Some people pick a cruise itinerary based on the beautiful scenery and stunning landscapes they desire to see. However, there are cruises that offer a bit more exotic scenery, including the opportunity to get up close and personal with wild animals in their natural habitat. If you are looking for a cruise that combines gorgeous backdrops with the experience of wildlife spotting, here are five of the best cruises.

Galapagos Islands Cruise

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The Galapagos Islands are famous for the unsurpassed wildlife viewing opportunities they offer. Considering that much of the area has been spared from modern development, it’s one of the best destinations to learn about some of the world’s most exotic wildlife in an undisturbed environment.

The Galapagos Islands have strict limitations on cruise ships visiting the region, so you won’t be on a ship with more than 100 people, and land visits are restricted to 20 people per group, so you’re guaranteed to get a more intimate experience here. On your Galapagos cruise, you’ll have the opportunity to see some of the most unique animals of the world, some of which are endemic to certain islands. Animals you can potentially see on your Galapagos cruise include Galapagos tortoises, marine iguanas, Galapagos penguins, blue-footed boobies and magnificent frigatebirds.

Arctic Cruise

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Depending on the Arctic cruise you book, you might visit destinations such as Greenland, Iceland or Svalbard to explore some of the world’s most surreal landscapes and the wildlife that call them home. Depending on the cruise line and itinerary you choose, you could see polar bears, arctic foxes, reindeer and walruses.

Unsure what time of year to go? If you choose a spring or summer cruise, you will have 24 hours of sunlight every day, or opt for a winter cruise in hopes of catching a glimpse of the mesmerizing northern lights.

Antarctica

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Head to the other polar region of the world to visit Antarctica, one of the world’s most untouched places. Antarctica is nearly twice the size of Australia, but almost all of it is covered by ice. During the tourist season that extends from December to March, you have the opportunity to see thousands of penguins and whales. You might also spot a leopard seal in the water or an albatross in the sky. Itineraries may include stops on King George Island, home to cormorants, giant petrels, penguins and gulls, and/or the Falkland Islands, which has 219 native animal species alone.

Amazon River

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Book an Amazon River cruise to see some of the exotic wildlife that lives inside the world’s most famous rainforest. Brazil is home to 60% of the Amazon rainforest. You might see everything from a pink river dolphin to a poison dart frog or a wild jaguar.

Choose an itinerary that visits Ecuador to see howler monkeys, scarlet macaws, three-toed sloths and the Amazonian manatee. You can also consider Peru, which is home to 132 mammal species, 150 reptile species and 449 bird species.

Indonesia Yacht Cruise

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Indonesia is home to a large number of exotic animals that are endemic to certain parts of the region. You can take a yacht cruise around Indonesia to see some of the world’s most exotic animals in their natural habitat. Depending on the archipelago you visit, wildlife sightings can include Komodo dragons, the tiny tarsier, macaques, Moluccan king parrots, orangutans, cuscus, sea turtles and more. With talk of potentially closing Komodo Island in 2020 for at least a year due to poaching concerns, it’s even more important to book a cruise here sooner rather than later if you want to see a Komodo dragon in Indonesia.