Whale watching cruises abound in Massachusetts, and they are especially prevalent in the city of Gloucester. This essentially makes Gloucester the whale watching capitol of the East Coast, as we know of no other city along the entire eastern seaboard that has as many whale watching cruises. Below we give an overview of whale watching in Gloucester, listing the companies that offer these cruises and the basics of what you can expect once on board.
Why there are so many whale watching opportunities in Gloucester specifically may appear strange at first. It is a relatively small city of about 30,000 people near the New Hampshire border, and it is obviously dwarfed in size by Boston, yet the capitol of Massachusetts only has one whale watching company, whereas Gloucester has four. However, Gloucester is actually a popular summer destination, and it is also a major player in the U.S. fishing industry, so its small population belies the city’s importance, and evidently the city’s importance extends to whale watching as well.
Simply by virtue of being a coastal city in Massachusetts, it is a good place to go whale watching, and this alone explains why a rich whale watching scene has developed in the area. Off the coast of Massachusetts, you can see numerous whale species, including humpback, finback, and minke whales, and this is true no matter where you are along the coast. However, it turns out that Gloucester is particularly well-positioned for whale watching, as it is situated between two feeding grounds, which means that ships departing from the city can locate whales relatively easily, and they can reach them more quickly than ships departing from other ports. So, a number of factors converge to make Gloucester an ideal place for East Coast whale watching.
As we mentioned above, there are four whale watching companies that are based in Gloucester: 7 Seas Whale Watch, Cape Ann Whale Watch, Captain Bill and Sons Whale Watch, Yankee Fleet. The first three are dedicated to whale watching specifically, whereas Yankee Fleet is primarily a fishing outfit. (Indeed, the details of Yankee Fleet’s whale watching operation are unclear, as they say they have recently combined their cruises with “other whale watching factions,” so it is possible they are now partnering with the other companies.) All of these companies operate whale watching cruises from about April to October, and their three to four hour cruises cost almost exactly the same, which is around $50 for adults, about $30 for children, and about $40 for seniors. The companies also operate almost identical schedules, with one sailing a day during the early and late part of the season, and then two per day during the heart of the season, which is basically the beginning of July through Labor Day. Given that all these companies sail more or less the same waters looking for the same whales, it is safe to say your experience on board will be fairly similar regardless of who you book with.
So, if you are in Gloucester and feel like whale watching, there are no shortage of options. For more general information, check out our article on whale watching cruises in Massachusetts.