Cruising offers many ways for the passenger to get up close and personal with Nature’s finest.
Whether snorkelling through a kaleidoscope of colour in the tropical waters of Mexico’s Sea of Cortez or witnessing the familial dynamics of polar bears in the white world of the Arctic, nature-oriented cruises are a perfect combination of wilderness and comfort.
But how does a nature lover choose the best cruise?
Defining your purpose
While most cruises offer high degrees of pampering to their guests, the degree to which experiencing nature or experiencing comfort is your priority will have a significant impact on your choice of cruise.
Expedition Cruises are cruises designed specifically for those whom experiencing nature is the priority. One of the major benefits of these cruises is the small size of the ships used. These purpose built vessels can penetrate into coves, rivers and inlets otherwise inaccessible to larger ships, while kayaks and zodiac crafts bring you even closer to the action. But while expedition ships generally feature luxurious living quarters, bars and restaurants, they are generally too small to accommodate the pools, theatres, spas, gyms and selection of restaurants available on larger vessels. For nature nuts there are two significant features of an expedition cruise that more than make up for this: on board naturalists with detailed knowledge of the biology, geology and meteorology of the regions visited, and flexible itineraries allowing reports of significant wildlife activity to be pounced upon at a moments notice.
Nature-oriented shore excursions or land tour combinations
Nature lovers will note that some of the most impressive nature experiences require inland exploration. These are offered through overnight stays and/or land excursions, but these can be a little rushed if the ship is trying to stick to a schedule. Pre- and post-cruise land tours are the answer. Book them with the cruise line or an agent before you cruise to make sure you get the tour of your choice.
Choosing your cruise
The world is full of natural wonders, most of which can be visited by one cruise or another. So the question is, which natural wonders do you most want to enjoy and how?
With leaping salmon, grizzly bears, seals, sea lions, whales, glaciers and towering mountain peaks, Alaska is nature’s equivalent to a Hollywood blockbuster.
The naturally-selected finches, reptiles, giant tortoises and aquatic birds of the Galapagos can be enjoyed by you, as they were by Darwin on his exploration of the islands in the early 1800s.
Safaris through African savannas and grasslands get cruise passengers up close to the majesty and charm of black rhinos, elephants, giraffes, zebras and lions.
We suggest a cruise on Silversea’s Silver Wind with a mid-voyage safari or pre- or post-cruise journeys into Africa’s wilderness heartland.
Mexico’s Sea of Cortez
Luminous clear waters with a plethora of fish, whales, hammerhead sharks and the magnificent giant Pacific manta ray, Mexico’s Sea of Cortez is considered to be one of the most diverse seas on the planet.
The mangroves, cloud forests, howler monkeys, ocelots, armadillos and plentiful bird life of Costa Rica are dazzling. You’ll see it in comfort and detail on an expedition tour on Windstar’s Wind Star. Or take a cruise with Carnival Cruise Lines or Celebrity Cruises and book a mid-cruise tour.
Pink dolphins, sloths, toucans, alligators and vast tropical rainforest; what nature lover hasn’t dreamed of visiting the Amazon?
As exotic as foreign lands may be, the seemingly infinite coral species, dolphins, sharks and stingrays of the Great Barrier Reef; dramatic coasts, ancient trees, wallabies, wombats, echidnas, eagles and rosellas of Freycinet National Park in Tasmania; and rugged gorges, rainforest, white-sand beaches and infamous crocs of the Kimberley represent some of natures most exquisite offerings.
Orion Expedition Cruises takes passengers mentally and physically into the heart of these regions, all while delivering the height of onboard luxury. Coral Princess Cruises is also a popular choice in the northern regions of Australia.
To experience emperor penguins, whales and albatrosses in the sculptured ice and snow-covered terrain of Antarctica is like experiencing a different planet.
Lindblad Expeditions has a partnership with National Geographic, whose naturalist, photographers and writers make for an experience that can’t be beat. But plenty of expedition lines go there – click here for Cruise Passenger’s pick of Adventure cruise lines