Holland America Ratings and Reviews
Shop Now At Holland America
Shop Juneau, Alaska, US or
Choose a Category

Customer Reviews for Discover Alaska's Whales

Discover Alaska's Whales

What great a way to put into practice your personal travel ethos and leave beautiful, memorable Alaska even better than you found it on this Cruise with Purpose adventure! This small-group outing (maximum 20 privileged guests) will travel aboard a fully-permitted research vessel for a closer look into the habitat of humpback whales. The boat has a heated cabin, a low-to-the-water build, large opening panel windows, and an open bow and stern—features specifically designed to meet the challenges of observing wildlife here in Alaska. As you head out from the quaint harbor at Auke Bay, your guide will share the current understanding of humpback whale research and what is known about activities and feeding patterns here in Alaska. Whale sightings are guaranteed, and you’re also likely to see seals, porpoise, sea lions and other marine animals, all while doing some significant good as you contribute to a whale research program. You’ll explore the foundation of the food chain by drawing plankton samples, taking a look at live sea animals in a touch tank and using a GPS camera to identify whale species while recording their various behaviors. You will also have the satisfaction of being a marine scientist for a day and knowing your efforts have made a contribution to understanding the delicate marine environs of Southeast Alaska and the whales’ interaction with their habitat. Notes: All activities on this tour are operated by permit and regulation through the ADFG and NOAA in support of the University of Alaska and the Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program. You will receive a $100 cash refund from the tour operator at the conclusion of the tour if a whale is not sighted on the trip. The small group size of this tour ensures a personal and interactive atmosphere making the most of this authentic Alaska experience. Participants should be of age and ability to walk up to 200 yards, including down a sloped ramp to the boat harbor, and back. Dress warmly in layers—it can be cooler on the water. Binoculars are available for your use. Bottled water and a snack pack are provided. Tour operates in all weather conditions. Participants are eligible to enter to win cash prizes in the tour operator's Capture Juneau Photo Contest. Waiver must be signed and medical conditions disclosed.
Average Customer Rating:
4.769 out of 5
4.8
 out of 
5
(13 Reviews) 13
Open Ratings Snapshot
Rating Snapshot (13 reviews)
5 stars
12
4 stars
0
3 stars
0
2 stars
1
1 star
0
12 out of 13(92%)reviewers would recommend this product to a friend.
Customer Reviews for Discover Alaska's Whales
Review 1 for Discover Alaska's Whales
Overall Rating
5 out of 5
5 out of 5

Whales Galore...

Date:September 16, 2014
JungleJim
Location:Jacksonville, NC
Cruise Date Year:2014
Cruise Date Month:September
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
Enjoyed it?
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Value
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Let me start out by saying the weather in early September in Juneau was perfect! Even the locals were commenting on how unusual it was for this time of year. We boarded a beautiful aluminum boat that was specifically designed for whale watching, along with a guide that briefed us on what we could expect. We headed out of the Auke Bay Marina for an hour ride to find some humpbacks. The boat ride itself was wonderful with all the snow capped mountains surrounding the bay and the Mendenhal Glacier to the east. It didn't take long to find them! We were onsite about 5 minutes before we spotted the first spout, that was followed by several more shortly thereafter. The boat we were on had windows that lifted up and locked on the inside, so we had about 300 degrees for viewing and picture taking. There were about a dozen or so humpbacks blowing, rolling and showing their flukes. I did the same trip in 2007 and there was no comparison. I thought I was going to run out of memory on my chip in the camera. After an hour we headed back towards the harbor and along the way the guide pointed out different things of interest about the surrounding mountains, wildlife and culture.
As we got closer to the harbor the captain spotted a bouy with several seal lions lounging on it. Another superb photo session as they actually seemed to be posing for us! Absolutely made my trip..!
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
+2points
2out of 2found this review helpful.
Review 2 for Discover Alaska's Whales
Overall Rating
5 out of 5
5 out of 5

SPECTACULAR!!!

