best cruise for wildlife viewing - the top thing

The Best Cruise Lines for Wildlife Viewing: See Nature Up Close

Written: The Top Thing Staff | October 5, 2023

Popular Wildlife Cruise Destinations

When it comes to wildlife viewing, there’s no better way to experience it up close and personal than on a wildlife cruise. Whether you’re a nature enthusiast or simply looking for a unique adventure, these cruise destinations offer amazing opportunities to witness the wonders of the animal kingdom.

Alaska Wildlife Cruises

Get ready to embark on an unforgettable journey through the stunning wilderness of Alaska! Known for its diverse ecosystems and abundance of wildlife, Alaska is a dream destination for nature lovers. On an Alaska wildlife cruise, you’ll have the chance to see majestic whales breaching, playful sea otters floating on their backs, and soaring bald eagles in their natural habitat. Keep your camera ready as you explore the stunning Inside Passage and witness the spectacular sights of glaciers calving into the ocean. In addition to marine life, you might also spot grizzly bears, moose, and mountain goats during shore excursions.

Galapagos Islands Wildlife Cruises

Get ready for a unique Galapagos wildlife encounter! The Galapagos Islands are a natural paradise in the Pacific Ocean. The islands have many endemic species and were the site of Charles Darwin’s famous species diversity investigations. A Galapagos Islands wildlife trip lets you swim with playful sea lions, see giant tortoises in their native habitat, and snorkel with colorful tropical fish and marine iguanas. You can spot Galapagos penguins and blue-footed boobies while exploring the archipelago’s various ecosystems.

A Galapagos Islands or Alaska wildlife cruise will be an amazing adventure full of intimate encounters with intriguing creatures. For an immersive wildlife encounter in some of the world’s most beautiful natural areas, these destinations are ideal.

Visit the animal realm on a wildlife cruise with binoculars, a camera, and a sense of adventure.


Top Wildlife Cruise Companies

When it comes to experiencing the wonder of wildlife up close and personal, a wildlife cruise is the perfect getaway. Here are two of the best cruise companies that offer exceptional wildlife viewing opportunities:

National Geographic Expeditions

National Geographic Expeditions wildlife cruises are immersive. You can learn about and shoot wildlife in their natural settings with their expert naturalists and photographers.

Galápagos Islands wildlife cruises are popular. Meet courageous sea lions, huge tortoises, and blue-footed boobies here. You can snorkel with playful penguins and swim with sea turtles.

The Alaska Inside Passage cruise by National Geographic Expeditions is another amazing wildlife tour. Cruise through this stunning wilderness and see humpback whales, sea lions, eagles, and bears fishing for salmon. You can kayak or paddleboard with their Explorer to get closer to animals.


Hurtigruten conducts wildlife cruises to Earth’s most remote and unspoiled places. Popular routes include the Antarctic Peninsula cruise. This journey over the Southern Ocean shows you stunning icebergs and glaciers. Watch penguin colonies, seals, and a spectacular whale breaching the surface.

Hurtigruten provides Svalbard cruises for a unique wildlife experience. Polar bears, walruses, reindeer, and Arctic foxes live here. There are also shore trips with qualified guides who can explain the fauna.

Whichever wildlife cruise operator you choose, you’ll have an unforgettable experience. These cruises offer an unforgettable chance to see some of the world’s most magnificent animals. Bring your binoculars and camera for an unforgettable journey.

Wildlife Sightings

Are you a nature enthusiast hoping to embark on a cruise adventure that offers magnificent wildlife encounters? Look no further! A wildlife cruise is an excellent opportunity to get up close and personal with some of the world’s most fascinating creatures. Get ready to be amazed by the wonders of nature!

Notable Wildlife Encounters on Cruises

  1. Whale Watching: Witnessing the sight of majestic whales breaching the surface of the water is a truly unforgettable experience. Many cruises take you to prime whale-watching locations where you can spot humpback, orca, or even blue whales in their natural habitat.

