An Animal Lover’s Cruise: Scotland’s Local Wildlife

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Scotland is a veritable haven for wildlife lovers and when on a cruise, Scotland’s diverse nature becomes even more apparent. Travelling through the stunning natural landscape on your luxury cruise, you will have the privilege of witnessing many of the wonderful species that have made this part of the UK so attractive to bird and mammal enthusiasts alike.

Here are some of the animals you should be expecting to see.

Red Squirrel

Endangered in much of the British Isles, this chestnut coloured mammal with its distinctive bushy tail is often spotted in the Highlands of Scotland. Darting from tree to tree, the squirrel is a prominent feature of the landscape here. In fact, Scotland is home to more than 75% of all red squirrels.


While looking out for different animals on your cruise, Scotland’s otter might just do you the honour of appearing out of the water. Most common on the west coast, the otter is best spotted on the Isle of Mull. If you get a chance to explore on foot, you are more likely to see evidence of these exclusive animals.

Golden Eagle

Keep your eyes skyward and you may be lucky enough to spot this stunning king of the skies. Most often seen in the Highlands, the Golden Eagle soaring upon the wind currents is a sight to behold.

Basking Shark

If your cruise allows, take a day off and join a tour to see the Basking Sharks that can be spotted around the east and west coasts.

Bottlenose Dolphin

The dolphin is a common sight in this part of the British Isles. The Moray Firth is the place to go, as the dolphin population is thriving here.

Harbour Seal

If you have your heart set on seeing a seal in the wild while on your cruise, Scotland shouldn’t disappoint. The waters around the coast offer the perfect habitation for the seal and Orkney, the Shetland Islands and the Hebrides are prime seal spotting places.


If you choose to cruise between March and October, be sure to keep an eye on the river bank’s wildlife. You may even be able to spot one of the elusive adders. Despite being poisonous they are not likely to attack and are not considered a dangerous animal.


This incredible wild cat had been extinct the UK for over 1000 years until the reintroduction last year. The reintroduction project is based in Aberdeenshire and Argyll, so if you find yourself cruising in these areas, look out for a lynx and you never know, you might get lucky.

Traversing many different habitats, you’ll have the opportunity to see so much when on a cruise. Scotland offers an abundance of experiences for the budding wildlife enthusiast, so combine it with a luxury boat trip and you have the ingredients for a fabulous holiday.

Author Plate

Paul Newman is the Marketing and E-Systems Executive for European Waterways, the UK’s most respected provider of all-inclusive, luxury barge holiday itineraries. If you’re planning a relaxing barge cruise, Scotland, France and Italy are just a few of the great destinations you can choose. Part of a team of experienced barging aficionados, Paul is first in line to endorse the perks of a slow-paced barge cruise to anyone looking for a unique holiday experience.

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