There was a time not so long ago when a cruise ship shore excursion involved little more than piling on to a bus for a spot of sightseeing. In recent years, however, the cruise experience has extended 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 different ways to enjoy a port of call, some of which can be described as ‘unusual’. Here are a few ideas to whet the appetite.
Bobsledding in Jamaica
This eco-friendly shore excursion at Mystic Mountain is offered from the port of Ocho Rios and is something of a celebration of the country's bobsled teams of the Winter Olympics in the 1980s 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 get up-close-and-personal with sharks, turtles, dolphins, humpback whales and any other marine life that happens to be passing.
Dog sledding in Juneau
This quintessential Alaskan experience begins with 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.
Riding a Harley in Ketchikan
When it comes to cruising on land, 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 and lore 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 43 metres above the city streets; you will be wearing safety gear and will have to comply with some rules and regulations.
Visiting Dracula's castle in Transylvania
This is one of the 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
It’s famous for its lush tropical rainforest and one way to enjoy it with a bird’s eye view is 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 76 metres 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, at times reaching speeds of up to 50 kilometres an hour. There’s a cushion of air between you and the ground for safety, and for added fun, you can add a bucket of water to the inside of the ball.
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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