So you want to see some whales. Don’t we all? Fortunately, there are lots of companies out there who own boats and want to make that a reality for you. There are a ton of options, all boasting the ability to give you the best trip possible, but there are also so many options it can be hard to figure out which is right for you.
That’s why we’re pointing you to three of the best cruise lines we could find. Make sure you pack your binoculars, your patience and sense of adventure before embarking on these trips. These are the best whale watching cruises.
Princess Cruises offers a multitude of different cruises down the Inside Passage, a narrow Juneau waterway known for its humpback whale sightings. Book between May and September for the best chance to see one of the giant beauties throw itself from the water close enough to you that you can feel the spray from the ocean on your face. You’re “virtually guaranteed” to see orcas in Juneau.
The cruises also boast opportunities to see lots of other wildlife and marvels of nature, including grizzlies and glaciers. Princess Cruises is a 15-time winner of Travel Weekly’s Readers Choice Awards for Best Alaskan Cruise, so you can rest assured you're getting a good one.
These Iceland cruises will turn you into an amateur cetologist (you know, a whale scientist). “Under a midnight sun, comb the icy waters off Reykjavik in search of whales,” boasts the Saga website. If that’s not enough to draw you in, read on, but really that’s all you need to know.
The Wild About Iceland tour on the Saga Sapphire ship promises a wild ride, complete with volcanic moonscapes and lava caves. And yes, of course, there are a lot of different kinds of whales, including humpbacks and minkes, plus harbor porpoises and white-beaked dolphins. And you won’t just be staring through binoculars on your own on this trip — a group of onboard scientists are available to guide you through what you’re seeing, and you can even assist in a formal effort to map whale sightings while you’re there.
Waterproof Cruises and Expeditions has several vessels designed to get you to the whales. Note the Winter Whales of Norway cruise, which promises humpback whales AND the Northern Lights, as well as the Antarctic Whale Science Voyage, where you travel with an entire team of scientists studying the creatures.
But the company also offers a unique chance to get up close and personal with the whales — closer than leaning over the side of the boat. You can actually swim with humpback whales and their newborn calves. Although it’s not a cruise, you stay in a resort in Vava’u, a town on the tiny island of Tonga off the coast of Fiji, then go out on a boat daily to snorkel and watch the animals go about their business. It’s a sight you don’t want to miss.