12 cruises you'll love even if you hate the beach

Matt Cardy/Getty ImagesCruise vacations don’t have to revolve around tropical islands.

If the idea of travelling by boat is romantic or adventurous to you, but you’re not really jazzed by the prospect of laying on sandy beach after sandy beach, you’re in luck. A lot of cruise lines offer trips to destinations with a variety of weather conditions and experiences.

If you’re craving a cruise with a fun twist, here are 12 unique commercial cruises to consider booking for your next trip.

If you prefer snow-capped mountains to white sandy beaches, you can cruise around Alaska.

Many popular cruise lines, like Royal Caribbean and Carnival, offer tours of the northernmost state. A cruise around Alaska’s ports-of-call is excellent for nature lovers looking to see spectacular arctic views up close.

See the stunning glaciers and mountains that make up the natural landscape. On excursions, you may be able to partake in some whale watching or even dog sledding.

Cruising the Nile is a luxurious way to experience the wonders of the ancient world.

Wikimedia CommonsIt’s a unique choice for ancient history buffs.

If you want to ancient structures firsthand, but still want your trip to the desert to feel like a vacation, a cruise along the Nile might be right for you.

Sanctuary Retreats and Memphis Tours are two of multiple companies that offer an array of Nile cruises, taking you to see the natural and historic beauty of Egypt while keeping you well-fed and relaxed in between excursions.

Experience Russian art and culture by the nation’s waterways.

Quiltsalad via flickr Creative CommonsThe Volga River is an exciting way to travel.

Viking River Cruises and Disney Cruise Line are among the travel companies who stop in Russia, bringing visitors down Russia’s Volga River and its other scenic lakes.

If you’re more of an arts and culture traveller, happier in a museum than touring landscapes and monuments, one of these Russian riverboat cruises is a great way to fit lots of cultural experiences, like a visit to the ballet or the Hermitage Museum in St.Petersburg, into your luxurious getaway.

Sail through China along the Yangtze River.

ArtWell/ShutterstockYou can explore historical sights while you’re in the area.

A cruise along the Yangtze River is a great way to visit sites of great historical importance and natural majesty, like the Three Gorges. You can also explore fast-paced areas, like Shanghai.

Victoria Cruises is one of the tour operators bringing tourists along the river.

If you want to be in the tropics, but aren’t satisfied with sunbathing, tour Cuba.

Hang Dinh/ShutterstockThere’s plenty to see and do.

A popular tourist destination, many popular cruise lines have Cuba itineraries.

Unlike some other sunny travel destinations, Cuba has an emphasis on culture – with so much music, food, history, and sights to experience in Havana and Santiago, you might not find time to lay out in a beach chair.

Many cruise lines, including Norwegian and Royal Caribbean, offer cruises to Cuba.

A trip through the Panama Canal is another way to experience nature and history.

Getty/Joe ReadieYou can experience stunning views.

There’s plenty for nature lovers and history buffs to do in the tropics. Traverse the man-made wonder and stop in ports like Cartagena, Colombia, Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala, and Cabo San Lucas.

From national parks to UNESCO World Heritage Sites, there’s plenty of adventuring to be done when you’re not sipping Mai Tais.

Cruise lines such as Viking and Princess can take you through these exciting parts of Central America.

See the quaint villages of Europe – in style.

Flickr / Michael RastetterOn some trips, Cologne, Germany is one of the stops.

If you’ve always wanted to go on a trip to Europe, you might consider shelling out for a cruise along the Rhine.

Tour castles and cathedrals, stopping in a number of towns that seem to be frozen in time, from Strasbourg, France, to Cologne, Germany.

Ama Waterways and Avalon Waterways are two of the cruise operators that offer trips starting in Basel, Switzerland, and ending in Amsterdam.

Wine lovers will enjoy seeing the Bordeaux region of France by boat.

Nellmac / iStockBordeaux is famous for its wine.

Sailing along the Dordogne and Garonne, you can get a taste of the art and history contained in the city of Bordeaux – as well as the wine – and surrounding towns.

Cruises operated by companies such as Uniworld and Viking will take you through medieval fortresses and castles, as well as behind the scenes of the production of some of the world’s finest wine.

Grab your knitwear and tour the UK and Ireland by sea.

shutterupeire/ShutterstockOn some, you might even get to see the Cliffs of Moher.

If you want to see a lot of the UK and Ireland in relatively little time, there are cruises that will take you from Southampton to Cork.

Longer trips with Norwegian Cruise Lines will dock in Belfast, Glasgow, Dublin, and many more ports, but even a shorter trip will give you plenty of time to see the castles, and prehistoric ruins of the northern region.

See the frozen splendor of the arctic without sacrificing comfort.

If adventure travel appeals to you, but roughing it in the cold doesn’t, you might consider a cruise that lets you tour the fjords, mountains, and glaciers of Northern Europe by sea.

Cruise Norway and Celebrity Cruises are among the cruise operators that will take you through Norway’s quaint, rural villages and breathtaking scenery – with the benefit of a warm bed back on the ship.

If you can’t pick just one Mediterranean destination, you can tour several of them by water.

Pfeiffer/ShutterstockYou may even get to explore the Amalfi Cost.

Make your European vacation a truly luxurious one by exploring historical must-see sites.

Royal Caribbean can take you through beautiful Croatia and Italy, starting in Venice to see how Murano glass is made and stopping to see the gorgeous medieval structures of Kotor, Montenegro, and Zadar, Croatia.Princess Cruises offers trips starting in Rome and docking in Dubrovnik, Sicily, and Barcelona.

See the Northeast from a new perspective.

Chiyacat/ShutterstockCarnival is one of the cruise lines that offers cruises around New England and Canada.

Whether you’re a lifelong East Coaster who wants a new view of Canada and New England, or you want to see as much of the area as possible in one trip,Norwegian and Carnival are just two of the cruise lines that will take you there.

See the historical towns and quietly beautiful scenery that make up the Northeast, visiting Boston, Halifax, Saint John, and more.

Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more.

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.