While some of the world’s most awe-inspiring sites are impressive from land, some look even better from the sea. One of the perks of a cruise is that you can easily visit some of the most remote and inhospitable places in the world. Drift past gleaming glaciers in Alaska, marvel at the soaring Chilean fjords, and spot unique wildlife in the Galapagos Islands – all from the comfort of a cruise ship.

If the idea of a cruise sounds tempting, you might wonder which destinations are best visited from the water. So, to get you inspired, we’ve compiled a list of the sights that are most impressive when approached by sea.

Here are 10 sights that are best seen from a cruise ship.

1. Milford Sound, New Zealand

Milford Sound, New Zealand

New Zealand is regularly hailed as one of the most beautiful countries in the world. But of all its stunning destinations, Milford Sound is arguably the most spectacular. Located in the southwestern tip of the South Island, the Fiordland region is home to lush rainforests, hanging valleys, thundering waterfalls, towering fjords, and huge, mirror-like lakes. Rudyard Kipling called Milford Sound the ‘eighth wonder of the world’, and, as you cruise these waters, you can’t help but agree.

Carved by glaciers in the Ice Age, these ancient flooded valleys are virtually untouched by civilisation. The incredible scenery is best viewed from the water and, as you sit on your balcony admiring the views – perhaps with a glass of local New Zealand wine in hand – it’s impossible not to feel moved. There’s also fascinating marine life here. You can spot dolphins leaping through the water, penguins and fur seals basking in the sun, and some of the world’s rarest birds swooping through the sky.

2. Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska, USA

Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska, USA

With its soaring, snow-capped mountains, untouched green landscape, pristine blue waters, and vast, glittering glaciers, Alaska is one of the best places in the world for a cruise. Glacier Bay National Park, in particular, is best seen from the water – and not just because it’s so huge. Covering an incredible 3.3 million acres, Glacier Bay boasts temperate rainforests, deep fjords, and rugged peaks – plus, as the name suggests, some of the most impressive glaciers in the world.

Just 200 years ago, much of this landscape was covered by a 20-mile-wide glacier, and the park still has eight tidewater glaciers (astonishing twelve-storey walls of blue-and-white ice!). Over 50 named glaciers are found here, and from a cruise ship, you’ll feel as though you can reach out and touch them. Seeing huge blocks of ice creak and groan, break off, and crash into the sea is an unforgettable experience. You have a good chance of spotting whales, seals, otters, and even black bears too.

3. Panama Canal, Panama

Panama Canal, Panama

While most of the sights best seen from a cruise ship are natural, there are exceptions. The man-made Panama Canal is one of the world’s greatest marvels, and a staggering feat of human engineering. Stretching 50 miles from Panama City to Colón, the canal connects the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. This means that ships no longer have to travel all the way around Cape Horn in South America, saving them around 8,000 nautical miles.

But the only way to truly appreciate the brilliance of the Panama Canal, and understand why it’s one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World, is to pass through it. Standing on deck as you wait for these enormous metal locks to open is exhilarating, and travelling through these incomprehensible man-made waterways is once-in-a-lifetime experience. This part of the world also boasts lush rainforests, idyllic white sand beaches, and incredible biodiversity, so a cruise here is always extraordinary.

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4. The islands of the Maldives

The islands of the Maldives

Of all the countries in the world, few places evoke paradise quite like the Maldives. Famous for their crystalline turquoise waters and tiny, palm-fringed islands, this spectacular archipelago is an absolute dream to cruise through. Located southwest of Sri Lanka and India, the Maldives enjoys warm, sunny weather year-round – and whether you’re dreaming of an action-packed adventure or a lazy beach holiday, a cruise ticks both boxes.

A Maldives cruise allows you to island hop, ensuring you see the best sights without stress. Cruise ships offer excursions to remote sandbanks, so if you want to feel like an intrepid explorer, you can. The turquoise waters also teem with manta rays and whale sharks, and there are bioluminescent beaches too, so if you’re looking for magical swimming experiences, you’re in the right place.

5. Norwegian Fjords

Norwegian Fjords

Just like New Zealand, Norway is often cited as one of the world’s most beautiful countries – perhaps because of its breathtaking fjords. These dramatic inlets run along the coastline and are vast, rugged, serene – and best viewed from the water. The remote wilderness of this sparsely populated country makes it ideal for exploring by ship…and, as a bonus, you may catch a glimpse of the northern lights as you cruise.

Of all the fjords, Geirangerfjord is the most remarkable. At 900 feet deep, with 2,000-foot cliffs either side, the sheer scale and beauty of this glacier-carved fjord might leave you speechless. As you cruise, you’ll also pass roaring waterfalls, huge granite rock faces, colourful fishing villages, and snow-capped mountains. Most cruise lines offer plenty of immersive offshore excursions too, allowing you to dive deep into Viking history, and learn more about Norwegian culture.

