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Best Cruise Ports for Jeep Tours and Excursions

Jason Frye

Jan 8, 2020

Read time
7 min read

For cruisers who want to experience more of the ports they call on, Jeep tours offer a way to get out and about, and add a dash of excitement to your day on land. Why visit another beach club, crowd onto another tram for an afternoon city tour or follow a pack of your fellow passengers to the historic sites when you can explore the countryside with an off-road excursion?

Depending on the port, Jeep tours can take you to secluded beaches for snorkel sessions, off to a hillside vista for a picnic lunch, deep into the jungle for primo birdwatching and even out to distant historic sites rarely visited by cruise passengers. If getting truly immersed in a place sounds like your idea of a shore excursion, then a Jeep tour is just what the doctor ordered.

Read on to discover some of the best cruise ports for Jeep tours and excursions.

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Mykonos, Greece

Travelers have a place reserved in their heart for Greece, and whether it's the food, culture, history or landscape that draws you to the cities and islands here, there's no wrong way to experience the country. But there is a better way.

On Mykonos, hop in a Jeep and experience the island beyond the port: lighthouses, castle ruins, empty beaches and mountaintop views.

With Athens Tour's Mykonos Jeep Safari, you'll be part of a Jeep caravan as you follow your guide along the coast road, through some off-road tracks, into tiny towns where you can grab lunch and to places like Agrari Beach for a swim and a rest before heading back to town.

Reykjavik, Iceland

No trip to Iceland is complete until you catch a glimpse of the northern lights, and for the best viewing conditions, you need to get out of Reykjavik and away from the lights of the city. Iceland Rovers offers a trio of Jeep and four-wheel-drive tours, including a "Northern Lights and Lobster" tour that takes you out of town to one of Iceland's famous black-sand beaches for a lobster feast and then out for a drive to hunt for the aurora borealis.

Naturally, this tour takes place at night, so if you're in port overnight, it's a perfect way to check off a bucket list experience. Two other Jeep tours in Reykjavik from Iceland Rovers gets you on the road to explore volcanos and hike the glaciers, visit waterfalls and volcanic craters, even hike to a hot spring; these tours are full-day trips -- 10 to 12 hours-- so they'll only work for you if you're in port for a long stay.

Ketchikan, Alaska

You'll feel like you're deep into the Alaskan wilderness when you join Ketchikan Shore Tours on a Backcountry Jeep and Canoe Safari. This half-day tour from Ketchikan puts you in the driver's seat as you navigate backcountry roads through Tongass National Forest, stopping to take in big views of the wild Alaskan landscape before stopping on the shores of Lake Harriet Hunt and trading your Jeep for a canoe.

Paddle to your lunch, take a little hike and return to your cruise ship feeling like you've conquered -- or at least thoroughly explored -- the Alaskan wilds. Yes, you do drive; in fact, if everyone in your Jeep has a license, you all can drive (even if you are short on the off-road driving experience). Guides stay with the group the entire way, communicating via radio as you get a close look at the rainforest and waters of Alaska.

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

The port city of Puerto Vallarta sits perched over the Pacific Ocean, and whether you're hitting the beach or heading into town for a food tour, there's plenty to see. But to really experience all this place has to offer, you need to join Nuevo Vallarta Tours' Jeep Safari Sierra Madre.

On this tour, you'll get behind the wheel of your own Jeep and drive high into the Sierra Madre Mountains, crossing rivers and following rocky tracks on the way. Stop by a tequila factory, visit a fruit plantation and hacienda, and then go for a swim, catch a nap or just relax before a hearty traditional Mexican lunch.

Other off-road adventures are available through tour operators like Vallarta Adventures; excursions vary from guided drives through the city and mountains to muddy rides on dirt tracks in Jeeps, trucks and other off-road vehicles.

Dubai, UAE

There are plenty of amazing sights to see on a cruise to Dubai -- the 160-story Burj Khalifa, the man-made and tree-shaped island of Palm Jumeirah, the opulence of this desert country -- but the most surprising bit of beauty here can only be found via Jeep tours called desert safaris.

