Despite fabulous shipboard amenities, amazing dining, and great onboard entertainment, an unforgettable shore excursion frequently tops the list of treasured cruise memories. With that in mind, you will want to include some carefully selected excursions for your next cruise vacation. Options are available that are suitable for all interests and levels of fitness, from sedate island tours to shopping to exhilerating zip-lining adventures. Here are some of our very favorites to help as you navigate your way through the choices.
Swimming with the Sting Rays – Grand Cayman
Quite possibly the most famous of all Caribbean shore excursions, you won’t forget swimming with these gentle, inquisitive creatures in the crystal chest-high waters of Grand Cayman. Most excursions will also include a stop for some of the best snorkeling on the planet, either at Coral Gardens or the Barrier Reef. We love this one so much that we go again & again.
High Tea – Sunbury Plantation — Barbados
Step back in time at this beautifully restored 17thcentury colonial plantation. Stroll the manicured grounds and explore the plantation home – then enjoy delicious scones and delightful tea sandwiches under a spreading mahogany tree. The 30-minute drive provides a perfect opportunity to enjoy the sights of the tranquil Barbados countryside. This excursion is the perfect choice for anyone seeking a somewhat refined and sedate Barbados excursion experience.
BOSS Underwater Adventure – St Thomas
No diving experience necessary and you don’t even need to know how to swim to enjoy this amazing underwater adventure. Your guide will be with you every step of the way as you explore the tropical reefs and a local shipwreck aboard your personal ‘Breathing Underwater Submersible Scooter.’ Excursion includes snorkel opportunities as well. A really unique and incredibly fun excursion for adventurous cruisers.
Dunn’s River Falls – Jamaica
Your guide will lead you up the stunningly beautiful rocky 600-foot falls. The climb up the falls is exhilarating and the scenery unforgettable. This excursion is suitable only for relatively fit and sure-footed individuals – the going is steep through rushing (but shallow) waters – but anyone in reasonably good physical condition should plan to experience this unforgettable hike. There is nothing else like it in the Caribbean. For serious adventure seekers, it’s possible to combine Dunn’s River Falls with a breathtaking zip-line tour or river tubing adventure. (Once you’ve done the Falls, you should consider tubing on the White River for your next trip to Jamaica — one of our all-time favorite excursions as well.)
Cave Tubing – Belize
Originally discovered and used by ancient Mayans in sacred rituals, exploring this series of caves is truly an adventure of a lifetime. After an educational hike through virgin rainforest and two dry caves, you begin your float down the river on a specially designed tube, descending into the series of breathtaking caverns. You will be fascinated every step of the way as you float with the gentle current through the cave system. Intricate crystalline formations line the cave and the majestic rise and fall of stalagmites and stalactites add to the serene scenes from nature. The float part of the adventure lasts approximately two hours depending on the current, and brings you back to the starting location.You will need to be in relatively good physical condition and able to manage uneven ground on your 30-45 minute hike on a jungle dirt trail, but his is an excursion that you will talk about for many years to come,
America’s Cup Yacht Race – St Maarten
This excursion allows you to experience the thrill of sailing aboard sleek, beautiful racing ships that have actually participated in America’s Cup racing. Participants in this exhilarating excursion are divided into teams aboard separate yachts, and actually experience the thrill of a shortened course approximating the America’s Cup racing experience. No sailing experience is required, but each honorary “crew member” is assigned a meaningful responsibility during the race and are likely to come away with an entirely new understanding of the term ‘team work.’
Champagne Reef Snorkel – Dominica
This is an unforgettable snorkel experience – the volcanic vents in the ocean floor sends up a steady stream of bubbles and provides the feeling of snorkeling in a glass of champagne. Sea life abounds and on any given day you might see turtles, lobsters, puffers, seahorses and squid – as well as an amazing corals and sponges. This unique snorkel environment definitely deserved a spot on our list of the ten most unforgettable excursions.
Whale Watching – Turks & Caicos
Most people are unaware that whale watching opportunities exist in the Caribbean, but from roughly February through April, humpback whales abound in the waters surrounding Turks & Caicos. Majestic, yet curious, these gentle giants frequently frolic near the tour boats, and it isn’t unusual to see mothers with calves at their side. As an added bonus, the whale migration coincides with the cruise industry’s January-March Wave Season, a time when cruise lines offer some of their best fares of the year..
St Thomas Island Tour & Shopping
Of all the fabulous shopping opportunities in the Caribbean, none can rival the myriad shops of St Thomas. Jewelry, fragrances, apparel … duty-free shops abound in this shopping mecca. You will find literally hundreds of shops lining the streets and alleyways of capitol Charlotte Amalie. As added incentive, U.S. residents are allowed a double exemption for items purchased in the USVI – $1600 rather than $800. One word of caution – allow plenty of time for the return to your ship. While the pier is a short distance from the city center, significant traffic congestion results in missed departures for a few unfortunate passengers each week.
Wonderful World of Water Eco Tour – Curacao
This small group tour takes you far from the congested tourist areas to explore remote coastlines, soaring coral cliffs and ancient caves of this beautiful island. The sightseeing is punctuated by interludes at Supladó’s natural jacuzzi, and opportunities for snorkeling the pristine waters of this jewel among jewels of the Caribbean islands.
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