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While one of the joys of an ocean crossing is long, blissful days at sea, there’s no shortage of thrilling shore excursions on offer along the way.
Transatlantic crossings often call at the Canary Islands, a verdant, volcanic archipelago packed with natural beauty and cultural interest. On Tenerife, take a tour up snow-capped Mount Teide, Spain’s highest mountain, or taste delicious tapas in Santa Cruz, the island’s cosmopolitan capital. On the more rugged island of La Palma, explore the sheer rock walls, ridges, cascading streams, and dense forest of the Caldera de Taburiente.
If your cruise calls at Madeira, try riding the cable car to the top of Monte, the mountain overlooking the capital, and rumbling down the narrow streets in a wicker toboggan steered by expert drivers. There’s more Portuguese culture in the Azores, where you can taste local wine, join a guided tour of the cobbled streets of Ponta Delgada, or take an expedition into the mountains to admire shimmering crater lakes.
Transatlantic cruises often call at Bermuda, fringed by pink sand beaches. Join a tour to explore the island’s oldest fort, and then head out onto the water at sunset for a romantic catamaran cruise with rum swizzle cocktails.
Some transatlantic itineraries combine the ocean crossing with a port-intensive voyage around the Mediterranean. Immerse yourself in the local culture with a flamenco lesson in Barcelona, or a guided tour of Antoni Gaudí’s famous architecture, including the ornate Sagrada Familia basilica. From La Spezia, you could taste fine Italian wine in a Tuscan farmhouse, or gaze at Michelangelo’s exquisite David in Florence’s Accademia gallery.
On a transpacific cruise, you’ll enjoy the unusual combination of Alaska’s wild, pristine beauty and Japan’s fascinating culture all in one voyage. Hike through the Tongass National Forest from Ketchikan, kayak across serene mountain lakes on the lookout for bears, or try your hand at fishing. Once you reach Japan, there’s a new world to explore; the sapphire-blue lakes of Hokkaido, the intricate Hirosaki Castle, and the exquisite Seibien Garden from Aomori. In Tokyo, don’t miss the impressive Tokyo Tower or the famed Shibuya Crossing, one of the world’s busiest and most orderly crosswalks.
Other transpacific crossings thread their way between Honolulu and Sydney through the unimaginably beautiful tropical islands of Maui, French Polynesia, Samoa, American Samoa, Fiji, Vanuatu, and New Caledonia. Learn about coral reef preservation in Pago Pago, American Samoa, and snorkel among shoals of rainbow-colored fish in the emerald lagoons of the Isle of Pines. Bathe in thermal mud pools in Fiji, or fly over the forest canopy on a zipline tour. In Tahiti, explore the lush interior and discover the dazzling colors and landscapes that inspired controversial artist Paul Gauguin.
Many of our transpacific itineraries call at Auckland, New Zealand, where there’s a thrilling range of activities to try, from exploring a movie set to taking the helm of an America’s Cup yacht. Taste wines on Waiheke Island, or visit Waitomo Caves, illuminated only by the tiny lights of millions of glow worms. In the scenic Bay of Islands, you could paddle a Māori war canoe, sample the wares of artisan food producers, or explore historic Russell, New Zealand’s first capital.
Sydney, meanwhile, needs little introduction, with its supermodel glamor. Watch the surfers on Bondi Beach, explore The Rocks, one of the most historic neighborhoods, with an Aboriginal guide, and dare to try the Sydney Harbor Bridge climb. At sundown, set sail across the gorgeous harbor on a paddlewheel boat for dinner with fine Australian wines as the lights slowly come on all over the city.