What You Should Bring on a Whale Watching Cruise

Cruises are a great way of seeing whales. Many popular itineraries go straight through whale territory, so you’ll have a good chance of spotting the large marine mammals. But simply booking a cabin on the cruise isn’t enough to swing the odds in your favor. If you really want to maximize your whale spotting abilities, you’re going to want to have the right gear. Luckily, whale watching isn’t rocket science. (Just as luckily, it’s also not really marine biology either.) As long as you have the bare necessities, you should be ready to tick “seeing a whale” off your bucket list.

The most important thing you can have in your whale watching kit is a pair of binoculars. While cruise ships do a good job of getting you near to the action, they can’t always guarantee that you’ll be up close and personal with the animals. Having binoculars enables you to actually watch what’s going on even if you are far away. This is especially key if you are on a large ship from a company like Carnival or Royal Caribbean. They can’t get nearly as close as a smaller vessel, so having binoculars is basically a prerequisite. You’ll also be able to spot smaller wildlife like birds and otters if you have binoculars with you.

Depending on where you are, you should also consider bringing along several warm layers. Many whale watching cruises take place in cold areas as the whales migrate, and proper clothes will let you stay out on the deck for longer. You never know when a whale might appear, and having a jacket (or two) to keep you warm while you wait will help ensure you don’t miss anything. While many travelers just opt for down jackets, we also suggest bringing along a hardshell jacket as well. Not only will it help protect you from the wind, but it will also keep you dry in the case of rain or sea spray.

Another critical set of items to have is everything related to sun protection. This includes sunglasses, sun hat, and sunscreen. Whether you are in a warm environment or not, these can all really help you out. Having the sun in your eye will directly impede your ability to spot whales, and sunscreen will make sure you can spend hours on deck without worrying about a burn.

Finally, you’ll need to bring along tempered expectations. Although whale watching is incredibly exciting, going into it with the right mindset will ensure you don’t walk away disappointed. Be ready to spot whales if they appear, but remember that they are wild animals. If they decide not to show themselves on any particular day, just be happy to be out and enjoying nature. There will always be another chance!

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