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Old April 1st, 2007, 02:28 PM
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Default Capt. Larry's Whale Watching - How Far in Advance?

Hi everyone. First time posting here. My wife and I will be doing an Inside Passage cruise (Golden Princess, Sept. 1), and are looking at whale watching in Juneau. As I have noticed, Capt. Larry's Orca Enteprises is highly recommended, so we may go with them. Do you recommend that we reserve right now? In general, how far in advance has everyone who used Orca Enterprises reserved?

One more question: I understand that Princess is using Allen Marine Tours for its shore excusions in Juneau. What would be the major differences between Allen Marine Tours and Orca Enterprises?

Thanks everyone!
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Old April 1st, 2007, 04:15 PM
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Default Re: Capt. Larry's Whale Watching - How Far in Advance?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jacksan1
Hi everyone. First time posting here. My wife and I will be doing an Inside Passage cruise (Golden Princess, Sept. 1), and are looking at whale watching in Juneau. As I have noticed, Capt. Larry's Orca Enteprises is highly recommended, so we may go with them. Do you recommend that we reserve right now? In general, how far in advance has everyone who used Orca Enterprises reserved?

One more question: I understand that Princess is using Allen Marine Tours for its shore excusions in Juneau. What would be the major differences between Allen Marine Tours and Orca Enterprises?

Thanks everyone!
If being on Larry's boat (vs. the other 2 or 3 Orca boats that operate in the summers) is a priority, then book now and be sure you let the office staff know which captain you want. I just began filling a morning whale watch tour for Sept. 1 today, so now is probably a good time to book. Waiting much longer may limit your options.

As for the differences between Orca and Allen, I won't go into specifics as anything I say about Orca Enterprises is usually used against me. I can say that in Juneau there are 3 different varieties of tour which all vary based on passenger capacity. The Allen Marine and 4-Seasons boats are all multi-story boats that carry 100-150 guests. Some of the bigger companies have refreshments available for sale and some don't.
The Orca and Dolphin tours are what I call "Medium boat" tours. Each boat carries between 6 and 50 guests. Orca is well known for their research and marine biology-related study and work, so the tours are always highly educational. Last I saw they were loading refreshments on their boats daily.
The third "category" is the smaller boats. These tours are often (but not always) operated by folks who live and work here year-round. You'll get a good education about life and history in Alaska, as well as a captain and naturalist who know as much about the humpback whales as anyone else. The smaller boats always serve the better lunches and snacks, IMO.

Note that the physical SIZE of the boat doesn't have as much to do with these differences as the licensing and certifications that the boats have had done.

All of the tours (with a few rare exceptions) leave from the same harbor in Auke Bay. Federal law prohibits any vessel from getting closer than 100 yards from the animals, so "getting close" to the whales isn't an issue as it is in other countries. Each operator is supposed to talk to the other boats on the radio (to minimize disturbance to the animals)... you'll see the same whales in the same areas with any tour, so pick one based on the personality of the operator, customer service, and how many others are on board the same tour. Price and the time spent on the water should also be considered. (Some companies advertise a 3-4 hour tour, which usually includes the 30 minute shuttle ride before and after.)

Have fun!
-Case
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Old April 1st, 2007, 04:25 PM
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Hi! We've already booked our cruise with Capt Larry around 25 September. We've toured with him before and didn't want to lose the opportunity.

Shar
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Old April 1st, 2007, 07:33 PM
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I see no reason not to book now, especially if you want the actually Capt. Larry, which I recommend. You can easily e-mail them and see what time slots are available with him and book. They have always been good at responding to any e-mails.
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Old April 2nd, 2007, 02:15 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Donna
...They have always been good at responding to any e-mails.
That is, unless Larry and Carole are off in Hawaii. I've never read so many "I can't get ahold of them" posts as I did this past winter. I always thought in a "feast or famine" busniess such as travel/tourism that an operator should put customers first at all times of the year, not just when it's most convenient.

Then again, in all fairness, I'm sure now that it's April and Orca has caught up on their inquiries that they'll answer most NEW inquiries in a timely manner. It seems most everyone in Juneau is just now realizing that cruise season is just around the corner and is scrambling to get everything ready for their first tour of the year.

-Case
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Old April 2nd, 2007, 10:57 AM
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I am a long time, many time customer of Orca Enterprises and highly recommend them. They do put their customers first and offer a great tour. There are 4 cpts. that sail the 3 boats, I've sailed with 2 and know them all. I would go with any of them. If of interest, they may be able to pick up/drop off at Mendenhall, if time allows.

If your plans are firm, then book it.
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Old April 2nd, 2007, 01:40 PM
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Thanks, everyone, for the excellent feedback! Looks as if we will be booking very soon. I did send an e-mail out on Saturday, and am still waiting for Orca Enterprises to respond. I think I will just call.

Thanks again!
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