Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Top Caribbean Cruise Shore Excursions

Ah, a Caribbean cruise!  Ask people what their plans are once their ship pulls into port and many will answer without hesitation…a day at the beach!  And who could blame them?  The Caribbean Islands are known for their miles of soft, sandy beaches dotted with palm trees, and warm azure waters so clear you can see right down to your feet. But if you’re looking for a little more to do with your day in port, we’ve compiled a list of popular shore excursions that are sure to please!

For Western Caribbean cruisers, the highlight of a stop at Grand Cayman Island is definitely Stingray City. Stingray City is a sandbar that has become a gathering spot to a whole fleet of southern stingrays. Locals say that the stingrays began gathering in the area decades ago when fisherman used to clean fish on the shallow sand bars. Tours include a boat ride to multiple sites for swimming and snorkeling, the highlight of course, getting the chance to pet, swim and have your picture taken with these amazing creatures.

If your cruise itinerary takes you to Ocho Rios, you’ll want to climb Dunn’s River Falls! The 600 foot falls are bordered by lush, green vegetation and usually tops the lists of the world’s most gorgeous waterfalls. The climb can be relatively hard so is often undertaken as a hand-holding human chain led by a guide to make it easier.  The guides make stops along the way allowing some time to splash around in the natural pools and are happy to snap photos along the way.

If you are cruising to the Eastern Caribbean, one of San Juan's most stunning natural attractions and most popular shore excursion is the 28,000-thousand-acre El Yunque Rainforest. El Yunque is the sole tropical rain forest in the U.S. National Forest System. The rainforest is home to more than 240 species of plants and wildlife, waterfalls, streams and hiking trails leading to enticing locations. Tours differ in levels of exertion so choose accordingly.

Looking for an exhilarating day on the ocean?  St. Maarten offers the thrill of America’s Cup Yacht Racing excursion! Sail the actual boats from the 1987 competition, including Dennis Conner's famous Stars & Stripes! The expert crew will teach participants exactly what to do in a ""crew members"" position. Then it’s off to the races… grind a winch… trim a sail… punch a stop watch, or just sit back, relax. The best part… previous sailing experience is NOT necessary!

Southern Caribbean cruise itineraries that include Aruba also include the opportunity to tour the island off-road via ATV or an open jeep! This tour is great fun! If you don’t already know it, Aruba has a desert-like side which guests will explore on this tour. This excursion will bring you to such sites as Lighthouse, Gold Ruins, Natural Bridge, Natural Pool, Arikok National Park and of course Baby Beach, to cool off with a swim.

Most people are familiar with swimming with the dolphins, but have you heard of swimming with the sea turtles? Barbados, another Southern Caribbean port of call, is home to a healthy population of hawksbill and leatherback turtles. Once endangered by over-fishing, these great creatures are now protected and monitored throughout the Island. There are a wide range of tours that take guests swimming or snorkeling with the turtles. Most turtle tours are on catamarans which provide lunch, masks and snorkels. It's a great day out - sailing down the beautiful coastline, a delicious lunch, rum punch, and of course seeing and swimming along side the magnificent turtles.

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