Image: Islands off Chile, near Antarctica
Courtesy Norwegian Coastal World
The Fram departs from Reykjavik, Iceland, on a 67-day journey that spans 44 ports (Britain’s Isle of Man, France’s Sainte-Pierre and Miquelon, and Columbia’s Isla de San Andrés, for starters), 17 countries and more than 132 degrees of latitude en route to Tierra del Ruego
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updated 8/31/2007 6:49:17 PM ET 2007-08-31T22:49:17
The best island cruises, part 5

Heed the call to tarmac-less lands where undisturbed wildlife, intact indigenous cultures and virgin landscapes make you feel like Thor Heyerdahl (with a safety net).

Four cruises we like

Norwegian Coastal Voyages’Arctic to Antarctica
The Fram departs from Reykjavik, Iceland, on a 67-day journey that spans 44 ports (Britain’s Isle of Man, France’s Sainte-Pierre and Miquelon, and Columbia’s Isla de San Andrés, for starters), 17 countries and more than 132 degrees of latitude en route to Tierra del Ruego. Departures: Sept. 18, 2007 and Sept. 23, 2008. From $10,999; hurtigruten.us

Lindblad Expeditions’ Galapagos
Join a 10-day cruise on Polaris with Lindblad Expeditions, a company at the forefront of conservation in the Galapagos Islands. This eco-adventure is enriched by a visit to the Charles Darwin Research Center, onboard geologists and ornithologists and a collection of gadgets, including a hydrophone (for listening to singing whales) and an underwater camera that transmits video to the ship. Departures year-round from Guayaquil, Ecuador; special photo expeditions are also available. From $4,150; expeditions.com

Heritage Expeditions’ Western Pacific Odyssey
Ornithologists and amateur birders alike will flock to this 33-day expedition from New Zealand to Japan for once-in-a-lifetime glimpses of rare Rennell shrikebills or majestic Solomon sea eagles (among other endemic species) at remote Pacific atolls. Departs April 2, 2008, from Auckland. From $6,385; heritage-expeditions.com

Orion Expedition Cruises’ Melanesia and Solomon Islands
Spend 17 days onboard Orion exploring brilliant Coral Sea reefs, World War II bunkers and rich indigenous cultures that define these two archipelagoes between New Zealand and Papua New Guinea. Multilingual guides lead Zodiac-based expeditions to islands such as Santa Ana in the Solomon Islands, as yet untouched by tourism. Departs Feb. 28, 2008, from Auckland. From $9,667; orioncruises.com.au

Ports not to miss

Northern Mariana Islands (Heritage)
Observe rare birds, such as the Micronesian megapode, a species known to use warm sand to incubate its eggs. Heritage has special permission to visit these islands about 500 miles north of Guam.

Utupua, Solomon Islands (Orion)
Be dazzled by its turquoise lagoon and multi-peaked volcanic landscape that earn Utupua the name, “small Bora-Bora.”

Isla de San Andrés, Columbia (Norwegian)
Immerse yourself in this island’s pirating history. Henry Morgan’s loot may still be hidden deep within a cave. Arrr!

Ile des Pins, New Caledonia (Orion)
Visit the home of Kunie tribes, which still have a high chief. Plus, the water is worth splashing into — Oro Bay is a natural swimming pool.

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Once-in-a-lifetime excursions

Isla Floreana, Galapagos Islands (Lindblad)
Snorkel in the Galapagos with not-so-shy sea lions. Sink your toes into the olivine crystals that give Floreana’s beaches a green hue, or leave a piece of mail (sans postage) at Post Office Bay, where tradition obligates visitors to leaf through the mail and deliver letters to addresses in their future ports of call.

Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu (Orion)
Plunge into an underwater 1940s junkyard filled with Jeeps, crates of rifles and thousands of Coke bottles at Million Dollar Point, where departing American troops ditched their World War II gear. Definitely dive the world’s largest intact sunken troopship from that era, the President Coolidge.

A day on Fram

  • Browse the onboard library’s extensive collection of books on the polar regions. Any of them would be a perfect companion topside as you soak in a hot tub while icebergs choke the horizon.
  • Dine in the panoramic lounge and restaurant.
  • Get front-row seats to the polar world from the observation terrace or glass-enclosed bridge.

Each issue of ISLANDS Magazineexplores the most beautiful island destinations in the world, from tropical island outposts to the sophisticated gems of the Mediterranean. Our top-rate photographers and writers discover the quiet beaches, boutique hotels, and unique cultural experiences that make island travel unique.

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