  2. Penguin Colonies: If you’ve ever dreamt of seeing adorable penguins waddling around, a wildlife cruise is a must. Visit destinations like Antarctica or the Galapagos Islands, where you can observe different species of penguins in their colonies.

  3. Dolphin Pods: Imagine cruising alongside a playful pod of dolphins, witnessing their acrobatic leaps and flips. Dolphins are known for their high energy and are often spotted during wildlife cruises, bringing joy and excitement to passengers.

Best Time of Year for Wildlife Viewing

The timing of your wildlife cruise greatly influences the animal sightings you may encounter. Consider the following tips for the best wildlife viewing experience:

  1. Research Destination: Each destination has its own peak viewing season for specific wildlife. Determine which animals you are most interested in observing and plan your cruise accordingly.

  2. Migratory Patterns: Many animals follow migratory patterns, so understanding their movements can help you plan your trip during the time when they are most abundant in the area.

  3. Climate Considerations: Climate plays a significant role in wildlife behavior. Some animals are more active or visible during certain seasons, such as mating or breeding seasons.

Remember, wildlife sightings are never guaranteed. However, by choosing the right cruise itinerary and timing, you significantly increase your chances of witnessing breathtaking natural wonders.

So, pack your binoculars, bring your camera, and get ready to embark on a wildlife adventure that will leave you with memories to treasure for a lifetime.

Cruise Amenities and Activities

Onboard Naturalist Guides

When choosing a cruise for wildlife viewing, it’s important to consider the amenities and activities that are offered on the ship. One of the key factors to look for is the presence of onboard naturalist guides. These experts are knowledgeable about the local wildlife and ecosystems, and they provide valuable insights and information during the cruise. They can answer any questions you may have, point out interesting wildlife sightings, and offer educational presentations on the wildlife and their habitats.

Wildlife-Related Excursions and Activities

The greatest wildlife watching cruises have naturalist guides and wildlife-related excursions and activities. These tours let you see wildlife in their native environments. Wildlife excursions include guided treks through national parks, birdwatching, snorkeling or diving outings to investigate underwater habitats, and kayaking or small boat visits to remote places.

These trips and activities offer amazing close-ups of many animals. From seeing beautiful whales in their natural habitat to seeing rare bird species on distant islands, each expedition delivers unforgettable wildlife experiences.

Check each cruise line’s excursions and activities before booking a wildlife viewing trip. Find alternatives for different degrees of interest and exercise to customize your experience based on your tastes and physical ability.

Choose a cruise with onboard naturalist experts and wildlife excursions to maximize your wildlife watching experience. These services and activities provide you plenty of chances to watch and learn about the species you see, producing lasting memories and a greater appreciation for nature.


Final Thoughts on the Best Wildlife Cruises

When it comes to wildlife cruises, each destination offers its own unique experience. From the diverse marine life of the Galapagos Islands to the magnificent whales and bears of Alaska, there is something for everyone. The key is to choose a cruise that aligns with your interests and preferences. Consider the wildlife you want to see, the activities you want to participate in, and the level of comfort you desire. Research different cruise operators, read reviews, and compare itineraries to find the best option for you.

Tips for Choosing the Right Wildlife Cruise

To ensure you have the best wildlife cruise experience, here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. Do your research: Look into different cruise operators and compare their offerings. Read reviews from previous passengers to get an idea of the quality of the experience.

  2. Consider the itinerary: Check the cruise itinerary to make sure it includes the wildlife sightings you’re most interested in. Some cruises offer specific activities and excursions focused on wildlife viewing.

  3. Look for expert guides: Experienced naturalist guides can enhance your wildlife experience by providing valuable insights and knowledge about the animals and their habitats.

Remember, wildlife cruises can vary in duration and cost, so take these factors into consideration when planning your trip. By doing your homework and choosing the right wildlife cruise, you’ll be on your way to experiencing the wonders of the natural world in an unforgettable way.