10 Must-Do Cruise Shore Excursions for Fans of Music and the Arts

Friedrich Nietzsche said, “without music, life would be a mistake,” but luckily for travelers on a Holland America Line cruise, they will be surrounded by it. Music is one of the most memorable facets to cruising with Holland America Line. From incredible onboard performances at the different show lounges and theaters like the B.B. King’s Blues Club to nights spent singing along at the piano bar, guests will get to feel the rhythm of many different genres in one trip.

Off the ship, there is just as much opportunity to enjoy the sounds of a city, often times as memorable as its sights. Here are 10, can’t miss, bucket-list tours for music lovers around the world, from an elegant and iconic theater to a casual, Caribbean experience.

1. Watch a Ballet at St. Petersburg’s Mariinsky Theater

With a call at St. Petersburg, Russia, you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy an extraordinary evening with a live performance at the famous and spectacular Mariinsky Theater — renowned for its opera and ballet companies. The Mariinsky Theater opened in 1860 and was the pre-eminent music theater of late 19th-century Russia. It was named after Empress Maria Alexandrovna, the wife of Czar Alexander II. Tchaikovsky, Mussorgsky and Rimsky-Korsakov all had stage masterpieces debut here, now home to the Mariinsky Ballet, Mariinsky Opera and Mariinsky Orchestra companies. The specific repertoire will be announced onboard the ship, but no matter what it is, be prepared to be impressed.

2. Enjoy an Evening at The World-famous Sydney Opera House

The Sydney Opera House features breath-taking performances.

The Sydney Opera House features breath-taking performances.

For music lovers, it would be wrong to go to Sydney, Australia, without a visit to the world-famous Sydney Opera House. With the Evening at the Sydney Opera House tour, you will have the experience of a lifetime, attending a performance at this marvelous facility. The building’s epic sail-shaped roof is one of Australia’s most iconic symbols, but the interiors are equally impressive. Enjoy a dazzling performance by talented professionals in this unparalleled performing arts venue.

3. Feel the Beat at a Samba Show in Rio

Rio de Janeiro is vibrant and beautiful by day, but comes even more alive at night!

Rio de Janeiro is vibrant and beautiful by day, but comes even more alive at night!

You can feel the beat at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, with the Night out in Rio: Samba Show tour. This Medallion Collection offering gives a firsthand glimpse of Rio’s fabulous and colorful nightlife. At a local show house, you will enjoy a live presentation of dazzling color and costumes, including the song and dance of Afro-Brazilian culture. You’ll quickly fall in love with the catchy beat of samba, the most important dance from the famous Carnival festival, and learn about authentic Brazilian folklore, portrayed through the costumes, songs and dancing.

4. Hear the Massed Pipes & Drums During the Edinburgh Military Tattoo


Traditionally, the ‘tattoo’ was the signal given by drumbeat that warned British soldiers to return to their quarters for the night. During the memorable Edinburgh Military Tattoo tour at Edinburgh, Scotland, you’ll enjoy a ceremonial performance featuring the world-famous Massed Pipes & Drums together with the impressive Massed Military Bands and the Band of the Royal Regiment of Scotland, all with the gorgeous backdrop of Edinburgh Castle. The Tattoo concludes with the lone piper and leaves guests with lasting memories of a night out in Scotland.

5. Go for a Wild Ride on the Kukoo Kunuku Bus at Oranjestad

This tour will have you feeling like a local in no time!

This tour will have you feeling like a local in no time!

The Kukoo Kunuku Dinner & Nighlife Experience at Oranjestad, Aruba, is one like no other. Head to the countryside and down city alleys for a true island escapade. Hop aboard the famous Kukoo Kunuku Bus and shake your maraca to the beat of catchy Caribbean music. This wacky, wonderful, one-of-a-kind paranda bus is hand painted and defines “fun on wheels.” You’ll start off the night at the beach for a champagne toast then stop at a pub for a cocktail. Next, you are off to dinner where you’ll devour genuine Caribbean barbecue. After dinner, head to local pubs for dancing. The first drink at each stop is included and along the way, you will learn the island rhythms so you’ll feel like a local once you step off the bus.

6. Make Salsa While Learning to Salsa at Cabo San Lucas

Enjoy Salsa & Salsa at Cabo San Lucas! Right photo credit: www.salsaandsalsa.com.

Enjoy Salsa & Salsa at Cabo San Lucas! Right photo credit: www.salsaandsalsa.com.

Put on your toque and polish your dancing shoes for a tour that combines cooking and dancing with laughing and drinking! The Salsa & Salsa tour at Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, was rated as one of the world’s Top Ten Amazing Cooking Classes and has received the coveted Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence! This hands-on culinary experience features two energetic dancing chefs that instruct you on how to make delicious salsas and margaritas. Try an assortment of drinks and snack on your culinary creations with tasty cheese quesadillas, crispy taquitos and freshly fried corn chips. Once the cooking is over, your dancing chef will have you moving and swinging to the magic of salsa music.

7. See Anne & Gilbert: the Musical at Charlottetown

Photo credit: www.AnneandGilbert.com

Photo credit: www.AnneandGilbert.com

Variety, Newsweek, the Toronto Star and the Ottawa Citizen have offered rave reviews of one of Canada’s most popular and most successful musicals: Anne & Gilbert. This Anne of Green Gables experience is a must-see for music lovers during a call at Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. You’ll have a guided walking tour of Charlottetown on the way to the Guild Theater. Then you’ll watch a professional performance, based on the Anne of Green Gables series of books by Lucy Maud Montgomery. It is hilarious, full of beautiful songs and includes some tear-jerking moments. If you loved the books, you are sure to love the musical. And if you’ve never read them — you’re in for a surprise!

8. Channel Your Inner Prospector and Enjoy a Rollicking Time During a Vaudeville Show in Alaska

The Frantic Follies Vaudeville Revue at Whitehorse, Alaska, has it all: high-stepping, singing, cancan dancing, slapstick skits and readings of Robert Servie poetry. This show entices viewers to put themselves into the spirit of the Klondike Gold Rush and prospectors loaded with gold and eager for a good time!

9. Get Fully Immersed in Thai Traditions with a Cultural Performance at Laem Chabang


The Nong Nooch Cultural Village tour showcases Thailand’s scenery, religion and culture. You’ll first stop at a beautiful orchid farm and nursery. Next, you’ll head to the theater for a colorful, cultural performance filled with traditional costumed folk dancers and warriors on elephants! You’ll even see a kickboxing display and an elephant show in the open courtyard.

10. Listen to a Bagpiper Play in the Celtic Capital of North America

Photo courtesy of Cruise Atlantic Canada.

Photo courtesy of Cruise Atlantic Canada.

The Spirit of the Fiddle tour at Sydney, Nova Scotia, is an excellent opportunity to celebrate the musical heritage of Cape Breton — the Celtic capital of North America. The tour starts by the world’s tallest fiddle, located at the cruise pavilion, with a bagpipe performance. You’ll experience the traditional music that is unique to Cape Breton Island, infused with Scottish, Irish and Acadian influences. Professional entertainers will sing, step dance and play the fiddle for your enjoyment.


If you are already booked on a cruise visiting one of these ports, remember that shore excursions can be pre-booked so you’re sure to get the tour of your choice.

And be sure to check with your travel professional or visit our website for the latest promotions such as Explore 4 and Get Up & Go! You won’t want to miss out on these savings!

Music lovers, have you crossed any of these tours off of your bucket list? Tell us in the comments below.


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