When we go ashore, we usually pick an active excursion. Sure, we mix in an occasional beach day, but that also will include a lot of snorkeling time.
The cruise lines offer a wide range of choices that will get your heart pumping when you spend a day in port.
In fact, here's a list of unconventional excursion options Cruise Lines International Association released last week to highlight how lines are catering to adventure-seeking cruisers. That's you!
CLIA is the world's largest cruise industry trade association.
Note: At many cruise ports, you can find the same excursions or very similar ones to those offered for you to purchase on your ship. You might be able to negotiate a lower price and a smaller-group experience on your own, but you don't get certain benefits, such as a guarantee that the ship won't leave you if you are late to return after your day in port. I'll discuss more about booking your excursions independently in a coming post.
Alaskan Wilderness Family Expedition
Take a five- to seven-mile glacier hike to get an up-close view of Alaska's wilderness, waterfalls and wildlife on Carnival Cruise Lines' "Laughton Glacier Hike." An expert guide leads participants (9 and older) on an Alaskan wilderness trek, complete with a scenic train ride and a traditional Alaskan meal.
Explore One of the Most Remote and Coldest Islands in the World
Hurtigruten, specialists in Arctic and Antarctic cruises, is the only cruise line that visits Norwegian volcanic island Jan Mayen, one of the most isolated spots in the world and home to a large population of polar bears. Excursion activities include learning Arctic winter survival skills or bush craft. You'll get tricks for how to make a fire, fish, and throw a lasso in the harsh climate.
Stay Overnight on a Traditional Junk in Vietnam
AmaWaterways' offers an excursion called "Vietnam, Cambodia & the Riches of the Mekong." You'll spend the night on a junk (ancient vessel) sailing World Heritage Site Ha Long Bay in Vietnam. The most distinctive feature of junks, which were developed during the Han Dynasty (206 B.C. to 220 A.D.) and used throughout Asia for extensive ocean voyages, is their broad, fully battened sails. Enjoy dinner and breakfast onboard taking in the bay's scenery including dramatic limestone cliffs and rock formations.
SCUBA Training and Certification in French Polynesia
For treasures underneath the sea, Paul Gauguin Cruises' Paul Gauguin is the only luxury ship in the French Polynesian islands offering PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) certification onboard. Programs include the "Discover SCUBA Diving" class, or resort certification, and "PADI Open-Water Diver Certification."
Save the Coral Reefs of Bonaire
To help save and protect precious coral reefs that delight divers and snorkelers, Cunard has a volunteer excursion for 2014-15: the "Coral Restoration Dive Experience." The program (only for PADI certified divers) connects passengers with the Coral Restoration Foundation in Bonaire where they receive hands-on instruction on basic coral reef preservation.
Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Dracula
Sink your teeth into this exciting . . . OK, sorry. Oceania Cruises' itinerary in the Greek Islands and Eastern Mediterranean includes a stop in Constanta, Romania, featuring a day trip to "Dracula's Haunts and Best of Bucharest" in Transylvania, with a drive through the Prahova Valley and then to Bran Castle, where the legend of Dracula was born.
Russian Cosmonaut Training
Blast off on a Crystal Cruises Baltic sailing to St. Petersburg, Russia. You'll get a flight to Moscow and an overnight stay in Star City, the Russian equivalent of NASA and home to the largest centrifuge in the world. The excursion includes experiencing one of three Russian Cosmonaut Training courses on advanced space equipment: the centrifuge, zero-gravity flight, or hydro-space program.
The cruise sale runs through July 17 and offers passengers up to $200 in onboard credit and up to $400 in prepaid gratuities, depending on the type of stateroom booked. These types of perks mean a more affordable vacation for you.
Check out some of the destinations:
Tahiti -- 10 days; $1,499 for an interior cabin and $2,199 for a balcony
Australia and New Zealand -- 12 days; $1,499 interior, $2,499 balcony
Grand Asia -- 17 days; $1,199 interior, $2,199 balcony
South America -- 14 days; $1,399 interior, $1,999 balcony
Transatlantic -- 14 to 32 days; from $1,299 interior, $1,999 balcony. On transatlantic voyages, you sail across the ocean as the ship repositions ports -- from Fort Lauderdale to Barcelona, for example. These cruises offer a lot of sea days and very low prices.
More information about the Bucket List Extravaganza Sale and cruise prices can be found at Princess.com/sale.