Think you’ve seen it all during your cruise? Think again! With Holland America Line’s Encore Collection of Journeys Ashore tours in each port, guests who have visited a port before or who are looking for something off the beaten path will have the possibility to discover what lies beyond the attractions everyone knows about.
From sight-seeing to in-home cooking to ziplining through a jungle canopy, these award-winning shore excursions introduce new sites and experiences … and are nothing short of extraordinary.
Here is a peek at 10 fabulous Encore Collection Journeys Ashore from all around the world:
Immerse yourself in Southeast Alaska’s breathtaking underwater world as you snorkel the calm and clear waters of Mountain Point on the Mountain Point Snorkeling Adventure tour. You’ll be toasty warm in a state-of-the-art wetsuit complete with hood, boots and gloves as you hover among Alaska’s diverse and colorful marine life. Thanks to the Japanese Kiroshio current, long summer days and the lack of glaciers in this area, water temperatures reach a surprising 65 degrees in summer.
Mountain Point is Southeast Alaska’s premier snorkeling destination. The site has shallow tide pools teeming with marine life and steep underwater rock walls for free-diving, all just five miles from your ship. Complete instruction, in-water supervision and entertaining in-water narrative make this award-winning excursion suitable for beginners and experienced snorkelers alike.
During the one-hour guided marine life tour guests observe and handle a variety of multi-colored sea stars, urchins, sea cucumbers and the giant sunflower star. Discover the myriad of fish and colorful invertebrates that inhabit these waters while snorkeling over the kelp forest.
“This was an incredible experience to snorkel in 55F water! The wetsuits and equipment that were given to us were top notch. We were NOT COLD….if you like to snorkel or dive, I’d do this excursion. The staff were very helpful with fitting and assisting once we arrived in the water. They were very knowledgeable and gave you the opportunity to hold the items from the sea. We saw colorful starfish, crab, sea cucmber, jellyfish and sea urchins.” – Guest Greenlakegirl
Nawiliwili Kauai, Hawaii
During the unique Tubing the Hanamauiu Ditch System tour, guests go back in time to the sugar plantation era, on private lands that are usually closed to the public. A short drive takes you to the headwaters of the four-mile-long Hanamaulu Ditch system, where you will begin your two-mile leisurely tubing expedition.
“Terrific adventure for all ages. You sit on top of large (truck size) very comfortable inner tubes (made from the same material as they make zodiacs) and float down these irrigation ditches, that are actually beautiful, fern covered, spectacular water plumes. You sit on the tubes and float pretty quickly (4 mph). The scenery was gorgeous. The guides were very supportive and funny and kind. They provide padded gloves and helmets with headlamps. You go through tunnels carved through the lava 150 years ago, turning on your headlamps as directed by the guides. It was thrilling and relaxing at the same time. I wanted to start all over and do it again at the bottom.” — Guest AdventurePerson
Witness one of Kauai’s spectacular engineering feats as you float down the tropical waterway consisting of open ditches, tunnels and flumes, all of which were engineered and hand-dug circa 1912. At the end of your tubing adventure, you will be whisked away to enjoy a delicious snack at an enchanting picnic area complete with a pristine swimming hole.
Hong Kong, China
The Off the Beaten Track: A Day in the Life of Hong Kong cultural tour offers a close-up look at everyday life in Hong Kong — a great option for returning visitors. Through historical photographs, documents and models, the Hong Kong Museum of History traces Hong Kong’s evolution from sleepy fishing island to world-stage metropolis. Visit one of Hong Kong’s largest Taoist temples, the Wong Tai Sin Temple, and enjoy a rare opportunity to observe the daily rituals here. Taoism and Buddhism are the dominant religions of Hong Kong. Kowloon’s Walled City Park was once a refuge for criminals, but is now a superb Chinese garden. Some of its displays depict the garden’s notorious history.
“This tour was a surprise and a good surprise. I enjoyed this tour very much and learned many things about the city and its people.” – Guest Cbear
Quebec City, Quebec, Canada
During the A Walk Through Old Quebec & Wine Tasting tour, discover the European charm of the first French city in North America as you enjoy a short funicular ride to reach the castle-like Château Frontenac. It was here that Roosevelt, Churchill and MacKenzie King met to discuss their strategy during World War II.
From the romantic boardwalk of Dufferin Terrace, you will have a spectacular view of the St. Lawrence River, Ile d’Orléans, and the Laurentian Mountains. Walk through the walled city past Place d’Armes, the Seminary of Québec and the Ursuline Convent. In the heart of the Lower Town, the Place Royale is surrounded by the former homes of wealthy merchants. The square is also home to North America’s oldest standing Catholic Church — Notre-Dame des Victoires.
