Boat trips


Guide to boat trips and travel by boat, including boat trip holiday advice, water safari and wildlife boat trip info

Hoist the main sail! Haul anchor! It’s time to set off on a watery adventure!

Travel by boat is a romantic proposition, harking back to a time when great explorers discovered new worlds in elegant tallships. There may not be many oceans left totally uncharted, but travel by boat can still open up an enticing array of destinations.

Many places you can only see by boat. Take Ecuador’s Galápagos Islands – cruising is the only way to reach remote bays clustered with curious sea lions, marine iguanas and giant tortoises. And to access the pristine expanses of Antarctica you’ll need a tough vessel to cope with icebergs and allow you to land on shores dotted with thousands of waddling penguins.

Boats are great ways to meet the locals too. Board a ferry down Mali’s River Niger, across Lake Malawi, along Alaska’s Aleutian chain or between the Caribbean islands of St Vincent and the Grenadines, and you’ll meet chatty people carting curious cargos, all with a story to tell.

Water-bound travel can also be relaxing. Watch Egyptian life scroll by as you glide down the Nile, G&T in hand – riverbank life here, complete with ancient temples, ox carts and swaying palms, hasn’t much changed for millennia. And Europe’s great arteries – the Danube, the Rhine, the Rhone – which lead you through cities such as Geneva, Vienna and Budapest, are great highways through history.

You can see a lot of wildlife from the top deck, too. Paddle a canoe through the Okavango Delta, Botswana, for close-ups with hippos. Or zip along tributaries of the Amazon in Brazil, Peru, Colombia and Ecuador to spot birds and monkeys in the jungle. That’s not to mention the marine life – sail off the coast of the Azores, Iceland, New Zealand and Baja California (Mexico) for some of the planet’s best whale watching.

You don’t even need to worry unduly about seasickness – there are plenty of precautions you can take to avoid it. So what are you waiting for? It’s time to sail away!

Further Reading

Top 10 Boat Trips

Sail away on these classic journeys

  1. Take an Arctic expedition cruise – float around Spitsbergen, Arctic Norway, to spot walrus and polar bear. Travel in summer to voyage under the midnight sun, or book a boat that carries kayaks so you can get even closer to the action.
  2. Sail around the Galápagos Islands, Ecuador – the South American archipelago inspired Darwin's evolutionary theory, and is just as fascinating today. Get seriously close to iguanas, boobies and giant tortoises – the wildlife has no fear.
  3. Board an overflowing ferry on the Niger River – set sail into the Sahara, bound for Timbuktu, Mali: the best way to meet the locals.
  4. Explore the Westfjords, Iceland – the remote, untouched inlets of the Westfjords offer gorgeous glaciers, remote wooden churches and puffins galore. Visit in summer for 24-hour daylight.
  5. Forge across the Drake Passage, Antarctica – meet the icebergs, penguins, whales and seals of the awesome Antarctic. Pack seasickness tablets: the crossing can be choppy...
  6. Explore the Caribbean islands – discover idyllic St Vincent and the Grenadines with the locals aboard the regular mailboats, the perfect way to island-hop and pick up local gossip.
  7. Float with weird rocks and whale sharks, Djbouti – the tiny African nation is a great place to jump in with the world's biggest fish; October to February is the best time to visit.
  8. Cruise along Norway’s coast – wonderfully craggy (and Unesco-listed), Norway's west coast is famous for fabulous fjords and (maybe) a glimpse of the northern lights. The Hurtigruten ferry is a good way to get about.
  9. Float through history, Egypt – board a traditional boat for a timeless journey down the ancient River Nile: feluccas (simple sailing vessels) are good for those on a budget; dahabiyyas (wooden barges) offer more luxury.
  10. Ferry along the Aleutian Islands, Alaska – come summer, board the ferry from the mainland to the remote, wildlife-rich and culturally distinct Aleutians, making new friends along the way.

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