On Board

4 Best Wildlife Viewing Locations Onboard

Photo by Ann Burgess

by Ann Burgess

I am frequently asked, “Where is the best place to watch wildlife on the ship?”  In general, the higher you go the further you will see.  Top decks offer up to 360 degree views and the ability to move from port to starboard with relative ease.  If you want to see as far ahead as possible, this is where you want to be.

However, when the ship is travelling at 20 knots while heading into a 20-knot head wind, 40 knots of wind power will be coming directly at you. If the weather is stormy, you are going to get wet.  Sometimes the upper decks offer partitions which can give you some shielding from the wind, but for more comfort you will have to look elsewhere.

Your own balcony will provide a good location as you can nip back inside when cold or tired.  However, your range of view will be limited to one side of the vessel.

The promenade deck can be an excellent choice, particularly for getting an eye-to-eye with a glacier.  You won’t be able to see as far into the ocean as you will on a higher deck, but in rough seas you will not see much of anything anyway.  I like the promenade deck because it is covered, offering protection from the rain and sun.  As well, any whales you spot from the promenade deck are going to appear much larger than from the very top.

Heading aft to the stern of the ship you will usually find some additional protected areas, but your view will be more restricted.  If you are a bird watcher, the stern is ideal for glimpsing pelagic birds as they like to follow the ships, hoping the propellers will churn up food for them.

Try to have the sun at your back to avoid squinting into the sun.

And, keep a hat and gloves in your jacket.  The warmer you are the longer you can spend time watching for wildlife.

Finally, listen to your ship’s naturalist about which locations are best for the ship on which you are sailing.