Princess Cruises have compiled a list of 50 essential experiences that every traveller should add to their bucket list.
Here are the top spots across The Americas & Caribbean that made the list;
Christ the Redeemer, Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro is one of the most intriguing religious cities in the world and is deeply rooted in Catholicism since the Portuguese settlers made a home for themselves in this beautiful coastal destination. One of the first things you’ll see when you arrive into ‘Rio’ is the Christ the Redeemer Statue – it’s impossible to miss, standing at the summit of Corcovado Mountain, which itself is a whopping 700 metres tall. What many travellers don’t realise is that this monument, which has become a symbol of the city and one of the most recognised sculptures in the world, was very nearly never built! It was only after years and years of rejections, and the collection of charitable donations, that the erection was finally given the go-ahead!
Where you’ll dock: Within walking distance of the city, overlooking the stunning Guanabara Bay.
Amazon River, Brazil
Sailing down the Amazon, often called Solimões in Brazil, is a strange yet humbling experience that really has two sides. On the one hand, the river isn’t particularly picturesque – it’s very prone to flooding and as such it’s somewhat muddy and murky, but this experience is all about the journey itself. Travelling down the narrow waterways, the opportunities to visit tiny towns and villages along the route, such as Boca da Valeria, is not to be missed. This journey is also a unique opportunity to see rainforest-swelling animals and mammals that you simply couldn’t see anywhere else, such as anacondas, giant otters and even piranhas, so keep your hands inside the boat! Cruise ships sailing these itineraries are often quite small, so it’s a very intimate journey, a stark contrast to travelling on the large ships.
Where you’ll dock: Manaus – roughly 500 miles from the Atlantic coast.
Dog Mushing, Skagway, Alaska, USA
Dog mushing is considered to be Alaska’s state sport. Once used as a way to allow for large loads of goods to be transported over long distances of ice and snow, it is today a common leisure activity and particularly popular with tourists wanting to immerse themselves in Alaskan culture. Mushing takes place at a dedicated dog camp on Denver Glacier to prevent the dogs from being moved from place to place, so not only are you able to enjoy a traditional Alaskan activity, but it’s also a great opportunity to sightsee. Unfortunately, dog mushing does depend on the weather (safety first!), but don’t be disheartened if it’s raining. Skagway also has another amazing activity – the White Pass Railway – which will take you through some of the most breath taking scenery on the planet!
Where you’ll dock: Right in the heart of Skagway!
New York, New York, USA
The Big Apple, the city that never sleeps, call it what you will, there is arguably nowhere more energetic and exciting than New York City. Ranging from the tall skyscrapers of the Empire State Building and the Rockefeller Centre to the bright lights of Times Square and the somewhat unexpected peacefulness of Central Park, there is something for everyone here, and it’s impossible to get bored. However, while many travellers opt to sightsee in Manhattan, don’t overlook the other boroughs, some of which are becoming a tourist attraction in their own right. Brooklyn is one of the most up-and-coming areas of the United States, and has a very trendy, laid back atmosphere (it’s hard to find a bar that doesn’t serve craft beers!) that’s popular with younger travellers.
Where you’ll dock: Depending on your cruise line, you’ll either dock on the western side of Manhattan, or in Brooklyn. Both are very convenient for JFK and Newark if you’re on a flycruise.
The Hawaiian Islands, USA
Although there are 19 different Hawaiian islands, there are four that have become major tourist destinations – Hawaii (the Big Island), Oahu, Maui, and Kauai. Wherever your cruise ships docks, you just can’t go wrong. Picture perfect beaches, stunning weather, watersports galore, and all manner of colourful (and lethal!) cocktails. However, perhaps one of the most varied and versatile is the Big Island. Although this appeal to those looking to top up their tan, it also appeals to those with an interest in local produce (coffee and nut plantations can be found around the island), natural phenomena (Mauna Loa, which erupted as recently as 1984!), and breathtaking environments. At the top of Mauna Loa is an observatory, open to the public that is considered to be one of the best stargazing locations on earth.
Where you’ll dock: For the Big Island, Kailua Bay, on the western side of the island.
Bobsledding, Ocho Rios, Jamaica
Remember the film ‘Cool Runnings’, about a Jamaican bobsledding team who couldn’t have been more out of their depth, and yet strived for success at the Winter Olympics? Well, believe it or not, there really is a bobsledding facility in Ocho Rios – right in the middle of the forest! Despite there not being a speck of snow or ice in sight, there is a special track winding down Mystic Mountain that allows travellers to experience bobsledding of a truly different kind. There are so many wonderful excursions to enjoy in Ocho Rios, such as Dolphin Cove and Dunns River Falls, yet there’s something about the bobsledding experience that travellers simply can’t resist! There are amazing views from the track over Mallards Bay and Crab Key Beach which shouldn’t be missed.
Where you’ll dock: Reynold’s Pier (also known as the James Bond Pier!), within easy reach of the mountain and beaches.
Sailing across the Atlantic is one of the most romantic cruise journeys imaginable. The crossing is steeped in history and is reminiscent of the journeys British and Irish residents of all backgrounds made in order to seek out the ‘American Dream’. A transatlantic crossing is the perfect trip for those who really like to relax and unwind, with no demands on time, nowhere you need to be and nothing you need to do other than enjoy being pampered. You’ll spend around 6 days being completely isolated from the outside world and many travellers have reported that this seclusion really makes people come together as one, forming quite a unique bond. Ships designed for the transatlantic crossing, such as the Queen Mary 2, are often truly magnificent.
