A compilation from The Cruise Web employees.
Many of our employees have been fortunate enough to experience the beauty of wildlife in its natural habitat, whether from a ship, underwater, or on good ol’ dry land. From any vantage point, it’s truly incredible (if sometimes scary) to witness animals in the wild.
While on our cruise expedition to Central America on Silversea’s Prince Albert II we had many wildlife encounters. It was exciting to see a pod of playful dolphins outside our window or a couple of whales breaching less than 100 yards away. On land, we stumbled upon a sleeping python and very friendly capuchin monkeys. However, my favorite was at a stop on Isla de Plata off the coast of Ecuador known as Little Galapagos. We walked among colonies of blue-footed boobies and frigate birds – beautiful creatures and absolutely not afraid of humans.
One of my most memorable wildlife encounters had to be diving with hammerhead sharks of the coast of Cocos Island. On one particular dive I got more up close and personal than anticipated, when an 11-foot scalloped hammerhead shark swam within five feet of me, crediting me with the closest encounter of the entire group. It was a little bit spooky!
I have quite a few memorable wildlife encounters while vacationing. Some of my favorites include whale watching off the coast of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, spotting wild monkeys swinging through the trees in Barbados and seeing koalas and kangaroos all over Australia.
I didn’t expect to see dolphins in the Mediterranean. Then on the first morning of our Mediterranean cruise, I noticed about a dozen of them swimming next to our ship. It was great to see them disappear into the deep blue waters then jump out again seconds later. What an awesome display to enjoy breakfast to!
Visiting the Florida Everglades on a shore excursion by way of airboat was fun and a little creepy when you see alligator eyes looking at you from the shore and in the water. The best part was when the ride on the airboat was over because the locals had cooked up some Popcorn Gator for us to try. Now I know why the alligators were giving us dirty looks! I was a little worried at first, but I will try anything once. I was very surprised to find out that it was really, really tasty. I’m sure you have heard this before, but it really does taste like chicken, but it’s actually better because it’s so tender and juicy.
I will start off by saying that I am not an outdoorsy person. I am not a fan of most forms of wildlife, unless of course they are caged and for viewing purposes. I get the jitters when I see them in their natural habitat, even though I fully understand that I am the one invading their natural environment. But, if I had my way they would stay in their area and I would stay in mine and we could both enjoy our time separate. With this being said, the last I was in St. Barth’s I was minding my own business reading my book on the beach when a family of iguanas began wandering around my beach chair. These iguanas were not the small little ones I am used to seeing, instead this family of iguanas ranged between 3-4 feet long. It is an understatement to say that I spent the rest of the day with my feet not touching the sand and feeling the complete opposite of relaxed.
I have two wildlife sightings that stick out in my memory as all time favorites. My first favorite wildlife sightings was viewing a beach full of “jackass penguins” now called African penguins at Boulders Beach near Cape Town, South Africa. The beach is home to one of the largest African penguin populations, with an estimated 3,000 individuals, and is protected under the Cape Peninsula National Park, which is considered one of the city’s most fascinating tourist attractions.
My second favorite wildlife adventure was fulfilling my dream of riding a camel in the Sahara Desert. This dream was made true just a few weeks ago when we visited Cairo while on Cunard’s Queen Victoria. The camel was huge and a bit intimidating, but oh what an experience. There is nothing more breathtaking than seeing a caravan of camels in the late afternoon with the sunset as a backdrop. Priceless!
In the fall of 2008, I had the good fortune of spending a week traveling through interior Alaska on a cruise tour. On the tour I had a few wildlife sightings that seemed so surreal to me because I had only seen these animals on TV or in the Smithsonian, but to my surprise, this was an almost everyday occurrence for the residents of Alaska. I would have thought that my first experience seeing a moose would be while hiking through Denali National Park, or I’d first witness a pod of beluga whales while on some deep sea fishing expedition. Instead, I witnessed both within 20 minutes of one-another; I didn’t imagine my first sighting of a moose would be while it was grazing along a commercial road, or that I’d spot the beluga from a bus driving along the coast. Despite how it happened, I was happy to have seen these creatures when I did because for the next four days, I was constantly on the lookout for something else. And that wasn’t my last encounter with the moose either. While walking through a park in a residential neighborhood in Anchorage on the last day, I came across a family of them. That was a bit too “up close” for me, but it made for a good story for my friends back at home (although they’re still reluctant to believe the moose stood 15 feet tall… maybe it just seemed bigger when you’re not expecting to run into one).
What is your most memorable wildlife sighting?