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Harv and marv's or orca enterprises?

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I'm looking to book whale watching in Juneau for a party of 5. Which tour company do you like better and why?

 

Thanks!

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There is SO much written about these two companies it is not funny. Either one would be a good excursion.

 

With 5 people I would book Harv & Marvs hands down though. Totally private excursion for 5 people (book the whole boat). Time on the water is 1/2 hour (25% longer) than Orca. Free drop off/pick up at Mendenhall (Orca charges +-$16/person).

 

If you want the larger boat with more amenities like a snack bar (though Harv & Marvs has free soft drinks, water and snacks) or if you want a handicap-accessible boat, then Orca is better for sure.

Edited by frugaltravel

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While Harv's and Marv's and Orca Enterprises get all the headlines, there are other whale watching companies that offer just as fabulous an experience. H&M and OE were both booked up by the time I got around to booking an excursion, so with a little research, I found June Whale Watch and took this excursion on June 13. We had a fabulous time which included a shuttle bus ride to the bay, two + hours on the water, and a drop-off and pick-up at the Mendenhall Glacier for $120 a person. The boat was a small, 28 person jet boat which the ride in itself was an experience, and in addition to the comfortable, heated enclosed seating area, had an open bow and stern for plenty of outdoor viewing. And, there is a bathroom on-board. The on-board guide was very informative and there was not one issue at all with this excursion. Oh, and did I say we saw lots and lots of whales?; even saw some bubble-net feeding.

 

If you want to check them out, go to www juneauwhalewatch dot com for all the info.

Edited by edmusic

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Does the Orca have a bathroom on it?

 

Both Orca and H&M have a bathroom on board.

 

While Harv's and Marv's and Orca Enterprises get all the headlines, there are other whale watching companies that offer just as fabulous an experience. H&M and OE were both booked up by the time I got around to booking an excursion, so with a little research, I found June Whale Watch and took this excursion on June 13. We had a fabulous time which included a shuttle bus ride to the bay, two + hours on the water, and a drop-off and pick-up at the Mendenhall Glacier for $120 a person. The boat was a small, 28 person jet boat which the ride in itself was an experience, and in addition to the comfortable, heated enclosed seating area, had an open bow and stern for plenty of outdoor viewing. And, there is a bathroom on-board. The on-board guide was very informative and there was not one issue at all with this excursion. Oh, and did I say we saw lots and lots of whales?; even saw some bubble-net feeding.

 

If you want to check them out, go to www juneauwhalewatch dot com for all the info.

 

I believe it is Juneau Whale Watch. I have heard about them. I believe they are definitely competition for Orca since they are the only other company with that size boat. They have been in business a couple of summers now.

 

In any case, I know what you mean about a couple of companies getting more attention than others. But some of that is deserved. Plus seeing the issues with a new entrant this year (Stories and Legends), if I were only going to Alaska once and wanted to make it count, why would I use an operator that does not have a stellar reputation?

 

I am glad that you got to see a lot of whales and bubblenet feeding. Plus, I like the way you put that at the end of your post as an afterthought. Your praises of Juneau Whale Watch were for other factors. I too don't believe that one can "rate" a company based on whether one sees a lot of whales, bubblenet feeding, breaching, etc.

Edited by frugaltravel

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frugaltravel wrote:

In any case, I know what you mean about a couple of companies getting more attention than others. But some of that is deserved.
I'd say most of that is deserved. That's why I originally tried to book with both those companies but due to some unexpected medical issues with DW which possibly could have had us cancel the cruise 10 days out, I had to wait to book the excursion and thus they were both full. I took a chance on an unknown company with only one tripadvisor review. I'm just letting folks know that JWW is another excursion company to consider and we had a very favorable experience and would not hesitate to go with them again.

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We used Orca with kids last time, if I went that way again I'd pick them again. Yup would do the same excursion and company, FWIW I guess that means we were happy with the experience. :D

 

I'm looking to book whale watching in Juneau for a party of 5. Which tour company do you like better and why?

 

Thanks!

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i have heard great things about both of these companies they are prob the two most talked about and best reviewed on here and TA

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Does Harv & Marv have a bathroom aboard?

 

Yes. They have a "head" (bathroom) available. They do, however, encourage you to use the restroom at the harbor before boarding the ship, and I've never had to use it, so I'm not sure what it's like.

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In answer to the OP's question, there are several of us here who swear by Harv & Marv's, and as many, if not more (including Budget Queen) who think that Orca is the best way to go.

 

Frankly, you probably can't go wrong with either one. I went with Harv & Marv because I didn't get any response from Orca the first time we were planning a whale watching excursion. Maybe they were already booked for that day, or maybe they didn't get the messages since it was not yet tourist season when I called and sent an email, but for whatever reason they didn't get back with me.

