While walking tours and wine tastings will always be popular, cruise lines have also been busy hunting some more off-beat shore excursions for passengers looking for something a bit unusual for their time ashore. Now you can experience the more extreme and unique activities a port has to offer to make your cruise that much more memorable. Here are some interesting offers.
Toboggan down cobblestone streets
Location: Madeira, Portugal
Line: Azamara Club Cruises, Celebrity Cruises, Royal Caribbean
Price: from US$84
Yes, this really is a shore excursion. You can go tobogganing down the cobblestone streets of Funchal on the Portuguese island of Madeira. Take a cable car uphill and then ride a wicker toboggan down the street. At one stage of Madeira’s history, this was a common mode of transport for the locals. While it might be a bumpy ride down the street, it is safe and local guides will look after you. It’s part of a full-day tour of Funchal offered by a number of lines.
Snorkel with sea lions
Location: Baja California Sur, Mexico
Line: Lindblad Expeditions
Lindblad Expeditions offers a range of cruises of the Sea of Cortez, which Jacques Cousteau called a living aquarium. The World Heritage site is home to a variety of birds and marine mammals, including sea lions. Passengers have the oportunity to snorkel with these friendly creatures around the islands of Los Islotes. Young seals are particularly interested in visitors and will swim circles around snorkellers and show off their aquabatic skills.
Gladiator for a Day
Location: Rome, Italy
Line: Royal Caribbean
As the saying goes, when in Rome… What better place to strap on your shield and learn the ancient art of gladiatorial combat? This tour starts at Rome’s Gladiator School, where guests will learn combat skills with a hands-on fighting lesson from an expert. If they pass the test, they’ll be rewarded with a certificate of Roman citizenship. Then there’s time for a tour of the famous Colosseum, the site of thousands of gladiator battles, as well the Forum, Piazza Venezia and Piazza Navona.
Location: Bordeaux, France
Line: Viking River Cruises
Price: from US$123
For the fungi aficionados, Viking River Cruises will take you truffle hunting in Saint-Emilion during a cruise in the Bordeaux region of France. An expert will show you how to locate and dig for the truffles, with the help of a truffle dog, and then you’ll be taken back to the farmhouse for a meal using truffles from a previous picking – think scrambled eggs, cream pasta, simple dishes to highlight the truffles, paired with local wine.
Location: Arctic and Antarctic Ocean
Line: Aurora Expeditions
It’s a fun ritual for many visitors to the polar regions to jump into the icy waters, but what if you wanted to linger and observe the creatures and underwater icescapes? Polar diving has been offered to certified divers for a while, but snorkelling is a relatively new experience and suitable for adventurers who do not have diving accreditation. All equipment is provided for add-on to special Antarctic or Arctic departures.