LUXURY ON LAND & AT SEA

From Ferraris to submarines, are these the most decadent shore excursions? Vanessa Wu explores.

Indulgent experiences on luxury cruise lines go beyond white-gloved service in suites and Michelin stars in restaurants. The luxury extends to your shore excursions where you’re looking for two things: exclusivity and authenticity. Maybe it’s a visit to a castle where the Count, whose family has lived here for generations, leads a private tour while his butler serves drinks. Or a ride in a submarine to the bottom of the sea. It might just be a trip to a popular destination – but at night. It’s all about unforgettable moments. Here is our pick of the best.

LUXURY
ON LAND
& AT SEA

From Ferraris to submarines, are these the most decadent shore excursions? Vanessa Wu explores.

Indulgent experiences on luxury cruise lines go beyond white-gloved service in suites and Michelin stars in restaurants. The luxury extends to your shore excursions where you’re looking for two things: exclusivity and authenticity. Maybe it’s a visit to a castle where the Count, whose family has lived here for generations, leads a private tour while his butler serves drinks. Or a ride in a submarine to the bottom of the sea. It might just be a trip to a popular destination – but at night. It’s all about unforgettable moments. Here is our pick of the best.

Crystal Boutique Adventures

Ferrari road trip

Italy's appeal is in 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. Learn the finer points of your Ferrari Portofino or 488 Spider’s controls, before you rev your engine and set off, following the lead car driven by your tour director. An object of desire around the world, this iconic, horse-emblazoned automobile can be given its head here on its home range, galloping around corners and charging the straights of Italy’s picturesque roadways. Stop for lunch in the walled village of San Gimignano, a UNESCO World Heritage-listed site, and see how it dominates Elsa Valley with its 13 medieval towers. 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. Your final stop will be in Volterra, an ancient mountain-top town with well-preserved medieval ramparts and winding, cobbled lanes. You’ll find time whips by far too fast on this excursion.

Crystal Boutique Adventures

Ferrari road trip

Italy's appeal is in 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. Learn the finer points of your Ferrari Portofino or 488 Spider’s controls, before you rev your engine and set off, following the lead car driven by your tour director. An object of desire around the world, this iconic, horse-emblazoned automobile can be given its head here on its home range, galloping around corners and charging the straights of Italy’s picturesque roadways. Stop for lunch in the walled village of San Gimignano, a UNESCO World Heritage-listed site, and see how it dominates Elsa Valley with its 13 medieval towers. 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. Your final stop will be in Volterra, an ancient mountain-top town with well-preserved medieval ramparts and winding, cobbled lanes. You’ll find time whips by far too fast on this excursion.

Regent Seven Seas

Magnificent Petra
& Wadi Rum

This full-day excursion visits Petra, the ancient Nabataean caravan city situated between the Red Sea and the Dead Sea, and Wadi Rum, a natural paradise. Take a scenic drive to Petra, an important crossroad between Arabia, Egypt and Syria-Phoenicia through which camel caravans passed, loaded with spices, textiles and incense. Petra was a vital hub for global commerce, and the city flourished until a massive earthquake in 363AD left it 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. Through the Siq, you’ll see Petra’s most famous ruin, Al Khazneh (the Treasury), hewn directly from the red sandstone cliff, the immense tombs, facades and doorways cut into the steep walls. After lunch, travel to Wadi Rum, the protected wilderness in southern Jordan. In the heart of the desert, explore 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.

Regent Seven Seas

Magnificent Petra
& Wadi Rum

This full-day excursion visits Petra, the ancient Nabataean caravan city situated between the Red Sea and the Dead Sea, and Wadi Rum, a natural paradise. Take a scenic drive to Petra, an important crossroad between Arabia, Egypt and Syria-Phoenicia through which camel caravans passed, loaded with spices, textiles and incense. Petra was a vital hub for global commerce, and the city flourished until a massive earthquake in 363AD left it 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. Through the Siq, you’ll see Petra’s most famous ruin, Al Khazneh (the Treasury), hewn directly from the red sandstone cliff, the immense tombs, facades and doorways cut into the steep walls. After lunch, travel to Wadi Rum, the protected wilderness in southern Jordan. In the heart of the desert, explore 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.

Oceania Cruises

Horse riding in the Mexican countryside

From the port of Puerto Vallarta, guests can discover the Mexican countryside from a unique vantage point – on horseback. There is something romantic about having the wind in your hair as you explore the area with one of these majestic, and well-trained, creatures. Setting off from the Hacienda, ride along the Mascota River, passing through quaint villages on a picturesque track. Stop at the midway 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 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.

Oceania Cruises

Horse riding in the Mexican countryside

From the port of Puerto Vallarta, guests can discover the Mexican countryside from a unique vantage point – on horseback. There is something romantic about having the wind in your hair as you explore the area with one of these majestic, and well-trained, creatures. Setting off from the Hacienda, ride along the Mascota River, passing through quaint villages on a picturesque track. Stop at the midway 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 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.

Ponant

Private tour of Alhambra by night

This excursion, from the port of Malaga, offers a night-time tour of Granada’s Alhambra palace and fortress complex, a symbol of the splendour of the Nasrid dynasty, the last Muslims to rule Spain. Enjoy an early tapas dinner in the Albayzin quarter, a UNESCO World Heritage-listed site, before entering the Alhambra for an exclusive visit. 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 Palaces; marvel at the delicate marble columns, graceful arcades and fine craftsmanship of this complex which was designed as the sultans’ “paradise on Earth”. The Hall of the Ambassadors and the Court of the Lions are centrepieces of the palace complex, but out the windows you’ll see the Roma quarter of Sacromonte on the hills above Granada.

Ponant

Private tour of Alhambra by night

This excursion, from the port of Malaga, offers a night-time tour of Granada’s Alhambra palace and fortress complex, a symbol of the splendour of the Nasrid dynasty, the last Muslims to rule Spain. Enjoy an early tapas dinner in the Albayzin quarter, a UNESCO World Heritage-listed site, before entering the Alhambra for an exclusive visit. 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 Palaces; marvel at the delicate marble columns, graceful arcades and fine craftsmanship of this complex which was designed as the sultans’ “paradise on Earth”. The Hall of the Ambassadors and the Court of the Lions are centrepieces of the palace complex, but out the windows you’ll see the Roma quarter of Sacromonte on the hills above Granada.

Silversea Cruises

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 79AD. 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 Jetfoil.

Silversea Cruises

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 79AD. 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 Jetfoil.

Seabourn Cruise Line

Submarine expedition

The new ultimate in luxury excursions isn’t on the shore at all – it’s under the water. At least three cruise lines now offer submarine expeditions. American ultra-luxe line Seabourn’s new expedition ship, The Seabourn Venture, is a battery-powered six-seater complete with champagne cooler and Bluetooth audio system. It submerses up to 300 metres and guests travel in two clear acrylic spheres flanking the pilot’s station. Passenger seats are mounted on a rotating platform to ensure everyone gets a great view.

Seabourn Cruise Line

Submarine expedition

The new ultimate in luxury excursions isn’t on the shore at all – it’s under the water. At least three cruise lines now offer submarine expeditions. American ultra-luxe line Seabourn’s new expedition ship, The Seabourn Venture, is a battery-powered six-seater complete with champagne cooler and Bluetooth audio system. It submerses up to 300 metres and guests travel in two clear acrylic spheres flanking the pilot’s station. Passenger seats are mounted on a rotating platform to ensure everyone gets a great view.