Date:August 23, 2014
MrsRetiredTrooper
Location:Sarasota, Florida
Cruise Date Year:2014
Cruise Date Month:August
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
Enjoyed it?
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Value
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Words cannot express how wonderful this excursion is. The pictures are amazing that we have to treasure for always. We saw so many whales that I couldn't count. I know that at least 9 were in the feeding bubble that came up. The blow holes that were lined up at one point was around 10 or more. It was truly amazing!!!! We can't wait to book this same trip again in the future.
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
0points
0out of 0found this review helpful.
Review 3 for Discover Alaska's Whales
Overall Rating
5 out of 5
5 out of 5

Fantastic!

Date:August 13, 2014
Ella
Location:Calgary, AB
Cruise Date Year:2014
Cruise Date Month:July
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
Enjoyed it?
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Value
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Mother Nature provided such a show on our tour humpback whales breaching and bubble net feeding, numerous orcas including a baby , seals and Bald Eagles. Couldn't have asked for more! Fantastic guide she was knowledgable and entertaining. Driver seemed to be cautious of the wild life and his passengers. Did miss a couple things like touch tank, plankton samples etc. I believe this was due to the fact we were busy watching a variety of marine life. Small numbers enhanced the tour. In our case this tour was worth every penny and more!
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
+3points
3out of 3found this review helpful.
Review 4 for Discover Alaska's Whales
Overall Rating
5 out of 5
5 out of 5

Awesome Excursion... the Best!

Date:August 5, 2014
Seapadre
Location:The Outer Banks of North Carolina
Cruise Date Year:2014
Cruise Date Month:July
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
Enjoyed it?
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Value
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
The boat we were on was modern and appropriately equipped for the purpose of whalewatching. The captain and the guide were great! We saw many humpback whales "bubble-netting" and got some great pictures up close... plus the bonus of orca whale sightings and pictures. If there were only one excursion I could take, this was would be the one to choose! Fabulous!
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
+4points
4out of 4found this review helpful.
Review 5 for Discover Alaska's Whales
Overall Rating
5 out of 5
5 out of 5

Absolutely loved it!!!

Date:August 5, 2014
lizzieanne
Location:NYC
Cruise Date Year:2014
Cruise Date Month:July
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
Enjoyed it?
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Value
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
This was by far the best excursion I took on my cruise!! It's limited to a small group (we had 18, and I think we could have taken 2 more), so there is no need to jockey for position along a rail on a bigger boat.
Our science part was going out to pull a small crab pot to check for Green European crabs - things they don't want as they eat other crabs native o the area. We saw some cool and colorful hermit crabs, but no Greens, which was good. We then headed out to see Stellar Sea Lions on a buoy and then off to where whales were reported. The boat pilots keep in contact with each other - especially the ones from the same company - so our pilot knew which direction to go. We were able to see 3-4 cycles of bubble net feeding, which was awesome!! Boats have to stay 100 yards from the whales - but the whales don't have that restriction. We never got super close, but that was more the whales moving other directions - we still had a good view. The coolest thing is the boat has underwater listening, so we were able to hear the "call to rise" - the one thing they have identified that the whales say...the call the lead whale makes to signal everyone to rise up and feed. Our guide was super friendly and knowledgable. I would definitely do this tour again!!
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
+2points
2out of 2found this review helpful.
Review 6 for Discover Alaska's Whales
Overall Rating
5 out of 5
5 out of 5

Research trip

Date:July 11, 2014
Jeanne
Location:Linden, North Carolina
Cruise Date Year:2014
Cruise Date Month:July
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
We were so fortunate in that we saw a lot of humpback whales bubble feeding on the herring. The whales fed this way 8 times in a row. We were able to identify one whale for the research book because the other whales' tails were hard to see and identify. On the way to the plankton study we encountered a pod of orcas, 8 of them, doing their thing. We all agreed to watch and photograph the orcas and skip the plankton part of the trip. When the whales were feeding the captain lowered the microphone and we heard the head of the group give the "call" to feed and then all the whales dived and came back up with their mouths opened to eat the herring. Beautiful weather, only started to rain on the way back for about 10 minutes. On the way to the harbor, we saw a black bear in the wetland area right off the highway. The tour guide said it was unusual to see black bears there since it was brown bear territory. Due to traffic, we could not stop but we did slow down and watch him for a few minutes.
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
+3points
3out of 3found this review helpful.
Review 7 for Discover Alaska's Whales
Overall Rating
5 out of 5
5 out of 5

