Best of Cruising: Shore Excursions

060216_bestshoreexcursions.jpgTaking a cruise doesn’t mean staying on the ship all the time. The real draw of a cruise is that it gives you the opportunity to visit more places in a single vacation than you might have been able to get to on your own. You can always go snorkeling or take a tour of a rum factory, but the best shore excursions will be remembered long after you’ve gone back to your regular grind.

The America’s Club 12-meter Regatta, St. Maarten. Not only is it a thrill to sail on one of these super-fast yachts, you can join in and crew the vessel for a real America’s Cup–style race. Consistently popular, this one should definitely be booked on board as it will be sold out once you go ashore.

Stingray City, Grand Cayman. Playful and lively as kittens, the stingrays await visitors on an offshore sandbar reached only by boat. Help your guides feed them while you pet their velvety bodies, and you’ll be rewarded with gentle rubbing.

Rain Forest Aerial Tram, Panama Canal. Whiz through the treetops for the approximately 20-minute ascent through the forest canopy. Guides provide an explanation of the complex ecosystem and point out wildlife along the way.

Cave Tubing, Belize. Explore isolated caves where the ancient Maya were said to have conducted religious ceremonies. The current moves your inner tube as you leisurely drift along the waterways connecting jungle caverns.

Photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean