Nature – in all its colour, magnificence and beauty – is a major offering from some of the biggest names in cruise.
1. England and Scotland: Fred. Olsen Cruise Line
Chances to spot minke whales, porpoises, seals and dolphins abound in Fred Olsen Cruise Line’s Wildlife of England and Scotland Cruise onboard Boudicca. It’s a bird-lover’s cruise too, with the route passing the Fame Islands, credited by Sir David Attenborough as his favourite place in the UK to see ‘magnificent nature: not least large puffin colonies. Cruise departs Liverpool on Friday July 21, from £ 1,349pp for an ocean view stateroom (shared).
There’s abundant wildlife in Alaska, from bears and moose to eagles and whales. Princess Cruises has six ships sailing the Inside Passage this summer, from £569pp, and will add an extra ship in 2018. Alternatively Holland America Line is celebrating its 70th anniversary of sailing to Alaska. The line’s Alaska’s Whales, Glacier & Rainforest Trails in Juneau offers the chance to spot humpback whales, orcas, sea lions and seals from a custom-built safari vessel.
3. Africa: AmaWaterways
Elephants, giraffes, leopards, lions, zebras and buffalo are often seen from land cruisers in Africa. However, a privileged few can spot them from boutique river cruiser the Zambezi Queen. A 10-night Discover Africa package from £6,712pp, excluding flights, with AmaWaterways includes land stays in Cape Town and at Victoria Falls and a four-night river cruise on the Chobe. Alternatively Silversea’s 18-day cruise from Mahe to Cape Town this December will include chances to see lemurs in Madagascar. amawaterways.co.uk; silversea.com
4. Antarctica: G Adventures
Penguins take a leading role on the Antarctica stage, with Gentoo, Chinstrap and Adelie rookeries a common sight. But the quirky birds are by no means the only residents at the bottom of the earth. Weddell, crabeater and leopard seals, and orca, humpback and minke whales also inhabit the cold Antarctic waters. G Adventures’ 11-day Antarctica Classic, from £3,999, includes zodiac excursions with an expert expedition team ensuring close encounters of a wild kind.
An abundance of wildlife – including blue-footed boobies, startling red crabs, marine iguanas, white-tip reef sharks, giant tortoises, candy pink flamingos and Pacific green sea turtles – calls the Galapagos home, and many of its species are found nowhere else in the world. It’s in this living laboratory that Darwin formed his theory of evolution, and Celebrity Cruises has three ships circling the islands for those who aspire to walk in his footsteps, with seven-night cruises from £3,659pp.
6. Svalbard: Hurtigruten
The Svalbard archipelago is halfway between mainland Norway and the North Pole. Among its large variety of wildlife are seals, thousands of seabirds, the Arctic fox, walrus, reindeer and the top predator: the polar bear. Venture above the Arctic Circle with Hurtigruten’s Spitsbergen and Polar Bears itinerary onboard Nordstjernen from £1,153pp to enjoy the midnight sun, and if luck prevails, to see the King of the Arctic hunting for ringed seals and sweeping the islets for birds’ eggs.