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If you're itching to make up for lost time, 2022 is the year to take that big once-in-a-lifetime cruise and tour holiday. We all have a dream trip in mind – from spotting bears in Alaska to seeing Japan’s famous cherry blossom in bloom or crossing the Atlantic in glamorous Art Deco style. Whatever that bucket-list experience looks like for you, 2022 is sure to see holidaymakers embrace slow travel, living life to the full and creating lasting memories. From cruise and rail adventures, life-affirming moments and the world’s most ferocious waterfalls, discover the bucket-list cruise experiences that made it onto our list.

Author: Kerry Spencer

Cherry Blossom Season in Japan

Japan offers multiple bucket-list experiences wrapped up in one country. Visit UNESCO World Heritage temples, take part in a traditional tea ceremony, meditate with a Buddhist monk, scale snow-capped Mount Fuji, dine at Michelin-starred restaurants and feast on fish and steaming bowls of rice at street markets.
 
Travellers can also meet Geisha girls in Kyoto and take a high-speed bullet train to see the neon lights and visit karaoke bars in Tokyo; watch a sumo-wrestling contest and tour world-famous sake breweries. To unwind, visitors to Japan find themselves relaxing at a traditional hot spring known as an Onsen. Though, take note, guests at an Onsen are usually not allowed to wear swimwear.
 
Japan itineraries also call at lesser known ports and islands, such as Ishigaki, which are home to tranquil beaches and turquoise waters. Above all, a cruise to Japan is a culturally immersive experience that few other destinations come close to offering. Our tip is to book an itinerary in April, when the country’s sakura (cherry blossom) season turns parks, gardens and streets a pretty shade of blush pink.
 
Find your next Japan adventure here.
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Transatlantic Cruise & Niagara Falls

One of the most famous cruise voyages in the world, a transatlantic crossing involves several back-to-back sea days, typically from Southampton to New York, as passengers cross the Atlantic Ocean.
 
Reliving the glamorous golden age of travel, Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 – the world’s only ocean liner – offers an annual programme of transatlantic sailings, with a grand Art Deco feel on board. Passengers are met with smartly dressed stewards, a dog and cat kennels for four-legged passengers and activities including afternoon tea, a planetarium and fencing.
 
Arriving in New York City (minus the jet lag), travellers transfer to Niagara Falls – the second largest waterfall in the world – that lies on the US-Canada border on the Niagara River. Visitors can explore the pretty town of Niagara-on-the-Lake and the mist-enshrined falls, including Horseshoe Falls and Bridal Veil from both US and Canadian viewing platforms.
 
The highlight of any visit to Niagara Falls is a Hornblower cruise. Travellers don a waterproof poncho to sail by the thundering falls – though getting sprayed is inevitable and all part of the fun of North America’s most famous falls.
 
Discover your ultimate transatlantic cruise here.
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Iguazu Falls, Machu Picchu & the Andean Explorer

This once-in-a-lifetime journey ticks several bucket list experiences. Starting with a visit to the world’s largest waterfall, Iguazu Falls, on the Argentine-Brazilian border. Surrounded by nature trails and lush jungle, the thundering Iguazu Falls were designated a UNESO World Heritage Site in 1984 and offer ample opportunity to explore the region’s rich wildlife.
 
The next leg of this journey involves a flight to Cusco to reach the ancient Inca site of Machu Picchu in Peru. Machu Picchu lies in the Sacred Valley in the Andean Highlands and the ascent is not for the faint-hearted. Shrouded in mist and mystery, Machu Picchu has been listed as a World Heritage Site since 1983 and in 2007 it was declared one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.
 
Following Machu Picchu, adventurers board the luxurious Belmond Andean Explorer, from Cusco to Arequipa. Guests pass through snow-capped mountains of the Peruvian Andes and visit Lake Titicaca, the largest lake in South America. Cruise lines offer a mix of South America sailings to complement land-based itineraries, such as thrilling Galapagos Islands or Panama Canal voyages.

