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Birding scope on cruise ship?


cnbfrank

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We will be on a HAL trip around South America, including several sea days "scenic cruising" Antarctica. We are pondering whether to take our scope and tripod - a little more of a hassle to pack, and some security worries in a two-night hotel stay, but might be fun to have on the ship. We would most likely not take it on land excursions, and rely on binoculars there.

 

Any opinions or experiences?

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  • 2 weeks later...

Sounds like a great idea to me! I've never traveled with anything more powerful than binoculars, but LOVE scanning the coastline to see interesting flora and fauna, as well as the horizon for interesting ships... I think it would be fantastic for Antarctica--you probably won't be the only one on board to do so...

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  • 3 weeks later...

I have tried using a scope on a cruise and generally found it difficult to use for tracking birds or any wildlife when on board. The problem is the ship movement and the bird movement combined with the power of the scope make it ver hard to keep something in the scope's image. I do use it on land though. For viewing the scenery binoculars are fine..

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  • 1 month later...
We will be on a HAL trip around South America, including several sea days "scenic cruising" Antarctica. We are pondering whether to take our scope and tripod - a little more of a hassle to pack, and some security worries in a two-night hotel stay, but might be fun to have on the ship. We would most likely not take it on land excursions, and rely on binoculars there.

 

Any opinions or experiences?

We took a similar S. America-Antarctica cruise last January on Princess. Despite misgivings, I packed my tripod and scope for the first time. I can safely say that at least half of my pelagic life birds were gained via the scope. In Antarctica, a scope will provide more and better opportunities to view even some of the "land" birds, including penguins on bergs and in colonies viewed from the ship. The only snowy sheathbills I saw were with the scope while going through a narrow passage. The scope also adds to your enjoyment of viewing whales and even the spectacular scenery.

 

We had a balcony cabin near the bow, and I spent most of our non-eating sea time outside with the scope set up. My field guides (and a glass of wine) were within easy reach on a table. The water was calm to the point that stability was rarely an issue. Is using the scope more difficult than using binoculars on land? Of course, but with practice to some extent you get used to it. Despite our bow location, I regularly took the scope aft when royal and wandering albatrosses were following us, often at a good distance. Several times I invited other birders to use my scope when they were struggling to make an ID with binoculars.

 

As a birder, ask yourself how often you plan to visit Antarctica. If this trip is it, you will be sorry if you leave the scope home.

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When we cruise we rarely go to ports we have been to before. I would not want to miss an ID or a life bird because I did not take my scope. Inconvenient? A little. Hard to use in rough seas? Of course. Perfect for scanning a lagoon on a Caribbean? Absolutely!

 

We got a suitcase that has two compartments. The bottom one is hard-sided and perfect for the tripod and our hiking boots. The top compartment is soft-sided and holds a lot while still coming in under the 50 pound airline limit.

 

Take your scope, you'll be glad you did.

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Please keep those comments coming! I'd be interested in the name of the bag you describe, with the solid bottom.

 

We are interested, but not really avid, birders, and will enjoy all the wildlife and outdoor time we can fit into the trip.

We are now leaning toward taking the scope. We will be in an oceanview cabin with a window, no verandah, one deck below the promenade deck, not far from a staircase/elevator bank. I think it will be up to my husband, who ends up carrying the scope, to make the final decision.

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  • 1 month later...

We recently purchased a small Nikon HD 50mm scope...extremely light and compact, but with excellent optics...perfect for travel, especially when we don't want to haul our larger Swarovski.

 

Yes, I use a spotting scopes on cruise ships all the time...especially useful with slow scenic cruising, or when in port, but I too have scoped out distant pelagic birds that I would not have been able to ID with just my bins. Plus, I don't like to carry a large camera or telephoto, but like to have the option to digiscope.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Whale-watcher - That's a good idea to buy one of those smaller scopes! May have to consider that for the next trip. I brought my full-sized scope on the Alaska cruise in '07 (and Yellowstone trip this past September).

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  • 2 weeks later...

We did take our full-size tripod and scope on our South America/Antarctica cruise. We are interested but not avid birders and enjoy all wildlife.

Our final feeling is that we would not take it on a similar itinerary again.

We did not have a balcony cabin and were one deck below the promenade deck.

We did use the scope from the rear promenade deck a few times for pelagic birds, but our binoculars worked almost as well. We did not take it on any port visits. We tried to use it during the Antarctic "scenic cruising" days and it did help with some penguins and seals floating by on icebergs, but we found we liked to move quickly about the ship and to various vantage points all through the day. The scope seemed to tie us down.

We worried about security traveling to and from SA and in our hotel room, and ended up with an extra piece of carryon luggage to hold the scope itself, while the tripod fit into a larger suitcase than we might have otherwise used.

We were very glad we took our good binoculars, but overall felt the scope did not add much to this particular trip. As they say, "your mileage may vary" and I thank you all for your valuable suggestions.

It was fantastic trip!

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  • 4 weeks later...
  • 9 months later...

I've enjoyed reading this discussion thread and have found the tips, info and opinions very helpful.:)

A big thanks to all who have posted!

I'm cruising this spring (Feb-March 2012), have booked a balcony room and will be bringing my scope and bins for birding from the ship and in our ports of call. I'm fairly new at pelagic birding ( 3 days on the Stormy Petrel II Cape Hattera- only trips so far) so I welcome any tips.

I am looking forward to honeing my skills with the practice I will get on this cruise.

I think I have realistic expectations - Gulls, boobies, frigatebirds and maybe gannet and shearwaters in the northern waters. I'm one of those hopeful birders.

Have any of you met other birders while on board your ships?

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