awesome experience

Date:July 3, 2014
ohmslaw
Location:san antonio, tx
Cruise Date Year:2014
Cruise Date Month:May
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
Enjoyed it?
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Value
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Wonderful trip. we saw lots of whales, identified them by their tails, saw some that the company had identified for the scientists. we collected plankton samples to send to U of Alaska as sampling. also looked at crab trap for green crabs. fortunately, no green crabs. but we got to handle baby sea urchins, a bunch of them, and other things in the trap. all the information from that was also going back to the university. Small group on a boat that could hold more. really a hands on experience. crew were wonderful
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
+4points
4out of 4found this review helpful.
Review 8 for Discover Alaska's Whales
Overall Rating
2 out of 5
2 out of 5

Whale watching is a cr&pshoot

Date:July 1, 2014
Trevormore
Location:Dallas, TX
Cruise Date Year:2014
Cruise Date Month:June
Would you recommend this product to a friend? No
Watching whales would really be a fun way to spend an afternoon. Assuming the whales are there to watch. Be forewarned that booking a whale watching tour, even if its "guaranteed" to see whales, is a total cr&p shoot at best. If the whales are there and spend time on the surface then you will have fun. We saw 2 whales the entire time we were out on the water, for a total viewing of maybe 8 minutes. Boring! But we saw our "guaranteed" whale! Here's the deal...after spending 44 hours at sea from Seatlle, Juneau is the first stop on your trip aboard the Westedam. After rough seas the day before we were ready to get off the ship. Booking this excursion had us boarding another boat and travelling 45 mins on the water again...only to find a whale here and there. What a waste of time. No up close and personal shots of any whales. Oh yes, one other thing. Our trip was advertised as boarding a "research vessel" and interacting with scientists. Give me a freaking break! While the guide named Scott was very knowledgeable and funny, we weren't on a research vessel doing any research. We were on a 24 foot boat with a couple guys who were hoping to see whales like us. Other than the guaranteed one it was a total bore and waste of an afternoon.
Would you recommend this product to a friend? No
+3points
4out of 5found this review helpful.
Review 9 for Discover Alaska's Whales
Overall Rating
5 out of 5
5 out of 5

Discover Alaska Whales

Date:June 28, 2014
Pierce
Location:Florida
Cruise Date Year:2014
Cruise Date Month:June
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
Enjoyed it?
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Value
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Our guide was Teresa and what a delight. She was very knowledgeable and friendly. We stopped and pulled up a crab trap that is used to monitor green crab intrusion into the area. We took samples of the water for their research. There was phytoplankton, which are the main food of the Humpback whales in the trap as well. Then the driver took us to areas where there were whale sightings. We got to see some amazing sites with the whales showing off their tales. This was a great trip.
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
+2points
2out of 2found this review helpful.
Review 10 for Discover Alaska's Whales
Overall Rating
5 out of 5
5 out of 5

Great way to learn more on ecology of the area and

Date:June 11, 2014
Plover
Location:Northwest Florida
Cruise Date Year:2014
Cruise Date Month:May
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
Enjoyed it?
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Value
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Our crew was very knowledgeable and friendly. We pulled a crab trap used to monitor green crab intrusion into the area (it had huge Sunflower Sea Stars in it) and took a sample of the waters. We were amazed at the size of the zoo- and phytoplankton, which are the main food of the Humpback whales we had seen. These plankton are smaller than mosquito larvae and feed one of our largest mammals! We also saw a huge number of Sea Lions hauled out on a stretch of rocks above the river. 3 more whales came to play as we left the area. Very nice trip!
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
+2points
2out of 2found this review helpful.
Review 11 for Discover Alaska's Whales
Overall Rating
5 out of 5
5 out of 5

