Credit: Nour el Nil/Gota Canal/Aranui

9 of the weirdest cruises in the world from a Tahitian freight boat to an African canoe

Author: Steve Newman

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Cruise holidays offer much more than sailing around the Caribbean or a jaunt down the Danube; for something a little bit different, why not try out these weird and wonderful cruises?

Cruising is like eating in your local restaurant. We have our favourite dish or style of cooking with side plates or extras but every now and then we want to try something we’ve never had before. Something unusual as it were.

As with restaurants in the high street you don’t have to go that far to find it, but if you want a special dish or experience that you’ll remember for a long time then travelling a bit further is not a problem.

So here then are nine unusual cruises that you might like to think about. They're all on the menu and you can add extras, maybe even a dessert wine but do study them all closely to make sure they are exactly what you want.

There’s no point in thinking you’re getting Stilton when Cheddar turns up because you haven’t studied the cheeseboard properly!

Paper towels to Paradise

The Aranui 5 is not only one of the world’s most unusual cruises but it's also one of its most beautiful.

The “Freighter to Paradise” is a dual-purpose passenger and freighter ship that sails from Tahiti to the Marquesas, Tuamotu and Society Islands in French Polynesia on a 12-day all-inclusive cruise.

Designed to offer all of the comforts of a cruise liner, while operating as a supply ship. Aranui carries approximately 230 passengers in 103 cabins.

The staff and crew are islanders who introduce you to their centuries-old customs and dances during the voyage to these stunningly beautiful islands.

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Get Locked Up

The Douro may have the deepest locks in Europe but Sweden’s Gota canal has 58 that you pass through on this six-day cruise through stunningly beautiful landscapes.

Travel from Gothenburg to Stockholm (or in the reverse direction) with the added attraction of the ship being docked each night so you can explore those stops.

The cruise offers nine excursions and sightseeing opportunities. These include attractions such as Läckö Castle, Vadstena, the convent church of Vreta, Söderköping and Birka, the Viking City.

Onboard the 25 cabin ship overnight accommodation and full board with breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

- READ MORE: Which river cruise is best? -

Gluttony and Sloth

The upper reaches of the Amazon and its tributaries are something that gives major bragging rights.

Superb food, luxurious rive boats and almost being so close to monkeys and sloths in the narrow waterways of Peru are something you’ll never forget.

A seven-night Amazon Expedition Cruise on the Aqua Nera with its 20 spacious Design Suites lets you experience the most luxurious and complete Amazon journey among the two tributaries, Marañon and Ucayali.

This all-encompassing itinerary lets you discover the best that Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve has to offer, including its hidden lakes and lagoons, as well as amazing jungle trails.

The upper reaches of the Amazon and its tributaries are something that gives major bragging rights. Credit: Shutterstock

Going for a paddle

Why not take a seven-day cruise, which takes place onboard a unique paddlewheel ship?

The Elbe and Vltava rivers are a fascinating part of Europe and this cruise which operates from March to November is a round trip from Prague and features calls in Stechovice, Slapy and Melnik.

The cruise takes place onboard the 77-guest MS Elbe Princesse II, which uses modern paddlewheel technology and features a sleek and contemporary design.

If that’s not enough the cruise calls at some of Bohemia’s most amazing Hapsburg and Renaissance castles containing private artwork collections and offers a full day in Dresden.

- READ MORE: Best things to see and do in Hamburg on an Elbe cruise -

Done Trawling

Cruising in a converted fishing boat isn’t quite the norm but the Glen Mason is an extremely comfortable and almost luxurious and very unique way to see the islands and wildlife of the west coast of Scotland.

With only 11 guests in six double cabins, one being kept for single occupancy, you visit places such as Tobermory, Staffa, Jura and so many more remote islands and every night the boat anchors off a different stunning, secluded location for dinner.

The Glen Massan has an open bridge policy which means you can join the skipper and chat away about the scenery, and wildlife as you cruise gently along.

The Glen Mason is extremely comfortable and almost luxurious. Credit: Majestic Line

Gulags and Monks

The White Sea is one of the least visited parts of Russia. If you can get there on an expedition cruise even better!

This almost landlocked part of the Arctic Ocean is accessed by a narrow strait and offers an amazing mixture of modern-day Russian cities, wildlife and historic ports and landing on rarely visited and isolated villages on the shores.

The area also holds the little known but fascinating Solovetsky Islands, one of Northern western Russia’s most iconic sights.

These 100 islands with less than 1400 inhabitants hold the remains of the first gulags of the Soviet era and a thriving monastery.

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African Adventure

The Rhine and Danube are becoming the norm so if you want a bit of unusual how about a deep river cruise into the interior of West Africa along the 240-mile length of the Gambia River stopping at traditional fishing villages and colourful bustling market towns?

Slip into a dugout canoe to experience the river at an even closer level with its amazing birdlife and some of the friendliest people anywhere in the world.

If you’re worried about the boat, Harmony G is a mega yacht with just 21 cabins and total air-conditioned comfort and exceptionally spacious wide decks from which you can watch Africa sliding past.

How about a deep river cruise into the interior of West Africa? Credit: Seafarer Cruises

French Meanderings

In many ways, French company Backwaters Cruising is cruising turned on its head as the boat becomes the excursion for the day and you sleep in accommodation on land.

Despite this apparent confusion, they are a very popular cruising company with a lot going for them.

As the name implies they operate in the lesser-known areas of the French waterways network with a selection of themed cruises from gourmet food and wine tasting, to history and birdwatching cruises.

Often referred to as a floating lounge, Natalie carries 40 passengers and was specifically designed for the canals and rivers with an ecological hybrid engine.

- READ MORE: How to pick a river cruise cabin -

Pharaohs and cocktails

Sailing down the Nile in a replica of an Edwardian Luxury dahabiya is not only unusual but positively decadent.

Adelaïde is the pride of Nour El Nil’s fleet of six vessels offering 24 guests a choice of two Panoramic Suites and 10 Luxury Cabins. There are 15 crew members so you’re well looked after, to say the least.

All of the company’s boats offer top-notch luxury with places where you can mingle or stay private.

You can visit the great temples but also small markets, take a swim and walk through orchards to chat with the locals.

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