 

Is South America on your bucket list? Find your next holiday here.

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Victoria Falls, Blue Train, Safari & Garden Route

This entry makes for a compelling bucket list adventure, featuring Zambia’s mighty Victoria Falls and an iconic journey through South Africa on the iconic Blue Train, a private game reserve safari and the picturesque Garden Route.
 
Known as the ‘greatest curtain of falling water in the world’, Victoria Falls has been luring travellers for centuries. Spectacular views of the falls can be seen from the path along the border of the rainforest that surrounds the falls. Waterproofs are advisable as the spray is as ferocious as the falls. Cross the mist-covered Knife-Edge Bridge for views of the Main Falls, Eastern Cataract and Boiling Point, where the river turns course.
 
The next leg takes place on the Blue Train through the heart of South Africa. The elegant train features suite accommodation and dining, lounge and bar cars for an elegant slow travel experience.
 
There’ll be plenty of photo opportunities as you head out on a game drive to witness the Big Five (lion, buffalo, elephant, leopard and rhino), before exploring one of the world’s most remarkable coastal routes along South Africa’s Indian Ocean. A number of cruises depart from Cape Town with sailings to Namibia and Mozambique taking in both the Atlantic and Indian Oceans.
 
Which of the big five is your favourite? Take a look at our South Africa holidays here.
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Mekong River

Mekong River voyages typically involve the passage from Siem Reap, Cambodia, to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Sailing the Mekong is blissful – passing rice paddies and vibrant floating markets and stopping at remote villages and ancient temples – while historically immersive tours can have a life-affirming impact.
 
In Siem Reap visit the elaborate Royal Palace, Silver Pagoda and the labyrinth of temples at the UNESCO World Heritage site of Angkor Wat. Spread over 162 hectares, Angkor Wat is the largest religious site in the world.
 
Travellers can visit Ho Chi Minh City’s bustling central market and explore the Củ Chi Tunnels, a complex of underground tunnels dug and used by the Viet Cong during the Vietnam War.
 
Most remarkable is a visit to Choeung Ek killing fields near Phnom Penh in Cambodia, where thousands of people were killed between 1975 and 1979 during the country’s Khmer Rouge regime. Visit the museum and moment dedicated to those that lost their life and those that survived the appalling conditions. There’s also the S-21 Genocide Museum in Phnom Penh, which chronicles the Cambodian genocide. Mekong River sailings are typically on luxury vessels – catering to a well-travelled and discerning crowd – featuring exquisite suites, top chefs cooking local delicacies and plush public spaces.
 
Discover the magic of the Mekong here.
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Alaska & the Canadian Rockies

This final voyage is also one of the most popular: taking in the Last Frontier, Alaska, and a scenic journey through the Canadian wilderness on the iconic Rocky Mountaineer. This once-in-a-lifetime trip typically begins in Jasper or Banff for a spine-tingling pre-cruise railroad journey to Vancouver or Seattle, taking in the rugged Rockies and the stunning Canadian landscape (it can also be done in reverse, post-cruise, from Vancouver or Seattle to Jasper or Banff).
 
Passengers take a front row seat for stunning views of snow-capped mountains, towering forests, rivers and waterfalls from the comfort of glass-domed coaches. On board the Rocky Mountaineer there’s live commentary and outdoor viewing platforms with breakfast, lunch and drinks served.
 
The second leg sees travellers join their cruise ship on the Canadian west coast to sail to the 49th State. Ports including Skagway, Sitka, Ketchikan and Juneau offer a fascinating insight into Alaska life, while the scenic cruising and wildlife are arguably Alaska’s biggest draw
 
Travellers are privileged to take in dramatic glaciers, mighty rivers and scenic mountain tours with adrenaline-packed activities, including Gold Rush tours, kayaking, canoeing, hiking, fishing, wildlife spotting for bears in the national parks and whales off the coast.
 
Venture into the wilds of the Alaskan peninsula here.
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