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The 12 Days of Cruising: 6 Shore Excursions

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On the 6th day of Christmas my true love gave me a chance to see the world by sharing 6 uh-mazing shore excursions. It’s truly the gift of memories and experiences and I want to share it with you. Here are 6 knock-your-socks-off shore excursions to put on your Christmas list.

1. Glow in San Juan

Your night will glow like never before when you visit the Bioluminescent Bay in San Juan, Puerto Rico. This is truly one of nature’s wonders and a can’t-miss excursion.

Kayaking down a mangrove channel with only the moonlight and blue-green glow of the bioluminescent organisms to guide you, you’ll see the night a whole new magical way. Don’t feel like kayaking? No worries, the tour operators also have a boat option where you can sail softly through and see all the sparkling lights.

Side note, be sure to book through the cruise lines for this tour. Speaking from personal experience, this tour can easily run late, and if that happens, you don’t want to be left on the San Juan pier at midnight watching your cruise ship sail away without you.

2. Swim with Stingrays

While you can find stingrays throughout the ocean, there’s a pretty special and popular spot to sneak a swim in with these graceful creatures. In Grand Cayman, Stingray City was created years ago by fisherman cleaning their fish in the calm waters of the sandbars. The Stingrays began to associate those boat motors with food and the swimming sessions followed soon after.

Now, you can take a boat tour, jump in the warm, shallow water and interact with the stingrays. You can feed them, massage them and if you’re lucky, grab a kiss for good luck.

3. Climb into History

At one time, a good amount of the Caribbean and its cruise ports were part of the Mayan empire. The remains of that time still exist today in many ways and many places.

In Belize, you can interact with that history by visiting Mayan ruins. You’ll find mane famous ruins to tour – and in some cases, even climb. Among the most famous are Xunantunich, Altun Ha, Cahal Pech, and Santa Rita. In the ruins you’ll find multiple plazas, pyramids and even abundant wildlife.  If you’re willing to climb these ancient pyramids, your reward will be stunning views of the Belizean countryside (and a sense of accomplishment).

4. Ride in the Ocean

Saddle up for an unforgettable experience, horseback riding on the beach and in the ocean. This excursion is available in multiple ports giving you multiple places to enjoy the power and majesty of both the horse and the ocean. Most rides include a normal trot along the beach (with a saddle) and then the chance to ride bareback into the waves.

Many of the cruise lines offer this on their private islands. It’s available in the Bahamas and Grand Turk. The flexibility of this offering lets you experience it while not missing exclusive excursions in other ports.

5. Hike the Glacier

This takes winter wonderland to a whole new level. One of the most popular excursions in Juneau, Alaska, this tour gives you the chance to hike an actual glacier, the Mendenhall Glacier.

With stunning, unforgettable views, you’ll also explore ice caves, melt water streams, pools, crevasses, and more. There are multiple levels of hiking difficulty available with this tour and if you’re not able to hike, there are helicopter tours that allow you to view the beauty of this magnificent glacier from above.

6. Tour the Ruins

You’ve probably heard of Pompeii and Mt. Vesuvius. You’ve also probably heard of Naples, Italy – the Italian town where both are located. You may not have heard of a place called Herculaneum.

Herculaneum was the Hamptons of Roman times. It was the it” place back in the Roman day. It was ocean front property complete with sprawling, stunning properties and mosaics. Herculaneum too was destroyed during the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. Discovered not that long ago underneath modern Naples houses, it’s an almost perfectly preserved site from the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. In many cases, the original wood was preserved, along with entire buildings and tile work.

Since it’s lesser known, it’s usually not crowded and offers a unique look into Roman times. Be sure to add this historic site to your bucket list – and shore excursion list.

What is your all-time favorite shore excursion? What was your least favorite one? We’d love to hear from you!

Read our previous entires in the 12 Days of Cruising series:

Photo: Holland America

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