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  #1 (permalink)  
Old March 28th, 2002, 03:40 PM
Josephine
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Default Whales & wildlife in Alaska -- routes & times?

Iíve been given a cruise on Norwegian.
:-D

Iím just starting to make my plans. Iím definitely going to Alaska and what I most want to see is wildlife -- especially humpback whales. I have a choice of four different routes and a range of sailing dates May - September.

The Norwegian Sky route is a Seattle round-trip that sails the inside passage before going to 1) Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay, Ketchikan, and Victoria
or
2) Juneau, Skagway, Haines, Sawyer Glacier, Ketchikan and Victoria.


The Norwegian Wind routes sail round-trip from Vancouver through the inside passage to
3) Juneau, Skagway, Haines, Glacier Bay and Ketchikan
or
4) Sawyer Glacier, Skagway, Haines, Juneau and Ketchikan.

The Norwegian Wind stays closer to shore on the trip back than does the Norwegian Sky.

Any advice? What are the best places and months for seeing whales and other wildlife?
Thanks,
Josephine
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  #2 (permalink)  
Old March 29th, 2002, 09:03 AM
PEB PEB is offline
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Default Re: Whales & wildlife in Alaska -- routes & times?

I have sailed Alaska 4 times so far and will go back again. I have sailed in May and June. These are not peak for seeing whales but there were whales. Always had luck in Juneau, coming out of Skagway near Haines, around Glacier Bay and near Seward. I also do Whale watching in Hawaii. Seeing whales is always pure luck there are no guarantees ever. Your chances of seeing sealife and wildlife in Alaska are good. It would be rare that you didn't see anything. IMHO
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Old March 29th, 2002, 09:14 AM
Josephine
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Default Re: Whales & wildlife in Alaska -- routes & times?

Thanks for the info.
:-)
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Old March 29th, 2002, 12:09 PM
Juneau-ite
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Default Re: Whales & wildlife in Alaska -- routes & times?

There are 3 companies in Juneau that have money back guarantees on whale watching day-trips. The most agressive guarantee of them is: "if you do not see a whale on our tour, you will receive $100 cash back at the end of the tour"

As a previous crewmember of all 3 of them .... from May 1st thru September 30th, they see a lot of whales in the Juneau area.

Hope this helps ...
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Old March 29th, 2002, 01:58 PM
Josephine
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Default Re: Whales & wildlife in Alaska -- routes & times?

Lovely! Local and authoritative. Thank you, Juneau-ite. Can you give me their names?
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Old March 29th, 2002, 04:24 PM
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Default Re: Whales & wildlife in Alaska -- routes & times?

I am an avid whale watcher. It is a JOB to watch from your cruise ship and requires a large investment of time out on the front open deck, dressed warm- knit hat and gloves and a good pair of wide angle binoculars. I have always been greatly rewarded, but out of a full ship of passengers there has never been more than 25 of us. As for areas I watch- several hours before and after Juneau, Glacier Bay and from afternoon - dusk last sailing day back to Vancouver- (reason why I like southbound trips). Unfortunately the sky does not have enough time in Victoria but this is the best place for orcas, (also Friday Harbor Wa.) For close up and probably 99.99999% close up viewing, take a whale watch trip out of Juneau, I have gone with both Orca and Dolphin- I like their small boats. The ship will also offer trips.
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Old April 1st, 2002, 12:42 PM
Juneau-ite
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Default Re: Whales & wildlife in Alaska -- routes & times?



