Whale Watching Cruises: Where Can You Go?

Recently, we wrote about whale watching cruises and why you might want to take a whale watching cruise. In the article we painted with broad strokes, covering only the general features of cruises that center on observing whales. We did not, for example, explain in much detail where you might actually go on a whale watching cruise, and so this article will address this issue specifically.

When it comes to the question of where you can go on a whale watching cruise, two different matters need to be investigated. First, there is the issue of what area of the world one needs to get to in order to take a whale watching cruise. Obviously, this will be somewhere near a coast, but this doesn’t get us very far. Once we figure out where whale watching cruises depart from, the places they sail to must then be determined. Answering this two-part question is not exclusive to whale watching cruises – every cruise ship has both a port of departure and a destination – but it is worth mentioning since we are specifically concerned with the places where you might take a whale watching cruise, and in this context the word “where” is not unambiguous.

The interesting thing about whale watching cruises is that very often – perhaps even in most cases – you don’t sail particularly far. So, it’s not like you depart from, say, San Diego and then sail to see whales off the coast of Chile. Rather, in most cases you would depart from San Diego, sail around for awhile off the coast of California in an effort to spot some whales, and then return to San Diego. This means that many whale watching cruises are rather short. There are an enormous amount of whale watching cruises that take this form, and they depart from places all over the world. In the United States, some of the more popular states to depart from include California, Washington, Oregon, and Alaska, which are all on the West Coast, as well as Florida, New York, Massachusetts, Maine, and Rhode Island, which are all on the East Coast. Hawaii and Texas also offer a lot of whale watching cruises, and there are of course places all over the world – like Mexico, Canada, many coastal parts of Europe, etc. – that have whale watching cruises too.

(For whatever reason, there did seem to be a particular emphasis on whale watching in the United States, especially in Southern California, but perhaps our sampling size isn’t large enough to make this a meaningful observation, and obviously some of the focus on Southern California has to do with the concentration of whales off its coast. Still, it occurred to us that perhaps Americans are more interested in whale watching than people from other parts of the world, which is a faintly interesting cultural observation.)

While many whale watching cruises are very short, being only two to three hours in some cases, some voyages are longer. Generally, these longer cruises aren’t dedicated exclusively to whale watching, but seeing whales is nevertheless a major attraction of taking one of these cruises. A number of cruises depart from the West Coast and make their way up to Alaska. Naturally, this takes multiple days, and whale watching is almost always a focus of these trips. There are also lengthy trips to such distant places as Antarctica, where cruise passengers routinely see Right, Fin, Humpback, Minke, Killer, Sei, and Blue whales, although obviously must people undertake a cruise to Antarctica for several reasons, not just to see whales.

To conclude, there are tons of different places you can go to in order to take a whale watching cruise. Once you figure out which part of the globe you want to go to, you then have to decide what type of trip you want to take. Do you merely want to go on a short cruise that focuses exclusively on seeing whales, or are you more inclined to go on a longer cruise for which whale watching is merely on of several goals for the voyage? Both types of cruises certainly exist, and there is no shortage of places that offer whale watching cruises.

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