There was a time not so long ago when a shore excursion involved little more than piling into a bus for a spot of sightseeing. In recent years that has all changed, however, with the cruise experience extending beyond new ships and alternative dining venues, to include more alluring ways to explore ashore.
Whether you’re cruising Antarctica, or exploring some of the great port cities of Europe, cruising offers travellers a variety of different ways to enjoy a port of call, some of which can be described as truly one of a kind. Here are a few ideas to whet your appetite.
Bobsledding in Jamaica
Yes, like the movie. This eco-friendly shore excursion at Mystic Mountain is offered from the port of Ocho Rios and is a celebration of the country's bobsled teams of the Winter Olympics in the 80s and 90s. It features a high-octane bobsled ride through the tropical forest, a chairlift ride and a zip-line canopy ride.
Cage diving in Oahu
On the beautiful North Shore of the island of Oahu, Hawaii, you can enjoy an adrenaline rush with a difference. It involves climbing into a secure cage with an expert and being lowered into the water to be up-close-and-personal with sharks, turtles, dolphins, humpback whales and any other marine life that happens to be passing. Not for the faint-hearted!
Dog sledding in Juneau
The quintessential Alaskan experience begins with it a heart-stopping helicopter flight to a glacier, where you meet a pack of huskies that really want to race. After a brief orientation from professional mushers, it's time for an action-packed sled ride through the ice and snow.
Ghost tour in Port Arthur
This is one of the creepiest tours you can do if your ship remains at anchor overnight. It’s a lantern-lit tour of one of the world’s largest and best-preserved 19th-century penal colonies; there are no special effects, but plenty of chilling stories to be heard, coupled with an extremely spooky setting. Probably not the best choice for nightmare-prone travellers.
Riding a Harley in Ketchikan
For those who like to live life in the fast lane, there’s no better way than on the back of a classic Harley Davidson. On this tour you’re accompanied by a guide who’ll share stories of legends at scenic spots. In between riding, you’ll also get to spot bald eagles, meet native carvers and explore the dramatic Tongass National Forest.
Rooftop hiking in Stockholm
This is not for anyone with mobility issues, or who is afraid of heights, but it offers a very different way to view a spectacular capital city. Experts guide the tour and it takes place 43m above the city streets. Yes, you will be wearing safety gear and will have to comply with some rules and regulations, but it’s perfect for anyone who’s ever wanted a bird’s eye view.
Visiting Dracula's castle in Transylvania
One of the main highlights of some European river cruises, Bran Castle was the home of ‘Vlad the Impaler’ in the mid 1400s, when he ruled the area with a reign of terror and was the inspiration for the mythical character ‘Dracula’. The castle itself is beautifully preserved and a national monument.
Zip-lining in Belize
Famous for its lush tropical rainforest, Belize can be enjoyed from above on a zip-line excursion. Once you’re geared up with safety equipment, you’ll start riding from platform to platform. The longest ride is over 76m, through terrain that is home to a variety of birds and howler monkeys.
Zorbing in Port Vila
This involves climbing into a large transparent inflated ball, which is housed inside another large inflated ball, and rolling down a hill, reaching speeds of up to 50km an hour. There’s a cushion of air between you and the ground for safety, and for some added fun, you can add a bucket of water to the inside of the ball. Let the good times roll!
To find out more about cruising or to find the cruise of your dreams within your budget, visit CruiseGuide.com.au.
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