How is your "small boat"
tour different from others offered in Icy Strait?
We offer no more than six guests the opportunity to experience
the whales and other wildlife from the deck of our catamaran Kohola.
Many of the other "small boat" tours pilot vessels slightly
larger than our catamarans, but they
carry between 18 and 24 passengers. These boats have been designed
primarily to maximize revenue not your whale watching experience. We
have designed our boat to maximize access to the whales and wildlife
and provide the greatest comfort while traveling to and from the whale
watching areas. This allows our guests to spread out and move freely
around the full perimeter of the deck to enjoy the views, sights and
sounds free from excess noise, crowding and most importantly other
people blocking your view. Our catamaran provides the most stable
platform from which to view the wildlife while drifting and the
smoothest most comfortable ride out and back on days when the water
might be a little choppy.
Do you guarantee we will see whales?
We don't guarantee you will see whales, however in over 900 trips
we have only failed to find a whale on one occasion. Your chances
are extremely good to see multiple whales on every day of the summer
season. Weather and water conditions occasionally require us to
modify our typical trip plans but with our great network of local
operators we are able to find the best whale groups available for the
day and provide you with a memorable and satisfying trip.
**The day we
didn't find a whale was extremely stormy and foggy and we were unable
to venture into Icy Strait and it just happened that there weren't any
whales we could find in the fog in Port Frederick.
Are the whales more active
in the morning or afternoon?
The humpback whales in Icy Strait have one primary
focus for their time spent here - eating. That being
said there really is no period during the day during which you
can predict that the whales will be more active. They
often take advantage of the slacking tides to rest for a
period of time but most of the time we are out on the water we
observe them feeding and enjoying some exercise between meals.
We have been out at Pt. Adolphus in the late summer and
have enjoyed the whales feeding and being amazingly active in
the complete darkness of the middle of the night. They
feed as often as they are able and rest and play a bit between
get back to the ship before it leaves?
Absolutely! We schedule our trips so that we arrive back in the
harbor a full hour prior to the scheduled sailing time of each cruise
ship. There are a number of local captains that look after one
another and in the rare case of a mechanical difficulty are able to
provide transport back to the harbor in plenty of time to catch the
What can we expect the weather to be
The weather in Icy Strait varies widely during the summer months
and may change significantly on any given day. You might expect
at worst some winds and heavy rain while hoping for a sunny clear 70
degree day. Typically we have rain showers mixed with some sunny
breaks so being prepared for some moisture but also being ready to
enjoy some sunshine is advised.
What type of clothing should we wear?
It is best to dress in layers in preparation for a
conditions on the water. A tee-shirt base layer
sweatshirt or polar fleece over that and a
jacket should be sufficient for almost any type of weather we
encounter. It is also a good idea to have along a pair of
gloves and a wool hat. The cabin is heated and affords you ample
watch from inside the boat if the weather turns wetter than
to endure out of doors. Tennis shoes or regular walking
are adequate footwear. Read our Blog Post, What
to Wear for more specifics about the weather and dressing
What should we bring on the boat?
You should bring your camera, extra batteries perhaps, and a pair
of binoculars if you have them along on the trip. We have
several pair of loaner binoculars for our guests including a pair of
image-stabilized binoculars to compensate for the motion of the boat.
If you have rain gear for your trip we suggest you bring it with
you but we also have extras.
Will we be able to get off of the ship
in time to meet you for the tour?
On most days the ships are in port before the scheduled time of
arrival and if you are on the disembarkation deck at the scheduled
time of arrival, or maybe even a bit earlier, you can be ashore
in five to ten minutes. If for some reason you are behind
schedule or confused about where to meet Teresa, a phone call or text
will let us know to wait and facilitate getting together.
What if the weather is terrible?
If the weather is stormy, and the waters are unsafe, we will meet
you at the port at our regularly scheduled meeting time and discuss
your options for the day with you and the others on your excursion.
If adequate whales are not available in a calmer location, we
may have to cancel the tour and refund your deposit. There have
been only three occasions in our eleven years of serving cruise guests
that we have had to cancel a trip due to extremely inclement weather.
How close will we get to the whales?
We adhere strictly to the National Marine Fisheries Service whale
watching guidelines which require us to maintain a 100 yard spacing
from the whales when we are approaching the whales or maneuvering in
the whale watching areas. Once we have stopped moving and begin
to drift and enjoy the whales they frequently will approach the boat
at a much closer distance. It is very likely that several times
during the trip you will find yourself very close to one or more
humpback whales and will get some excellent photos.
Will we see any bears?
We follow the shoreline closely on the way out and back from the
prime whale watching areas. Doing so gives us a great
opportunity to find a bear somewhere along the shore during the trip.
While it is not a certainty on every trip, we see bears on about
50% of our tours, sometimes we are able to get close to them in the
boat and other times we see them briefly from a distance.
Is there a chance we will get seasick?
Becoming seasick is an extremely remote
possibility. The number of people who have become motion sick is
less than five (over thirteen seasons and thousands of guests.) The waters are generally calm
during the summer months and on the days when the wind and tide do
make the water choppy, the motion of the boat is not of the kind that
induces motion sickness. The catamaran is exceptionally stable
both at rest and when moving. If you are concerned at all about
this, the best course of action is to take a tablet of a medication
called BONINE or non-drowsy DRAMAMINE, the night before or an hour
before your tour and you should be protected from motion sickness
during the day.
boat have a restroom?
Absolutely the best.
We will provide a basic selection of soft
drinks and water as well as a thermos of hot cocoa.
makes a special Smoked Alaskan King Salmon spread for you to enjoy
with crackers. There are also a variety of chips.
our ship is late?
If your ship is late arriving in port, we
will wait for you before starting our tour. There have been very few late arrivals and
when the ships have arrived late, they have generally stayed extra
time to allow you the expected time in port. If you are on the
second scheduled tour of the day we will try to contact you to adjust
the tour starting time.
will we be away from the shore?
We follow the shoreline closely on the way
out and back from the whale watching areas as much as possible to look
for bears. Once out to the whale watching areas we will venture
as far off-shore as necessary to provide the best whale watching
possible for the day. While moving around with the whales we may
be as far as three miles away from the shoreline but we will be within
sight of land in all directions at all times.
is the cruise port from where we board your boat?
The harbor, from which our tours depart, is
about a mile from the excursion hub where we will meet you for the
tours. It is a five minute drive to reach the harbor or city
dock. If you opt to walk into town to meet us for a late-morning
or afternoon tour or if you choose to walk back to the port after a
morning tour it is a very scenic, 30 minutes or so walk along a paved
If you find you have additional questions, please contact
us and we will be happy to provide detailed information on any topic you