There are plenty of opportunities to get close to wildlife on a cruise. Many cruise lines offer tailored excursions ashore, allowing passengers unique access to nature. From night safaris in Singapore, to feeding kangaroos in Australia, the experiences are always unforgettable.
This got me thinking about the world’s top wildlife destinations, accessible from a cruise ship. I couldn’t list them all, but here’s a selection of the better known, and most popular. I have included a couple of my favourites, that I’ve experienced first hand. You may also be interested in exploring itineraries to places such as the Falkland Islands, Borneo or Antarctica, for something really different.
The Great Barrier Reef
Take a trip to the largest coral reef in the world. Cruise passengers can visit The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park from a variety of different ports. These include Cairns, Port Douglas and the Whitsunday Islands. Many cruise excursions will take you by catamaran, to a purpose built pontoon over the reef. Here you have the option to snorkel, scuba dive or hop aboard a semi-submersible submarine. Due to the number of jellyfish in the area, visitors are advised to wear a special suit to protect them from stings. The ‘Reef’ is home to over 1500 different species of fish and over 400 types of coral. You may also get to see stingray, sharks and marine turtles.
A popular stop-off during World Cruises, Africa is often a once in a lifetime port for many cruisers. Whether you stop at Namibia, Kenya, Tanzania or South Africa, there are often a variety of wildlife excursions on offer. If you want to do a safari, then sadly the more famous reserves are too far from the cruise ports. However some ships will offer longer overland excursions, further afield.
Most cruise lines will offer some form of safari trip to a smaller reserve. These might include Hluhluwe Game Reserve or Addo Elephant National Park, for example. Here you can still spot the Big 5, which consists of rhino, lions, leopards, elephants and buffalo. If you are stopping in South Africa, try something different and visit iSimangaliso Wetland Park. Here you can embark on an estuary boat cruise on a custom-built passenger ferry, but keep an eye out for hippo and crocodile! Or take a guided walk and see if you can spot some of the park’s 526 different species of bird. If you want to see penguins, you should pay a visit to the colonies at the Cape of Good Hope.
A cruise to Alaska can offer a great range of activities for cruisers. There are many ways to experience local nature: from a coach, on a kayak or by hiking up a glacier. Native wildlife includes polar bears, brown bears, caribou and bison. It’s also a great place to whale watch. People often spot humpback whales or orca on boat excursions. Bird enthusiasts won’t be disappointed either. As well as eagles, you’ll find other species such as the native bird, the willow ptarmigan, gulls and the Canada goose.
If you want to try something different, take a cruise along the Amazon River. Cruise ships often dock in Manaus for access to the Amazon, although a river cruise may be a better option for those wanting a more intimate experience. Spend your days trekking through lush rainforest, exploring the Amazon by boat or meeting local communities. You’ll find an array of exotic wildlife, including alligators, pink dolphins and monkeys. ‘Meeting of the Waters’ boat trips are often a popular excursion. This gives passengers the chance to see where two Amazon tributaries meet, resulting in two different colours of water.
The Galapagos Islands
You may be aware that the Galapagos Islands played an important part in Charles Darwin’s evolutionary research. The islands are now a popular stop-off for cruise ships during World Cruises. The Galapagos’ are a haven for bird-lovers, providing a rich environment for species such as penguins, the albatross, pelicans and finches. They also have plenty of sea life. You can often see different species of whale (including orca) or dolphins. The islands are also well known for their giant tortoises and iguanas.
You may not immediately think of Iceland as somewhere great for wildlife spotting. But like Alaska, it is excellent for dolphin and whale watching. Iceland is also popular with birders. Every year birdwatchers come to see the numerous species of seabirds, such as puffins. You will often find a selection of wildlife related cruise ship excursions, particularly around the fjord areas. Here you may even get to see a rare arctic fox. As well as wildlife, it’s hard not to be impressed by Iceland’s magnificent scenery. Typical Icelandic cruises will visit ports such as Reykjavik, Ísafjörđur and Akureyri.
With its azure blue sea and soft white sand, it’s easy to see why Caribbean cruising has become so popular. During our British winter months, cruise ships are often a daily fixture at these tropical islands. As well as the beaches, the Caribbean is a superb place to see wildlife. Rainforests adorn the more tropical of islands, such as St Kitts and St Lucia. Here you will find unique ways to see wildlife, such as ziplining through forests or going on a Jeep safari. This part of the world is also a fantastic place to snorkel or scuba dive. In Barbados you can swim with turtles in the wild and in Antigua, you can take a dip with some stingray. For scuba diving enthusiasts, the ABC islands and Tortola are listed as some of the top dive sites in the world. Submarine trips, shark dives and Sea Trekking are also popular with tourists.
You can keep up to date with all of my latest blog posts by subscribing for updates at the top of this page. I post content on my social media channels daily. To make sure you don’t miss out on exclusive photos and cruise news, you can follow me via the social links below.Follow me on social media