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5 best adventure cruise excursions from zip-lining in Costa Rica to diving in Tahiti

Author: Harriet Mallinson

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Cruise holidays are the perfect opportunity to take on exciting new challenges and enjoy thrilling novel experiences. Here are some of the best adventures you can take part in.

Celebrated author A. A Milne once wrote: "When you see someone putting on his big boots, you can be pretty sure that an adventure is going to happen."

So, why not make like Winnie the Pooh et al and challenge yourself to a rip-roaring adventure and take the road less travelled on your next getaway?

Cruise lines provide countless exciting shore excursions. Whether you're flying through the air on a zip line in Central America, swimming through the deep blue in the South Pacific or buggy-driving in the Mediterranean – top brands such as Princess Cruises are guaranteed to make adventure happen.

Here are five of the best escapades you can enjoy on your cruise – just remember to pack those big boots.

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Dogsledding in Alaska

Head to a snowy county and you're a fool if you stick to your human legs alone. Dog sledding is a highly popular activity in Alaska and sees a team of dogs led by a musher pulling exhilarated travellers along on an adventure they're bound to remember.

It hasn't always been a tourist attraction though. Canines and humans have been buddying up for transportation purposes in this part of the world for centuries - the doggos even used to deliver mail!

In fact, Alaska is home to a very famous dogsled race, The Iditarod - a 1,000-mile course from the town of Knik to Nome. It dates to 1925 when twenty teams of dogs and mushers covered 674 miles in five days relaying a supply of lifesaving serum to the city of Nome after it was threatened by an epidemic of diphtheria.

- READ MORE: What to do, see and & eat in Alaska with Princess -

Not to worry, there'll be no such urgency on your charge through this wonderland, and a dogsled ride these days can be very magical indeed as you take in stunning scenery, feel the thrill of racing across the land at speed and even pet the pooches.

Siberian Huskies, Alaskan malamutes and Alaska Huskies are the most common breeds of dogs used and, fun fact, they can consume up to 10,000 calories a day when hard at work! That's over five times as much as a domestic dog. Alas, for us, sitting in the sled isn't quite so calorie-blasting.

Dog sledding adventures with Princess are available in Juneau on the Mendenhall Glacier as well as in Skagway.

Dog sledding is a highly popular activity in Alaska. Credit: Shutterstock

Diving in the South Pacific

OK, you won't need your boots for this one, we admit. In French Polynesia, when you're not in swimwear enjoying the sun, you'll want to be making the most of the phenomenal marine life by donning a wetsuit and diving right on in.

The limpid waters of this region - home to 118 islands - have been called the richest aquarium on Earth so snorkelling or diving is the best way to see it all.

Princess will sort you out a catamaran to Moorea – an ideal zone for beginners thanks to the lack of strong currents. At least 16 species of sharks live here (look out for reef sharks and lemon sharks) while humpback whales migrate to this area from July to November, so time your trip right and you might spy these majestic creatures as well!

- READ MORE: Most incredible animals to see on Princess excursions -

Meanwhile, Bora Bora, known as the "jewel of the south seas," boasts a gorgeous lagoon where you can spot manta rays, sharks and colourful corals. If you don't fancy swimming, you can see it all from a glass-bottomed boat on your Princess excursion.

Over in Rangiroa, you can swim alongside dolphins, grey reef sharks and silvertip sharks as well as jacks and barracuda, eagle rays, turtles, whitetip and blacktip sharks and manta rays.

Fakarava is another one of the world's best diving destinations in French Polynesia. Expect to see grey reef, lemon, blacktip, and whitetip sharks plus barracuda, eagle rays and no end of pretty fish.

French Polynesia is home to the richest aquarium on Earth. Credit: Shutterstock

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Zip-lining in Central America

Rainforests, it must be said, are best experienced from up on high, so to get really adventurous on your cruise to Central America, strap yourself on a zip line.

Princess enables jetsetters to enjoy a bird's-eye-view of the world on high-flying zipline rides in both Mexico and Costa Rica.

Also known as a canopy tour in Costa Rica, this is one of the most thrilling experiences you can have and is one of the most popular activities in the country.

