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Hi Cruise Friends- 

We’re sailing out on Serenade on 9/6/21 with ports of call in Sitka, Icy Straight Point, Juneau and Ketchikan. This will be our first time experiencing Alaska.

We’d really like to go whale watching, but was wondering if the experience would be better in Juneau or Icy Strait Point. It appears Juneau has a greater variety of whale watching adventures compared to Icy Strait. Are the whales more plentiful in Juneau? 

Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated!  Thank you 

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We did it in Icy Straight.  There was much less to do there when we visited than Juneau so we made that our whale day.  We went on a small, private excursion with just five on the boat and the captain.  We got to zip to all the spots before the bigger tour boats made it.  We even saw whales right off the dock when we were there when we got off the tender.   They built a real dock now, so I don't know if the whales come that close anymore, but it was amazing.

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Icy Strait Point is known for marine wildlife.   However I've also gone whale watching in Juneau on a different trip.

Both are acceptable but I'd give ISP a nod for better chances.  Some of their tours even guarantee seeing marine wildlife. 

Where ever you do it I'd advise seeking a smaller boat if you want to get closer to the action and have better views.  On the larger excursion boats when someone yells whale 150 people run to that side of the boat.   

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Juneau whale excursion in this thread:

https://www.royalcaribbeanblog.com/boards/index.php?/topic/6634-explorer-alaska-62218-7-nights-rclblog-group-cruise/&do=findComment&comment=73463

(Note the pictures of a bigger boat packed with people that came by)

 

ISP whale excursion in this thread on a bigger boat (my first Alaska cruise, rookie mistake)

https://www.royalcaribbeanblog.com/boards/index.php?/topic/5211-alaska-recap-celebrity-millennium-june-2017/&do=findComment&comment=51846

 

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@twangster

Wow! I can’t thank you enough for your links. I was searching for something like this on this blog, but somehow I missed it. Alaska should be paying you for all the tourist dollars you’re probably bringing their way. Your photos were better than anything I’ve seen on my Google searches. I was questioning if I’d made a mistake booking this cruise, but your photos put my mind at ease. ? Thank you 

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9 hours ago, KaydenDeen said:

I was questioning if I’d made a mistake booking this cruise, but your photos put my mind at ease. ? Thank you 

I kept putting off an Alaskan cruising for years, then I did one.  Then I did four more.  Alaska is beautiful.  You won't regret it.

PS - I have two more Alaska cruises booked and will go again in 2023 once they release that season.  Every visit to Alaska is different.  

Here is another thread on Ovation:

https://www.royalcaribbeanblog.com/boards/index.php?/topic/12630-ovation-goes-north-way-north-to-alaska-11-nights-may-13-2019/

Maybe some of those port stops overlap with your cruise for more ideas.

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19 hours ago, twangster said:

Juneau whale excursion in this thread:

https://www.royalcaribbeanblog.com/boards/index.php?/topic/6634-explorer-alaska-62218-7-nights-rclblog-group-cruise/&do=findComment&comment=73463

(Note the pictures of a bigger boat packed with people that came by)

 

ISP whale excursion in this thread on a bigger boat (my first Alaska cruise, rookie mistake)

https://www.royalcaribbeanblog.com/boards/index.php?/topic/5211-alaska-recap-celebrity-millennium-june-2017/&do=findComment&comment=51846

 

@twangsterI booked my whale watching with max 48 people, is that too many.  RC has one for $100 more pp with 20 people max, would half the size be worth the extra $200.  Whale watching is one of my top things I want to see/do while in Alaska.  

 

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12 minutes ago, MicDay said:

@twangsterI booked my whale watching with max 48 people, is that too many.  RC has one for $100 more pp with 20 people max, would half the size be worth the extra $200.  Whale watching is one of my top things I want to see/do while in Alaska.  

 

So here's the thing with larger boats:

duEWTa7.jpg

When everyone rushed to one side it  actually starts to list that way ? 

The problem is trying to secure a spot on the railing so you can see.  Once a whale is spotted on the other side, it's a mad dash to secure a spot on the railing on the other side.  

When you are on a smaller boat they are more agile and can more quickly move with the whales or to another location.

What tends to happen is the larger boats are a little further away while the smaller boats end up getting between the whales and the larger boats.  In this next picture a whale had just submerged behind me so my smaller boat was between the larger boat and the whales.

aZC1nSf.jpg

Is that worth $200?  That's up to you to decide.  

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3 hours ago, KaydenDeen said:

 Found a small company with a smaller boat for a reasonable price and great reviews. #excited

Awesome!  That's the way we went.  Although I don't know the details of who we used... @CGTLH keeps track of all that and takes all the photos. 

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9 hours ago, KaydenDeen said:

@twangster@AshleyDillo

Such great advice. I am going to take your suggestion and will take a private excursion on a smaller boat in ICP. Found a small company with a smaller boat for a reasonable price and great reviews. #excited

@KaydenDeenDo you mind sharing what company you found with a small boat?  The two I've found outside of RC only have large boats?  Thanks!!!

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Just so everyone knows, the captains of these excursions boats all know each other, it's a small community even if the company they work for are competitors.  Most will get on the radio and exchange sighting locations.  On the smaller boats you may be able to hear the radio chatter and see this in action yourself. 

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The whale-watching tour that we did in Juneau was very good.  We saw a lot of whales.  One, "Sasha", even breached directly (about 75 feet) behind our boat (about 5 of us saw it, everyone else was looking at another whale in another direction).  Even in Juneau, where there are more boats, the captains still share information for locations of the whales.   I'd do it again in a heartbeat (from either port of call).

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1 hour ago, MicDay said:

@SpeedNoodles what company did you use in Juneau if you don't mind sharing.

 

We booked it through Royal, but it was operated by Allen Marine Tours.  The boats were good sized, but not as large as the one in the photo that Twangster posted above.  The employees were fantastic (but I'd imagine you'll find that with the majority of tour operators up there).

 

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I've cruised Alaska a few times now. 

For years I always thought "bikinis look better than parkas" so I kept putting off an Alaskan cruise.  Then I finally did one.  Wow!  I was hooked.  

Every visit is different.  Every cruise has been great.  

I cruise differently when going to Alaska.  The ship activities and entertainment become secondary, I'm there for Alaska and I soak up every minute outside watching it all whenever possible.   I've even skipped all shows, 70's parties and such just so I soak in as much scenery as I can. I don't buy the drink package so I am sharp, up early to catch the sunrise then up late to watch the sunset in the inside passage.

If you are going to Dawes glacier move around the ship.  Go down to a lower deck and watch ice flows passing by then try the helipad then try a higher deck then lunch outdoors at the aft of the Windjammer to watch it all sail by.  So beautiful and seeing the ship in close proximity to the high mountain walls is magical.

Enjoy your cruise!

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Thanks, @twangster
Your Alaskan holiday is exactly what I had pictured for us. Im not concerned about the ship activities- I just want to see Alaska in all it’s glory. I’ve never heard anybody say anything negative about their experiences there. I’m headed there with high expectations and I have a good feeling that this is going to be a trip of a lifetime. 
 

Thanks again for all your help and inspiration. 

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