When we’re on our cruise, we spend a lot of time at sea.
Yes, I know, that’s a strong contender for the most obvious statement of the week, but there’s a reason for it. Considering how long we spend travelling on the ocean, we see precious little of what lies beneath. All manner of marine fauna from all around the world is right there underneath us, but unless we’re on a shore excursion aimed specifically at seeing some of it, we pass it by. Luckily, many popular cruise destinations boast some impressive aquariums where we can catch up with everything we’ve missed on the way in. Here’s a look at six of the best.
Atlanterhavsparken – Alesund, Norway
Alesund Aquarium, to give it its easier to pronounce title, is one of Northern Europe’s largest saltwater aquariums, which has been attracting scores visitors since its opening in 1998. Alesund is one of the Norwegian coast’s most picturesque ports and provides one of the most attractive settings in which to enjoy the Atlantic’s underwater wildlife. The feel’s very local, reflecting the sea creatures you can expect to find in the area, with a 112-foot wide by 25-foot high Atlantic Ocean tank as the star attraction. You can see divers feed fish by hand and there are penguins too.
How to see it: Book a Norwegian fjords cruise which calls at Alesund.
Dubai Aquarium & Underwater zoo – Dubai, UAE
Dubai has a reputation for opulence and expense, but this is one attraction which you can enjoy at least some of for free, because it’s located within the sprawling Dubai Mall. The main atrium forms the stunning centrepiece; like a huge wall of fish, it’s one of the world’s biggest tanks and is visible from three floors of the mall. To get an even closer look at some of the sharks, rays and fish, you can pay a fee to visit the underwater zoo and walk through the tunnel and the aquarium is split into different environments, such as the Rainforest and Rocky Shore.
How to see it: Book a cruise which explores the Middle East and visits Dubai or check out the clip below to get you in the mood.
Atlantis Aquarium – Nassau, Bahamas
One of Nassau’s favourite attractions and a must-see if you visit. As you may have gathered from the name, this is a theme aquarium, laid out as if you’re walking through an unearthed Atlantis, full of caves and artefacts and of course, lots of fish. There’s a huge tank which is made to look like the legendary sunken lost city, which can also be viewed from above. If you’re on a budget or have limited time, the aquarium is free after 6pm, though some areas tend to be closed during this time.
How to see it: Nearly all cruises around the Bahamas call at Nassau, which is the island’s capital.
S.E.A Aquarium, Singapore
Accredited by the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s largest aquarium, there are a staggering 49 habitats here, which are home to over 100,000 animals and over 800 species including rays and hammerhead sharks. Speaking of sharks, there are over 200 here. The aquarium’s big on education and you’re trip includes a visit to the Maritime Experimental Museum, which tells the story of Asia’s maritime heritage, before you enter the aquarium itself. Understandably, it gets busy so you may want to consider a priority pass to avoid the queues.
How to see it: Book a Far Eastern cruise which calls at Singapore.
Sea Life Sydney Aquarium, Sydney, Australia
It’s only fitting that a city located in one of the world’s largest and most spectacular harbours should have an equally spectacular aquarium, and Sea Life Sydney Aquarium certainly fits the bill. Here, you’ll find the world’s largest Great Barrier Reef exhibit and, owing to the unique nature of much of Australia’s wildlife, a lot of sea creatures you’ll struggle to see anywhere else, such as dugongs and platypuses. The aquarium also boasts the biggest variety of sharks and rays in the world and around 700 different species of marine life.
How to see it: A South Pacific cruise is a great way to visit Sydney.
The Florida Aquarium – Tampa, USA
A stunning showcase of the fauna to be found along Florida’s stunning coastline, this aquarium occupies 250,000 square feet of space and is one of Tampa’s most popular natural attractions. As well as experiencing the Atlantic’s most colourful denizens, you’ll be able to see otters, alligators and pythons along the Wetlands Trail and perhaps book a Wild Dolphins Cruise a round Tampa Bay, which departs from the aquarium daily. Don’t miss the ray and starfish touch tanks.
How to see it: A number of Caribbean cruises begin in Tampa, so it’s the perfect excursion if you’ve more time in the city on a cruise and stay.
By Simon Brotherton