Expedition cruises are the premier way to travel somewhere exotic. With smaller ships that allow for greater exploration, don’t expect to lie around in the sun all day on an expedition cruise. Instead, be prepared to become immersed in a new culture, with hands-on learning experiences that explore the history, ecology and geology of a destination. Led by an expedition team, a typical day may include jetting toward unexplored islands on Zodiac boats or encountering wildlife in their natural habitat. If you’re ready for some adventure, here are five bucket list expedition cruises you should plan in your lifetime.

Antarctica

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When you explore Antarctica via an expedition cruise, you will feel like a real-life polar explorer. The partnership of Lindblad Expeditions and National Geographic takes adventurers as far south as one can go. The cruise line’s Journey to Antarctica: The White Continent offers expeditions during the Southern Hemisphere’s spring and summer months of November, December, January and February. Guests can expect to leave the boat at least twice a day for land and water excursions, such as kayak and Zodiac trips through the icebergs, ice hikes on the continent and watching penguins on Devil Island. Best of all, each passenger will receive daily instruction and tutelage from a National Geographic photographer — ensuring the best photos possible of the incredible polar landscape.

Galapagos Islands

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Whether you’re interested in science, geology or exotic wildlife, Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands is a dream destination. From on-shore hikes exploring fascinating geological formations to observing the unusual wildlife up close, the Galapagos Islands is a draw for anyone interested in the natural world. UnCruise Adventures offers an 8-day voyage, Darwin’s Discoveries — The Galapagos Islands, which explores the best of what the archipelago has to offer. From stopping at the Charles Darwin Research Center to glass bottom boat excursions, this expedition cruise covers all the bases. Exciting excursions include hiking the Darwin Crater to a saltwater lake and viewing giant tortoises, blue-footed boobies and finches in their natural habitats.

Iceland and Greenland

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Iceland seems to be on everyone’s bucket list these days and cruising into the country’s stunning fjords will make for a trip you will never forget. Norwegian cruise line Hurtigruten is offering a new expedition cruise to Iceland and Greenland, aboard a luxury ship partially fueled by liquefied biogas. This 17-day, summertime voyage is jam-packed with offshore adventures, including soaking in hot springs on an uninhabited island, horseback riding through the Icelandic countryside and visiting abandoned Norse settlements in Greenland. Plus, a personal boat tour of Unesco World Heritage site, the Ilulissat Icefjord, may be the highlight of the trip.

The Kimberley Coast

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Western Australia’s dramatic Kimberley Coast provides the perfect backdrop for adventure travel. On the 11-day Kimberley Coast - Darwin to Broome, Aurora Expedition offers unforgettable outings in one of the most rugged parts of Australia. From hiking to ancient aboriginal rock paintings on Bigge Island to viewing the horizontal waterfalls in Talbot Bay, the expedition’s itinerary is perfect for adventure-loving travelers. Plus, there’s plenty of water-based excursions, with hikes to freshwater swimming holes, Zodiac rides to King George Falls and snorkel trips to Montgomery Reef.

Indonesia

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Exploring Indonesia’s archipelago by ship is an ideal way to discover the culture and natural landscapes of this Asian nation. Even better, AdventureSmith Explorations is currently offering a special deal on an 8-day small ship cruise to the islands of Bali, Komodo and Flores. Known as Dances, Dragons & Magical Lakes, this trip gives guests the opportunity to explore Indonesia by land and sea, with hiking, kayaking and paddleboarding opportunities daily. Plus, two days spent at Komodo National Park provides a chance to witness Komodo dragons, wild buffaloes and monkeys ashore. From exploring volcanic islands and sunken crater lakes to snorkeling with manta rays, this expedition cruise is as exciting as they come.