Destinations You Didn't Know You Could Reach By Cruise

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Before you go close icon

kudumomo, flickr

If you think cruises are all about fun in the sun in the Caribbean, think again. These days your ship could take you to a desert location like the pyramids in Egypt, or Peru's mountainside destination of Machu Picchu. It's not about where you dock, it's about what inland sights are accessible from there. And as cruise companies add to their itineraries to tempt you on board, excursions are going ever further, according to Terry Dale, President and CEO of Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA).
http://xml.channel.aol.com/xmlpublisher/fetch.v2.xml?option=expand_relative_urls&dataUrlNodes=uiConfig,feedConfig,localizationConfig,entry&id=870821&pid=870820&uts=1271451116
http://www.aolcdn.com/ke/media_gallery/v1/ke_media_gallery_wrapper.swf

Destinations You Didnt Know You Could Reach By Cruise

If you think cruises are all about fun in the sun in the Caribbean, think again. These days your ship could take you to a desert location like the pyramids in Egypt, or Peru's mountainside destination of Machu Picchu. It's not about where you dock, it's about what inland sights are accessible from there. And as cruise companies add to their itineraries to tempt you on board, excursions are going ever further, according to Terry Dale, President and CEO of Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA). "With the globalization of cruise destinations and itineraries that often include extended, even multi-day, shore excursions, a cruise vacation today can be the easiest way to explore some of the world's most remote, exotic and culturally significant places." Even better, you can book your whole trip, including those far-flung tours, through your cruise line.

Destinations You Didnt Know You Could Reach By Cruise

While camels are, of course, the true ships of the desert, it is possible to board a cruise liner to visit Egypt's Pyramids of Giza. It takes just over two hours to drive to this desert location from the port of Alexandria, one of the stops on Royal Caribbean's Mediterranean and Holy Land cruises; time well spent considering it's the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Royal Caribbean's Cairo, Pyramids & Tombs excursion takes in the three pyramids, as well as the fallen colossal statue of King Ramses II and the Alabaster Sphinx of King Amenhopis II, both breathtaking sights in their own right. The tallest of Giza's pyramids, built by Pharaoh Khufu around 2560 B.C., is 480 feet high -- that's almost tall enough to see from the deck of your ship. www.royalcaribbean.com

Destinations You Didnt Know You Could Reach By Cruise

The giant stone circle known as Stonehenge in the rural English county of Wiltshire, is one of the world's big mysteries. Britain's most famous prehistoric landmark, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the stones were arranged in three stages, beginning around 3000 B.C., and completed around 1500 B.C. Cunard organizes tours of Stonehenge and the historic city of Salisbury on its Cunard's Europe and transatlantic cruises docking in Southampton, a mere hour's drive away. No one knows who hauled the megaliths -- which weigh up to 50 tons -- to this location, or why. Some say the circles are the ruins of a temple dedicated to ancient deities. Others think it's an ancient astronomical observatory. But all agree the construction, requiring an estimated 30 million hours in labor, represents a major engineering feat. www.cunard.com

Destinations You Didnt Know You Could Reach By Cruise

Cruising to a forest sounds downright bizarre, but if you stop off at San Francisco on Norwegian Cruise Line's Pacific Coast cruises, it's possible to visit the 550-acre Muir Woods National Monument, home to the famous California redwoods. Only 12 miles north of San Fran, these towering coastal trees are up to 1,200 years old (they average 500 to 800 years) and the tallest is nearly 260 feet. Book the Muir Woods & Sausalito excursion and you can go on a self-guided trek with plenty of time to gaze up at the verdant forest canopy before heading back to the big blue. www.ncl.com

Destinations You Didnt Know You Could Reach By Cruise

Cruises in Alaska take you along the dramatic coastline known as the Inside Passage and include the impressive sight of calving glaciers. But they can also take you above and beyond this coastal phenomenon; 20,320 feet above to be exact. Princess cruises from Vancouver to Whittier, Alaska, include excursions to Mount McKinley, the tallest mountain in North America, if you book a three-night tour in addition to your week-long cruise. You can stay at the Princess Cruises-owned Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge in Denali State Park, or catch clear-day views of the mountain's magnificence from the Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge in Denali National Park. Thrill seekers can also book a flightseeing tour for a closer look at McKinley, although for some it might prove to be a little too close for comfort. www.princess.com

Destinations You Didnt Know You Could Reach By Cruise

Peru's main calling card is mountaintop Machu Picchu, the amazing Lost City of the Incas. To get you to the high elevation site on the Andes plateau, deep in the Amazon jungle, Celebrity Cruises' South America & Panama Canal itineraries offer a two-night excursion from Lima. The tour includes a one-hour flight to Cuzco, with a day to adjust to the leap in altitude, and a train up the mountain. The Incan city, which dates back to the 15th century, is impressively well preserved, but it's the Lost City that is most stunning. At the end of the excursion, you re-board your ship in the port city of Arica in northern Chile. www.celebritycruises.com

Destinations You Didnt Know You Could Reach By Cruise

India's must see is, of course, the Taj Mahal in Agra, far from the coast in northern India.
It's possible to include an excursion to this beautiful mausoleum on select Asia itineraries on Azamara Club Cruises when you stop off in Mumbai. The three-night tour includes a flight to Delhi, where you spend the night before driving to Agra. The excursion allows for two visits to the Taj -- once at sunrise when there are fewer tourists, and again at sunset, when the white marble takes on a pinkish hue. This architectural marvel, completed around 1653, was built by Shah Jehan as an enduring monument to his love for his wife. Once you've photographed the Taj Mahal from every conceivable angle, you return to Delhi before flying to Cochin to rejoin your ship. www.azamaracruises.com

Destinations You Didnt Know You Could Reach By Cruise

The Roman Coliseum, one of the world's most celebrated buildings, represents the remains of an enormous ancient amphitheater, where gladiators, Christians and wild beasts once did battle to the death in front of some 50,000 spectators. See the outside and inside of this symbol of Roman Empire glory on a shore excursion offered by Celebrity Cruises, from Civitavecchia, the port of Rome (about 90 minutes from the city). The Best of Rome tour also includes Vatican City, the Trevi Fountain, and the Roman Forum. www.celebritycruises.com

Destinations You Didnt Know You Could Reach By Cruise

If you can pull yourself away from the beautiful people on Ipanema beach, the thing to see in Rio de Janeiro is the Christ Redeemer statue, located on a mountaintop 2,300 feet above the city. Passengers on Princess Cruises' South American route can sign up for a four-hour excursion to see the 130-foot tall Art Deco statue, created out of concrete and soapstone by a team of artisans in 1931. The tour includes a train ride through the Tijuca Rainforest to the summit of Corcovado Mountain, the city's highest peak, with amazing views back to the distant coastline. www.princess.com

Destinations You Didnt Know You Could Reach By Cruise

One of the most important archeological sites in the Americas, the Mayan city of Chichen Itza is the largest reminder of the Mayans who lived throughout Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula and built large cities with pyramids, temples, palaces and ceremonial structures. Little is known about the lost civilization, but you can look up at the millennium-old, 75-feet-high stone Pyramid of Kukulkan (better known as El Castillo), dedicated to the feathered serpent god, and ponder. Carnival Cruise Lines offers a seven-hour tour on Western Caribbean cruises from the port of Progresso, just over two hours away. www.carnival.com

Destinations You Didnt Know You Could Reach By Cruise

Read Full Story

From Our Partners