updated 1/6/2009 9:42:35 AM ET 2009-01-06T14:42:35

The deal
Sure, there’s a lot to do onboard a cruise ship, but for most cruisers, the real draw is what to do once the ship is docked.

Luxury cruise line Crystal Cruises is taking onshore excursions to a higher level — literally. On select Asia cruises, passengers now have the opportunity to climb to the peak of Mt. Huashan, China on an unforgettable 3-night trek. Although exotic cruises to Asia can indeed cost a pretty penny, we’ve found a spring voyage on VacationsToGo.com priced at 33 percent off rack rates at $3,995, which translates to a whopping $2,000 back in your pocket.

Well before the (optional) Mt. Huashan excursion unfolds, though, this adventure kicks off March 27 onboard Crystal Symphony with two days in port at Hong Kong, before sailing to Kobe, Japan.

Once in Kobe, guests can spend two days exploring Christian churches, Shinto and Buddhist temples and shrines, famous statues of Buddha and several museums before sailing on to Hiroshima. After that, it’s a day at sea on the spacious ship, when cruisers can kick back in one of the many lounges, elegant staterooms, and Feng Shui-inspired spa.

Next up is two days in the modern city and shopaholics dream of Shanghai, China. Be sure to visit the Bund, a popular tourist area along the waterfront which was once the centre of Shanghai's politics. This is also the location where passengers can set off on the new three-night shore excursion.

In order to climb Mt. Huashan’s south peak, they must grasp iron rails built into the side of the cliff, and follow a wood-plank path that winds its way up the top. This adventure comes with the option of ascending the nearly vertical "Heaven Stairs" to a Taoist temple built into the side of the west peak, and all travelers can take a panoramic cable car ride showcasing all five peaks from 7,000 feet up.

Also included in this excursion package are tours of Shanghai, Dalian and Xi'an to see excavated terra cotta warriors. Afterwards, climbers are transferred by flight to Dalian where beaches, parks, gardens and glassware handicraft factories await. After spending a day here touring the area they will rejoin the cruise and continue on to the final port city in is Tianjin to conclude this 12-night voyage.

Prices for the mountain climbing excursion start at $2,759 per person and include flight and hotel accommodations.

The dollars
All prices are per person and based on double occupancy. Accommodations, meals, some beverages, entertainment and port charges are covered in the cost. Government fees and taxes as well as off-boat expenditures are extra.

The catch
Those with a fear of heights need not apply.

For the European river cruise offer, visit www.globusjourneys.com or call 1-866-755-8581. ShermansTravel is a guide to top travel deals and destinations. Sign up for Sherman's Top 25 e-newsletter which features the best editor-screened deals from hundreds of travel providers and is delivered to over 4 million subscribers, free, each week. ShermansTravel also publishes trip ideas and travel features to inspire, guide, and go.

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