By Michael Coleman
Passengers may choose a cruise vacation for a host of reasons but in todays green world the sheer size and scope of Mother Natures canvas remains a top drawing card.
Chilean fjords, the tropics, Alaskas wilderness and even Antarctica beckon cruise ship passengers like never before as do the untouched landscapes, rare ecosystems and extraordinary plant, bird and animal domains which span the planet and a port – near you.
As more and more global citizens act to become stewards of the environment, cruise lines have unveiled itineraries to foster an even greater appreciation of the natural world around us.
For instance, guests aboard Azamara Cruises will enjoy some 20 varieties of hummingbirds and 227 species of birds on bird watching eco tours in the wetlands along the Copalita River in Huatulco, Mexico, during Panama Canal itineraries. Other nature thrills in the region include ziplining in the canopy forests of Costa Rica in search of tropical butterflies, exotic birds and other creatures of the rainforest.Â
Carnival, meanwhile, offers whale watching and an eagle preserve adventure in Alaska; ecological snorkel tours in Cabo San Lucas; white water rafting near the jungles of Costa Rica, exploring the waterfalls and sulfur springs of Dominica in the Caribbean; and a nautical adventure in the Bay of Fundy, home of the legendary “reversing falls.”Â
The 92-guest Celebrity Xpedition offers all-inclusive, environmentally-conscious cruises in the Galapagos Islands. A guided tour and onboard naturalists certified by the Galapagos National Park are features of every itinerary, as are hikes and walks to provide an in-depth exploration of the islands unique fauna and flora.Â
Luxury operator Crystal Cruises offers several opportunities worldwide for guests to get to know the wildlife and environment of the exotic destinations they visit. Guests might want to swim with dolphins in the Bay of Islands in New Zealand; visit Siberian sled dogs in Russia; ride elephants at the Bali Elephant Safari Park or spot dragons at Komodo National Park in Indonesia.Â
With more than 60 years experience offering cruises in Alaska, Holland Americas nature themes feature opportunities to experience such wildlife as orca and humpback whales, puffins, dolphins, Dahls porpoises, bears, seals, sea otters and the full extent of Alaskan marine and land birdlife. Shoreside activities can include everything from leisure walks through northern rainforests to kayaking with a pod of whales, dog sledding and a snorkeling adventure in the clear waters of Mountain Point in Southeast Alaska.Â
The mysterious wilderness of the White Continent,Â Antarctica, with its icebergs, whales and orcas feeding only feet away, and penguin populations in the thousands, is the featured adventure attraction aboard Fram, an expedition ship operated by Hurtigruten (formerly Norwegian Coastal Voyage). Guests even explore the rarely visited Marguerite Bay, with its ice-covered islands and surrounding icebergs to discover the only known breeding colony of emperor penguins on the west side of the Antarctica peninsula.