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Requesting opinions for Best Whale Watching Tour for our Trip


luvtwotrvl

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We are researching the Amsterdam's itinerary for summer 2012. We are interested in July due to our work schedule.

 

For whale watching, which city/operator would you recommend? I am concerned about wave action on smaller vessels as well.

 

The cities are

Ketchikan

Juneau

Icy Strait Point

Anchorage

Homer

Kodiak

Sitka

 

 

Thanks,

David

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We recently went with Captain Jack on the Scania in Juneau. He was great! My husband almost always gets seasick on small boats but Captain Jack offers a refund if you get sick so my husband was willing to give it a try. My husband loved it (and didn't get sick). We saw lots of whales, sea lions and seals. His website is: http://www.whale-watch.biz. He has lots of good reviews on trip advisor. If the above link doesn't work just do a google search for Captain Jack on the Scania in Juneau. We saw the boats from the cruise line excursions out there looking at the whales but they were very crowded with people all bunched up trying to get photos. We were very happy to be sitting with just our family on the Scania. We added on a trip to Mendenhall Glacier and the driver waited for us to look around then brought us back to the ship.

Have a great trip!!

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I was on the August 5 HAL Amsterdam Alaska cruise this year. I would go with Icy Strait. This is one port without a lot to do. I ran into many fellow cruisers who were disappointed in their day in Icy Strait. You definitely want an excursion planned here, and if whale watching is your interest, go with Icy Strait. You can easily fill your day in Juneau with other activities. As far as Sitka, we only saw one whale there. I would definitely not choose Sitka for a whale watching excursion. Although you may hit a good day, as mentioned, the boat tours in Sitka are more likely to see sea otters, puffins, birds, etc. In my pre-cruise research I learned that Sitka would be iffy for whales. If whales had been my priority and I had only planned a whale watch there, I would have been very disappointed.

 

For whale watching in Icy Strait I also highly recommend F.I.S.H.E.S. We liked the small boat, but as mentioned above, if you have mobility issues, I would go with a larger boat. Other than mobility issues I see no reason to avoid a small boat. Other private whale watching operators that have been recommended on CC are Teckk and Misty Bay Lodge in Icy Strait. Whomever you go with, make sure they have a hydrophone. If the whales happen to be bubblenet feeding, having a hydrophone is very important. Just before the whales come up to bubblenet feed, they will chatter. Their chattering will be picked up by the hydrophone. This is your cue to start looking for the circle of bubbles out on the water. This will be where the whales will come up to feed. Awesome!!!

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As far as Sitka, we only saw one whale there. I would definitely not choose Sitka for a whale watching excursion. Although you may hit a good day, as mentioned, the boat tours in Sitka are more likely to see sea otters, puffins, birds, etc. In my pre-cruise research I learned that Sitka would be iffy for whales. If whales had been my priority and I had only planned a whale watch there, I would have been very disappointed.

 

QUOTE]

 

Any boat tour out of Sitka is a varied wildlife tour with sightings of sea otters close to 100%. You aren't going to likely see puffins, unless your boat tour specifically goes to St. Lazaria Island, of which with ship contracts, it is decided upon that day. They also are seasonal with them gone, usually, during the first week of Sept. With an independent, you can make the requests at time of booking. But, Sitka is not "iffy" for whales. This is a consistant feeding area now as well, so you are likely to see humpbacks. But those sightings are only going to be a brief time compared to a "whale watch" out of Hoonah or Juneau.

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Any boat tour out of Sitka is a varied wildlife tour with sightings of sea otters close to 100%. You aren't going to likely see puffins, unless your boat tour specifically goes to St. Lazaria Island, of which with ship contracts, it is decided upon that day. They also are seasonal with them gone, usually, during the first week of Sept. With an independent, you can make the requests at time of booking. But, Sitka is not "iffy" for whales. This is a consistant feeding area now as well, so you are likely to see humpbacks. But those sightings are only going to be a brief time compared to a "whale watch" out of Hoonah or Juneau.

