THE BEST CRUISE DESTINATIONS FOR SPOTTING WILDLIFE

Here are the top places you’re guaranteed to find incredible local species.
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Whether majestic sea turtles in the Caribbean or whale watching in Alaska, spotting wildlife is a major benefit of travel.

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Around the globe, people celebrate World Wildlife Day in March—but this is something we take seriously at Royal Caribbean all year round, as partners of World Wildlife Fund (WWF). Experiencing wildlife on our cruises adds to the adventure and is part of what makes travel worthwhile! Overall, we strive to help protect the oceans and the destinations we visit by sustainably sourcing seafood, reducing carbon emissions and offering over 1,400 Global Sustainable Tourism Council certified tours.

Whether whale watching in Alaska or scuba diving with Caribbean sea creatures, our guests can spot a lineup of wildlife just as varied as the more than 270 destinations we visit.

 

Here’s a peek at the wildlife that awaits on some of our cruises and how you can visit them:

Crab is king in the Last Frontier…literally.

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Alaska

The Last Frontier is known for its rich and diverse wildlife, from humpback whales to roaming moose. One of the most unique creatures is the King Crab, which can reach a leg span of six feet! Just like the fishermen on “Deadliest Catch,” you can sail through the Inside Passage on a fishing tour to get a close-up view as professionals catch these sizeable crustaceans. Luckily, Alaskan cruises take place from late May to early September, so you won’t face wintry conditions.

You can also expect whale sightings on board, ideally from your own balcony. During a cruise tour (a vacation package that combines your sailing with a multi-night land tour before or after your cruise) to Denali National Park, keep your eyes peeled from afar for wolves, caribou and Dall sheep.

Find which Alaska cruise you can catch here, and see them for yourself!

Iguanas are sun worshippers, often lounging on rocks or tree trunks.

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St. Thomas

When people think of the Caribbean, marine life likely comes to mind. In St. Thomas, guests can don an oversize helmet to explore colorful coral on a Breathing Observation Submersible Scooter, or take a catamaran to nearby islets to scout the striking snouts of the hogfish and beaked parrotfish that congregate near the coral reefs.

Large iguanas roaming the island are especially prominent, and some even say they may have first reached St. Thomas on floating debris from across the Caribbean Sea. You’ll find these herbivores lounging on warm rocks by the shore and scaling trees to sun themselves.

Fancy seeing these U.S. Virgin Island reptiles yourself? Book your St. Thomas cruise here.

Common on beaches, seagulls are one of the rare birds able to survive on salt water thanks to their salt glands.

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St. Maarten

One way to get a unique look at the flora and fauna of St. Maarten—one of the island’s most visible draws—is a visit to Philipsburg’s Butterfly Farm. You’ll learn about the metamorphosis of these delicate beauties and get unprecedented access to observe them within their enclosure.

For wildlife near the beach, a short boat ride offers opportunities to interact with dolphins, whether you remain on the boat or grab a kayak or paddleboard. You’re also bound to see local seagulls hovering just 50 feet above the waves.

If St. Maarten is calling—book your cruise vacation here.

Swim with the largest of all living turtle species in the deep blue waters of Barbados.

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Barbados

Barbados’ lush forests are famous for their green monkeys, and you can hop on a four-by-four safari shore excursion to see them. If you’re lucky, some scurrying green lizards will appear, too.

The most exciting sight of the island, however, is the majestic leatherback sea turtle. Found in the nearby waters, they date back to the time of the dinosaurs and are the largest of all living turtle species–growing up to 7 feet long and weighing up to 2,000 pounds. Visit their underwater world on a snorkeling expedition in the aptly named Turtle Bay, where they may swim right near you as you snorkel above a shipwreck—so bring an underwater camera!

Book your cruise to Barbados here, so you can swim with these majestic turtles.

Commonly mistaken as a “bear,” koalas are in fact a marsupial (or pouched mammal).

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Australia

The Land Down Under is packed with animals, most famously kangaroos and wallabies. But a much slower-moving native marsupial, the koala (not actually a “bear”), is also notable. You can see all three at the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary in Brisbane, which opened in 1927 and remains the world’s largest koala refuge. Thankfully undamaged by the bush fires, it is open and able to take in injured and orphaned koalas.

Since Australia is filled with snakes and crocodiles, koalas are one of the Australian animals we’d recommend getting close to during your trip. In this sanctuary surrounded by eucalyptus plantations, which supply the koalas’ diet, you’ll get the chance to hold one of the 130 furry inhabitants and likely snag a memorable pic.

Whether lured by kangaroos, wallabies or koalas—book your Australian cruise here.

No matter which adventure calls to you, find your perfect cruise to see exotic creatures here.