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Old September 8th, 2006, 11:49 AM
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Default Do you really have to go on an excursion to see whales?

Do you see whales and other wild life just crusing to Alaska? Do you have to take excusions in Juneau to see whales and sea lions? We are taking the inside passage next July and i've been wondering this.
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Old September 8th, 2006, 01:15 PM
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Yes you need tours.

The cruise brochures are GREATLY enhanced with photos of breeching humpbacks next to the ship. Certainly, you can see them from a cruise ship- BUT- it requires a good deal of time invested on a front deck with a good pair of wide angle binoculars. Having a ship naturalist and knowing the areas is a big plus.

Before I get flamed- there will likely be reports of big sightings from the ship- it does happen, but is rare. Sightings from the ship are most always, distant and brief. You can be looking for an hour- and have a 3 minute view.

I am ALWAYS out on deck, also having the advantage of knowing the areas, and where I am. Few people would know this, so it pays to hook up with the ship naturalist or see if you can establish a relationship with the bridge. I have done that several times. I am always greatly rewarded with sightings, but you will also always see me on the whale watch tours.

Determine- what your priority is??? Humpbacks are seen close to 100% of the time on the Juneau whale watches. Hoonah is also a big humpback area. Orcas are only seen on average every 5-10 days. If those are the priority, go out of Victoria on a zodiac.
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Old September 10th, 2006, 12:40 AM
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We just got back our sailing dates were 9/2/06-9/9/06, we sailed the inside passage from Vancouver and back again. Some people saw whales from the ship, I saw one and didn't realize it was a whale until it started moving and flapped it's tail. We took the whale excursion with Orca Enterprises, it was strongly recommended on this site. They are the way to go if you want to do an excursion. They know their stuff and have a great boat. The pricing is better then the ship excursion and they guarantee you will see whales or you don't pay! If we hadn't done the excursion we would not have seen any wild life except for the dolphins from the ship. We wish we would have gone to see Mendenhal Glaciar, some people who took other excursions saw more wild life then we did so it's a personal decision. We enjoyed the whales and can say if we had not done the excursion we would not have seen any. If you get up really early and go on top deck you might see some. People from the ship did say they saw some very early in the morning, we did not. Good luck, it's a hard decision to make in regards to what to do with your time.
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Old November 2nd, 2006, 12:40 PM
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We saw NO wildlife on our cruise from Vancouver to Whittier
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Old November 19th, 2006, 11:30 AM
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We also saw several whales from the deck but like the pp said, from a distance.

I booked a whale watching excursion for Dh and the kids (at that time they were 3 and 6), I stayed onboard with my elderly mother. They had a BLAST! Saw 7 humpbacks and 5 Orcas, one was a mother with her calf.

That was almost 2 summers ago (we also sailed in July) and the kids still talk about the whale excursion.

I would have to say YES book one! We booked thru Carnival and were very pleased.

ENJOY your cruise, this is one I want to repeat!
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Old November 20th, 2006, 04:32 PM
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We saw quite a bit of wildlife from the ship. Some people complain that they don't see anything but they never spend any time outside. Grab some binoculars, find a good spot, and wait. You will see something you have never seen before. We saw a perfect line of porpoises herding fish. On another occassion, I was hanging out on deck with this British woman who identified a rare type of puffin. She was a birder. She instantly whipped out her 'life list' and added it.

With that said, we booked a whale watching excursion in Juneau that was one of the greatest nature experiences I have ever had. My wife and I are the 'outdoorsy' types and have seen some awesome things but this was like something from a National Geographic special.

A humpback whale breeched about 10 feet from the boat we were on several times. It was incredible. This gigantic head and throat swallowing. We could she the different colors of the skin and the barnacles. The last time she came up, she laid over on her side and stayed there for a while with one fin sticking in the air. We were eye-to-eye with the whale. You won't get that close to any wildlife on the ship.

As far as excursions go, whale watching is one of the more affordable in Alaska, too.
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Old November 21st, 2006, 09:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bunduo
On another occassion, I was hanging out on deck with this British woman who identified a rare type of puffin. She was a birder. She instantly whipped out her 'life list' and added it.

.

Sorry your "British woman" doesn't know what she's talking about.
There are only tuffed and horned puffins in Alaska both easily seen in the rookery areas all over Alaska, and not in the least bit "rare".

http://www.adfg.state.ak.us/pubs/not...rd/puffins.php
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Old November 21st, 2006, 10:31 AM
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It could have been a Rhinoceros Auklet (which is a puffin) - not exactly "rare" but not all that common, either.

Murray
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Old November 21st, 2006, 06:07 PM
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[/quote]
Sorry your "British woman" doesn't know what she's talking about.
There are only tuffed and horned puffins in Alaska both easily seen in the rookery areas all over Alaska, and not in the least bit "rare".

http://www.adfg.state.ak.us/pubs/not...rd/puffins.php[/quote]

Careful now, BQ. First off, I've met two people who carry around 'life lists' of birds that they have seen. Both were from England. They were veritable encyclopedias of bird facts. This lady really knew her birds.
She was about the only person who was out on deck more than I was. We talked quite a bit and she didn't seem to be one to exaggerate. She got quite excited at seeing this puffin.

I saw it without binoculars and could see the shape of the head was odd. It might not be rare for Alaska but it would be for a very nice lady from Britian.
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Old November 28th, 2006, 10:56 PM
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Have done the excursion trips for whale watching. You will be closer and see more whales. It is worth the effort to do an excursion.
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Old November 29th, 2006, 02:06 AM
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I highly recommend a shore excursion if you wish to see whales. While on the cruise ships, I saw a few but only from a distance.
There are some tour operators which offer a "see whales or your money back" policy, but I don't know anyone who was disappointed and requested a refund.
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