In a world now plagued with overtourism, two words epitomise an ultra-luxe shore excursion: exclusive and authentic.
Maybe it’s a visit to a castle where the Count, whose family has owned the place for generations, conducts a private tour and his butler serves you drinks. Or something quite extraordinary, like a ride in a submarine. It might even be a simple trip to a popular destination – but at night.
It’s all about ensuring unforgettable moments. Here are just a few of our favourites…
Regent Seven Seas
Horse Riding in the Mexican Countryside
At the port of Puerto Vallarta, guests can discover the Mexican countryside from a unique vantage point of a horse’s back. There is something romantic about having the wind in your hair as you explore the area on the back of this majestic creature. You will be carefully matched with a horse that will carry you safely through this adventure.
Setting off from the Hacienda, you ride along the Mascota River, passing through quaint villages and viewing the local scenery as you journey on a picturesque trek through this river canyon.
Stop at the mid-way point to relax and take in the vastness of the winding river canyon. If conditions permit, you may be able to enjoy a swim on horseback or take a dip at the hot springs, so be sure to wear a swimsuit under your riding clothes.
Saying farewell to your horse when you head back to the Hacienda will be difficult, but perhaps a complimentary drink and a tour of the tequila distillery will ease the pain.
Seabourn Cruises brings you another perspective of the azure waters of the Caribbean Sea on this award-winning Atlantis submarine outing. Peer through the portholes of the Atlantis III and come face-to-face with curious exotic fish that peek in at you as the sea fans sway in the background.
A knowledgeable co-pilot narrates the 40-minute underwater adventure, identifying and explaining all the amazing sights that pass your window. The undersea voyage reaches depths of 150 feet, a world away from the white-sand beaches of the Barbados coastline. The submarine will even take you right up to an old shipwreck, which will definitely create lasting memories.
Crystal Boutique Adventures
Ferrari Road Trip
Italy is known for its historic towns, inspiring scenery and exotic cars. Experience all three as you take the wheel of a Ferrari and drive through the Tuscan countryside, following a lead car driven by your dedicated tour director.
Learn the finer points of your Ferrari Portofino or 488 Spider’s controls, the peculiarities of the engine and, most importantly, how to handle the F1 paddle shifter, before you rev your engine and set off on your exciting drive.
An object of desire around the world, this iconic, horse-emblazoned automobile can be given its head here on its home range, galloping through the corners and charging the straightaways of Italy’s picturesque roadways.
Arrive in the hill town of San Gimignano around noon and see how it dominates the Elsa Valley with its 13 medieval towers. Stop for lunch and enjoy a chance to explore this striking and architecturally significant walled village, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
After your meal, slide back into the driver’s seat and ease your car through the sinuous hills of Chianti to admire landscapes carpeted with vineyards and dotted with old castles.
Arrive at Volterra, an ancient city with a history going back three thousand years. Encounter its well-preserved medieval ramparts and stroll its winding, cobbled lanes during your free time in this charming mountaintop town. You find time whips by far too fast on this excursion.
Helicopter Adventure & The Isle of Capri
Take off from Sorrento for a flight-seeing tour along the Amalfi Coast. Enjoy the Italian coastline from the skies, with a bird’s-eye view of steep cliffs, small beaches, pastel-coloured fishing villages and grand villas.
The flight continues over the archaeological sites of Pompeii and Herculaneum, as well as Mt Vesuvius, the still-active volcano that devastated the two towns in 79 A.D.
Land in Capri and resume your adventure in a rowboat that will take you to the heart of the famous Blue Grotto. Immerse yourself in the blue glowing embrace of the cavern before heading back to land for a three-course lunch at the five-star Grand Hotel Quisisana.
After lunch, take a leisurely stroll in the Augustus Gardens overlooking Capri before being whisked back to your ship in a speedy jetfoil.
Private tour of Alhambra by night
This excursion, in the port of Malaga, offers a night-time tour of the Alhambra palace and fortress complex in the city of Granada, a symbol of the splendour of the Nasrid dynasty (1232-1492), the last Muslims to rule Spain.
Enjoy an early tapas dinner in the Albayzin quarter, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, before entering the Alhambra for an exclusive visit by night.
Visit the Palacio de Generalife, the small summer palace with its attractive gardens, avenue of stately cypress trees and tinkling fountains.
Some of the finest examples of Islamic Art can be found in the Nasrid Palace, where the ceilings drip with stalactites in stucco, and each room appears more richly decorated than the previous one.
Marvel at the delicate marble columns, graceful arcades and fine craftsmanship of a palace that was designed as the Sultans’ “paradise on earth”.
The Hall of the Ambassadors and the Court of the Lions are centrepieces of the palace, but don’t forget to look out of the windows to the gypsy quarters of Sacromonte on the hills above Granada.
Magnificent Petra & Wadi Rum
This full-day excursion takes you on an exclusive tour to explore both Petra, the ancient Nabataean caravan-city situated between the Red Sea and the Dead Sea, and Wadi Rum, a nature lover’s paradise.
Begin with a scenic drive to Petra, an important crossroads between Arabia, Egypt and Syria-Phoenicia through which camel caravans passed, loaded with spices, textiles and incense from distant regions. It was a vital hub for global commerce, and the city of Petra flourished until a massive earthquake in 363AD left the freestanding structures of Petra in ruins.
Enter Petra through one of nature’s grandest entrance hallways, a tall, narrow gorge called the Siq, formed from a deep split in the sandstone rocks.
After walking through the Siq, you’ll see Petra’s most elaborate ruin; El Khazneh, the Treasury, hewn directly out of the red sandstone cliff, and immense tombs, facades and doorways cut in the steep passage walls.
Lunch is served before you journey to Wadi Rum, the protected desert wilderness in southern Jordan.
Head into the heart of the desert and begin your exploration of dramatic towering cliffs of weathered stone, ancient riverbeds and mauve stretches of sand.
Complete your tour with a visit to a Bedouin camp where a sumptuous buffet dinner awaits under the cool shade of Bedouin tents.
Vote in this year’s special Readers’ Choice Awards
No doubt 2020 will go down in cruise history as the year of the pandemic – a once in a generation event. And this year’s Cruise Passenger Readers’ Choice Awards will reflect it.