If you read any destination guides before your cruise, you will note that they are mainly focused on an area’s historic or cultural sights, the most scenic and breath-taking parts and they often list the best places to try authentic cuisine or regional produce.
What they often tend to avoid covering are the more adventurous activities, the adrenaline-pumping excursions that are available on shore.
There is a common misconception that these kind of activities can be experienced anytime, anywhere, and don’t really help you experience what a destination is all about, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. These activities often show you more of a place than any other excursion usually from unique viewpoints that other passengers don’t see.
Here are some of the best excursions that will get your heart racing but still allow you to learn and appreciate the destination you are visiting;
See The Coast via Speed Boat – Helsinki, Finland
After docking in Helsinki you will get an immediate sense of the big city lifestyle that inhabits the area, the centre is quite Parisian in style – very spacious, green, and beautiful with high end designer stores and unlimited shopping opportunities. However, search a bit deeper, and you will find a few remnants of Finland before it became a major holiday destination in the Baltic.
At Helsinki’s market you can purchase all manner of fresh fruit and vegetables as well as more obscure things like reindeer meat, and even fur coats! The city market provides a great spectacle but you will see much more when exploring the Finnish archipelago and one of the best (and most exhilarating) ways to do this is via speed boat – travelling at up to 40 knots you will visit traditional village harbours, and see the classic buildings that have now become summer homes for Finland’s wealthiest residents. You will even view the Suomenlinna fortress – a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Zip Lining – Icy Strait Point, Alaska
Are you brave enough to tackle America’s longest zip line? At a mammoth 5,495 feet, Icy Strait Point’s ZipRider is the second largest zip line in the whole world, coming second only to Nepal’s ZipFlyer.
You will whizz down over the treetops, against a stunning mountainous backdrop, at a terrifying 65 miles per hour, but don’t keep your eyes closed, as there’s so much to see! At a height of 1320 feet, you’ll enjoy breath-taking views over Spasski Bay, Port Frederick, and the tiny town of Hoonah, which is considered to be one of Alaska’s many hidden gems. You’ll also catch a glimpse of your cruise ship and the Juneau-bound ferries passing by from a truly unique vantage point. Think Alaska is just snow-capped mountains, majestic fjords, and glaciers? Think again!
Quad Biking – Basseterre, St Kitts
The Caribbean offers the cruise ship passenger many varying excursion options but none can be more exciting than racing through some of the St Kitts most historic sites. This kind of excursion is a really great compromise between satisfying your sense of adventure and immersing yourself in a rich and vibrant culture. You will no doubt enjoy the thrill of quad biking, but your tour guides will also make sure you don’t miss out on seeing the sugarcane fields of St Kitts – once the most important aspect of the island in terms of economy. At its peak, St Kitts boasted no less than 68 sugar plantations, and was the Caribbean’s leading supplier of sugar to the British, Americans, and Dutch. Combine history, scenery, and adventure, what could be better?
Parasailing – Labadee, Haiti
Labadee is one of the most active spots in the Caribbean but, as many passengers will know, this part of the Caribbean is owned by Royal Caribbean, and some cruisers feel that they don’t get to experience the ‘real’ Haiti when visiting this port. The solution? Parasailing! From a height of 400 feet, you can experience the modern excitement of Royal Caribbean’s land, as well as enjoy the magnificent views across the quiet and serene Rival Beach and the contrasting busy, bustling city of Cap-Haïtien. Perhaps most impressively, you will have an unrivalled view of the peaks within the Cordillera Central mountain range, and you’ll also enjoy a relaxing and luxurious sail through the Caribbean’s crystal clear blue waters from your boat.
Bobsledding – Ochos Rios, Jamaica
Everyone knows the story of the Jamaican bobsled team – the lovable underdogs in the 1988 Winter Olympics – but what many people don’t realise is that you really can bobsled in this tropical destination! There may not be cold conditions, and there may not be snow, but that hasn’t stopped Ocho Rios from building their own bobsledding track right through the forest. You will start by taking a chairlift up to a height of 700 feet, travelling through the lush green forest where, if you keep your eyes open, you might spot a mongoose or two! This is a great chance to get ‘off the beaten track’ and see some of the Caribbean’s most spectacular wildlife that you wouldn’t see wandering around the port. The bobsled itself allows you to go as fast or as slow as you’re comfortable with, so this is one adrenaline-pumping excursion that’s suitable for almost everyone!
The Best of Both Worlds
When you’re planning how to spend your time on shore, remember that you don’t need to choose between cultural experiences and heart-racing experiences – you really can enjoy both at the same time! In fact, you can learn and see so much from the unique vantage points these excursions offer that you will be the fount of knowledge at the dining table in the evening!
Your dining companions will be wondering just how you learnt so much in a single day on shore!