Black Giant Tortoise, an animal you can see on an Animal Encounter Shore Excursion

For Shore: Animal Encounter Shore Excursions

There’s nothing like a shore excursion to really make your cruise memories magical: Taking in the scenery, enjoying the regional cuisine, and, of course, meeting the locals … including the kind with fur, feathers or fins. We’re talking, of course, about animal encounter shore excursions.

Animal-encounter tours have taken the world of travel by storm, with an ever-increasing range of destinations to explore and creatures to experience. From swimming with stingrays in the Caribbean to walking with deer outside of Osaka, here are just some of the amazing animal-encounter experiences that could be waiting for you the next time you step onto shore.

What’s an animal encounter shore excursion you need to take? Read on!

RELATED: Amazon – Big River, Huge Adventure

Cuddle a Sloth on the Amazon

Brazil is one of those classic cruise destinations that will never go out of style, and there’s nowhere like the city of Manaus to start an animal adventure. Manaus is a real paradox. On one hand it’s Brazil’s cosmopolitan outpost on the Amazon, an unabashedly modern city with every convenience and comfort. On the other, it’s a gateway to river and jungle adventures you’ll never forget. This is more of a cruise-within-a-cruise than a shore excursion, as you travel by boat to meet exotic animals both on and in the river.

Various establishments have been set up by local entrepreneurs to let you interact with the creatures of the Amazon, including spots where you can meet and greet free-swimming river dolphins in their natural habitat. Back on dry land — or at least back on one of the floating buildings that dot the river — there are many other creatures to encounter. You can meet an anaconda, the powerful giant serpent of the Amazon rain forest, or, if something friendly and fuzzy is more your speed, perhaps you’d prefer to cuddle with a baby sloth? These gentle denizens of the forest canopy provide a unique glimpse into an entirely different ecosystem.

Play with Penguins in Patagonia

Heading south, we come to the Straits of Magellan and the beautiful islands of southern Chile. One island in particular is home to our next animal encounter: Magdalena Island, just a short hop from Tierra del Fuego. This is the location of the Magdalena Island Penguin Reserve, one of the most….

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By Clare Emmett

Photo: Ingram Image

Now in its 25th year, Porthole Cruise and Travel Magazine is published bi-monthly and available worldwide through digital subscription. It offers the latest news in cruise and travel, with in-depth features on voyages, new ships, the best destinations, readers' picks, onboard cuisine, entertainment, and more!