Any idea what is considered prime season for whales in Alaska? I sail mid August and don't want to book an excursion if the whales are elsewhere at that time. Which is the best port to do this from, Juneau or Sitka?
I'll be up in Alaska a week or 2 after you and have been checking into the whale watching in Juneau with Capt. Larry. Here is the link in case you may also want to do it there, have heard mostly good things about this outfit:
Each year, some 2000 humpback whales gather along the inside passage and in the bays of Alaska to feed. They start arriving in May and are generally gone by late November. They feed inland for several months and then congregate just off sure for one last banquet before heading to Hawaii for "family time." It takes them just over a month to make the trip...arriving in November and December.
IMHO, the waters near Glacier Bay offer some of the best opportunities to watch such feeding behaviors as the bubble net, where the whales create a round wall of bubbles in which fish are schooled. Then they dive down below the wall and come up, mouths agape, to scoop up the fish. And when those mouths are open, you could drive a car in there.
There will be plenty of whales there in August. I hope they all behave and put on a good show for you.
I went in early June and I saw humpbacks near Juneau on a Princess Wildlife Quest excursion. It was phenomenal. Next time I go, though, I am going to do the "Capt. Larry Orca Enterprises" tour that so many people talk about. The boat is much smaller. I was lucky and not too many people were on our boat, so I got to see everything without any obstructions. (whales, eagles, Dall Porpoises, bears, seal lions...) Seeing the whales was the best experience of my life. I will never forget it. I hope sometime I can see one "breach" (jump out of the water). I would probably pass out and have to be revived for that one. I saw Orcas in the Johnstone Straight which is like 200 miles north of Vancouver.
As others have said, whales are in the Alaska area all season. Out of Juneau- Auke Bay most likely sightings will be humpbacks with orcas coming in every 5-10 days, humpbacks used to go to Sitka later in the season in fact they have their big "whale fest" there the first week of November. But lately humpbacks have been seen in Sitka "in season". You can also see them from your cruise ship but be prepared to invest a great deal of time out on a front open deck. A good pair of wide angle binoculars- my preference are 10x50's are necessary. For orcas, top viewing tours are out of Victoria BC or Friday Harbor Wa. Also as the previous poster stated, last sailing day back into Vancouver - be out on deck from early evening- dusk going by Robson Bight.