Glacier and Whales with a bit of science thrown in

Date:July 20, 2012
Marathonmess
Location:Florida
Cruise Date Year:2012
Cruise Date Month:July
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
Enjoyed it?
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Value
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Our guide Jon helped us get a bit more information about the flora and fauna of the region before viewing Mendenhall Glacier. That information continued as we traveled by boat to watch a pod of whales "bubble-netting." Our boat captain was very respectful of other boats and the whales - not crowding or obstructing the view of other boats by trying to angle for a "primo" position.
However, by using a submerged microphone, we were alert to watch for the whales surging to the top to catch the fish they'd trapped with their bubbles. An added advantage was the construction of the boat - made for just such an occasion. So, we were unusually dry inside with large windows opened to view or closed to keep the drifting, constant rain off! Other boats' occupants were out in the weather while trying to see the whales - a cold, wet experience even n July that had to dampen the excitement.
Only downside was that we didn't really "participate" in science experiments as the write-up indicated.
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
+8points
8out of 8found this review helpful.
Review 12 for Discover Alaska's Whales
Overall Rating
5 out of 5
5 out of 5

Great tour, but not as "science-y" as I expected

Date:June 26, 2012
NatureLover
Location:Miami
Cruise Date Year:2012
Cruise Date Month:June
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
Enjoyed it?
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Value
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
This tour has two parts - visiting Mendenhal Glacier and then going out on a boat and basically whale watching. At the Mendenhal Glacier area, we collected a water sample and tested it, then were told we would be observing and classifying some flying bugs at a pond, but found very few of the insects. We then walked VERY SLOWLY down to the glacier, discussing some of the local plants and the glacier. This part of the tour really seemed to move at a snail's pace, and we probably could have spent about 30 minutes less on this part of the tour and it would have been fine. Next we headed to the marina and boarded the small boat to go out to see wildlife. They served a snack on the bus, which was all vegetarian (this is a plus for our group, since we were vegetarians). Our tour only had 12 people (out of a maximum of 20) and we had a really great day. We saw a couple pods of orca (not too common in that area, according to our guide), humpback whales, sea lions, and a few eagles. The boat captain and our guide worked really hard to get us to where the wildlife was, and we got some great photos. There was a book on board that showed the tails of the humpbacks who had been identified in the area, and we were able to identify the ones we saw by looking at the book, at least when we got a good view of their tails. One person was assigned to use a nice Nikon DSLR (provided by the guide) to take photos of the tails of the whales that we spotted for a researcher who is tracking this data, and that was kind of cool. In the tour description it said that we would pull a water sample and look at plankton under a microscope on the boat. We did get to pull the water sample, but then just took it to shore to give to a local NOAA lab. This was kind of a disappointment, since one the people in my group really wanted to look at the water sample under a microscope to see the plankton. We were told that they had stopped doing the microscope activity because people got sea sick looking into a microscope on a rocking boat, and also the tour participants were not able to really accurately identify the plankton for NOAA.
One of my friends did the Alaska's Whales and Rainforest Trails, which is led by the same tour company, and I think she saw more nature around the Mendenhal Glacier than we did, plus had basically the same whale watching experience on the small boat.
All in all, it was a really good tour, some interesting scientific information was provided, and we did get the opportunity to participate in data collection for a few scientists' studies, but if you're not a super science nerd, you may like the Alaska's Whales and Rainforest Trails tour just as much....
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
+10points
11out of 12found this review helpful.
Review 13 for Discover Alaska's Whales
Overall Rating
5 out of 5
5 out of 5

Best Tour Ever

Date:July 12, 2011
Littlebird
Location:New Mexico
Cruise Date Year:2011
Cruise Date Month:June
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
Enjoyed it?
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Value
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
I'm 9 years old and going to be a scientist. This was the best tour I could have asked for. Jon, our guide, was really smart and interesting and taught us lots of things about plankton and whales and geology and glaciers and bears. Basically how whales connect to the glaciers through the plankton. I loved it. So did my Mom. I hightly recommend this tour especially for smart kids and interesting adults.
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
+11points
18out of 25found this review helpful.