When you cruise, what type of shore excursions attract you the most? Relaxing city tours, historically rich explorations or exhilarating adventures that get your adrenaline pumping? If you’re looking for once-in-a-lifetime experiences that combine a little bit of everything, Holland America Line has an incredible collection of shore excursions in Europe that feature some of the most exclusive events and exciting opportunities that allow you to explore the ports in a variety of ways.
Are you a golf fan, Formula One junkie or do you like to see the world from a different view? Read on and see why these six tours top the list of European shore excursions not to miss.
British Open Championship at St. Andrews
For those who appreciate the game of golf’s rich history, the British Open Championship at St. Andrews tour is the ultimate tournament experience. Be there as the 144th British Open is played out on the Old Course at St. Andrews. Follow the best players in the world as they navigate the pot bunkers and gusty winds that are the hallmarks of this Scottish legend. This is the rare opportunity to witness golf’s oldest Major Championship return to the game’s most cherished links.
Prinsendam’s July 15, 2015, Irish & Scottish Explorer departure calls at Rosyth during the British Open.
Grand Prix Trials
Monte Carlo, Monaco
Amazingly the call at Monte Carlo on Nieuw Amsterdam’s April 22 departure coincides with the trials for the world-famous Formula One Grand Prix. Guests can attend the first day of the F1 trials, held on one of the most fascinating and talked-about racetracks in the world. From the port of Fontvieille a local escort will lead you on a 30-minute walk (approximately) toward the grandstand section, located in a central position. Local Grand Prix personnel will direct you toward the section where you are to be seated. It is then up to you to decide which trials you wish to attend as your ticket gives you grandstand access for the whole day with in-out privileges. Come and go as you please. Your escort will give you a map of Monaco for orientation and then you’re on your own for a most enjoyable day.
Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo
Traditionally, the ‘tattoo’ was the signal given by drumbeat that warned British soldiers to return to their quarters for the night. Innkeepers promptly turned off their liquor taps and the drums continued to beat for a half hour — the period of grace during which the soldiers were allowed to return home before being AWOL. The custom eventually developed into a ceremonial performance of military music by massed bands, held a few hours after sunset.
At the Edinburgh Military Tattoo that takes place every August against the majestic backdrop of Edinburgh Castle, the world-renowned Massed Pipes & Drums together with the impressive Massed Military Bands and the Band of the Royal Regiment of Scotland are among those who will gather for Scotland’s sensational Edinburgh Tattoo. The Tattoo concludes with that most moving of all Scotland’s performances — the lone piper, floodlit on the battlements, haunting tones reaching out across the darkened arena to echo in your heart long after the music stops. (This excursion is only available on select sailings in August and is not available on Sundays.)
Exclusive Mt. Vesuvius
Travel by coach along the Bay of Naples on the Exclusive Mt. Vesuvius tour, stopping en route at a local cameo factory before reaching the foot of awesome Mount Vesuvius — the only volcano on the mainland continent of Europe. From the village of Boscotrecase, you will board a special ecological 4×4 bus for a 25-minute drive through Mount Vesuvius National Park, through pine forests and broom to an elevation of 3,400 feet. Leave the bus and walk to the upper part of the crater, where you will enjoy a walking tour around the crater under the expert supervision of an alpine guide.
Mount Vesuvius creates a beautiful landscape with the bay and Naples tucked below. Vesuvius is best known for its eruption in AD 79, destroying the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum and killing up to 25,000 people. It has erupted many times since and is today regarded as one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world because of the population of three million people living nearby. The mountain has a tendency for explosive (Plinian) eruptions.
We had a wonderful sunny day, and you want good weather. The drive in the 4 wheel vehicle part way up Mt. Vesuvius was great. There is quite a climb but rails to hand on to when needed. You get right to the mouth of the volcano which is amazing. This trip was my husband’s choice and I am so glad we took it. — Guest Chrisdo
Kickin’ Corfu! A 4-Wheel-Drive Adventure
Kérkira (Corfu), Greece
Get behind the wheel of a four-wheel-drive vehicle on the Kickin’ Corfu tour and drive yourself and your fellow guests along the main coastal route, and up a country road, through olive groves and the village of Ano Korakiana. The road up Pantokrator Mountain features 27 zigzag turns and leads to the old village of Sokraki. Stretch your legs on a walk through the narrow winding streets of the village and enjoy a meze (traditional light snack) with a glass of local wine. Set off again along a country (dirt) lane to admire the beautiful panoramic view of the island as well as the magnificent view of the old town of Corfu. Returning to the narrow asphalt road, pass through Troubeta, Arkadades, Makrades and Lakones.
Without doubt this tour was the best tour of the whole cruise.My wife drove the little four wheel drive ,without any problems,while I ran the Gopro. The best views. The stop at Sokraki was more of a full lunch than a light snack, with local produce and meats, wine and ouzo.The narrow roads through picturesque towns were a treat. And one breathtaking view after another. I would highly suggest this tour. — Guests Steve and Linda
Sensational Rooftop Walk & Stockholm’s Old Town
It’s been featured on the blog in the past, but it’s too special to leave off this list. Try something sensational and unique — a guided walk conducted along a historic rooftop in Stockholm. Drive to Riddarholmen, the small island in the Old Town of Sweden’s capital. During the 13th century, Franciscan monks built a monastery here, parts of which still remains in the cellar vaults of the many impressive buildings that stand here today. Riddarholmen Church is the final resting place of most Swedish Kings. Next to the church is the Old Parliament Building which you’ll enter and take the elevator up to the top floor and, via the attic, step out into the open. Buckle up with your safety harness and take your first steps along the narrow rooftop path offering fantastic views and fascinating stories that your guide will share en route.
Even though the height (up to 130 feet) may be a challenge to some, this is the perfect starting point to learn of the history of Stockholm and take in some breathtaking views. With your feet back on the ground, continue to the Old Town for a ground-level walking tour through Gamla Stan — a living historical monument of international renown. On the way back to the ship, relax for a panoramic sightseeing drive through Stockholm, passing the Parliament Building, the Royal Opera, the city center with Sergels Torg and the Concert Hall.
My husband and I had a great time – what a unique opportunity to walk on the rooftop of a centuries old buildling in the middle of Stockholm. We had a view of the city from every angle, and learned a lot about the history of Stockholm. It was the perfect mix of sightseeing and adrenaline! — Guest TravelGal
Which one of these tours would you like to take? Many of the exclusive shore excursions fill up quickly, so remember to pre-book the shore excursion of your choice to save time onboard and ensure you have a seat!