The grandest tours at sea

From helicopter trips and exclusive-access city tours to wilderness experiences, when money is no object there’s a wealth of exciting options to explore.

Azamara Club Cruises
Venice, Italy
A twilight ride on a private gondola offers an unparalleled view of the bridges and palazzos of this magnificent city, which is best seen on a spring or autumn evening; summer days are too hot and crowded.

Compagnie du Ponant
Kamchatka, Russia
Take to the skies of the wild East Russian peninsula for a bird’s eye view of the Valley of the Geysers. Your helicopter takes you to the heart of the valley to walk among the hot springs, and then to the Uzon volcano caldera, where you might spot bears and reindeer.

Crystal Cruises
Bora Bora, Tahiti
Strolling about on the ocean floor is certainly an unusual way of exploring intricate coral reefs and viewing colourful tropical fish at close quarters. Guests are outfitted with specially designed diving helmets that have enough oxygen for a half-hour submersion. Fantastic for non-divers, non-snorkellers and even non-swimmers.

Crystal Cruises
Durban, South Africa
Hop off the ship for three nights and spot the Big Five (elephant, lion, rhino, leopard and buffalo) at the Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve in the Kruger National Park. Accommodation in the award-winning, ultra-luxe Earth Lodge includes your own plunge pool; the Amani Spa offers indulgent post-safari treatments.

Oceania Cruises
Copenhagen, Denmark
Take a tour for two with a private car, driver and English-speaking guide. Perhaps lunch at Noma is on your to-do list? You could take in the city sights – the Tivoli Gardens, Christiansborg Castle, Amalienborg Palace, say – or explore further afield.

Paul Gauguin Cruises
Marenco, Costa Rica
Explore the beaches, rivers, waterfalls and tropical rainforest of the Osa Peninsula on horseback. The half-day tour of this peaceful wilderness is led by a naturalist guide; novice riders can proceed at a gentle walking pace and if you want to take off at a gallop, 
you can do that too.

Princess Cruises
Alaska, USA
A spectacular helicopter flight from Skagway takes you to the dog camp on Denver Glacier, where local experts will introduce you to “mushing”, or dog-sledding. You can drive the team or sit back in the sled and take in breathtaking views. The only downside is not being able to smuggle an adorable husky puppy home.

Regent Seven Seas Cruises
Vatican City, Italy
It’s not quite a one-on-one with the Pope, but this tour offers extraordinary access to exclusive areas of Vatican City that are off limits to the hoi polloi. You will visit the Pope’s private place of worship, the Niccoline Chapel, and see the Papal Treasures, a priceless collection of art, jewels and vestments.

St Petersburg, Russia
Relive the luxury of the 18th-century Imperial Russian Court during a private evening visit to the opulent Catherine Palace at Pushkin, not usually accessible to the public after hours. Highlights include a welcome by the Royal Guards, a tour of the world-famous Amber Room, and champagne in the Throne Room.

Silversea Cruises
Cote d’Azur, France
Your chauffeur awaits – in a vintage car. He (or she) will drive you around the stunning Cote d’Azur between Monaco and Cannes, where you can choose to see the famous sights or motor along one of the breathtaking corniche roads. Cars include a 1956 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud, 1966 Ford Mustang, and more.