There are quite a few options in Juneau.
I am assuming your arriving via cruise ship & seeking info for 2-3-4 hour type trips( & not multi-day trips)
For cruise ship passengers, there are 5 choices:

orca - $104 for adults - no guarantee on whales
2.5 hrs on the water,

Dolphin - $109 for adults - $50 cash back if no whales seen, 2.5 hrs on the water

Allen Marine - $109 for adults - $100 cash back if no whales seen, 3.0 hrs on the water

Four Seasons - $125 for adults - $50 cash back if no whales seen, 3.0 hrs on the water

Charter fishing boat fleet - $125-$150 for adults-
no guarantees (usually), time on water varies: usually 2.5-3.5 hrs

Information on all companys can be found through www.traveljuneau.com

hope this helps...

phone numbers for Juneau whale watch
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Dolphin jet boats: (907) 463-3422
Awesome Orca: (907) 789-6801
Wildlife Quest: (907) 789-0081
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Old April 4th, 2002, 10:34 PM
carol wood
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Default Re: Whales & wildlife in Alaska -- routes & times?

Josephine,
We have been on the Norwegain Sky and Wind on different cruises. The Sky is by far the better of the two ships. We cruised Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay, Ketchican and Victoria last June. We took one of the whale watching tours in Juneau and saw several whales; one with her baby. We were also shown an eagle nest and eagles. The cost was $104 per person, but well worth it. The gal who drove the small boat out to the whales was wonderful taking a photo of our family for the scrapbook back home.
Get your camera ready for seals in Glacier Bay. We were able to see mother and baby seals on the glaciers. We also saw two bears. Dress warm and get a good spot early as this is one of the most spectacular days of the cruise.
Let me know if I can help you plan your trip. We have been on three cruises and Alaska was THE BEST!
Happy Cruising,
Carol Wood
Olathe, Colorado
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Old April 5th, 2002, 12:05 PM
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Default Re: Re: Whales & wildlife in Alaska -- routes & time

it would seem then that the Allen Marine one is the best value - longest on water and offering biggest refund if no whales are seen - but has anyone been with them are they as good as the others? It seems a whole lot better value for money?
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Old April 5th, 2002, 12:40 PM
Juneau-ite
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Default Re: Re: Re: Whales & wildlife in Alaska -- routes &

Allen Marine runs tours in Sitka & Juneau
(All have the word 'Quest' in the title)

They have the highest guarantee & success ratio. They have been voted "best shore excursion in Juneau' by Princess & Carnival Passengers the last 3 yrs in a row.
(Holland America is adding a 'passengers vote' format to their cruise this season also)

As a naturalist & crewmember that has worked on all three of the main whale watching companies in Juneau ... I do give Allen Marine the nod as the best for passengers, wildlife/whales, & really great boats. All three companies are good though and will each do their best to provide the best tour possible. "IMHO"

I have working 'stints' on each of the three this summer in Juneau so maybe I will see you there!

hope this helps...
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Old April 5th, 2002, 01:47 PM
Josephine
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Default Re: Whales & wildlife in Alaska -- routes & times?

Thanks, all of you. This is great info.

Karen, I found lots of responses from you to a variety of questions about Alaska, all very helpful. I'm likely to be one of those who spends most of the cruise on deck with binoculars.

Carol, what a kind offer. Accepted with gratitude. I'll send you an e-mail.

Juneau-ite, again, it's really great to have a knowledgable review of the
best whale watching companies. Now I feel more confident about the most important
aspect of this trip.

Warm best wishes to you all.
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Old April 5th, 2002, 04:07 PM
Josephine
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Default Re: Re: Re: Re: Whales & wildlife in Alaska -- routes &a

Juneau-ite, this is probably a really silly question and may be bordering on the rude, because of course you are a naturalist and care about these animals, but it has occured to me that if several companies are going out to look at whales several times a day and they all stand to lose money if they don't find them -- well, doesn't there come
a point at which we are harassing the whales?
Having lots of people who are enthusiastic about seeing wildlife is a rather mixed blessing--as an analogy, I quite like monkeys, but if I had troops of them going through my dining room every day, I'd probably move. It would be a great pity if our interest in the whales and other wildlife drove them away or harmed them.
How can those of us armed with more enthusiasm than knowledge avoid this?
Any insights?
Thanks.
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Old April 5th, 2002, 09:42 PM
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Default Re: Whales & wildlife in Alaska -- routes & times?