6. Chilean Patagonia

Chilean Patagonia

If you’re looking to get away from it all – or to be awed by the beauty of nature – then Chilean Patagonia might be the ideal cruise destination for you. Stretching for over 1,000 miles from north to south, this vast region at the tip of South America is one of the world’s most raw and wildly beautiful. Home to wide open grasslands, silent turquoise lakes, rugged granite peaks, and ancient forests, the landscape here is as otherworldly as it is diverse.

Because it’s so huge and remote, a cruise gives you the best chance of seeing as much of Patagonia as you can. Cruising along these chilly waters, you can admire vast walls of blue ice almost 200 feet high, then watch as chunks calve off and become indigo-tinged icebergs. Torres del Paine National Park is cited as one of the world’s most beautiful places, and most cruises take you to Punta Arenas, the gateway to the park, where you can explore its awesome majesty in your own way.

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7. Dalmatian Coastline, Croatia

Dalmatian Coastline, Croatia

With tumbling waterfalls, dreamy forests, and towering mountains, Croatia is famously beautiful – but it’s arguably the country’s coastline that’s most impressive. The sapphire waters are speckled with tiny islands, and the dramatic limestone coast is lined with medieval fishing villages and ancient walled towns. While a cruise might conjure up images of large, sleek ships, you can also cruise in smaller boats – and a yacht is the perfect way to explore the dazzling Dalmatian coastline.

Exploring in a smaller vessel means you can easily weave in and out of these tiny islands – and leap into the crystalline waters whenever the mood strikes. Discover the beautiful seascapes of the Peninsula Pelješac, then soak up the local culture in historic Split and Dubrovnik. Sail past picturesque coves and enchanting archipelagos, take photos of striking red-tiled roofs above the shimmering Adriatic, and enjoy the island charm of Hvar and Mljet.

8. Sydney Opera House, Australia

Sydney Opera House, Australia

Another man-made structure makes the list! Looking out onto Sydney Harbour, the Sydney Opera House is one of the world’s most recognisable buildings. Widely regarded as a masterpiece of 20th-century architecture, its billowing sails are an iconic part of the Sydney skyline. The building was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007 and, on a cruise, you can enjoy unrivalled views of this distinctive structure, from an angle most people only see in photos.

But a cruise will also take you past Harbour Bridge which, like the Opera House, has become an iconic image of Sydney, and Australia itself. Cruising under the world’s widest long-span bridge is an unforgettable experience – but you’ll drift past plenty of natural wonders too. Fans of diving can’t pass up the chance to explore the Great Barrier Reef, and the shore excursions take you to unusually diverse landscapes – from lush rainforests to coastal dunes and misty mountains.

9. Amalfi Coast, Italy

Amalfi Coast, Italy

The Amalfi Coast is one of Italy’s most beautiful regions. This stretch of coastline is packed with pastel-coloured towns like Positano, Sorrento, and Amaldi, and their cinematic beauty will leave you breathless. The views from land are lovely, but the best views are surely from the water. From the deck of your ship, you can marvel as colourful houses cling precipitously to craggy cliffs, while the glittering Mediterranean crashes beneath them.

But it isn’t just the scenery the Amalfi Coast is so celebrated for. The history and culture are fascinating and, on a cruise, the offshore excursions allow you to explore in your own way. Admire the 12th-century Capuchin monastery at Amalfi, browse Positano’s classy boutiques for souvenirs, and make the most of the mouthwatering Italian cuisine. From fresh seafood and pasta to refreshing gelato and indulgent pastries, food just tastes better here!

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10. Galápagos Islands, Ecuador

Galápagos Islands, Ecuador

If you’re fascinated by nature and wildlife, there’s a good chance the Galápagos Islands will be on your travel wishlist. Located 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador, this volcanic archipelago is so unique it led Charles Darwin to form his theory of natural selection. Home to creatures found nowhere else on earth, the remoteness of these islands make them an ideal place for a cruise. You can hop from island to island, and the sights you see along the way will stay with you forever.

As you cruise, you’ll have ample opportunity to admire the islands’ spectacular biodiversity, and offshore excursions allow you to explore the landscape on foot; walk through lunar-like lava fields, rocky volcanic craters, and dense, mist-shrouded forests. Keep your eyes peeled for tortoises, penguins, seals, iguanas, pelicans, and flamingos. And, if you fancy a dip, you can swim in the sea, then dry off on the volcanic sand beaches, which come in startling shades of green and red.

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