Travel, at its best, will heal your soul, broaden your mind and deepen your understanding of the world. While some people think that cruises merely involve beaches, umbrella drinks and pre-planned shore excursions, you can find unusual cruises that will forever change your perspective.

There are several ways to find unusual cruises that go beyond typical itineraries and activities. A travel agent can help you find cruises that go to every part of the world. Family members and friends can be excellent resources, too. You can also search online for cruises to specific destinations and for themed cruises that pique your interest.

If you are looking for a unique vacation experience, don’t rule out cruises. You can choose from many types of cruises, including small ship adventures, river cruises and themed cruises. As you research, look for opportunities to interact with people while you are in port as well as for shipboard activities that will challenge you physically, mentally and/or spiritually.

 
 

Here are four of our top picks for people looking for life-changing cruise experiences.

 

Circumnavigate Cuba with Cuba Cruise

4 UNUSUAL CRUISES THAT WILL CHANGE THE WAY YOU LOOK AT THE WORLD

Cuba is the hot new destination for travelers, especially those who would like to experience the island as it has been for the last 50 years. Cuba Cruise, a Canadian company, offers cruises around the entire island, offering travelers the opportunity to go beyond Havana and see how Cubans live and work.

Your seven-day journey will take you to Havana, Maria la Gorda, Cienfuegos, Montego Bay (Jamaica) and Santiago de Cuba, where you can discover the natural beauty and rich cultural heritage of Cuba for yourself. (Tip: U. S.-based travelers can participate in Cuba Cruise trips, provided they join a people-to-people organization. Contact Cuba Cruise for more information.)

Experience Antarctica with Aurora Expeditions

4 UNUSUAL CRUISES THAT WILL CHANGE THE WAY YOU LOOK AT THE WORLD

Aurora Expeditions offers several different small ship Antarctic itineraries each year, taking you to a continent most people will never see. With just 54 passengers on board, the ship can easily get close to shore, giving you plenty of opportunities to walk on Antarctica’s snowy shores. Your fare includes Zodiac trips, wildlife watching, Antarctic camping and photography workshops. Optional activities include polar snorkeling, climbing and kayaking.

Explore Newfoundland with Adventure Canada

4 UNUSUAL CRUISES THAT WILL CHANGE THE WAY YOU LOOK AT THE WORLD

The people of Newfoundland have been shaped by the geography and climate of their island as well as the cultures of their ancestors.

Adventure Canada’s Newfoundland Circumnavigation cruise begins in St. John’s, the political and cultural capital of Newfoundland. From there you will explore national parks, fishing towns and L’Anse aux Meadows, the site of the first permanent Norse settlement in North America.

As you cruise, you will connect with Newfoundland’s maritime heritage and learn how the island’s fishermen and their families battled the elements to create a new homeland. Your cruise around The Rock (the locals’ name for Newfoundland) will reveal Newfoundland’s musical and storytelling traditions, unique geologic history and strong, determined people. (Tip: Don’t be shy. Ask questions; Newfoundlanders are generally happy to talk about their heritage and culture.)

Refresh Your Spirit on a Holistic Holiday at Sea

4 UNUSUAL CRUISES THAT WILL CHANGE THE WAY YOU LOOK AT THE WORLD

Head to the warm sunshine and beautiful beaches of the eastern Caribbean on the MSC Divina to experience the Holistic Holiday at Sea. The program includes lectures, presentations, yoga, Pilates, macrobiotic workshops, vegan cooking classes, fitness classes, meditation, discussion panels, vegan social events, parties and more.

Explore the Caribbean with like-minded fellow travelers who, like you, want to integrate physical activity, nutrition and spiritual practices into their everyday lives. If you like, book a private consultation with one of the participating alternative health and holistic living experts.  Your meals will be vegan unless you specify otherwise; gluten-free meal options are available. Extra charges may apply for some workshops.

Have you been on a unique cruise? What did you learn? Would you recommend the cruise to the 60 and Me community? Share your experiences in the comments section below.

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