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PHOTO: The Seychelles may seem like another world, but the M/Y Pegasus can get you there in style. (Courtesy of Variety Cruises)
If that remote beach oasis or far-flung wildlife habitat seems inaccessible; think again. These days, cruise lines sail to the corners of the Earth, making island hopping to that bucket-list destination as simple as booking a cabin. Here are eight coveted islands and the cruises that make the dream of visiting them a reality.
The setting for the legendary films, "The Blue Lagoon," and "Cast Away," Fiji is a postcard-perfect destination. Set sail with Blue Lagoon Cruises aboard a boutique ship to a Yasawa Island village for a traditional kava tea ceremony and learn the Fijian arts of basket weaving and wood carving. Passengers can snorkel the reefs, relax on island beaches, swim in caverns, and sample traditional cuisine.
The Seychelles are a dreamy island chain in the Indian Ocean teeming with marine parks, natural reserves, rainforests and rare species like black parrots, giant land tortoises, and the world famous, Coco de Mer palm trees. Variety Cruises operates seven-night voyages aboard the M/Y Pegasus, a 44-passenger yacht that calls on secluded islands for beach barbecues and snorkeling, as well as tours of bird sanctuaries and visits to remote villages.
Photo courtesy of Aurora Expeditions
We've all heard the saying that "Greenland is full of ice," but Aurora Expeditions shows passengers the mysterious land where massive glaciers calve before their eyes. Get the camera ready for polar bears, puffins, whales, musk ox, and plenty of icebergs. Kayaking adventures and excursions to shore via zodiacs allow guests to get a close-up experience.
Luxury cruise line, Windstar, now offers year-round Tahiti cruises to Papeete, Moorea, and Bora Bora - a paradise surrounded by peaceful lagoons and coral reefs. Cruises include overnights at blissful islands, beach celebrations, Polynesian dance performances, and a newly-added dinner experience on a private island (motu) in Bora Bora. The Wind Spirit is a four-masted sailing yacht with 73 beautiful staterooms and a water sports platform on the rear of the vessel.
For more than 20 years, cruise operator, Australis, has offered a well-executed cruise through the most remote regions in Patagonia. Vessels traverse the frigid waters during the signature voyage to the "end of the Earth" (Cape Horn), where passengers can meet the island's lighthouse keepers (weather permitting). Cruises follow the path of Charles Darwin, and include shore excursions to glaciers, nature walks, and opportunities to see a Magellanic penguin colony.
Photo courtesy of Costa Cruises
The world's fourth largest island is also a hotbed of biodiversity: 90 percent of Madagascar's wildlife cannot be found anywhere else on the planet. Two of Costa Cruises' vessels sail to three ports on the island: Diego Suarez, Nosy Be, and Tamatave - allowing ample time to explore pristine beaches, parks, and UNESCO world heritage sites.
The biodiversity of Galapagos Islands left a profound impact on Charles Darwin during his legendary voyages. Today, the protected area retains a staggering 95 percent of its endemic species and continues to captivate curious travelers. Many companies operate cruises in the region, but Vaya Adventures offers seven-night voyages on a traditional schooner yacht appropriately named the Beagle (the same as Darwin's ship).
Often thought of as a far-away island, Tasmania is easily accessible from Sydney, Australia, and is home to rare species like the Tasmanian devil, platypus, and wombat. Ideal for nature lovers, Princess Cruises operates two ships from Sydney that sail to Hobart and Port Arthur, as well as scenic cruising through the pristine Wineglass Bay.
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