What is it about these destinations far from home that often make us a little bit bolder or more daring than we typically tend to be at home?
I think it’s something about seizing the moments that we have been looking forward to for such a long time. The anticipation of a cruise vacation is nearly as exciting as when the date finally arrives to start the voyage – at least for me it is.
This means we are going to be darn sure to make the most of it, and cruise shore excursions are a big part of the overall adventure. We get a relatively short time during a port stop on a cruise vacation, so it makes sense to pick an activity that will give you a true taste of your destination, while also making it a memorable experience.
And a good way to make sure something sticks in your mind for years to come is to try something thrilling. If it makes you scream, you’re not likely to forget it.
You can push your boundaries a bit with cruise shore excursions that fit into these categories.
I was a tentative snorkeler upon my first try during a cruise in the Caribbean. I eventually grew to love it, but it was definitely outside my comfort zone at first. The guides on my snorkel excursion helped me feel safe, which allowed me to grow more comfortable as the day went on. I was able to just relax and enjoy the amazing underwater scenery of colorful reefs and fish. All while having fun in the sun with new friends.
Expert guides on cruise shore excursions also can help you master other underwater adventures like snuba, scuba and helmet diving.
Or cage diving with Great White Sharks in Australia.
I went too far, didn’t I? Well, it’s available if you’re game.
I graduated to snuba during a shore excursion in Grand Turk. Again, it was quite different and made me a bit uneasy at first but ended up being a blast once I settled into it.
Next, I need to get over my apprehension about a full-on scuba-diving outing. A cruise can offer the perfect opportunity to push your limits and find your boundaries because of the opportunity to work with experts. Royal Caribbean, for example, offers onboard PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) lessons to help you start your new diving hobby.
High in the Sky
Many travelers have a fear of heights, whether it be mild or serious. Some of the cruise destinations around the world just beg to be seen from above, though. What’s a person to do?
You can muster up the courage and just go for it. The rainforests in Costa Rica are simply more astounding when you can see them from the famous hanging bridges in the trees.
Ancient ruins in in the Yucatan Peninsula — available on cruises to Costa Maya, Cozumel and Belize – are asking to be climbed. You’ll be thrilled to be above the treetops at some of these historic places.
Bold souls can try ziplining for the first time in numerous exotic destinations throughout the Caribbean.
Or maybe you’ve done these sorts of things and find them a little too tame. How about your first bungee jump or skydive experience. You can find all kinds of awesome ways to push your boundaries with a cruise excursion.
Sweat it Out
While some cruise excursions simply require that you’re bold enough to take the plunge, others are more physically demanding. If you have been wanting to challenge yourself with an active day ashore, look for interesting running, hiking and biking options that might be available at your cruise ship’s shore excursion desk.
I have tried a running tour in St. Thomas. The day was quite hot, but the run got us off the beaten path with a small group of people, and we learned about different historic neighborhoods near the port. It also was a good way to get in a workout and earn some lazy guilt-free beach time with cold beers later in the day.
We have also hiked to the summit of an active volcano in Guatemala and taken several bike tours in destinations around the world during cruise stops in France, Spain and Alaska.
Sink Your Teeth Into It
I am hardly adventurous when it comes to my culinary pursuits. OK, I’m actually quite bland. Give me a good burger, fries, pizza, ice cream and beer, and I can live off that for my whole cruise.
But you can only get a real taste of a destination by trying the traditional foods and flavors of a culture.
I tried oysters for the first time on a cruise in France, where I also had a salad that featured octopus. I’m not a seafood lover, but I enjoyed fresh-baked salmon and lobster on cruises in Alaska.
Want to freak out your friends? Get a picture of yourself eating a scorpion like I did on a journey in Asia.
A local food tour that is offered as a cruise excursion is a good way to try something new. Sampling an extra-hot pepper in Mexico might be adventurous enough for some. Trying snake wine in Vietnam might do the trick for others.
John Roberts is a freelance writer and operator of InTheLoopTravel.com. He writes about cruising and active travel, highlighting how people can connect with the world and other cultures through rewarding travel experiences.