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Early-September whale-watching from Juneau

Early-September whale-watching from Juneau

Old Jul 12, 16, 2:06 pm
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Early-September whale-watching from Juneau

I'll be stopping over in Juneau for a couple of days midweek in the second week of September and looking at a whale-watching trip.

Ideally, would like the have flexibility to look at the weather when I arrive and choose whether I out go on the afternoon of day 1 or the morning of day 2, so am wondering whether I need to pre-book to ensure a space on the boat.

At that point in the season, what are the chances that everything will be sold out (do they block-sell to cruise ships ?), or will I be fairly certain of a walk-up space being available on the day ?
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Old Jul 15, 16, 7:55 am
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We went whale watching in Juneau over Labor Day weekend a few years ago. We were the only two people on the boat. There were cruise ships in town but for some reason people were not interested in whales. People from the whale watching companies were trying to entice people to go. The free shuttle from the cruise ship to Wal-Mart was packed. We were flabbergasted.

I am leaving for Juneau today and have not yet booked my whale watching excursions for Saturday. I am going with Adventure Bound tomorrow and again on Monday. I have seen incredible whale activity every time that I have gone on their glacier cruise. The cost of the all-day cruise is not that much more than a three-hour whale watch and you get to see glacier calving, waterfalls, and huge chunks of ice.

I will report on my whale watching success for this trip. I have gone with Harv and Marv and with Weather Permitting; both companies are locally-owned, have smaller boats, and spend more time with whales. They also charge more than some of the companies that attract more cruise ship passengers.
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Old Jul 15, 16, 12:36 pm
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Originally Posted by FlyForFun View Post
People from the whale watching companies were trying to entice people to go. The free shuttle from the cruise ship to Wal-Mart was packed. We were flabbergasted.
I am not surprised that many of the same people that would take a cruise ship to Alaska would be interested in going to the Juneau Wal-Mart as their excursion.
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Old Jul 15, 16, 10:22 pm
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If you want to guarantee going on a trip, then book ahead. If you are picky as to who you might go with, type of boat, etc. then book ahead. By mid-September some of the companies might not be operating anymore for the season. I guess it depends on the company and when in "mid-September" you are going. Honestly, I don't let the weather dictate my plans in Alaska. I just dress for the weather and do them.

Personally I really like Harv & Marvs for whale watching and have taken them multiple times. Six passenger boats, so quite small. Longest time on the water of any of the companies. You can include a brief stop at Mendenhall Glacier or get dropped off there with them and take the shuttle back to town. Or if you are going for a couple of days, you might already have a rental car. If so, you can meet the tour company at the Auke Bay dock.

Originally Posted by nineworldseries View Post
I am not surprised that many of the same people that would take a cruise ship to Alaska would be interested in going to the Juneau Wal-Mart as their excursion.
Actually many of those on such a shuttle to Wal Mart were the ship workers. But no one is taking any Wal Mart shuttle in Juneau anymore since it closed its doors last year
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Old Jul 20, 16, 12:22 pm
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I am back from Juneau. We went whale watching on Sunday with Allen Marine Tours. The cost was $119 per person; we spent three hours on the water. I decided on Sunday morning to go whale watching and Allen Marine Tours was the only company that I was able to get in contact. Harv and Marv did not return my call. Dolphin Jet Boat Tours did not return my call. Alaska Whale Watch had a full voice mail box so I could not leave a message. I did speak with Weather Permitting but they did not have availability.

A representative from Allen Marine Tours met us and transported us to their dock. There is very limited parking available at their departure point so they asked us to park at the Auke Bay Elementary School parking lot and a van transported us the short distance.

The boat was bigger than I expected with an upper deck; covered seating was available and there was lots of room on the upper deck. The boat was maybe 1/3 full. The upper deck provided great viewing for looking straight down into the water to see humpbacks when they approached the boat. A group of five swam up to the boat and stayed for a minute or two before moving on.

My only complaint was that we were observing a group of humpbacks bubble net and lunge feeding and the boat left that group and headed off to another area. We are whale fanatics and have been on over 500 whale watching trips over the past 25 years. I posted some pictures from my trips to Baja to play with gray whales; this activity is NOT what we experienced in Juneau. I just posted to show that I have very high expectations when I go whale watching.Name:  untitled.png
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We could have stayed there all day but most people seemed to be thrilled to see a whale tail in the distance and did not appreciate the incredible activity that they were viewing. We did find more whales. We also noticed that most of the boats were observing the same groups of whales, so even if we had gone with another company, we probably would have seen the same activity. In a smaller boat, we would have been closer to the whales and to the water.

If you are interested in going with a particular company, then I encourage you to make reservations in advance or at least start calling the day before.
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Old Jul 21, 16, 7:10 am
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Originally Posted by fti View Post
I guess it depends on the company and when in "mid-September" you are going
Thanks for all the answers so far. I'll be there around 8 Sep.

Just a supplementary question, if I may : do any of the operators use discount coupons or do last-minute deals on the quayside to attract custom ?
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Old Sep 4, 16, 8:13 pm
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We are back in Juneau for a few days. We did not make an advance reservation for a whale watching trip today. I tried to reserve one on line but was not able to. This morning, we drove to the dock area where the cruise ships dock. There were at least ten booths selling excursions including whale watching trips. We booked one for this morning and received a discounted rate of $110 versus $150.

We did see whales but they were more interested in feeding so there was little surface activity. Many of the boats were communicating with each other and most were focusing on the same whales we were viewing.

If you are going to be in Juneau when cruise ships are here, just go to the booths near the Tramway office and you should have no problems booking for the same day.

Yesterday, we went with Adventure Bound to Tracy Arm and saw at least nine humpback whales.

The weather yesterday and today was sunny, partly-cloudy, no wind, and 68 degrees. Absolutely gorgeousˇ
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