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cruizinallthetime 10-23-2007 05:19 PM

We are taking a very early May 2008 Alaskan Cruise - Roundtrip from Seattle to Ketchikan, Skagway, Juneau and Victoria BC. We start on May 4th. Is that too early to see whales and wildlife?

cruizinallthetime 10-23-2007 05:19 PM

We are taking a very early May 2008 Alaskan Cruise - Roundtrip from Seattle to Ketchikan, Skagway, Juneau and Victoria BC. We start on May 4th. Is that too early to see whales and wildlife?

CanCanCase 12-08-2007 05:36 PM

No, it's not too early, but there are a few pieces of advice I can offer to better your chances.
Don't come expecting too much. May whale-watchers are often disappointed when they don't see 100 humpbacks and orcas breaching in the harbor... that usually happens in August!
Also, give your boat driver some time. We can all find the same small group of sleeping whales in 2-2.5 hours, but for a truly memorable experience, go for something longer. In May, I always have amazing Tracy Arm or Lighthouse tours. It takes longer than the typical whale-watch trip to get there, but if you've got 6, 8 or 10 hours the wildlife and scenery is amazing that time of year.

Happy Alaska Travels!

cruizinallthetime 12-11-2007 09:02 AM

CanCanCase - Thanks for your reply. I was hoping to see at least one whale. I know what you mean about expecting too much - been on safari in's not like going to the zoo. The animals are not just sitting there waiting for you to see them...I imagine that whale watching will be the same.

Richard & Mary 12-25-2007 05:41 PM

We did the Alaska cruise on May 20th of 2007, on NCL Pearl. Whale watching at this time takes lots of patience and an experienced whale watching captain of the boat. We selected the Captain Larry tour and saw several whales, and he has over 25 years experience with tourist whale watching.

Just google Captain Larry Whale watching and visit his site. Be sure to make advance reservations as he is always full. We did the booking directly with his office, and they will drive you via van to his pier. You will also get a great view of Mendanall Glacier as you have to drive past it on the way to Captain Larry's boat.

Our ports of call were the same as yours, and if whale watching be sure to exercise lots of patience.

CanCanCase 12-25-2007 06:20 PM

Also of note, any of the often mentioned whale watching tours will show you whales most any time.

Most of last May, Orca Enterprises (Capt. Larry) had to run farther (along with the rest of the tours) than most regular tours to find any whales at all.

May whale watching really does come down to patience, although out of 28 tours last May, I don't think we were skunked at all...

Lately a BUNCH of folks have been asking me how to choose one tour operator over another since many of the tours are quite similar. I've come to the conclusion that the 2 easiest points to choose on are the personality of the tour operator (do you want a science lesson? a comedy show? a silent captain with a knowledgeable naturalist doing all the talking?) and the overall safety record of the operation. I'm not a fan of a boat that isn't formally or voluntarily inspected to earn a certificate or "5-Star" rating. Also, in Juneau, you can google the names of the operators, and search for the names in the Juneau Empire (local newspaper) for articles about accidents, successes, new tours, etc.

Happy Alaska Travels!

Majestic Gems, Juneau 03-17-2008 01:50 AM

There is a certain excursion in Juneau where the captain guarantees the whales of your money back! I'll get his info asap although May is early for the whales to come to our waters.

I'll get you his contact asap!

CanCanCase 03-17-2008 09:08 AM

Most of the whale watchers in Juneau have offered that guarantee at one time or another. I'm fairly certain Allen Marine started that idea, and it was Capt. Larry himself who called it a "fancy marketing gimmick." Orca Enterprises will give you a free seat on another tour if you don't see whales, as will (I think) Harv & Marv. AK Whale Watching offered a partial refund last year if no whales were spotted, and Alaskan Marine Adventures has the slogan "we always guarantee FUN!" (Which, I'm told, means if you want to see whales and don't, they'll stretch the time, go someplace else, get you out on another tour, give money back, etc. if you didn't have a great time.) I believe Adventures In Alaska is the one medium sized company offering a full refund this year... or maybe that's his sea-sickness guarantee...?

Juneau is such a "gathering place" for humpback whales, I honestly don't know how a boat can NOT find them for your viewing! In an entire lifetime, I can only count (on one hand) the number of times I've been out for more than 2 hours and not seen whales around here! They're fully migrated by mid-April, and we've even got a few (17 at my last count) that do not migrate at all.

If it's really early in the season, look for a boat that departs from downtown, or is willing (and has time) to go quite a ways SOUTH of town, down Stephen's Passage. I've often observed the "non-migrators" playing down by Port Snettisham, but most of the whale watching outfits here (all but one) only depart from Auke Bay and don't go to the "South End".

Happy Whale Watching!


donnliz 05-05-2008 11:25 AM

I'll be ccruising to Alaska on May 23 aboard
Radiance of the Seas. I am considering a whale excursion in Icy Strait Point. How likely will I be to see a whale in Point Adolphus?

CanCanCase 05-05-2008 10:44 PM

Very likely... I just saw about 20 today... mostly females with their young right now. The males will be here in a few weeks.

The Juneau whale watching boats are struggling this week, but Hoonah (ISP) is jumping... literally... with humpbacks. Pt. Adolphus was amazing this afternoon.

Happy Alaska Travels!

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