The best adventure cruises

 The best adventure cruises for 2016

Cruceros Australis cruises

Chilean company Cruceros Australis runs regular cruises on its luxuriously appointed vessels between the cities of Punta Arenas – in Chile’s southernmost Magallanes region – and the Argentine port of Ushuaia, taking in Cape Horn en route.

Why go? A cruise is the only way to open up the windswept, isolated archipelago of Tierra del Fuego – which the two countries share – with its impressive mountaintop and waterside glaciers, sub-Antarctic forests and densely wooded labyrinth of narrow channels.

What’s new? This is a big year for the tiny island at the end of the world: January 29 marks the 400th anniversary of the discovery of Cape Horn by Dutch navigators Jacob Le Maire and Willem Schouten. The company is also offering whale-watching cruises this season.

  • Australis offers a four-night Whale Watching cruise from Punta Arenas to Ushuaia, departing March 14, 2016. From £3,097pp excluding flights (00 34 93 497 0584; australis.com).

The Falkland Islands

As evocative as Patagonia, as quirky as Gibraltar, as teeming with wildlife as Antarctica, the Falkland Islands are a too-often-ignored wonder off South America. A short flight from Chile takes you to another world, and the opportunity to join a new cruise from Stanley.

Why go? The Falklands is brilliant for wildlife watching, with significant colonies of five penguin species, as well as elephant seals, dolphins, whales and albatrosses. Its human settlement is also fascinating, and a longer stay allows visitors to see the 1982 battlefields.

What’s new? Many cruises make brief stops at the islands, but One Ocean Expeditions (oneoceanexpeditions.com) has a voyage on the ice-strengthened Akademik Sergey Vavilov that starts and finishes in Stanley. It offers an in-depth look at South Georgia, spending eight days there before returning to Stanley via the Falklands’ Sea Lion Island.

  • One Ocean Expeditions offers a 14-night round trip from Stanley, departing January 30, 2016. From £8,336pp including return flights to Stanley from Punta Arenas. Book with South America specialist Last Frontiers (01296 653000; lastfrontiers.com).

The Magellan cruise

Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan is all over Cruise & Maritime Voyages’ new itinerary. Not only is his name borne by the ship, Magellan, but the cruise also features Portuguese-speaking stopovers and former colonies of his home country.

Why go? A cruise taking in Madeira, the Azores, Cape Verde and the Amazon brings opportunities to experience some of the western hemisphere’s most stunning vegetation and wildlife.

What’s new? The January voyage, a round trip from London Tilbury, takes in the legendary Boi Bumba Festival in Parintins on the Amazon river as well as the former penal colony of Devil’s Island off the coast of French Guiana.

  • Cruise and Maritime Voyages offers a 39-night Amazon, West Indies and Azores round trip from Bristol Avonmouth, departing January 5, 2017. From £2,629pp (0844 998 3800; cruiseandmaritime.com).

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