Some people visit cruise destinations for the local culture, and some for famous art and history. Others prefer the sights and the shopping in beautiful city centres, or walking along the kind of beaches that you thought you’d only ever see in films.
With a range of shore excursions in some of the world’s wilder places, though, cruises also make the perfect holidays for animal lovers – especially if you’d like to see creatures in their natural habitats.
Alaska remains one of the world’s great wildernesses. In fact, the wilderness here still regularly encroaches on the civilisation, so you’re never really far from the denizens of the wild. You might be watching bald eagles fly overhead before you even leave your ship on a trip ashore. The forests are home to moose, wolves and black-tailed deer; with seals, sea otters and porpoise to spot in the bays too.
A trip out by helicopter could give you chance to see native black and grizzly bears in the wild, or you could even take a boat or a seaplane tour and see orcas and humpback whales in the surrounding waters. But there’s also wildlife in Alaska that you might not expect – like Ketchikan’s migrating hummingbirds, celebrated each year during the annual Hummingbird Festival held in April. Watch them darting between the feeders or, if you’re lucky, even have them feeding from your hand.
Cayman Islands, Caribbean
On the opposite end of the cruise spectrum is the Caribbean, and the clear turquoise seas here have been a diver’s paradise for decades. There’s plenty of opportunity to see the native turtles and tropical fish here on a snorkelling trip, and glass-bottom boat tours can give you the best of both sightseeing adventures, above and below the waves.
For something a little more unorthodox, why not take a dive with stingrays? Larger aquariums back home often give their visitors the chance to watch and stroke rays from open-top habitats, and I can happily confirm that they’re very inquisitive, very sandpapery creatures. But how much better if you could take a dive with these graceful animals, and see them in their bright home waters in the Caribbean?
It’s not hard to fathom Thailand’s appeal as a cruise destination. Thick jungles, beautiful beaches and a fantastic, technicolour dose of local culture – from soaring temple complexes and statues of the Buddha to bright and bustling city centres, heaving with tuk-tuks and market stalls. But there’s also a fantastic array of sightseeing on offer for those whose real fascination lies with the natural world.
Along with national parks like Sirinath and Khao Phra Thaeo, which offer mangrove forest and tropical rainforest habitats respectively, there’s also the chance to take an unforgettable trek on the back of an elephant. The forests here are home to reptiles like skinks and striking green whip snakes, and mammals like gibbons and slow lorises. You might also see bright red waterfall crabs, and tropical plant life like yellow earth ginger, with a near-alien bloom of bright pink and yellow sunbursts.
Maybe you’ve always wanted to see the Great Barrier Reef off Australia’s eastern coast, or spot polar bears in the Arctic Circle. Wherever you see your next sightseeing adventure in the animal kingdom, we have a huge choice of luxury cruises travelling all over the world.
You can call our dedicated Cruise Concierge team on 0808 202 6105 if you have any questions, or if you’re thinking of booking your next cruise holiday. Alternatively, you can leave your comment or enquiry in the comments section below, and we’ll be happy to get back to you.
Images courtesy of R. Morris, Photopin/Flickr; Oregon Department of Transportation, WikiMedia Commons; J. Fulgham, WikiMedia Commons, and D. Jarvis, Photopin/Flickr.