del Carmen is renowned for its vibrancy, making it the perfect place to unwind after an eventful day.
Another destination made possible by smaller vessels, the Amazon is one of the world’s most compelling and mysterious corners. Speaking for half of the world’s remaining rainforest, it promises a truly unforgettable experience.
Kayak your way down the river or trek through the forest trails – you can even get a bird’s eye view of the jungle from the world’s most expansive canopy with a high-ropes trek. Experience the exotic scenery and wildlife close-up, go spotting for anaconda and monkeys, and blend in with the tropical atmosphere that the Amazon is renowned for worldwide. When night falls, sit back and stargaze from the jungle floor, immersing yourself completely in this natural paradise.
Cruises down under have a lot to offer at this time of year. High season is winding down, so attractions are quieter and tickets cheaper – though the weather is still very enjoyable.
Take a trip to Tasmania, where you can enjoy the many forest and river tours, as well as the wildlife sanctuaries and natural parks. Groups in search of relaxation will love the Bruny Island gourmet food tours, or taking a wander around the cafés and museums of Sydney harbour. Take a stroll around Melbourne’s tranquil Botanical Gardens, before hitting the town to check out one of its many quirky bars and restaurants.
With all Australia’s major cities, bar Canberra, being on the coast, cruising is the best way to experience everything the country has to offer in a short period.