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Cruise_Christy

Suggestions for cruise destinations for nature / animal lovers with accessible excursions?

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This may be a bit niche but maybe someone can help. My husband and I are massive animal / nature lovers. We're in our late 30s, but I'm disabled and struggle to cope with long excursions and need certain accessibility which can't always be met on small excursion trips. Most of the nature cruises we see advertised include excursions that are far off the beaten trail, unfortunately not suitable for me. I am also happy staying on board in many ports and my husband can venture off solo, but it would be nice to have one or two spots that I could see something. Are there any destinations / ports  where I would see a lot of the natural world either from the cruise ship, or on fairly easy DIY trips or short excursions?

 

We have so far done 6 Mediterranean cruises (we've seen dolphins, seabirds and some native reptiles on land which was great!) and 1 Norwegian Fjords cruise (which was very good for seabirds), we are in the UK, but would love to travel further afield worldwide and don't mind large boats, small boats, demographic, anything like that - I'd just love to see more amazing scenery and nature and have an opportunity to observe some animals in the wild.

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Well, I can vouch for Holland America's Alaska trips. There are usually several "Wheelchair Friendly" shore excursions marked in the listings. I know the whale watching in Juneau was WC accessible because there was a women using one right near us. As far as lack of stamina, I wouldn't recommend the Mendenhall Glacier/whale watching/salmon bake combined excursion (or the otter/raptor/bear one in Sitka if you are lucky enough to port there). 

 

If you "just" need a seat, all the boats that you would book through the ship, will have enough seats to go around. Take a seat all the way to one side -- whales come up anywhere, but people can be quite rude pushing to the front in front of seated people.

 

Coming all that way, you might look at their 14-day cruise; I think this year it's done on the smaller ship, Maasdam and out of Vancouver. We did it on the Zaandam out of Seattle. They also swap around the ports... 

 

Princess also has a strong presence in Alaska. I have two bookings for their 2-wk roundtrip out of Los Angeles, which is my home port (no flying! BUT, as far as flying in, it would probably be a cheaper flight R/T LAX). There are three seadays going, Ketchikan (where the bald eagles hang around the port like seagulls), Icy Strait Point (where I've read the whales come to meet the ship on the way to port), Juneau (which has a resident pod of humpbacks and the boat companies offer you-WILL-see-a-whale guarantees, and never have to pay out). Then scenic cruising Hubbard Glacier. Skagway (where there are WC-friendly train excursions), Sitka (where we also saw whales as well as "rafts" of otters, and the Fortress of the Bears (a rescue operation, you do have to climb stairs to the viewing platform). Then one seaday, Victoria (on Vancouver Island), two seadays and off at LA San Pedro.

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Well, this is not exactly what you are seeking, but it is the best place I can think of that you could see a multitude of animals up close... San Diego. To my knowledge, San Diego Zoo is still one of the largest in the world. We took my grandparents from Denmark there many years and they thoroughly enjoyed their visit. I also took my granddaughters there in more recent times and they thoroughly enjoyed it. One can easily spend a full day there. The zoo does offer forms of transportation. I believe San Diego port is basically a port for cruise departure or arrivals. Not aware of San Diego being a port of call.

 

To my knowledge, most tours avoid animal places because people fail to abide by the rules.

 

Ruth and I traveled all over the world and I cannot think of any ports where they had wild life nearby. However Ruth was able to ride an elephant in Phuket, Thailand and a camel in Tangier, Morocco (I baby sat the camel's calf). In Dubai, camel rides were available, in stead, I held one of the birds or prey (actually, it held onto my arm).

 

We have also been to the Ostrich Farm in Aruba which was a very nice trip. Think they also had a llama there at the time. One can take a taxi to and from or they still may offer some form of transportation. I have also been to the donkey refuge in Aruba. Confiscated apples and pears from the ship to give to the donkeys. The donkeys sure enjoyed the fruit. Booked a round trip taxi, except we had him drop us off at Wilhelmina Park so the gal with me could see all the wild iguanas. It is approximately 1 km back to ship from the park.

Nassau has the Ardastra Gardens, Zoo and Conservation Center. We scooted to and from the ship, however it is recommended that one takes a taxi. The route we took was not considered safe.

Some of the other Caribbean islands have refuges for donkeys or horses. St. Maarten use to have a nice zoo, but gave away their animals to another island zoo after they got hit by a hurricane.

 

The monkeys in Gibraltar are very friendly and out right thieves. They will take anything they can get away with.

 

The Norwegian Fjords has goats and birds plus a slim chance of seeing a Norwegian Fjord horse. I do not recall seeing any of the horses, but we saw a lot of goats and birds and a lot of snow. One of the early spring cruises.

 

Both Ruth and I require the use of a mobility scooter. At the time we visited many of these places, there was not anything “wheelchair accessible”, thus I sent dimensions and weight of our scooters to most of the private tours verifying that they could transport our scooters.

 

I was told that the Zoo in Washington, D.C. was the largest in the world. Well, that may be land wise, however when I was there they had very few animals. That was in the mid 50s.

 

Hope you can find something that you can thoroughly enjoy.

Betty

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