Whale Watching Cruises: What Kind of Whales Can You See?

Whale watching cruises, as the name implies, center on observing whales. Whale watching cruises are about sailing around the ocean in an effort to see a whale or multiple whales, and basically nothing else. This means that whale watching cruises are fundamentally different from normal cruise vacations because those who take the latter normally engage in several activities (spa visits, gambling in the casino, poolside lounging, etc.) and seek more than one end (to relax, see different parts of the world, etc.). Since whale watching cruises are focused on one particular goal – watching whales – this leads to an inevitable question: what kind of whales can you see on a whale watching cruise? If you are so interested in seeing whales that you want to take a cruise just to observe them, it seems like you ought to know what whales are possible to see. And that’s where we come in…

As a side note, if it seems strange that an entire cruise could be focused only on seeing an animal (albeit a majestic animal), it helps to keep in mind that whale watching cruises tend to be short, lasting in many cases only a few hours. So, it is not as if people take off for weeks at a time and do nothing all day but peer through binoculars and desperately hope to see whales. Rather, lots of cruises that cater to whale watchers simply leave port for a few hours, sail to a couple of different areas of the ocean where whales are often seen, and then they return to shore.

Anyway, what kind of whales can you see on these cruises, short or long? Naturally, the whales you see will depend on the part of the world in which you are sailing (and for this reason it is perhaps worthwhile to check out our article on where you can go on a whale watching cruise). For example, there are popular whale watching cruises that take place in Boston Harbor. In this area of the ocean, there are multiple types of whales to behold, including humpback whales, so-called because of the way their backs arch prior to a dive; finback whales, which weigh about 40 tons and can be anywhere from 45 to 70 feet long, making them second in size only to the blue whale; and minke whales, the most abundant type of whale in the world (over a million are scattered across the globe). On these Boston Harbor cruises, you can expect to see not only certain types of whales, but also specific whales, who have had names like “Colt” and “Tornado” given to them by the staff of the cruise company (in this case, Boston Harbor Cruises).

There are any number of whale watching cruises, offered by companies all over the world, that are exactly like those offered by Boston Harbor Cruises. The whales you will see on these cruises, again, entirely depends on where your cruise is sailing. Cruises off the coast of Southern California will enable passengers to see many of the same whales you can see in Boston Harbor (humpbacks, finbacks, etc.), but also blue whales, the largest known animal to have ever existed. Whale watching cruises that depart from other parts of the world will give passengers the opportunity to see other types of whales. Of course, there is a lot of overlap between what whales you can see in any given part of the world. The oceans are connected, after all, and whales can travel great distances. So, when we say you can see blue whales on a cruise off the coast of Southern California, we don’t mean to imply that you can’t see them in the Atlantic Ocean (you definitely can). Rather, we are merely pointing out that some types of whales are more likely to be found in certain areas of the globe. Between all the different cruises around the world, you can basically see any whale you want. It’s all about finding the right place from which to sale.

Before concluding, there are two additional things worth saying about whale watching cruises, both of which are fairly obvious. First, you can expect to see much more than only whales on a whale watching cruise. Passengers frequently see dolphins, sea lions, seabirds, and other creatures of the sea, so while the focus of a whale watching cruise is of course on whales, you often get to see other wildlife along the way. Second, in order to see whales on a cruise, you don’t necessarily need to take a cruise that is specifically dedicated to whale watching. Plenty of cruise passengers see whales during the course of their regular cruise vacations, which is particularly true if you are taking a cruise that revolves around sightseeing (like many cruises to Alaska, for example). This is helpful to keep in mind if you are interested in seeing whales, but don’t want to set sail with this as your only ambition.

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