For animal lovers, there may be no better reason to take a cruise than to see wildlife in its natural habitat. Whether you’re watching the ocean over morning breakfast and a huge humpback whale jumps out in front of you or laying eyes a big Brown Bear and its litter of cubs – getting a glimpse of animals can be a real adrenaline rush!
In celebration of World Animal Day we explore what wonderful creatures you can see when cruising the seven seas! Here are five firm favourites that are always popular with animal lovers – get ready for some up close and personal encounters!
Bears, Humpbacks and Eagles
Head to: Alaska
Lean against your ship’s railing long enough, and you’ll see the spray of humpback whales shooting into the air, and often the flick of their winglike tails as well. For closer-up encounters, sign up for whale-watching excursions to places like Auke Bay, near Juneau. On shore, bald eagles are easily spotted, and so are southeast Alaska’s five different varieties of plump salmon. To see a bear, your best bet is an excursion to a popular bear hangout, such as Neets Bay in Tongass National Forest or the Mendenhall Glacier area near Juneau — look for them near rivers, where they like to feed on salmon.
Who visits here?
Dozens of cruise lines visit southeast Alaska regularly, from Princess Cruises and NCL to Royal Caribbean, Holland America, Silversea, and Carnival, sailing mostly seven-night cruises round-trip from Vancouver, Seattle, or San Francisco.
Iguanas and Reptiles
Head to: The Galapagos Islands
Famous for its tame animals and the scientists who studied them there a century ago, the Galapagos Islands, 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador, are a haven for nature lovers. On guided hikes, walk among 3 to 5 foot-long spiny-backed iguanas and waddling blue-footed booby birds. There’s been so little human presence here that the animals have no fear of humans, meaning you can get amazingly close to these creatures. Sea lion pups lounge on the islands’ beaches, often letting humans get within inches of them.
Who visits here?
Celebrity Cruises have two small ships based here all year round! Most are seven-day itineraries but for a really special trip, add on an extra week and visit the South American mainland, climb Machu Pichu or travel Ecuador for a week before or after your wildlife trip of a lifetime!
Big Game Animals
Head to: Africa
A few ships cruise along the coast of Africa and offer optional luxury game safaris in places like Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, and South Africa, where you can see the big five — the lion, African elephant, Cape buffalo, leopard, and rhinoceros — and lots more, from giraffes to zebras. The excursions typically last two to three nights and require a flight from Durban or Cape Town – so you can either hop off your cruise at one port and re-join it at another, or add a safari-style stay on to the end of your voyage.
Who visits here?
A handful of cruise lines including Silversea, Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, Cunard, Holland America, and Princess Cruises visit African ports as part of longer two, three, and four-week or longer cruises. You can often pick a segment of the full sailing if you’re short on time!
Head to: French Polynesia
The undersea world of French Polynesia is among the most vibrant on earth. The hundreds of islands, motus (tiny sandy islets), atolls, reefs, and teal-green lagoons are what’s left of the extinct volcanoes that once dominated the region. Snorkel through crystal-clear waters and ogle giant purple and green clamshells, fuchsia sea anemones with undulating appendages, and schools of tropical fish in electrifying colors. Fearless divers are equally as thrilled with frequent shark sightings.
Who visits here?
Most cruise lines pass through French Polynesia during world cruises or Pacific Ocean crossings.
Sea Turtles and Penguins
Head to: Australia and New Zealand
Off the coast of Cairns, Australia, you’ll find giant clams, sea turtles, dolphins, and whales of the Great Barrier Reef, while further south in New Zealand, the wildlife ranges from whale watching off the coast of Kaikoura to spotting yellow-eyed penguins at the seaside Penguin Place reserve near Dunedin. Cruise through the fjords at the tip of South Island to look for bottle-nosed dolphins or seals lazing on the rocks, and of course, New Zealand’s rolling green farmland is covered with thousands of grazing sheep, which they say, easily outnumber the humans.
Who visits here:
Several cruise lines do a season of 12-to 14-night cruises mostly between Sydney and Auckland, and sometimes round trip from Sydney, including Holland America Line, Celebrity Cruises, Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean, P&O Cruises, and Seabourn.
Fancy a cruise on the wild side?
Take a look at our latest deals by clicking here – you’re sure to find that sailing you’ve been dreaming of! Or simply call our friendly team of cruise experts on 0800 027 8302 if you have something more specific in mind – they’ll have you heading on an adventure in no time!