Our world is home to an incredible array of flora and fauna. Landscapes are teeming with millions of species, and some of the creatures you spot on a wildlife cruise could even date back millennia. The ever-changing environments of the world give life to weird and wonderful creatures, and new species are constantly being discovered. Often the best way to see these is by cruise – on which there are usually plenty of excursions and exploring opportunities. Here are some of our top wildlife-viewing destinations.
Amazon River Cruises
One of the most well-known rivers in the world, the Amazon river reaches just less than 7000km, through Peru, Bolivia, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, and Brazil. It’s home to over 50,000 plant and tree species, over 430 mammal species, and over 1000 species of amphibians. Not to mention the various reptiles, birds, and fish. In the Amazon animals need to disguise themselves from prey, so to spot wildlife you’ll often have to be very quiet and patient. If you’re lucky you could catch sight of the pink river dolphin, the three-toed sloth, or the squirrel monkey to name a few. Spot the powerful jaws of a black caiman as it chows down on its prey, and watch in awe as the bright and colourful macaws swoop past. Cruise lines like Cunard and Viking often cover parts of the Amazon when passing through Brazil or South America in general.
Indonesia might not be your go-to destination for a wildlife cruise but the creatures here are incredibly diverse; from the great apes to the legendary Komodo dragons. With so many different islands offering hugely different habitats, you’ll rarely see the same animal from one isle to the next. That means cruising is one of the best ways to see several different parts Indonesia. On Kalimantan you could spot orangutans swinging in trees, or on Papua try to glimpse the elusive tree kangaroos. In Sumatra, you’ll actually be able to witness tigers, rhinos, elephants, and orangutans living together – the only place on earth! And you’ll surely fall in love with the wide-eyed Tarsius Tarsier (owl monkey) in Sulawesi.
The remote Galapagos Islands are an excellent showcase of biodiversity, boasting species that are unseen anywhere else in the world and hold an almost mythological status. A major highlight of any visit here is the chance to see the legendary Galapagos penguins - the only penguins to live north of the equator in the wild. The islands are also well-known for the giant Galapagos Tortoise, which can famously live for several centuries and is the largest species of tortoise in the world. Other highlights include the red-footed and blue-footed booby birds, flightless cormorants, the waved albatross, and a huge diversity of marine life. Silversea Cruises and Celebrity Cruises are two of the only cruise lines to venture into this remote region with specially designed expedition ships. Curious about the best time to go, or just looking for some helpful hints? Check out our top Galapagos cruise tips.
Alaska is a true bucket list destination and it’s not hard to see why; surrounded by soaring snowy peaks and an abundance of wildlife it offers an experience unlike any other. You can often catch a glimpse of eagles hungrily surveying the coastline, or humpbacked whales playing in the icy channels. Spot a moose with her calf with the sound of a wolves howl in the background, or catch a grizzly emerging from its den. Locations like the Sitka Heritage Park and Icy Strait Point offer prime wildlife viewing opportunities for the likes of sea otters, whales, and bears, and most cruise lines that traverse Alaska will offer a range of fantastic excursions to give you more chance to see these. Princess Cruises and Holland America Line even offer optional land programmes with stays in wilderness lodges, putting you right in the heart of Alaska’s wildlife.
Find yourself in one of the most remote areas in the world, surrounded by vast white horizons and oceans brimming with icebergs, glaciers, and marine life. On a cruise to the Antarctic you’re likely to dock in several locations on the continent, giving you an unbelievable up-close experience with all sorts of different wildlife. Come face to face with colonies of penguins, seals, whales, and a stunning array of seabirds. It’s possible to take an exhilarating expedition cruise here with Hurtigruten, Scenic Cruises, and Ponant. Onboard a carefully crafted Anatarctica cruise ship, you'll be able to get to the very heart of the destination.