Family cruises packed with opportunities to spot amazing wildlife make a holiday with kids not just thrilling but also educational – so what fauna can children spot on Ambassador wildlife cruises?
Cruising Europe’s Atlantic Coast and calling at a wealth of incredible cities from Porto to Seville is quite the introduction to the magic of travel for little ones. Whether they’re chowing down on moreish croquetas, exploring limestone tunnels or beachcombing golden sands – they’ll have plenty to gush to classmates about once term begins.
But not all the wonders of globetrotting lie on land. A huge benefit of taking a family cruise is the opportunity to glimpse some of the continent’s most impressive wildlife, whether that’s out at sea or on the coast.
There’s the Ambassador Easter family cruise from the UK visiting Honfleur, the Isles of Scilly and Cork as well as a summer Iberian option calling at Porto, Cadiz, Casablanca, Gibraltar and Vigo – and kids travel for just £99 on each, bargain!
Ambassador family cruises
Multi-Generational Iberian Treasures & North Africa
When: August 10, 2024
Duration: 12 nights
Cruise itinerary: London Tilbury, UK | Leixoes, for Oporto, Portugal | Lisbon, Portugal | Cadiz, Spain | Casablanca, for Marrakesh, Morocco | Gibraltar | Vigo, for Santiago de Compostela, Spain | London Tilbury, UK
Adult price: From £1,699pp | Child price: £99pp
Easter Multigenerational Getaway
When: April 17, 2025
Duration: 7 nights
Cruise itinerary: London Tilbury, UK | Honfleur, France | St Mary’s, Isles of Scilly, UK | Cobh for Cork, Ireland | London Tilbury, UK
Adult price: From £759pp | Child price: £99pp
On both these unbeatable value family cruises from the UK, guests will be joined by wildlife experts from ORCA, one of the UK’s foremost whale and dolphin conservation charities, so little ones can not only learn more about these incredible animals and glimpse ocean fauna with pro help but also gain a deeper understanding of the marine environment and the challenges ORCA faces.
So, as you embark with the kids in tow on your family cruise, what wonderful wildlife can you expect to see?
Ambassador wildlife cruises – what to spot with your family
The Bay of Biscay, nestled along the western coast of France and northern Spain, is a rich and diverse marine ecosystem that hosts an abundance of wildlife. Known for its deep waters and dynamic ocean currents, the bay attracts the common dolphin (black or dark grey with multiple colour bands along their sides) and bottlenose dolphin (grey with a short and stubby beak).
A pair of binoculars is a must-have tool for catching sea life in action on Ambassador wildlife cruises but you might need to set an alarm – optimal viewing times often coincide with early mornings and late afternoons, when the beasts of the big blue are most active.
The Iberian coast, spanning Spain and Portugal, is home to harbour porpoises. Recognised for their sleek bodies, these small cetaceans are often spotted in the Bay of Biscay and the Atlantic Ocean. Preferring coastal zones and estuaries, they feed on small fish and cephalopods, using echolocation (not Google Maps) for navigation.
Conservation efforts aim to protect harbour porpoises’ habitats and eco-friendly boat tours offer opportunities to witness these creatures in their natural environment. Be sure to speak to the ORCA experts onboard your Ambassador wildlife cruises from the UK to find out more!
The Bay of Biscay is a renowned destination for whale watching as well so keep your eyes peeled for magnificent fin whales, minke whales, and even the occasional sighting of the impressive sperm whale.
Parts of the Iberian Peninsula, such as the coasts of Portugal, Spain and France, also provide potential whale spotting opportunities. Look for blows or spouts of water, which indicate that a whale is exhaling at the surface. Fins, tails (flukes) or breaching (jumping out of the water) are also exciting indicators. How about an ice cream for whoever spots one first?
Seals, particularly harbour seals (otherwise known as common seals) are often found in the waters around Vigo and the Atlantic coast of Galicia. The critters can be recognised by their small size, V-shaped nostrils, and distinctive spotted or mottled coat, often with lighter colouration on their bellies.
You may also get a chance to spot seals during Ambassador wildlife cruises in the Isles of Scilly. They’re commonly seen resting on rocks and sandbanks or swimming in the waters along the coastline.
Cadiz, Spain is home to expansive beaches and estuaries graced with the presence of flamingos and herons. Set off on a coastal walk or boat tour to observe the birds against the backdrop of Cadiz’s historic architecture during your time here.
Herons also navigate the waters over in Honfleur, a charming harbour town on the Normandy coast of France, along with egrets, while gulls soar overhead.
There are further seabirds to be seen among the coastal cliffs in Vigo and The Bay of Biscay, while Ambassador cruise guests visiting Porto in Portugal should keep an eye out for the region’s resident birdlife. The fertile Douro Valley provides a haven for eagles, falcons and various species of waterfowl.
The Rock of Gibraltar on the tip of Spain’s south coast is renowned for its countless Barbary macaques, the only wild monkey population in Europe. Families on Ambassador cruises can trek up the rock to observe these playful primates while enjoying panoramic views of the Strait of Gibraltar. They’re unafraid of tourists but remember not to feed or touch them – just because some pirates sported monkeys on their shoulders at sea does not mean you should follow in their (peg-legged) footsteps.
The Isles of Scilly, off the southwestern tip of Cornwall, are famous for their clear waters. The archipelago is surrounded by vibrant sub-tidal reefs, kelp forests and seagrass beds, providing excellent opportunities to explore the underwater world. Why not try a guided snorkelling or diving expedition to admire the deep filled with sea anemones and curious fish? No, you won’t find Nemo, I’m afraid.
On your Ambassador family cruise to Seville, where the Guadalquivir River winds through the heart of the city, riverside parks and botanical gardens provide kids a chance to spot colourful butterflies and other small wildlife.
Meanwhile, Santiago de Compostela is not only a pilgrimage site but also a sanctuary for biodiversity. The surrounding countryside is dotted with forests and meadows, offering a tranquil setting for families to spot deer, foxes and a variety of bird species. Nature reserves and walking trails are perfect for stretching out those little sea legs and keeping watch for wildlife.