CRUISING HAS CHANGED DRAMATICALLY over the past century, first providing travelers with a means of transportation and then ushering in a new era that attracted leisure travelers looking for variety in the midnight buffets and activity on the shuffleboard courts. The new generation of cruisers takes cruising to an entirely new realm, where passengers split their time on and off the boat for an equal mix of time on the water and on the shore.
In Peru, Aqua Expeditions’ Aria Amazon takes up to 32 passengers deep into the Peruvian Amazon and the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve to explore the unspoiled rainforest as passengers spend their days off the boat and nights on board. Small-group excursions cap out at eight passengers per guide; the highly experienced naturalist guides provide insight as the group enters deep within the rainforest for nature hikes, medicinal plant walks and even encounters with local tribes of the Amazon rainforest.
The latest in land and sea offerings is something known as the “cruise tour.” Cruise tours are land tours typically undertaken before or after the cruise itself to bring passengers deeper into the interior of a destination. Many cruise tours bring passengers to places that are mainly accessible by cruise ship, like the Galápagos Islands and Antarctica, but all of them offer guests the chance to get off the boat and explore some of the world’s most amazing destinations.
PHOTO: © PRINCESS CRUISES
Princess Cruises offers four unique cruise tours of Alaska, each including a seven-day cruise with options to extend before or after for anywhere from three to 10 nights. The three- to six-night cruise tour proves the most popular option, as it includes up to four nights in the Denali area with a stay at the exclusive Princess Wilderness Lodge where guests can sleep among the wildlife (caribou, moose, wolves, bald eagles) in the comfort of a luxury lodge with all the amenities. Guests travel directly from the cruise port via the Direct-to-the-Wilderness program, or Princess Alaska rail service, and can choose from optional excursions even once at the lodge, from flightseeing tours to jetboat safaris along the Nenana River.
In Europe, Classic Journeys combines the best of cruise touring with river cruising, as it recently launched its European River Cruises. Each eight-day cruise brings no more than 18 guests on board with a Classic Journeys guide who takes care of the group’s needs on the ship but also takes them to off-the-beaten path experiences on land. From meeting local olive oil makers in Portugal to cooking with Michelin- starred chefs along the Rhône River, the bespoke adventures on land complement the luxury experiences enjoyed back on the ship.