The Long View: Zipline Excursions - Safe or Scary? - My Family Travels
Family_on_ beach
Family_on_ beach

FTF's cruise expert examines “adventure” shore excursions to determine whether they are good value or safe for families.

As frequent cruisers know, a ship’s optional shore excursions can make or break a cruise vacation. One of the hottest shore excursions — popping up in such destinations as Hawaii, Mexico and Belize — is the zipline adventure, generally billed as safe for tweens and up.

The way a zipline works is that you are hooked into a harness that is, in turn, hooked to cables strung from tree to tree. Participants then “zip” along the cables over chasms of increasing depth and length and at increasing speeds. If this sounds great, it is: but not all zipline programs are created equal, as we recently discovered.

An excursion in Maui offered just the right amount of thrills with some hiking between zips and friendly patter from the guides on local flora and fauna. And because the equipment included a camera holster, we were able to capture hilarious, if unflattering, photos of ourselves mid-flight.

A zipline in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, however, had us using our own gloved hand as a brake (unlike the Maui zip, where the cable inclines up at the end to slow zippers down) and crowding on treetop platforms between zips.

Of the 13 people in our group, nearly half never fully mastered the braking technique and two were asked to leave the excursion “for safety reasons” when they couldn’t get the hang of it. And instead of camera holsters, a professional photographer accompanied us, hawking his pricey video afterwards.

The lesson here is not to forgo zipline — it can be a spectacular highlight of your cruise and our second adventure could be just right for your high-adrenaline teens — but just ask a few questions before you go.

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