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GardenSMART :: Volcanoes, Fjords and Waterfalls - Discover the Natural Wonders of the World on a Cruise

Volcanoes, Fjords and Waterfalls - Discover the Natural Wonders of the World on a Cruise

By Holland America Line
Photographs courtesy of Holland America Line

The world is full of breathtaking natural wonders, from imposing glaciers to magical waterfalls. Some are best experienced from the deck of a cruise ship, while others can be explored on a memorable shore excursion. Here are five amazing tours that showcase beautiful and camera-worthy natural phenomenon around the globe.

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Volcanoes: Hawaii

The Hawaiian Islands have long been America's tropical playground. Boasting stunning beaches, lush mountains and soaring waterfalls, it's no wonder travelers often associate Hawaii with the ultimate paradise. However, of all the natural wonders the island chain offers, perhaps the most legendary are its grand volcanoes.

A cruise to Hawaii provides plenty of opportunities to explore these ancient wonders, but our personal favorite is the Big Island Grand Fire & Falls By Helicopter tour. Soar over the craters, lava flows and volcanic fire of Kilauea Volcano — one of the most active volcanoes in the world. Following your volcano flyover, you'll head north and fly over Hilo where you'll enjoy sweeping views of the Big Island's tropical rain forests, valleys and waterfalls. After landing back in Hilo, you'll meet a Park Ranger who will reveal the highlights of Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park and teach you about the active volcanic craters, sulfur banks, and steam vents. Finally, enjoy a taste of Hawaii with a delicious barbecue lunch at the Volcano Winery with a wine and tea tasting!

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Waterfalls: Argentina

Look at a map of South America, and its cultural and environmental diversity begin to make sense. This is a continent that stretches from north of the equator to some 800 kilometers (500 miles) shy of Antarctica. Here you'll find the rain forests of the Amazon, the towering Andes, the Atacama Desert and the glaciers of Patagonia.

Buenos Aires however, holds the key to an awe-inspiring natural wonder — Iguazu Falls. Located at the border of Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay, these falls are one of nature's most impressive achievements, and you can experience them for yourself on our Iguazu Falls: A Natural Wonder Of The World excursion.

Your adventure begins when you board a flight to the Argentine side of Iguazu Falls. Comprised of a spectacular display of 250 giant cascades twice the height of Niagara Falls, Iguazu plunges over hard granite to a gorge 260 feet below. Nature's incredible power is revealed in the thunderous roar of crashing water, and in the magic of the rainbow-colored mist that rises from the cliffs. You will ride the train to Devil's Throat and take a guided walk covering approximately one mile to view the falls. Time permitting; you'll take in another spectacular falls panoramic view from the famous Upper Circuit Trail.

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Fjords: Norway

Home to storybook villages, picturesque waterfalls and beautiful glaciers, Norway seems like something out of a dream, especially when traveling deep into the heart of its majestic fjords.

Geirangerfjord — a UNESCO World Heritage Site — is one of nature's masterpieces. Its claim to be 'the world's most beautiful fjord' is no exaggeration, and it is amid this dramatic mountain magic that you'll experience some spectacular sea kayaking — no prior kayaking experience required!

Embark on our Kayak On Geirangerfjord tour where an activity guide will meet you and accompany you to the base camp. Gear up and paddle along the steep fjord walls to admire the reflection of the cliffs in the waters below. The Seven Sisters and other cascading waterfalls are truly magnificent and kayaking is one of the best ways to experience them.

Rain Forests: Costa Rica

You're never far from an outdoor adventure in Costa Rica, and on our Panama Canal cruises travelers have the opportunity to visit the country's second largest city — Puerto Limon. This coastal town is the perfect base from which to explore an attraction- and activity-rich region. From zip lining among soaring trees to whitewater rafting in the rushing rivers, there are plenty of opportunities to pack in an adrenaline rush, however our personal favorite is our Rain Forest Aerial Tram tour.

If walking through a rain forest seems exciting, then brace yourself for the experience of traveling on top of it in the central mountains of Costa Rica. This unique eco-tourism sightseeing adventure takes visitors on a 70-minute excursion through the canopy of the rain forest. Home to two-thirds of all rain forest species, the rain forest canopy is a little-known world of tremendous beauty and extraordinary biological diversity.

The tramway runs through a private reserve that borders Braulio Carrillo National Park. This contributes to the protection of one of the richest canopy communities in the world. The lower, outbound leg of the tram ride will skim over hilltops and introduce you to the sub-canopy — a dark world of overburdened limbs dripping with mosses, ferns and orchids. The return leg reveals an even more dramatic portion of the trip as the cars glide on a journey through and above the canopy. Before returning to the pier you will enjoy a tasty Costa Rican lunch.

Glaciers: Antarctica

Offering unrivaled scenery, fascinating wildlife and countless viewing adventures among its rugged glaciers, it's no surprise Antarctica is at the top of most travelers' bucket lists.

During the scenic cruising, the ship sails through the bays and islands of the Palmer Archipelago, off the northern tip of the long Antarctic Peninsula, which reaches out toward South America. Encircled in a landscape of snow and ice in every direction, the ship will slowly navigate the iceberg-dotted waters. Along the way, the ship's naturalists will point out the birds found on the coast and on small islets at stops like Dallmann Bay. As you pass dark, rocky Cuverville Island, you'll see some of the 6,500 pairs of gentoo penguins that make their home there, the largest known colony in the world.

From Hawaii to Antarctica, Holland America Line's vast selection of itineraries make it easy for cruisers to access the world's most precious natural wonders. Which ones are on your bucket list?


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