Where you’ll dock: Usually Southampton on eastbound sailings, and New York (either Manhattan or Brooklyn) on westbound sailings.
Machu Picchu, Peru
Hiking the trail to Machu Picchu is a popular bucket list activity for travel enthusiasts all around the world, and yet only a select few are ever lucky enough to make the journey. Taking four or five days of strenuous walking, the trail limits walkers to just 500 for every 7.5 miles of walkway in order to make the journey a more intimate experience, and to reduce footpath erosion. Those who make it to the mystical city, thought to have been built for Emperor Pachacuti in the 15th Century, are rewarded with unique views of the city’s ruins. The ruins have been resorted not only to ensure longevity, but to make the experience all the more breath-taking, and a real reward for the efforts of getting there.
Where you’ll dock: The nearest port to Cusco, the starting point of the trail, is around 30 minutes from Lima – Peru’s capital.
The going transatlantic, there’s a certain romance associated with sailing the Panama Canal and it’s a dream many only think about, rather than do. The passage seems so natural and beautiful that it’s very hard to imagine that construction took 33 years, and workers from two countries, to complete the seaway connection between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. As one of the biggest engineering jobs ever successfully completed, it was originally used as a much quicker, and much safer, trade route between Europe and the west coast of the United States – one that avoided the turbulent conditions of South America. Today, however, it is one of the world’s most well-known tourist attractions.
Where you’ll dock: The canal runs between the cities of Panama and Colon.
Easter Island, Chile
It’s impossible to think of Easter Island without thinking of the famous ‘Easter Island Heads’, or Moai. Built as symbols of authority and also as a way to hold onto the spirits of the deceased, the statues are somewhat odd in their design, which many put down to the high instances of leprosy on the island. It was originally thought that the statues were just heads, but their bodies have been discovered buried underground, and many have undergone extraction to show off the full form. There are many myths and legends surrounding these highly advanced sculptures, such as the statues themselves deciding their final resting place! Whether you believe that or not is entirely up to you.
Where you’ll dock: You’ll anchor nearby, and be tendered across to the island.
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Gazing out across the Vancouver skyline is a view you won’t get anywhere else in the world, for nestled behind this busy and bustling city is some of the most stunningly beautiful, quiet and serene nature in the world. The juxtaposition of the snow-capped mountains and the city life beneath is strange, and the versatility of the city really does take some getting used to. The city is very much oriented towards young families and outdoors enthusiasts but the resurgence of Granville Island as a tourist destination is increasing the numbers of young, trendy 20-somethings looking for something a bit quirky and niche. Don’t miss the opportunity to photograph the Lions Gate Bridge as you sail underneath.
Where you’ll dock: Most ships dock right in the downtown area, near to all major attractions.
Cape Horn, Chile
Cape Horn isn’t for everyone, especially not for those who experience seasickness, but for those with a passion for the ocean and a love of history, making the trip around the Horn is a truly unforgettable experience. Travel around the southern tip of South America was actually quite common during the 19th century before the Panama Canal was constructed, as it was the quickest trade route from Europe to the American west. The downside was that the weather conditions around the Horn are very unpredictable and many ships didn’t survive the journey. The construction of the canal was a huge relief to merchants. However, cruise ships today are more than geared up to cope with a few strong waves, and travelling this part of the world makes for a unique and fascinating experience.
Where you’ll dock: The nearest port is Port Stanley on the Falkland Islands.
Tulum was once home to the Maya people, who were extremely advanced in terms of art, language, and mathematics and helped to develop many different theories and concepts that we use today. However, the Mayans are perhaps most famous for their 52 year calendar cycle (which some believe foretell the end of the world!), and for their unique architecture, building stone pyramids and temples, the remains of which can still be viewed today. The Tulum archaeological site is not only one of the most well preserved Mayan areas in Mexico, but it’s also one of the most picturesque, overlooking the clear blue seas of the Caribbean.
Where you’ll dock: You’ll dock near San Miguel on the island of Cozumel – just across the water from the ruins.
Mt Mckinley, Alaska, USA
Many cruise passengers to Alaska are so in awe of the wonderful, jagged coastlines of the state, surrounded by glaciers, that they never give much thought to the interior of Alaska. Believe it or not, the inland areas are just as breath-taking, perhaps even more so! If you’re looking for a different Alaskan experience, the Denali National Park is not to be missed. Not only are their gold panning opportunities and miles and miles of scenic hiking paths, but the preserve is also home to Mt Mckinley, the highest point in all of North America, standing 20, 237 feet above sea level. Since the first ascent of the mountain in 1913, hiking to the summit has become a major attraction, with the West Buttress route classed as the easiest, although it’s still pretty strenuous!
Where you’ll dock: Anchorage, about 150 miles south of the state park.
San Francisco, California, USA
San Francisco is one of the most varied and interesting cities in all of America. In fact, there are very few destinations that even come close! The city has one of the best Chinatowns in the world (you really would think you were in Asia!), it has the picturesque Bay area and, most famously, its home to Alcatraz. ‘The Rock’, as it’s known, was a maximum security prison in the mid-1900s, separated from the mainland by the rough waters of San Francisco Bay, making it almost impossible for inmates to escape. In the 1960s, it was decided that it was no longer cost effective to maintain the upkeep of the prison, and it was transformed into a tourist attraction in 1973. Visitors can take a tour through the wings, and can even lock themselves up in a cell which is a surreal experience. The tour is narrated by former guards and inmates, giving an in depth and personal side to the stories.
Where you’ll dock: Pier 27 or Pier 35 – both within easy access of the hilly city.