Stroll through the charming pedestrian-only area of Petit Champlain. Among its narrow cobblestone streets you will find an array of quaint boutiques, specialty shops, and outdoor cafés. Then stop at one of Québec’s most historic buildings to sample a variety of wines from the Province of Québec.
“We thoroughly enjoyed this excursion. Our guide was wonderfully warm and informative; she answered all our questions with enthusiasm for the city. It was a treat to learn of the history and the past culture as well as the current trends. The wine tasting that concluded our excursion was much more generous in both quality and quantity then I had expected. Bravo for this one and for our lovely tour guide Madelaine. We highly recommend this tour.” – Guest VoyagerRA
At La Casa La Playa: A Select Retreat, paradise is found! Escape the crowds and indulge in a luxurious getaway at an exclusive Caribbean-style beach house complete with amenities including a chef, bartender and gracious host.
Join a small, select group for a relaxing day of sun, sand, swanky cuisine and cocktails away from the hustle and bustle of town. Relax on a secluded private beach surrounded by palm trees, while you take in the exotic tropical scenery. Swim or snorkel (gear provided) in the warm Caribbean waters surrounding the quiet, bungalow-style beach house. If you just want to relax, lie in a hammock or cabana bed, or sun-worship on a cozy chaise lounge.
“Excellent excursion if you are interested in a day at the beach away from the crowds. This is a private home with a small swimming pool and a very nice, private beach. All drinks are included, if you are so inclined your hand need never be empty. The lunch was excellent (stuffed peppers were great) and authentic. The staffers were friendly, very attentive and fully bilingual. Transportation to and from the beach was by prearranged taxi.” — Guest Roebling
A chef will be on site all day to prepare a traditional Mexican lunch. If you’re interested in cooking, join him in the kitchen to learn the recipes and practice culinary techniques. Thirsty? The bartender is available all day to mix up a variety of cocktails, including fresh margaritas. Give yourself over to living — just for a day — a luxurious life on the beach in beautiful Cozumel.
Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
Journey into the unknown surrounded by unspoiled flora and fauna as you zip across a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve on the adrenaline-pumping Cabo Zip-Lining & Multi Activity Adventure tour. A series of double zip-lines uses the most advanced techniques and safety equipment, including an upside-down zip-line option.
This adventure consists of impressive zip-lines, rock climbing, crazy ladders, suspension bridges, a nature walk and some exciting rapelling. Experience the thrill of flying across and through open canyons and rock formations with beautiful streams and riverbeds below. Small groups with experienced guides ensure an enjoyable time surrounded by the beauty of the Baja.
“I’m 52 years old, fairly active and this was my 7th zipline adventure thus far. This tour offered a great deal more than just ziplining. We were able to zipline upside down, rappel, rock climb, and cross a river commando style (crossing on a system of cables). Not only was I impressed by the professionalism of the crew but I was also truly amazed by two amazing women, one 85 years old and the other 88 years old that made the adventure with us! They didn’t do the rappelling or rock climbing but they completed every zipline. They were truly an inspiration but also spoke volumes about the ability of others to complete this excursion. If you have physical limitations this is NOT the tour for you but if you can get around, even if slowly, you can complete this excursion. This was a fabulous way to spend the day!!!” – Guest BuddyB
Palermo, Sicily, Italy
On the A Taste of Sicily: A Cooking Lesson tour, visit the beautiful Antica Masseria, an ancient farm not far from town and in the heart of the Sicilian countryside. You’ll explore the 18th-century baglio (country house) and the small church consecrated as a Sacred Family Oratory, where mass is still celebrated. Enjoy the shade of old palms, weeping willows, climbing roses and wisteria. The atmosphere of the farm and the house capture the essence of Italian nobility and the charm of a bygone era.
On arrival at the baglio, you’ll be welcomed by the charming Baroness Di Salvo, who will tell you about the house. Then, she’ll begin a cooking lesson based on the preparation of some typical Sicilian dishes, showing you the main ingredients and procedures as she goes. Don an apron and join in if you like. At the end of the cooking course, you’ll taste the dishes shown during the lesson. After your delicious lunch, there’s time to relax in the garden in the shade of the magnificent, luxuriant vegetation.
“Wonderful bus tour and the second half was the cooking class. Great participation from the group helping out with the cooking. The baroness did speak in Italian but it was translated by the bus tour guide. Delicious food in abundance. Beautiful countryside and well worth the money.” — Guest Cabob
Cruise through the Stavanger Archipelago on the Lysefjord: Pulpit Rock Cruise Journeys Ashore for an overview of how the Norwegians live in this area, with plenty of small idyllic islands and many holiday homes by the sea.