 

I don't feel like going back and searching, plus the search function hasn't been working well, but I have read other reports of few whale sightings in Sitka. Yes, I have read those that saw more, but my point is that you may not see many in Sitka. Their trips are not advertised as whale watches. We saw ONE whale and we were out on the water for four hours!!! Anyone who went on the this trip as a whale watch would have been very disappointed. We were scheduled to go to St. Lazaria Island but the conditions were not suitable. However, we did see puffins even though we did not make it to Lazaria Island. I was actually disappointed in this tour. Of all the boat excursions I have taken in Alaska, this is one I wished I had not done. I made best of it, but surely wished I had made another choice for this port.

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My vote is for Orca enterprises operating out of juneau.

 

Captain Larry was superb and very knowledgeable -we saw lots of whales.

Also a smallish boat (20 seater) so you don't have to "fight2 for viewing space like some of the larger boats which take about 100 passengers. Other people on this forum recommend Harv and Marv whose boats are even smaller (6 people?)

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I can also give two thumbs up to F.I.S.H.E.S. out of Hoonah (Icy Strait Point). Very nice boat with a max of 6 paying passengers. Don't forget, most port stops in Alaska are not on the open ocean, so unless there's a large storm with very windy conditions, the seas are anywhere from small waves to smooth as glass.

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I can also give two thumbs up to F.I.S.H.E.S. out of Hoonah (Icy Strait Point). Very nice boat with a max of 6 paying passengers. Don't forget, most port stops in Alaska are not on the open ocean, so unless there's a large storm with very windy conditions, the seas are anywhere from small waves to smooth as glass.

 

Sitka was the only place I saw anyone get sick and we didn't even get out to Lazaria Island where I understand it can be expected. However, anyone who is prone to motionsickness should be prepared on any boat.

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Sitka was the only place I saw anyone get sick and we didn't even get out to Lazaria Island where I understand it can be expected. However, anyone who is prone to motionsickness should be prepared on any boat.

 

 

I meant to say Sitka was the only place I saw anyone get sick on this Alaska trip. (We were on boat tours in Misty Fjords, Icy Strait, Homer (short trip), Whittier and Sitka.) When I was in Alaska in 2008, many were sick on the Kenai Fjords tour out of Seward. :(

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I can also give two thumbs up to F.I.S.H.E.S. out of Hoonah (Icy Strait Point). Very nice boat with a max of 6 paying passengers. Don't forget, most port stops in Alaska are not on the open ocean, so unless there's a large storm with very windy conditions, the seas are anywhere from small waves to smooth as glass.

 

Another vote for Floyd. Saw tons of whales in ISP. Not many in Juneau.

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In Juneau, I'd recommend Harv and Marv's - been with them twice, first class experience and highly recommend.

 

In ISP, we went with Misty Bay Lodge this year - it was outstanding! Saw numerous breaches and instances of bubblenet feeding, and countless humps, backs and tails. Loved it!

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  • 2 weeks later...
Another vote for Floyd. Saw tons of whales in ISP. Not many in Juneau.

 

We had an up close and personal experience when we went out with Floyd. Thought we'd be lunch with the bubble feeding. Signed up for another round with him again in June.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Just went last month. I went with Teckk. Now that I look at my email, I feel like an amazing race contestant that didn't read the whole clue!

 

For a little place, there are some politics going on in Hoonah. If you are going with a private tour, they cannot come in to the dock/shopping area wearing company gear. It's a little bit of a walk past their shuttle buses outside the gate to meet with the private tours, or about a mile(?) walk to town. I missed that part of my email, and cell phone was a little sketchy, but texting got us to the right place.

 

They had a really nice small boat with a heated interior area - that was appreciated. Lots of whales, and we went looking for a bear, but no luck. Only wrapped it up because we had to get back to the ship. It was their last trip for the season.

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