I also posted this question on the Cruise Critic board. I really enjoy reading both boards.
If I purchase a whale watching tour, how close do the boats usually get to the whales. Capt Larry's? The bigger tour ships like Allen Marine and others? A football field away? A basketball court? Is there enough time to get pictures. To switch from binoculars to a camera?
How about when the cruise liner is in Glaicer Bay? Have people seen whales "close up" then? Is it a common occurrance?
I am concerned about committing around $100 each for my wife and I to go on a ww tour. I am also trying to sell my wife on the idea. She likes warm places and nice bathrooms. Needless to say, I did get a veranda to help "sell" the cruise.
A humpback or orca up close and personal or even dolphins would be a great selling point. Is that realistic?
I responded to you on cruise critic. bottom line- if you haven't been on a whale watch a tour is a must for close up extended viewing. Viewing several stories up from a cruise ship is no way compares. You may have brief sightings at Icy Strait but wide angle binoculars will be necessary and you'll need a spot at a front open deck on your ship. If your wife isn't interested, why not go yourself, she can find plenty to do in downtown Juneau- everything walkable. I always split up and we go where our desires take us. Always works out in my opinion.
We did whale watching with Capt. Larry and we had a great day out there, the whales sometimes were fairly close, much less than a football field, you just never knew where they would come up for air. Most were around 100' away, closest one was 15', it was totally amazing. I much preferred the smaller boats with capt. Larry, others may disagree.
We did see orka's from the ship one day, a whole line of them. The one evening while eating dinner, we saw a bunch of dolphins off the end of the ship. If you are know how the dining rooms are on the "Millie" class ships, there are huge windows in back and our table was right there, so it was a beautiful sight while eating dinner.
I'm one of those who prefer the larger boats. We have taken both Capt. Larrys and the cruise ship tour and much prefered the cruise ship tour. On Capt. Larrys, we were extremely crowded, and the ride was very rough. Quire a few people got sick. On the cruise ship tour, we had a large catamaran with fewer people.
How close the whales get depends on them. The tour operators are prevented by law from moving closer than 100 yards to the whales. However, if the whales decide to come to the boats, it's up to them. We had a female come right up to the boat and stick her head out of the water. We were about 3 feet away. Awesome!
Which ever one you take, it is a thrill of a lifetime. There are no promises that you'll see a lot of whales. You have to pay your money and take your chances. I think it is the highlight of an Alascan tour.
We've taken both Capt Larry's (love HIM!!!) and the one offered through the cruise ship. As it turns out, we enjoyed both equally. In both our cases, the boats were not filled to capacity and most of the other passengers weren't interested in hanging out over the railing to shoot photos. On Capt Larry's boat, I was able to climb up onto the upper deck and spend a lot of time. It was fun, even without the whales!