From the breathtaking mountains of Alaska to the blue-white world of Antarctica, the best cruises of the year offer rich escape amid spectacular scenery.
1 of 6Photo courtesy Lindblad Expeditions/National Geographic
National Geographic’s Antarctica
Lindblad Expeditions/National Geographic celebrates its 50th year in Antarctica with cruises aboard the 148-passenger National Geographic Explorer, as well as the 102-passenger National Geographic Orion, both equipped with videography subs relaying real-time underwater views. Naturalists and National Geographic photographers accompany every sailing. Rates for the multiple 14- and 24-day sailings start at $12,970; expeditions.com.
2 of 6Photo courtesy Seabourn
Falklands & Antarctica
Seabourn’s Antarctica sailings combine extreme luxury with both the White Continent and the Falklands on the 458-passenger, all-suite Seabourn Quest sailing from Valparaíso, Chile, to Buenos Aires. Rates for the three 2016 sailings start at $14,999; seabourn.com.
3 of 6Photo: Andrew Browning/AdventureSmith Explorations
Antarctica’s Weddell Sea
If Emperor penguins are on your watch list, Adventure Smith Explorations’ November 27 voyage to the Weddell Sea aboard the 116-passenger Ortelius is your cruise. The ship is equipped with a helicopter for excursions to the ice. Rates start at $11,550; adventuresmithexplorations.com.
4 of 6Photo: Ryan Mcnamee
Un-Cruise Adventure’s small-ship sailings with a maximum of 84 passengers go off the usual tracks and close to wildlife. Seven- to 21-night rates start at $2,295; uncruise.com.
5 of 6Photo courtesy Princess Cruises
Alaska's Inland Passage
Princess Cruises' long experience in the far northwest gives it an edge on access to areas with limited capacity, such as Glacier Bay; seven-night sails from Vancouver to Anchorage on 2,214-passenger ships showcase the Inside Passage. Rates start at $749; princess.com.
6 of 6Photo courtesy Silversea
Alaska & Russia’s Far East
Silversea’s July 11 Nome-to-Seward 12-night expedition voyage aboard the 120-passenger Silver Discoverer explores Russia’s far east and remote ports few others ever visit. Rates start at $10,750; silversea.com.