Going on a cruise can be relaxing, but it’s even better when you sign up for shore excursions. Whenever people book cruises, they’re offered a wide variety of adventures, from guided museum tours to helicopter trips up Alaskan mountaintops. Choosing from the long lists can be overwhelming, so what are the best cruise excursions that top everyone’s lists these days?
Types of Shore Excursions
Cruise ships can be compared to traveling boat hotels and stop in ports where guests can disembark and see the sights for a few hours or entire days. According to The Points Guy, mini-trips usually highlight the cultures of the destinations being visited and can be within walking distance or farther. Buses and other transportation can whisk travelers to nearby cities and landmarks, where they can go biking, hiking, fishing, or kayaking; again, the choices could be endless. It’s important to know that you can purchase tours and trips from cruise operators and third-party tour sellers.
When you’re searching through the cruise line’s excursions menu, the trips are grouped into searchable categories. They’ll also show the pricing, times, and activity levels. Some people prefer to go all out and go scuba diving, while others might prefer a cooking class at a local gourmet restaurant. The best way to start the decision-making process is to have everyone in your group look through the offerings and narrow things down.
Some excursions are best suited for families and accommodate kids, and others are designed for guests with disabilities and mobility issues; there is usually something for everyone. The most popular ones sell out fast, though, so be sure to book well in advance, so you won’t be disappointed.
Best Group Excursions
Cruise lines often group excursions, which can save travelers a lot of money. Shore Excursions Group shows one offered by Holland America: the Three Port Best of Alaska Value Package, priced at $167 per person. This package includes a Juneau City, Mendenhall Glacier, Saxman Village, and Ketchikan city tour, along with stops in Skagway City and White Pass Summit. These activities are split into three days, with two stops on each.
Carnival Cruise Lines has some fantastic Caribbean excursions that combine a variety of experiences in single-day visits. One is their Great Grand Turk Trio, which takes passengers to a private white-sand beach and on a high-tech catamaran for some snorkeling. Their St. Kitts high-energy “Soar Through the Air” excursion takes guests zip-lining through a rainforest, 25 stores high over forest floors. If you’re looking for something else extreme, they offer a stop in the Dominican Republic where you can hike up steep and rocky terrain to see the Waterfalls of Damajagua.
Hawaii’s Best Cruise Excursions
If you’re planning a trip to Hawaii, Cruise Critic lists some of the most interesting and exciting places to visit when you disembark. On Oahu, they recommend going to Pearl Harbor to see the USS Arizona Memorial and the USS Missouri. This stop is a must for people interested in WWII history. Maui’s Haleakala Volcano is a magnificent excursion, too: it’s the highest point on this island, soaring 10,023 feet above sea level. Don’t miss the Road to Hana; you can rent a car and drive this scenic route to the Seven Pools.
European river cruises have become very popular these past years, and some of the excursions are often included on these trips. They’re generally more educational and culture-oriented than ocean cruises, with bus trips and a good amount of walking. English-speaking tour guides lead smaller groups of around 30 people, which allows culturally immersive experiences. Depending on the river cruise line, there may be more options to choose from that cost more, but these can be more personalized and higher end. You might be able to do a pub crawl in Germany or see a concert in Switzerland, for example.
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