Whale watching cruises are, well, cruises that involve watching whales. With the obvious stated, let’s move on to more specific matters: what exactly are whale watching cruises all about? Where do these cruises sail to, and how can you book a whale watching cruise vacation? In a single question: how do you take a whale watching cruise, and why would you want to take one?
The attraction of whale watching cruises lies primarily in the fact that in taking such a voyage, you get to combine two cool activities: sailing the ocean and seeing one of the great creatures of the sea. Plenty of people are into taking cruises, so it stands to reason that quite a few people would also want to enhance their cruising experience by supplementing it with a specific purpose, like seeing whales. Basically, a whale watching cruise is a kind of two-for-one deal.
To be sure, any cruise is going to involve more than the mere experience of sitting on a ship in the ocean. If you are on a big cruise ship run by one of the major cruise lines (like, say, Carnival), you’ll be eating at nice restaurants, going to the spa, gambling in the casino, and so on. So, properly speaking, any cruise vacation is a two-for-one deal, but the difference with whale watching cruises is that you are dedicated to a particular goal; you are not just filling the hours at sea with an endless string of activities. By extension, whale watching cruises are purposive, and do not merely serve as a relaxing escape, as is so often the case with more traditional cruise vacations.
For this reason, whale watching cruises are structured differently than other cruises that you might take with a major cruise line. They are often very short, sometimes lasting only a few hours (e.g., there is a popular whale watching cruise in Boston Harbor that lasts a mere three hours), which of course means that you will not be sleeping on the boat as you would during a regular cruise vacation. There are whale watching cruises that last for several days, but even these multiple-day voyages are fundamentally different from normal cruises because, again, you don’t sleep on the cruise ship itself. When you are out on the ocean, your goal is to see whales, plain and simple, and then you come to shore. This means that major cruise lines, with their enormous ships that hold several thousand people, don’t offer whale watching cruises at all. You may see a whale on a cruise vacation through one of these big cruise lines, but this would be purely incidental.
This last point has implications for how you go about booking a whale watching cruise. Rather than using one of the major travel sites (e.g., Travelocity) to find a cruise, as many cruise enthusiasts do, you’ll likely have to look for individual outfits that specifically offer cruises centered on seeing whales, and book through them. The most efficient way to do this is to search online for whale watching cruises in whatever area interests you. And this gives rise to one final aspect of whale watching cruises that is worth mentioning: you can’t find whales everywhere (obviously), so if you want to go on a cruise to see whales, you’ll have to travel to a place where there are frequent whale sightings, like California or Alaska.
That covers the basics of whale watching cruises. Keep checking All About Cruises and More for additional articles about whale watching cruises that explore specific aspects of this unique form of cruising.