This year sees National Marine Week (which is actually a fortnight long) occur between 28 July and 12 August. This annual event sees The Wildlife Trusts across the UK celebrate the amazing sea creatures and plants which inhabit our shores, of which – impressively – there are more than 10,000 species.
During this period, the trusts organise a plethora of educational and fun 'coastal events' on the ecologically-rich beaches around the country. However, if you can't make it to one of these and you happen to harbour a deep love for marine life, a luxury cruise to one of the following five locations (listed in no certain order) could prove to be your perfect future holiday. Aside from fascinating marine life, each of these cruises will also see guests encounter an array of impressive wildlife and scenery away from the water.
There are many stops along our Alaskan cruise routes which will please aficionados of both marine and land biota. The trip begins in Anchorage, otherwise known as the 'Salmon Capital of the World.' Spotting schools of these fish in Anchorage's waters is assured and brown and black bears can often be seen paw-fishing for salmon between May and July. Icy Strait Point meanwhile is a popular port for the spotting of orca and humpback whales in their natural habitat, in addition to seals, sea lions, polar bears and more besides.
The magnificently stunning state of Alaska is also littered with many National Parks, home to eagles, owls, caribou, bison and a vast array of amphibians and reptiles. Nature fanatics should pay these a visit should their selected liner stop close by (most Alaskan cruises call at the capital – Juneau – which is home to the Glacier Bay Park). Those who decide to take this cruise will also travel through the Inside Passages. There, passengers have a high chance of witnessing the breath-taking process of 'calving', which sees glaciers shed large chunks of ice into the waters which surround them.
Legendary English naturalist Charles Darwin spent many years studying the abundant and unique fauna and flora of the Galapagos Islands, and this was instrumental in the development of his theory of evolution. The history of these isles is fascinating: volcanic in their origin, these islands were never a part of any continent. All animals and marine life habituating the island arrived through flying, swimming or floating across from other locations, and had to adapt in order to survive.
The Galapagos wildlife is often described as 'tame', since the area's largest creature is the Giant Galapagos tortoise, which has no natural predators. Do not interpret 'tame' as boring though; cruises around these beautiful atolls offer passengers the chance to see marine iguanas (the only iguanas in the world able to live in water), in addition to the only wild penguins north of the equator on Fernandina and Isabella Island. The Galapagos Islands also boast albatrosses, greater flamingos, blue footed boobies and frigatebirds. Much of the islands' fauna do not exist in the wild anywhere else in the world, making this cruise an eye-opening experience for eco-enthusiasts.
The frosted white landscape of Earth's southernmost continent, Antarctica, is spectacular, and is often considered the final frontier for contemporary explorers. The awe-inspiring spectacle of colossal icebergs and calving glaciers would be enough to convince most travellers to go on this expedition, but those with an interest in marine ecology are especially catered for. The continent's harsh climate sees very few plants able to survive but provides ideal conditions for many species of bird and sea mammals. Antarctic cruises booked through The Luxury Cruise Company depart from Ushuaia, Argentina and voyage to Drake Passage. Here passengers will encounter wandering albatrosses and giant and cape petrels, and indulge in some whale watching before continuing onto the Antarctic Peninsula.
At the Peninsula, cruisers will have the rare opportunity to step upon the continent, potentially providing close encounters with chinstrap and adelie penguins in their respective rookeries, as well as weddell, crabeater and leopard seals. This journey leg is also ideal for spotting orca, humpback and minke whales, as well as provincial birds like kelp gulls, snowy sheathbills and blue-eyed shags. Combined with the ethereal backdrop of Antarctica's midnight sunsets, this tour is truly unforgettable.
A cruise around Norway's Arctic Archipelago, Svalbard, provides stunning scenery and begins in Longyerbyen; the closest town to the North Pole. Here passengers will witness dramatic scenery back dropped by the eerie – yet beautiful – midnight suns and polar nights, unique to the Arctic and Antarctic circles, before moving through Magdalene Fjord. The Fjord houses immense calving glaciers, snow-capped peaks and the glorious Uninhabited Bay.
Moffen Island and Liefjordan meanwhile are the two hotspots on this tour which will appeal most to animal lovers. These locations are the most densely populated with polar bears (knows as the 'kings of the Arctic'), walruses, kittiwakes, arctic foxes and Svalbard reindeers, in addition to 15-20 species of whale, dolphin and seals. The Svalbard islands also comprise seven national parks, 15 bird sanctuaries and six nature reserves; passengers will be spoilt with delightful vistas.
Australia's Great Barrier Reef is the world's largest coral reef system and so it's hardly surprising that it supports a wide diversity of marine life. In addition to over 1,500 species of tropical fish (including clown fish, red bass, snapper and coral trout), the reef is home to 30 species of whale, dolphin and porpoise, six variants of sea turtle, large populations of dugongs and even more besides. The reef and nearby islands are also visited by more than 215 different birds.
Those who decide to take a Great Barrier Reef cruise will encounter much of this marine life, particularly when they are presented with the opportunity to snorkel and swim in protected areas – such as Hardy Reef and Orion Reef – which are seldom visited, due to the endangered species which habituate them. The tour continues onwards to Percy Island where guests can enjoy a spot of kayaking, followed by a fresh seafood beach barbeque. Next stop, Stanley Island, meanwhile will see cruisers discover more about local aboriginal history and culture. Acres of white sandy beach and lush forest are also waiting to be explored, making the reef a true paradise for devotees of the natural world.
If you would like to enquire about any of these 'Marine Cruises' please call us on 0800 6123 354 or use the request a quote form - our cruise experts will be more than happy to help.
|Author||Mr James Peters|
|Date||08 August 2012|
|Comment||A lovely article detailing some of the world’s greatest wildlife wonders – its a worry that many of these micro–climates are under considerable threat form extreme macro–environmental factors. I personally would love to travel to see some of these places – cruise line companies just need to assure their own presence in these regions do not add to the pressures of the wildlife’s delicate ecosystem.|
|Author||Mrs Gillian Seshwam|
|Date||08 August 2012|
|Comment||Great article Scott. And lovely pictures.|