Whale Watching Cruises in Rhode Island: A Guide

Like most coastal states in the Northeast, there are whale watching cruises in Rhode Island. In fact, given how small the state is, there are a surprising number of whale watching cruises in Rhode Island, although not all of them are particularly easy to find. To make finding and booking a whale watching cruise in Rhode Island as easy as possible, we have compiled the following guide, which covers both general information about whale watching in RI, as well more specific information about the exact companies – Frances Fleet, Snappa Charters, Fish Trap, Priority Fishing Charters, and Seven B’s V – that offer these cruises out of Rhode Island ports.

We should begin by noting, as we often do when writing articles about whale watching cruises in a specific location, that regardless of who you ultimately sail with, your whale watching experience should be similar. All the ships sail (more or less) the same waters off the Rhode Island coast, and you’ll be looking for the same types of whales – in this instance, primarily finback and humpback whales, but you can also see minke, pilot, and right whales. It is also possible to see a variety of other forms of marine life, including multiple species of dolphins and turtles. Whale watching takes place during the summer in Rhode Island – generally July and August, although not every company lists their whale watching schedule – so all the cruises will also take place during the same time of year. So, you are in for fundamentally the same experience no matter which company you end up booking with.

Of the five whale watching companies we listed above, Frances Fleet and Snappa Charters appear to be the main providers. When you search for whale watching in Rhode Island, these are the two companies that come up, and this is largely because they are the only companies that explicitly advertise their whale watching cruises. As you’ll see on the pages linked to above, Frances Fleet and Snappa Charters list their whale watching schedules and prices (which are comparable), as well as provide some information about the whales you can see on your trip. However, similar pages do not appear to exist on the sites of Fish Trap, Priority Fishing Charter, and Seven B’s V. However, according to the Rhode Island Party and Charter Boat Association, which has a list of every member company and their offerings, all of these companies do offer whale watching in one form or another.

Since some of these companies don’t even advertise their whale watching cruises, how can you go about booking them? Of the five companies, only Frances Fleet has an online booking system, so for the rest of the companies, you’ll have to work directly with someone from the company, either over the phone or through email. This is probably just as well, as these are all small businesses that only offer whale watching on the side. (Every one of these companies is first and foremost a fishing outfit, including Frances Fleet.) So, it is probably good to directly work with a person when you are looking to schedule a whale watching cruise. They’ll be able explain exactly what is available, including the days and times that the cruises are offered. Whale watching in Rhode Island is not like whale watching along the Pacific Coast, where seemingly every city has multiple companies that operate whale watching cruises on a fixed schedule all year round. The situation is a bit more idiosyncratic in Rhode Island, and thus your planning has to be a little more involved.

That said, it’s not difficult to whale watch in Rhode Island, especially now that you have all the above information organized in one place. We recommend looking at the sites we link to above, which will give you a better idea of which company you want to sail with. You’ll also find contact information and their ports of departure, and the latter might play a crucial role in your decision. We’re confident you can get a whale watching cruise set up without much effort, one that fits your style and is convenient for your situation.

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