 

Rather than pursuing it, I contacted Harv & Marv and was extremely pleased with both their customer service and the excursion itself. We ended up totally loving the small "6-pack" boat, with just 6 passengers plus the captain, and felt that both their customer service and the excursion itself were excellent. As a result, when my daughter and her husband went on an Alaskan cruise for their honeymoon, I sent them off with Harv and Marv, and my husband and I have now done two excursions with them, and will be calling them again next time to go to Alaska.

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Yes. They have a "head" (bathroom) available. They do, however, encourage you to use the restroom at the harbor before boarding the ship, and I've never had to use it, so I'm not sure what it's like.

 

 

As a former sailboat owner, I can say that it is very common for a smallboat owner to ask their guests to use the restrooms before boarding. Small boats have limited sized holding tanks for human waste. In some parts of the country it is very expensive to dump the waste in the proper receptacles that are required by law, so that we (as well as the marine life) can all enjoy the clean benefits on the sea.

 

Interestingly, I also waited a long time for a response when I emailed Orca. They also seem to have a very good reputation as well, just not prompt.

I had prompt and very helpful responses from Callie at Harv and Marv's.

We are booked with Harv and Marv in 2 weeks. I will be happy to report back with my trip review!

Edited by pmjnh

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Frankly, you probably can't go wrong with either one. I went with Harv & Marv because I didn't get any response from Orca the first time we were planning a whale watching excursion. Maybe they were already booked for that day, or maybe they didn't get the messages since it was not yet tourist season when I called and sent an email, but for whatever reason they didn't get back with me.

 

Interestingly, I also waited a long time for a response when I emailed Orca. They also seem to have a very good reputation as well, just not prompt.

I had prompt and very helpful responses from Callie at Harv and Marv's.

We are booked with Harv and Marv in 2 weeks. I will be happy to report back with my trip review!

 

I had the same experience (or lack thereof) with Orca. I would have been happy to go with either company, but after 2 emails to Orca and no response, I'm booked to go whale watching in August with Harv and Marv's.

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I'm surprised about Orca's non-response to so many. I contacted them a couple times this winter (obviously off season) and received prompt responses both times and also when I finally decided to book with them for Sept.

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Having done both--and let me say both are fine for seeing whales--I far prefer Harv and Marv-It was--to me--a far better experience

jmho

Paul

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What about "Mighty Great Trips" tours?

 

They don't run any whale watch tours, and are just a booking agent. They run the Mendenhall Shuttle and tour buses.

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With Orca Enterprises, you may be better off, calling them. Then direct confirmation of tour availablity and booking.

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Don't forget Rum Runners with Captain Chris. We're booked with him in September and he has EXCELLENT reviews. He's also been super via phone and email.

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Well I'll be able to compare the 2 after our trip at the end of August.

 

I can tell you that we thoroughly enjoyed our trip with Orca Enterprises in July 2009 and would not hesitate to tour with Captain Larry again. The naturalist on board was very good. While the weather was rainy, we were very fortunate to spend the entire whale watch observing 16 whales bubble net feeding.

 

This time we booked Harv & Marv as we wanted a small boat experience. We had actually tried to book with them a year in advance for our trip back in 2009 and they were already booked. Had they already been full this time, we would have booked with Orca.

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Just did Harv and Marv's yesterday, and it was wonderful! We saw plenty of whales and captain steve gave us a terrific experience. It is clear he loves what he is doing!!

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Having done both--and let me say both are fine for seeing whales--I far prefer Harv and Marv-It was--to me--a far better experience

jmho

Paul

 

 

Can you offer a little more insight --- why did you feel Harv & Marv was a better experience? I have done H&M before and I am looking at doing Orca (if we ever get back to Alaska).

 

Karen

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Well I'll be able to compare the 2 after our trip at the end of August.

 

I can tell you that we thoroughly enjoyed our trip with Orca Enterprises in July 2009 and would not hesitate to tour with Captain Larry again. The naturalist on board was very good. While the weather was rainy, we were very fortunate to spend the entire whale watch observing 16 whales bubble net feeding.

 

This time we booked Harv & Marv as we wanted a small boat experience. We had actually tried to book with them a year in advance for our trip back in 2009 and they were already booked. Had they already been full this time, we would have booked with Orca.

 

If I might ask, did you feel the Orca boat was too crowded?

 

Karen

Edited by Italy52

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If I might ask, did you feel the Orca boat was too crowded?

 

Karen

 

We didn't find it too crowded at all when we went. I'm not sure how many people were there but it looked like most of the bench style seating was filled. It turned out that we were seated in a pretty good location for viewing whales on this particular trip. We did go outside and climb to the top viewing area but it was windy, rainy and cold so spent most of our time indoors.

 

 

We chose Harv&Marv this time as we just wanted to try a smaller boat. We had done a private tour with Captain Davey in Sitka and really enjoyed it.

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