Desert Safaris Dubai takes a group of adventurous folks out into the desert for a morning tour. Ride a camel, drive a quad bike and try your hand at sand skiing (it's exactly what it sounds like: skiing down the steep slopes of Dubai's sand dunes).

That's not all. Dune bashing is the most thrilling part of it. (Think off-roading in the desert times a roller coaster and you're on the right track.) Ride a dune buggy at harrowing speeds up, over and down dune after dune after dune.

Most tours start early -- between 8 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. -- leaving your afternoon free to recover on the ship or see what else piques your curiosity here.

Curacao (Caribbean)

Divers know on a cruise to Curacao they'll find clear shores on the island offering the chance to get in the water, but how about the other side of this island nation: the mountains? Connect with Yellow Jeep Safaris and head out into the jungle, following unpaved roads into the heart of the island.

A National Park Jeep Safari includes the entrance fee to Christoffel National Park, where you'll be awed by the nature and humbled by the history as you visit historical sites relevant to the island's slave trading past. It's currently the only outfitter on the island who takes Jeep tours along the Orchid Trail, an off-road area that's packed with orchids and wildlife; what animals you'll see and what's in bloom depends on the season.

And if you are drawn to Curacao for the underwater environment, there's a Snorkel & Beach Adventure that combines off-roading in a Jeep with an afternoon of snorkeling at a beach where it's more common to spot sea turtles than it is other cruise-lovers.

Cape Town, South Africa

When your ship docks in Cape Town, head from your cabin to a private game reserve, take the back roads through from Zevenwacht Wine Farm through a vineyard-filled valley, wind your way over and through giant sand dunes … or explore any of the above in open-topped Jeep.

Jeep Tours offers excursions to the Atlantis Dunes, a 30-minute drive from the center of Cape Town, and wine tours that give you the chance to sample wine, grab lunch and find a new favorite winery.

These tours are relatively short -- only about five hours -- so they're perfect for a day in port. Longer tours lasting a full day are available through a number of outfitters; these tours visit Aquila Private Game Reserve (where you can see giraffes, lions, zebras, leopards, rhinos and more) and call on places like Clifton Beaches and Cape Point Nature Reserve.

Cozumel, Mexico

You can probably guess what Jeep Tour Cozumel does, but do you know just how many ways you can explore this slice of Mexico on its tours? On this excursion, you drive around the island of Cozumel, visiting beaches for sunbathing, splashing and snorkeling, stopping at Punta Sur Park, dining on fajitas and tacos, and sampling tequila at the Tequila Museum.

You also have Jeep Riders Cozumel, with tours that check all the boxes for island explorers. Its Jeep Adventure to Jade Cavern and Cenote carries you into the jungle to visit the cenotes -- water-filled limestone caves -- and the bright waters of Jade Cavern for a swim.

If that's not your speed, try a Mayan tour (and food tasting) and visit to Chankanaab Park for snorkeling and lunch. Or you could grab a guide and drive your own Jeep around the island, exploring at your leisure (with your guide's direction) for a three-hour tour that'll have you feeling like this island is your home.

Sound good? We think it does, and we're counting the days until we're in port so we can hop in a Jeep and start exploring.

Safaga, Egypt

On the shore of the Red Sea, the Safaga cruise port delivers plenty of Egyptian culture to visitors (and passengers on a world cruise segment), but driving through the desert mountains near the city gives you a whole new way to experience this place. As you ride through the desert and follow the road into the mountains on a Jeep excursion, you'll hear stories from the past and learn a bit about the current culture.

Upon arriving at a Bedouin village for a camel ride, sunset and barbecue dinner, you'll become immersed in the culture as you get up close and personal with the Bedouin people and their traditions. On the drive back to the cruise terminal, you won't be able to stop gazing at the stars overhead as the clear, cloudless sky and lack of light pollution make for ideal conditions to study the heavens.

Updated January 08, 2020
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