THE SHIP Clipper Odyssey, operated by Intrav
THE ITINERARY If you want a coworker’s jaw to drop, just rattle off the animals you’ll see on this trip: Javan rhinoceroses, blue panthers, silver-leaf monkeys, and more than 250 species of birds. You’ll also see the Komodo dragon, one of the weirdest wonders of the animal kingdom; view the smoking peak of Bali’s Mount Batur; and walk among the stupas of Borobudur, a sprawling ancient Buddhist temple on Java. The 126-passenger ship feels and functions like an oversize yacht, with chefs happy to re-create your favorite dish, spacious rooms (all with ocean views), and lectures by distinguished naturalists.
THE DETAILS Fourteen-day Exploring the Mysteries of the Java Sea cruise departs October 15; 800/456-8100; www.intrav.com; from $6,560 per person, double.
Antarctica by Icebreaker
THE SHIP Kapitan Khlebnikov, run by Quark Expeditions
THE ITINERARY Carrying just 108 passengers, this upscale icebreaker’s double hull crunches through the floes to reach mostly uncharted waters of the Antarctic Sound. One day, it crosses the Drake Passage, passing the island where Ernest Shackleton’s crew set up camp; on another, passengers travel by Zodiac to land on the earth’s southernmost continent. Between swimming in the indoor pool and attending workshops with artists, guests learn about Emperor penguin biology in preparation for the cruise’s highlight: a walk through the Snow Hill Rookery, a colony of 4,000 penguins discovered by the Khlebnikov’s crew in 2004. Still not enough to brag about?Sign up for a predeparture tour of Patagonia’s Tierra del Fuego National Park with its impressive glaciers, followed by a traditional Argentinian asado.
THE DETAILS Fourteen-day cruises depart from Ushuaia, Argentina, on November 6 and November 18; www.quarkexpeditions.com; 203/656-0499; from $14,595 per person, double.
Papua New Guinea
THE SHIP Orion, operated by Tauck World Discovery
THE ITINERARY Marble bathrooms, Escada amenities, and flat-screen TV’s probably don’t come to mind when you picture a cruise through the Trobriand Islands and Papua New Guinea, which helps explain part of this cruise’s appeal. The remarkable cultures you’ll encounter, however, may make you rethink all those luxuries. Embarking from Cairns, Australia, you’ll sail up to Papua New Guinea, where you’ll stop in at Deboyne Lagoon to snorkel past a World War II-era Japanese Zero plane preserved just below the sapphire surface. On Kitava Island, you can snack on yams with aboriginal tribespeople, travel by outrigger canoe through the fjords of Cape Nelson, and then sail to Watam Village, which had never been visited by a ship until this year. A performance by fire dancers brings the whole journey to a dramatic finale.
THE DETAILS The 15-day voyage departs October 9; 888/237-0229; www.tauck.com; from $8,490 per person, double.