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Top 10 Best Cruise Shore Excursions In 2013

Welcome to wave season, when most of the major cruise lines slash cruise prices to insanely good deals. This year, many of the big guns are sweetening the pot with cash-back bonuses to spend on once-in-a-lifetime shore excursions.
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Welcome to wave season, when most of the major cruise lines slash cruise prices to insanely good deals, like up to 65% off! This year, many of the big guns are sweetening the pot with cash-back bonuses to spend on once-in-a-lifetime shore excursions. From volunteering in Thailand, to scaling rooftops in Sweden, here's a roundup of some of the best shore excursions around the world.

Holland America: Beast of Burden, Gentle Giant
Port City: Bangkok, Thailand
The Cruise With Purpose Collection offers Holland America cruisers a chance to give back to local communities during their shore excursions, and in Ayutthaya, Thailand don't miss a chance to visit ElephantStay. The organization is focused on preserving the Asian elephant species and offering a quality life to abused or elderly elephants. Your visit will give you a hands-on opportunity to feed the elephants and visit mothers and babies in the breeding program. Part of your admission fee is donated directly to ElephantStay. Approx. 10.5 hours; about $150/person

Royal Caribbean: Pilot's Choice Glacier Explorer Helicopter Ride
Port City: Juneau, Alaska
Royal Caribbean's Alaska cruises are known to take cruisers to some of the most scenic and dramatic landscapes in the country. But once you port in Juneau, your adventure will really take flight as you board a helicopter that takes you to some of the most remote glaciers and peaks in the Juneau ice field: Wonderland, Glacier King and Devil's Paw, to name a few. You'll make two landings in the glaciers to continue the exploration on foot. 2 hours, 45 minutes (including takeoff/landing); $450/person

Disney Cruise Line: 12 Metre Regatta
Port City: St. Maarten
If you ever dreamed of racing in the America's Cup, this Disney Cruise Line excursion is for you. When you dock in St. Maarten you'll board a sailing vessel that has actually competed in the America's Cup and you'll train like the pros, learning how to trim a sail and grind a winch. If you'd rather sit back and enjoy the wind in your hair, that's okay too. Approx. three hours

Seabourn Cruises: Kayak Adventure in Halong Bay
Port City: Halong Bay, Vietnam
One of the best ways to experience the grandeur of Halong Bay is by kayak. With this Seabourn Cruise excursion, you will feel the impressive scale of the bay's 1,900 natural islands as you paddle in and out of caves, grottos and through limestone outcrops. Highlights of the kayak adventure include Man's Head Island, Dragon Island, La Vong Island and more. Lunch is served on board followed by more kayaking to Luon Cave and fishing village. Approx. five hours

Norwegian Cruise Line: Haleakala Sunrise Bicycle Ride
Port City: Maui, Hawaii
While waking up in the wee hours of the morning for a bike ride might not seem like an enjoyable vacation activity, this is not just any bike ride. Many say that the sunrise at the top of Haleakala Crater, where this Norwegian Cruise Line excursion begins, is the most beautiful in the world. As the warmth and color of this once-in-a-lifetime sunrise hit you, prepare to descend gently down Mount Haleakala, the worlds largest resting volcano, cruising past lavender fields, eucalyptus forests and utter beauty on your way back to the sea. Approx. 45 minutes; $149/person

Seabourn Cruises: A Day With Gauchos
Port City: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Venture beyond Buenos Aires into gaucho country on Seabourn's day trip to a local estancia (ranch) where you will eat, drink and delight in gaucho culture. After you finish a barbeque of mouth-watering Argentine steaks, watch gauchos in action as they saddle-up and demonstrate their extraordinary racing and boleadoras-throwing talents. Eight hours

Royal Caribbean: Whale Shark Encounter and Snorkel
Port City: Cozumel, Mexico
The whale shark is the largest fish in the world, and one of the few places you can swim with this giant species is Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. Once you transfer to Cancun for this Royal Caribbean adventure, you'll board a high-speed boat to a special snorkel location where you are guaranteed to see whale sharks or your money will be refunded. This is a unique chance to get up close with this gentle giant. Eight hours; $249/person

Celebrity Cruises: Journey into Middle Earth
Port City: Akaroa, New Zealand
Step into a scene from Lord of the Rings as you enter the awe-inspiring Southern Alps of New Zealand on Celebrity's scenic and remote tour of the region. Have you camera ready as you pass through Mt. Potts high country station and Canterbury Plains. You will quickly realize why New Zealand was chosen as the backdrop for the film as you witness sweeping views of mountain tops, valleys, turquoise lakes and even a few sheep. Approx. 8.5 hours; $239/adult

Holland America: Sensation Rooftop Walk & Stockholm's Old Town
Port City: Stockholm, Sweden
I'm always on the hunt for the best views of a city, and Holland America's Stockholm rooftop walk gives you just that. This one-of-a-kind city tour starts as you exit the attic of the Old Parliament Building, wearing a safety harness, of course. You will continue walking across the Old Town's narrow rooftops, hearing tales of times past and soaking in the romantic views of Stockholm from 130 feet. When you return to ground, your Old Town tour continues through Stockholm's oldest quarter, Gamla Stan. Approx. three hours; about $150/person

MSC Cruises: Sports on the Elafiiti Islands
Port City: Dubrovnik, Croatia
After exploring the walled city of Dubrovnik, jump on a motorboat and take a jaunt out to the Lapad Peninsula where crystal blue water and gorgeous scenery await on this MSC Cruise excursion. Make a stop at the island of Kolocep for cave snorkeling in the Modra Spilja Cave. Sandy beaches welcome you at Donje Celo, where you'll enjoy the rest of the day soaking in the sun and tasting some of the freshest seafood in the Adriatic. Approx 4.5 hours

Princess Cruise: Cape of Good Hope & Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden
Port City: Cape Town
The Cape of Good Hope is a must-see travel experience, and Princess Cruise's excursion gets you there via one of South Africa's most scenic routes. You'll pass through the suburbs of Sea Point and Green Point as you head to Camps Bay. Check out Twelve Apostles before hitting the quaint fishing village of Hout Bay. Chapman's Peak is next, then on to the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve where 19,000 acres of indigenous plants and animals await. Ride a funicular to the top of the point where breathtaking views surround you! After lunch it's on to Boulders Beach for some African penguin spotting and finally the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden! It's a jam-packed itinerary that's well worth every minute. Approx. nine hours; $189/person