Cruise activities. What to do on a cruise

Cruise activities


WHAT TO DO ON A CRUISE

Wildlife watching

Many of our small cruise vacations were created by people who are wild about nature. And having a small boat, a knowledgeable guide and a skipper who knows nature’s best hiding spots, are what you need to get up close and personal. In the Galapagos, for example, you can see extraordinary creatures all year round. Going on a small ship cruise really is the way to go, however, especially as some islands only allow the small ones to berth. Boats where the emphasis is on wildlife not social life and where, with fewer people on board, you won’t have to queue endlessly to embark/disembark. Giving you more time to enjoy watching boobies on San Cristóbal or Genovesa, iguanas and albatross on Española or snorkel with sea lions and penguins off Floreana. The Arctic and Antarctic small cruises are wildlife frenzies, of course, with polar bears, walruses, Arctic fox in the former, and penguins, whales, seals and albatross at the latter. Much closer to home, Scotland’s islands are small cruise nirvana, with the likes of Bute, Hebrides and Mull offering a Celtic cacophony of sea creatures.

Water babies

For most water lovers, being on water is not quite enough and if swimming, snorkelling or diving is not one of the cruise activities, they’ll sulk like a child who has had their sweets taken away. You will want to practice your diving board skills before heading off on a sailing trip cruise in Turkey, Greece, Italy or Croatia, with total immersion into those turquoise waters irresistible to most. Snorkels and masks are compulsory gear on small ship cruises around Burma’s Mergui (also known as Myeik) Archipelago and the Maldives prolific atolls, and it is worth getting your PADI diving skills up to date before going cruising not only in the warm waters of, for example, Greece’s Cyclades, but also the Arctic and Antarctic where diving expeditions from ice floes under the ice take you into world that feels like it is, literally, frozen in time.

Visit local communities

Unlike the giant cruise shippers who either stay on board to sunbathe or play golf (yes cruise ships with golf courses do exist), small cruise activities are as much about getting you onto land to meet people and learn about river, sea or lochside life. Such as the Arctic’s aboriginal communities, the extraordinary sea gypsies of Burma’s Mergui Archipelago or the coastal Koryaks of Kamchatka.
Historically, the Thule people lived around the shores of Greenland and Arctic Canada – the remains of settlements give fascinating insights into their lost culture. Eastern Siberia’s Wrangel Island reveals older culture still – with a 3,400-year-old Paleo Eskimo camp.

Pedal, paddle or pootle

There is no danger of becoming a cruise ship potato on our vacations, with kayaking, hiking and cycling often part of the package. You can take on some serious climbing once you touch dry (ish) land on Antarctica, combine cycling with sailing along the Croatian coast, or head off hiking in Sierra De Aracena Natural Park when you moor the boat in Spain.
Photo credits: [Wildlife watching: Emma] [Water babies: Roger] [Visit local communities: Greenland Travel] [Pedle, paddle or pootle: Roderick Eime]
Written by Catherine Mack
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