This Cruise Line Offers Unique Access to UNESCO Sites

A partnership with the United Nations organization means that sailings feature behind-the-scenes insights and shore excursions to more than 170 World Heritage locations worldwide.

This Cruise Line Offers Unique Access to UNESCO Sites

Seabourn sails to dozens of UNESCO sites, including the Tabbataha Reef and Puerto Princesa Subterranean River on the Philippines’ Palawan island.

Photo by R. M. Nunes/Shutterstock

The best way to visit numerous UNESCO World Heritage sites and gain insider access and insights to them may be from the comfort of a luxurious cruise ship.

High-end cruise line Seabourn recently extended its partnership with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), a union that offers guests on Seabourn’s luxe sailings the opportunity to not only visit dozens of UNESCO sites but also often get exclusive admission or expert commentary about them.

Seabourn’s roster of World Heritage visits includes some 250 shore excursions to more than 170 UNESCO designated sites around the world. Those include its Seabourn Discovery Tours, shore excursions that offer special access to World Heritage sites or to aspects of them. There is an additional charge to book these tours, and the fee includes a small donation to UNESCO’s World Heritage Fund. Guests can also opt for the Seabourn World Heritage Tours, which are more standard shore excursions to UNESCO sites for which there is also an added charge that includes a donation to the organization’s fund.

So, what kind of exclusive access to these historical places do Seabourn passengers get? At the megalithic temples of Malta, for example, passengers are greeted by the curator of Malta’s National Museum of Archaeology in Valletta, who escorts them on a visit of the temple site as well as of the National Museum of Archaeology. This excursion is available on several Seabourn cruises, including the 34-day Empires of Antiquity from Dubai to Barcelona.

Since the partnership was first forged in 2014 (it will now go through 2024), Seabourn and its passengers have contributed more than $1 million in funding to UNESCO, helping to support the organization and its mission to preserve culturally significant locations. As part of the extended partnership, the cruise line hopes to help foster wider support for UNESCO sites and the importance of safeguarding them.

“Preservation of World Heritage sites is something every traveler can do,” Brian Badura, director of global strategic initiatives for Seabourn, told AFAR in a statement. “Leave something behind, as it were, by making purchases at shops, restaurants, and local businesses in the designated site. Those purchases, along with charitable contributions, make a difference financially to help the destinations manage and maintain the site for future travelers who choose to visit.”

Badura noted that it is important that travel companies such as Seabourn find ways to responsibly bring visitors to UNESCO sites.

“Choosing to visit during off-peak hours or during shoulder or off-season helps spread out the number of visitors over time,” he added.

The cruise line also hosts speakers onboard that have in-depth knowledge of World Heritage sites and their cultural, historical, and environmental significance.

As for which Seabourn sailing UNESCO World Heritage enthusiasts should pick—there are numerous options, according to the cruise line. But for those who want to hit the greatest number of sites, the line recommends sailing in areas where there is a heavy concentration of UNESCO designated sites, particularly cruises in Europe (such as the 29-day Iceland, British Isles & Iberian Gems cruise) and Asia (such as the 38-day Asian Arc & Australia sailing).

While Seabourn’s UNESCO pact certainly makes it an attractive cruise choice for fans of the World Heritage sites, it is definitely not the only around-the-world cruise option for devotees. Last year, Regent Seven Seas Cruises unveiled the details of its 2021 World Cruise, a 117-night voyage that includes visits to 56 UNESCO World Heritage sites.

>> Next: UNESCO Adds 29 New World Heritage Sites to Its List of Landmarks

Michelle Baran is a deputy editor at AFAR where she oversees breaking news, travel intel, airline, cruise, and consumer travel news. Baran joined AFAR in August 2018 after an 11-year run as a senior editor and reporter at leading travel industry newspaper Travel Weekly.
From Our Partners
Sign up for our newsletter
Join more than a million of the world’s best travelers. Subscribe to the Daily Wander newsletter.
More From AFAR