My opinion only, but I greatly prefer the smaller boats with far fewer passengers. I have been fortunate to have sightings on all the trips I took.
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  #14 (permalink)  
Old April 8th, 2002, 02:48 PM
Juneau-ite
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Default Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Whales & wildlife in Alaska -- route

Author: Josephine
Date: 04-05-02 16:07

Juneau-ite, this is probably a really silly question and may be bordering on the rude, because of course you are a naturalist and care about these animals, but it has occured to me that if several companies are going out to look at whales several times a day and they all stand to lose money if they don't find them -- well, doesn't there come
a point at which we are harassing the whales?
Having lots of people who are enthusiastic about seeing wildlife is a rather mixed blessing--as an analogy, I quite like monkeys, but if I had troops of them going through my dining room every day, I'd probably move. It would be a great pity if our interest in the whales and other wildlife drove them away or harmed them.
How can those of us armed with more enthusiasm than knowledge avoid this?
Any insights?
Thanks.
-----------------------------------------------

It is most certainly possible to either harass or just plain "love too much" the wildlife & whales here in Alaska & other places. I am a firm believer that you cannot view most wildlife without impacting it in some fashion ... it is the fashion & level of impact that one can control. For example: when driving thru yellowstone & one sees a bull elk browsing by the side of the road, one stops the car & the elk makes eye contact= impact

If you roll down the window to take the picture, and you whistle to get the elk to raise his head for the photo: bigger impact, than if you would have just taken the photo without whistling

Do you see where I am going with controlling 'your' impacts?

Make no mistake, there are ethical wildlife viewing companies & un-ethical wildlife viewing companies ... same for passengers ... some care, ...some don't, they just want the in-your-face-photo.

Part of my job/passion is to teach ethical viewing to the passengers I work with... it is a 'learned' thing. I try and instill a passion for wildlife to the passengers AND how one can be passionate without "loving too much".

In Juneau, there are good companies & not-so-good companies ... the good ones have US Gov't (National Marine Fisheries is the branch for most marine mammals: in Juneau (907) 586-7235) watch over them & these companies POST & FOLLOW the guidelines & regulations, right there on the boat.

Because there is litte if any enforcement of the rules, the bad ones don't always get caught ... hopefully this will change. Brand new reg's for Alaska have put some 'teeth' into following proper whale watching procedures. We'll see.

I'll close with 2 things .... if you never saw the Elk, would you (& everyone else) care what happens to it ... or would you care a bit more because you did see one once.

and when you do see it ... you know not to whistle

hope this helps .....
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Old April 9th, 2002, 10:32 PM
Josephine
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Default Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Whales & wildlife in Alaska -- r

Very helpful -- I probably would have whistled, and now I'll know better.
I'll also know to look for posted guidelines & regulations on viewing marine mammals. Tell me, where would one go to find out more? And what about the animals' curiosity about us?

And, more importantly, do you have any ideas about how we, as cruise ship passengers, can most effectively convey to the cruise companies our support for ethical viewing and ecologically sensitive cruising? I've heard that last year a pregnant humpback was killed by a cruise ship and that some cruise ships have been dumping sewage in whale feeding grounds. I'd like for the cruise lines to know that such things
matter to me and influence my choices.
Any ideas?
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Old April 10th, 2002, 06:05 PM
Juneau-ite
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Default Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Whales & wildlife in Alaska

http://www.nature.nps.gov/
http://www.savethewhales.org
and many other sites can get you started ... all from running a search

I hiked out & visited that whale on Gustavus point, at the mouth of Glacier Bay.
Very very sad. She died instantly.

Cruiselines have recently begun implementing massive changes to their policy & onboard machinery in an effort to become more eco-friendly, here in Alaska.

Never under estimate your letter to cruiseline management

hope this helps...
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