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Cruising through Vietnam and Cambodia with just 40 other guests, a high-end spa and a world-renown chef? Yes, please. This ship was designed by a Saigon-based British architect to feel like a five-star hotel (flat-screen TVs, wireless Internet, beautiful hardwood floors made with local materials). But the offshore excursions to flooded emerald forests and bamboo stilt villages appeal to a more adventurous spirit.
Next trip: Mekong River, October 3 (starts at $7,000 per person for seven nights)
Boasting a staff-to-passenger ratio of nearly one to one, this lavishly revitalized former ferry tours the Scottish Isles with ultimate Old World charm. (If it's good enough for the Queen Mum...) Activities include clay pigeon shooting on the moors by day and black-tie galas by night. Barbour coat and Hunter wellies not included.
Next trip: Gems of Argyll & Bute, March 1 (starts at $2,000 per person for four nights)
This 12-person luxury cruise through the Burgundy region of France focuses on food and wine, docking often for visits to vineyards, 16th-century castles and local farmers markets. But as much as the off-boat adventures appeal, we also love the idea of just chilling on the sundeck and watching the French countryside roll by.
Next trip: Central Burgundy, April 6 (starts at $5,495 per person for seven nights)
Queen Mary 2, Queens Grill Suites
You could shack up with all the regular people aboard the QM2--or you could book one of the iconic ship’s 2,249-square-foot Queens Grill Suites, which span a height of two decks and come with a private butler and priority disembarkation privileges--should you need to skedaddle off the ship before the rest of the “steerage class.”
Next trip: 10th Anniversary Westbound Transatlantic Crossing, May 9 (starts at $18,399 per person for seven nights)
Got 115 days and $55,000 to spare? Check out this amazing ship, which docks in 54 ports around the world, features first-class amenities (personalized stationery and Bulgari toiletries) and has on-board lectures in subjects like marine biology and international world affairs.
Next trip: World Cruise 2015, January 5, 2015 (starts at $55,440 for 115 days)
Crafted specifically for the shallow waters of Tahitian ports (don?t you hate when your boat gets stuck in French Polynesia?), Paul Gauguin cruises are designed to go where other cruise operators won?t take you. The year-old Tere Moana features a Michelin-star chef and views from the deck that look roughly like this.
Next trip: February 22 (starts at $4,795 per person for seven nights)
How do you feel about having your own veranda with a beachside view of the Caribbean Sea? What about complimentary on-deck massages? Or wading out into the ocean for on-the-shore caviar? Yeah, we think you’re going to like the Seabourn Hideaway.
Next trip: Caribbean Hideaway Cruise, March 9 (starts at $2,199 per person for six nights)
This relatively small vessel--there's room for only 92 passengers--sails the Galapagos Islands in serious style. Think balconied suites, two restaurants serving up locally sourced fare and onboard entertainment that's less scantily-clad show girls and more illuminating wildlife lectures. (Though you can expect to see plenty of titillating blue boobies.)
Next trip: Galapagos Outer Loop, April 20 (starts at $5,099 per person for 7 nights)
Unleash your inner gourmand on this two-week tour of coastal Europe. The cruise has an amazing on-shore culinary itinerary (Rioja in Bilbao, fresh oysters in Arcachon), though you can also opt for Sancerre and shellfish served on your private balcony.
Next trip: Luxury Food & Wine Cruise, August 20 (starts at $9,398 per person)
More into yachts than cruise ships? Consider the Caribbean-bound Wind Star, which has an intimate oh-I’m-just-out-sailing-with-friends vibe. There aren’t a ton of planned on- or off-board activities, but you’ll definitely want to join the group for evening barbecues on the white-sand beaches.
Next trip: Flavors of the Caribbean, March 8 (starts at $1,999 per person for seven nights)
You heard us. An exact replica of the famous ship is currently under construction and slotted to make the trip from Southampton to New York City in 2016. First-class tickets should be jaw-droppingly pricey, but we’d obviously opt for the dance party in steerage anyway.
Drunk college kids. Picked-over buffets. Obligatory conga lines. There’s a lot not to love about your run-of-the-mill cruise ship.
That said, if you’re willing to dig a little deeper, there are plenty of fabulous by-boat excursions to be found.
We’ve rounded up the most crazy-amazing sea adventures for discerning travel buffs--from wine tours through Burgundy to five-star cruises down the Mekong River.
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