Whale Watching Tour in Juneau ... Harv & Marv VS Orca Tours???

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#1
Toronto, Ontario - Canada
85 Posts
Joined Aug 2007
Hey everyone,

We want to go on a whale watching tour in Juneau. I've read excellent reviews from many of you about Harv & Marv Tours. However, is there boat really small? Is it difficult to get onboard? Do they offer any snacks/drinks??

I am trying to decide between Harv & Marv and Orca Tours .. who claim they have a larger flat bottom boat, and take about 50 ppl with them. Is it easier to get on that boat???

Thanks!
Helen
#2
2,179 Posts
Joined Aug 2006
I have great reviews of both companies. I have choosen Harv & Marv for my upcoming cruise because I personally wanted a smaller boat so I wouldn't have to climb over other passengers to take pictures. Sorry, I can't tell you if either companies boats are easy or not.
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#3
1,941 Posts
Joined Nov 2002
I assume you are talking about Orca Enterprises. I think you may be misinformed, unless there is something new. Don't see how the others can have boats smaller than Orca. Have been on Orca and besides the fact that the boat is small, unlike the Harv & Marv pictures, Orca also has a elevated observation platform. Orca also uses jet powered vs outboards. Much safer for the whales. In addition, Captain Larry and his team at Orca do a great job.
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#4
Toronto, Ontario - Canada
85 Posts
Joined Aug 2007
Thanks everyone,
I heard that the Harv & Marv Tours only can take 6 ppl... whereas the Orca Enterprises tour can have as many as 40 ppl on board. Is this not true???
Did you find it easy to get onto the boat with Orca Enterprises.... Just a little nervous aobut getting on to small boats.

Thanks!
#5
Southaven, Ms
8,306 Posts
Joined May 2006
pardon me for butting in on another board, but this is my favorite subject..whale watching.
we did orca, lucky enough to get the purple boat. yes, it's very easy to get on and off. not such a big step down, as with a smaller boat. it sits a little higher in the water and has higher sides on the boat. (we had rough water and the water could not come over the sides). the boat is made flater and wider. the inside is like a small bus, the sides of the boat had have bench seats facing forward with an aisle between. the boat is rated for handi-access. has not steps, even around the head (restroom).
the back has a nice platform area for viewing, plus when the weather is nice..a good area on top of the cabin for higher viewing.
all the bench seats have windows, in fact the cabin is almost all windows. they open for good viewing and close for foul weather.
i love boats, but can get clumsey...loved the fact that there wasn't anyting to trip me up, especially getting on. it's not that it's that much bigger, just built different. but you would need to ask for the purple boat, they have 3 boats (maybe 4), the others are good too...but the purple boat is more suited for what you are asking.
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#6
1,941 Posts
Joined Nov 2002
No way 40. Maybe 15-20.
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#7
Montara, California
4,913 Posts
Joined Dec 2002
Orca now has several boats. One is smaller than the others but the larger one can accommodate 50 people. I don't think they ever book that many on it but the last time we went out with them there was about 45 or 40 people on it. We have gone out with Orca Ent. 3 times but are thinking about using Harv and Marv next time. Be aware that there is no head on the very small boat used by Harv and Marv.
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#8
Southaven, Ms
8,306 Posts
Joined May 2006
the 3 boats, i know of, the smallest holds about 15, the next one 20 to 25, the purple boat is rated for 40..but usually has less. on my trip there were 15. the other boats have been re-made to suit orca enterprises whale watching. the purple boat was custom made for many reasons, whale's comforts and humans. as far as seeing whales, it's hit or miss with any of them. when it's a big hit and the whales are very active, most of the boats will make sure you see it.
the purple boat's jet system allows it to go further and faster if they need to search out whales. but most of the time there are some around auke bay.
i found the biggest factor (for me) was the room to move around easily on the purple boat. very comfortable..i was able to spend more of the time out on the back platform..even able to find a spot out of the rain and sleet. (we were there last sept....lots of rain)
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#9
Toronto, Ontario - Canada
85 Posts
Joined Aug 2007
Thanks again for your replies... this helped very much.

Just to clarify - what do you mean, by "be aware there is no 'head' on the small boats used by Harv & Marv?????
#10
Southern California
4,524 Posts
Joined May 2006
Originally posted by Eleni2007
Thanks again for your replies... this helped very much.

Just to clarify - what do you mean, by "be aware there is no 'head' on the small boats used by Harv & Marv?????
"Head" is the boating term for bathroom.
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#11
Toronto, Ontario - Canada
85 Posts
Joined Aug 2007
Hey Cactusrose,
What do you mean, when you say to be aware that there is no 'head' on the small boats used by Harv & Marv??
#12
MN
3,705 Posts
Joined Jul 2005
Originally posted by Eleni2007
Hey Cactusrose,
What do you mean, when you say to be aware that there is no 'head' on the small boats used by Harv & Marv??
See post #10 right above yours.

Both companies get great reviews for their whale watching. Orca gets mixed reviews for its customer service pre-cruise (booking process). If you are lucky enough to get a response from them fairly quickly, you will be fine. If you have to wait a long time for a response, or if you have to repeatedly try to contact them by EMail or phone, you will soon get frustrated.
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#13
Northern California
22,368 Posts
Joined Oct 2003
Elen on the other hand we have done whale watching with Orca Enterprises and never had a problem with communication. We called after the first of the year, they answered the phone, we made the reservation and for us no problems. We thoroughly the whale watching with this company. Go over to the Ports of Call board and scroll to Alaska. There is a wealth of information there including whale watching companies. Just go back to what I call the table of contents and scroll down to Ports of Call board.

Marilyn
#14
24,688 Posts
Joined Jul 2001
I think the problem contacting Orca Enterprises is when people try to contact them in February (or other winter months) when alot of them are in Hawaii. They are a small operation and they can't keep an office running all winter. From what I have read Harv and Marv's spouse (one of their spouses) answers the phone during the winter for them.

I have booked 5x with Orca Enterprises and have loved my experiences with them. I have never had problems contacting them but I don't book a whale watching trip in February for May or June. I usually contact them the first of May.
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#15
Mora, MN
122 Posts
Joined Dec 2005
You can't go wrong with Orca Enterprises. Capt. Larry and the purple boat is the only way to go! The whale watching is unbelievable. Capt. Larry made us feel like a cracker in a bowl of soup of whales. Whales everywhere. One trip he even managed to find two orca whales for us.
He even gave us advice about whale watching in Hawaii. Now if you want to talk about whale watching in Hawaii holy cow! OK I had better not get started. But you get the picture. Capt. Larry and the Purple Boat is the only way to go.

Julie
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