A lovely guest post from:
David Elliott, a freelance writer who loves to travel, especially in Europe and Turkey. He’s spent most of his adult life in a state of restless excitement but recently decided to settle in North London. He gets away whenever he can to immerse himself in foreign cultures and lap up the history of great cities.
Wildlife-spotting cruises around the UK
Foreign visitors and UK residents alike are increasingly being drawn to Britain’s stunning coastline for cruising, to enjoy a range of cultural and natural wonders from weathered old castles and majestic cliffs to beautiful cities and major ports, all from the luxury and convenience of a floating hotel.
The maritime heritage and diversity of these islands is second to none and, as well as the historic attractions and other draws like world-famous golf courses, the wildlife is extremely varied, with cruise holidays growing increasingly popular as a way to experience Britain’s many fabulous marine species in their natural habitats.
Most of the cruises that take passengers around the UK last anywhere between nine and 14 days, and each day sees a different port of call. Transocean Tours, Cunard and Fred Olsen are amongst the most popular operators, but there are also a small number of niche vessels available for more specialised outings, such as Silversea’s Prince Albert II and Hebridean Princess, as well as a few enormous deluxe ships like those in the Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Crystal Cruises fleets.
Smaller vessels typically have the ambience of a country club, whilst the bigger ones have enormous lounges and a wealth of onboard entertainments and conveniences, so the choice which passengers make really boils down to personal preference.
There are usually lecture facilities on board, such as those for the Wildlife and Nature cruises run by Fred Olsen ArtsClub programme, which set out in September from the Land’s End headland. These specialist cruises are hosted by British wildlife experts, with all the lectures and seminars on board included in the price of the fare.
Operators such as Hebridean Princess and Craignish Cruises in Scotland run cruises off the Hebrides, Western Isles and the sounds and lochs of the West Coast between March and November, with escorted tours of the ports of call included. In the area of Loch Craignish passengers get to spot the nests of sea eagles and a range of other raptors, along with red deer negotiating the inland cliffs. There are also cruises along the east coast of Scarba for fallow and red deer and dolphins, basking sharks and minke whales can be seen near Duntrune Castle.
The coastline of Scotland is particularly rich in wildlife, with whale watching off the coast of Argyll becoming increasingly popular. The operators keep a close track of whale movements in the area and Craignish Cruises for instance runs a special side-trip from the main cruise whenever whales are spotted between June and September.
Off the Hebridean coast, Northern Light Charters operates from Oban and offers whale-watching, bird-watching and island-hopping cruises along Scotland’s west coast, whilst further south in the Farne Islands near Seahouses and off Holy Island in Northumberland seal-spotting cruises are popular throughout the year.
The diversity of the UK’s coastline makes cruises in these waters hugely rewarding and diversified for the wildlife enthusiast, who will also get the chance to look into parts of Britain that ordinary visitors usually miss out on.