You'll whip through the air at speeds of up to 50mph through the treetops while attached to a steel cable. It's perfectly safe and taking the risk will pay off thanks to the amazing vistas you'll be treated to from your great height, not to mention the shot of adrenalin that will keep you buzzing long after you're back on land.

- READ MORE: 10 must-see ancient civilisation cruises -

Meanwhile, in Mexico, you can zipline through Cabo’s Sierra range on the High Sierra Zipline Adventure excursion. Zoom past the beautiful natural scenery of the Boca de Sierra National Site 200ft above ground while ogling vast canyons, interesting rock formations and granite walls.

Not for the faint-hearted, adventures include such exciting routes as "commando bridge" and the "crazy ladder" as well as a breathtaking 90-foot rappel. And don't forget to fly 250ft on "Lovers Line" and challenge yourself on the rock-climbing wall!

If going it Tarzan-style is all a little bit too hair-raising, try an open aerial tram over Gamboa Rainforest in Colon, Panama to enjoy majestic views of the rainforest and wildlife.

A canopy tour in Costa Rica is one of the most thrilling experiences you can have. Credit: Shutterstock

Hiking in Norway

Right, this is definitely a big boots job. Norway is a hugely popular cruise destination, but you should be sure to head ashore to really profit from the country's natural beauty.

Norwegians of all ages love walking when the spring arrives and the weather warms up, whether it's up rugged mountains and down verdant valleys or along the coast and into thick forests. Visitors can also set out on these adventures, stepping forward on popular marked trails or making their own way amid the wild landscape.

The trek to Preikestolen is one of Norway’s most famous mountain hikes; translating to "The Pulpit Rock" this peak towers 1,980ft above the Lysefjord in the southwest.

- READ MORE: Best Baltic cruise food with Princess Cruises -

Meanwhile, hiking the Romsdalseggen ridge gifts walkers with some very picturesque views, taking in fjords, mountains and waterfalls. Hiking the Besseggen ridge is another popular option.

Sukkertoppen, translated to Sugar Loaf or Sugarlump Mountain, is the most popular mountain to access from Ålesund, a port town on the west coast of Norway, on its westernmost island, Hessa.

Climbing the mountain can be tackled on Princess' Hiking Sugarlump Mountain cruise excursion and travellers can choose from several trail routes (the one along the east ridge is many hiker's go-to). Your efforts will be rewarded with wonderful 360-degree views.

Norway's hiking season lasts from May to October.

Norwegians of all ages love walking when the spring arrives and the weather warms up. Credit: Shutterstock

Driving in the Mediterranean

For a rather more relaxed way of sightseeing, hop into a buggy or 4x4. In Dubrovnik, Croatia, there's the option of a four-seater buggy safari motored by an experienced driver so you can settle back and soak up the delightful scenery; think charming countryside, fragrant pine forests and idyllic villages along the stunning Dalmatian coast.

Alternatively, in Corfu – one of the much-loved Greek islands – you can enjoy a self-drive adventure in a 4x4 vehicle.

The route takes in Corfu's glistening coastal coves, villages and northern backroads as you drive up Mount Pantokrator, the highest mountain on the island. From a vantage point of 2,927ft you'll be treated to breathtaking views over Corfu and the sea.

- READ MORE: Best Italy cruise excursions with Princess Cruises -

Fun fact, the beautiful village of Paleokastritsa (where you'll stop for a fantastic photo opportunity) is said to be the place where Greek hero Odysseus was shipwrecked and met the beautiful Nausicaa whose family helped him finally reach his home in Ithaca.

In your 4x4 you'll wend your way to the traditional village of Sokraki set amongst olive trees and green fields on the ridge of Mount Pantokrator, overlooking the northern Ionian and Adriatic Seas.

You'll stop here to admire cobbled streets lined with tiny shops, quaint churches and cheery cafés with bright yellow umbrellas as well as pausing at a small taverna for a meze (traditional light snack) accompanied by a glass of local wine.

Winnie the Pooh also said: "You can't stay in your corner of the forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes" and so it is with adventure. You won't experience it sitting at home, so seek excitement out on your holidays and you'll be richly rewarded indeed. Just make sure you pack the right footwear.

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