In splendid Lysefjord, discover one of Norway’s spectacular natural wonders — Pulpit Rock. This promontory juts more than 1,500 feet above the sea, and you will cruise directly under it. In this beautiful fjord, the water around you is as deep as the mountains are high. Stop en route for a snack of coffee and waffles, served in idyllic surroundings in traditional Norwegian style with sour cream and jam.
Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala
On the Tikal, Mayan City of Voices tour, transfer to a nearby airport for a 90-minute flight by chartered aircraft to the vast northern region of Petén. Enjoy a one-hour drive along a rain forest-lined road en route to the famous Mayan ruins of Tikal.
Begin a guided hike along dirt roads and pathways that will lead you back in time. A mysterious realm unfolds as you enter the forest surrounding the ruins, and the Great Plaza will come into view. You will visit the Pyramid of the Great Jaguar, the Central Plaza, the Palace of the Masks and Pyramid IV. Marvel at the size of the Central Acropolis and the North Acropolis, as well as the temples that tower above the tree line.
Time permitting, you’ll stop at the Sylvanus Morley Museum before you retrace your route by air and head back to the ship.
“Since I don’t anticipate coming this way again, I felt it was well worth the investment of time and money to take this excursion and in fact, the charter plane/small group with HAL representative ensures next-to-VIP treatment at the park itself. Choosing to climb the temples, on the very safe and sturdy wood staircases with railings, makes the excursion relatively strenuous, but there is no time limit for climbing. The only relatively risky spots are at the top of the temples themselves, on the original stones with no railings, which is in itself quite miraculous that we get to experience that and touch and use structures more than a thousand years old. For me the paths between the temples, while not paved, were quite straightforward, albeit unpaved. Plaza Norte to me was quite extraordinary and you can easily envision a living community there. My only caveat would be to educate yourself before you come because our guide, while cordial, did not go as deeply into detailed history as I personally would have preferred. But if you can budget for it, absolutely do it!” Guest -Sandlun
King and gentoo penguins and other bird species of the Falklands are the stars of this award-winning scenic, off-road Bluff Cove Penguin Rookery excursion to the privately owned wildlife haven.
Meet the Bluff Cove team on the pier and head out for a 20-minute journey through Stanley and across the rolling hills to Bluff Cove Farm. Transfer to a Land Rover 4×4 and relax as your skillful driver navigates the rugged off-road terrain for another 20 minutes. Upon your arrival at the Bluff Cove Lagoon penguin rookery, knowledgeable and friendly rangers will brief you about what to expect and what to look for.
Stroll through the penguin colony, which features a scenic backdrop of a large lagoon and a white, sandy beach that is occasionally patrolled by sea lions from the nearby island.
This pristine reserve is home to more than 1,000 breeding pairs of gentoo penguins, which protect the growing colony of king penguins and their chicks. Magellanic penguins, which burrow on the nearby island, can also be found on the beach. Bird species that frequent or nest in the area include skuas, upland geese, ruddy-headed geese, Magellanic oyster-catchers, South American terns, dolphin gulls, flightless Falkland steamer ducks, snowy sheathbills and southern giant petrels.
Warm up with a cup of tea, coffee or hot chocolate served at the legendary Sea Cabbage Café on the beach and enjoy delicious home-baked treats including scones with diddle-dee jam and fresh cream. Bask in the warmth and aroma of the peat stove and listen to live music as you enjoy the splendid vistas of the waves crashing on the shore, with penguins porpoising in. The Bluff Cove Museum & Shop, also by the beach, depicts life in the Falklands and tells the story of Bluff Cove. Learn about the farm, the nearby 1863 ‘sugar wreck’, the 1982 war with Argentina and the fabulous lagoon wildlife.
Watch a live spinning and felting demonstration using wool from the farm. You will have one hour of free time to take photographs, stroll along the beach, browse in the museum and enjoy treats in the café. After an unforgettable visit, return to the minibus by Land Rover 4×4 and head back to Stanley.
“This was an excellent tour. The roads outside of Stanley are not the greatest, but the real adventure came with the off-road Jeep which bounced and jolted its way through the peat bogs to the cove. This is not a tour for anyone with a bad back! The gentoo and king penguins were great. The weather was cold and the wind made it colder yet. I was glad to have my ski mask and warm hat and coat. The tea was well done, with the option of hot chocolate as well as tea and coffee, and some terrific home-made cookies. There is a small gift shop and time to look and buy if you are so inclined. Then we retraced our journey back to Stanley, arriving in plenty of time to walk around the very small town, explore the few gift shops, and get back to the ship.” – Guest Woolly
With thousands of Journeys Ashore that span the globe, there’s something for everyone in each port. Whether it’s a more unusual Encore Collection tour or a World Wonders tour to natural treasures, architectural marvels and technical wonders … remember to pre-booked your shore excursions so you don’t miss out! Click HERE to book now!