Photo courtesy of Linblad Expeditions
A few weeks ago I wrote about seeing puffins in the wild, and what surprised me the most about these birds was how small they are. Being the size of a duck, puffins are bit difficult to observe from 15 decks up. This made me think about a number of other wildlife encounters that are best experienced on a small ship cruise. In fact, some of the best wildlife viewing around the world is on a small ship.
Why? Small ships get you up close to nature. Because they are smaller, these ships can navigate into areas that big ships just can't - areas that wildlife prefers as well - away from people and crowds. And equally as important, small ships tend not to follow strict itineraries. Captains have the flexibility to change course, so when Mother Nature does her thing, small ships can follow her time clock versus a set time clock.
This flexibility turns into some absolutely amazing adventures all around the world, like the itineraries below.
Bottom photos courtesy of UnCruise
Watch whales breaching a short distance from the ship or showing you what bubble netting is all about. Imagine passing by pods of orcas, eagles looking for their next meal, curious seals and otters checking you out in a remote bay. This is small ship cruising in Alaska. With fewer than 90 guests on board, these small ships take you into the fjords, away from the crowds, close to wildlife and glaciers too. Similar to the big ship cruises, small ships cruise from late spring and through mid/end September.
Want more insight on Alaska? CLICK HERE!
AFRICA and the AMAZON
Try an exotic cruise by exploring the remote areas of the upper Amazon in Peru, where the Amazon begins or along the Chobe River in Botswana. Along the Amazon, the waterways are surrounded by dense and lush jungles. Be on the lookout for pink dolphins, macaws, hawks and the red howler monkey overhead. One may also be lucky and spot a jaguar. On the Chobe, herds of elephants often gather along the banks, as do crocs and other wildlife. What an experience game watching from the top deck of a river cruise!
Photos courtesy of Lindblad Expeditions
ANTARCTICA / FALKLAND ISLANDS
A trip to Antarctica and the Falkland Islands is the ultimate adventure cruise. In addition to icebergs and glaciers, people come to see the large numbers of penguins, whales and leopard seals. Imagine the excitement of kayaking around the icebergs and coming across a sleeping seal. Surely a memory for a lifetime. Cruises run from November to February, summer in the Southern Hemisphere.
The Galapagos Islands offer some of the best nature viewing anywhere in the world. An exciting natural zoo, perfect for the entire family. Search for a blue footed booby, the Galapagos Marine Iguana (the only marine lizard to exist in the world), or the tortoises for which the islands were named. Snorkel with curious penguins and sea lions. Cruises are available year round, though peak season are the summer months and December - January holidays.
Want more info on the Galapagos Islands? CLICK HERE!
Hawaii is known for whale watching during the winter months when the humpback whales migrate to the islands to mate and give birth. An underwater paradise awaits those who join snorkeling and scuba adventures, but plenty of land based activities including cultural experiences are included in itineraries. Small ship cruises run November to April.
Photo courtesy of Hurtigruten
Cruises through the arctic region typically run May to September, and include itineraries in Norway (Svalbard Archipeligo, Spitsbergen), Greenland and Iceland. Plenty of wildlife can be found, from polar bears, arctic foxes and reindeer to whales and walrus plus a variety of birds.
SEA OF CORTEZ
Big on many a bucket list is swimming with the world's largest fish, the whale shark. There are a number of spots all around the world where you can do this, but one of the best spots is the Sea of Cortez due to all the other wildlife in the area, including a wide variety of whales, dolphins and bird life. Go on paddling and hiking adventures or snorkel with playful sea lion pups. It'll just be you and them - a nice quiet spot in this part of the world.
Plenty of amazing adventures are waiting for you. A few of the cruise lines offering these itineraries include Alaskan Dream, ACL, AmaWaterways, Avalon, Celebrity, Hurtigruten, Lindblad Expeditions, Ponant, Quark Expeditions, Silversea, Un-Cruise and Zegahm Expeditions.
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Laurie Marschall - Owner and Founder