Get ready for jaw-dropping views of wildlife and landscape beauty on this two-part tour. First, step aboard a boat fully enclosed and heated with a restroom on board. Depending on where the best whale sightings are that day, your captain sets voyage to Auke Bay, Favorite Channel, Stephens Passage, Lynn Canal or Saginaw Channel. Pick up the provided binoculars as you hear naturalist-guides share commentary on the wildlife you spot during the 2-hour cruise.
You can’t help but gasp when you see the massive and majestic humpback whales, which feed in the nutrient-rich Alaskan waters. From the outside viewing decks, snap unforgettable pictures or videos of the whales in action, perhaps catching a few breaching. Crew may lower hydrophones into the water so that you can listen to whales ‘speaking’ with each other.
After your whale sightings, visit Mendenhall Glacier, located between downtown Juneau and Auke Bay. During the 45 to 60 minutes you’ll spend here, learn about how the glacier was formed and stroll along one of the many nearby trails, spotting wildlife along the way.
Please note: You will not be permitted to stand on the glacier itself, but will enjoy unobstructed views from approximately one mile (1.6 km) away. Plus, whale sightings are guaranteed! If no whale is sighted on the tour, receive a refund of $100.00 per adult or $50.00 per child. Depending on which departure you select, you may visit the glacier before the whale-watching cruise.
Which animals may be sighted on the Juneau Whale Watching Adventure?
Humpback Whales (Megaptera novaeangliae)
During the season humpback whales are spotted on more than 99% of the tours. There are many humpback whales that feed, socialize and play in the waters near Juneau from mid-April through October. Humpbacks are among the most playful whales, and often breach (leap from the water), bubble net feed, and slap their tails. Humpback whales are seen more often than any other mammal. Most of the humpback whales here in Juneau spend their winter in Hawaii. There are a few that can be found here year around.
Orca (Orcinus orca)
Orca whales, also known as 'killer' whales, can be seen any day of the year in the Juneau area. These hunters search for salmon and small marine mammals over a large area. A 'pod' of orca can be spotted about every 5 to 15 days during the summer, as they hunt nearby. Orca whales are active and fast-moving, and stay in tight family groups for their entire lives. The family pod will travel together with the dominant males traveling in a separate group nearby. The orca whales can be seen with their fins rising out of the water. The alpha male of the group will have the tallest fin, sometime up to 6 feet out of the water. These whales are found in all oceans over the world. Length up to 30 feet (9.1 meters).
Dall's Porpoise (Phocoenoides dalli)
This strikingly marked, fast-swimming porpoise loves to ride the bow wave of a boat...sometimes. They are very playful and will often jump out of the water. These animals are seen on most trips until July, and then occasionally through September. Length up to 6.5 feet (2 meters).
Harbor Porpoise (Phocoena phocoena)
These quiet, shy animals are hard to spot and rarely surface more than once near boats. Occasionally seen in passing. Length up to 6 feet (1.8 meters).
Steller Sea Lions (Eumetopias jubatus)
Steller Sea Lions are curious and often approach the boat singly or in groups. Occasionally, these animals are known to steal fish from your fishing line. These animals can be seen hauled out on channel markers or rocks from April through September. In addition, these animals can be heard grunting continually while they sun themselves on the haul outs. Hundreds live near Juneau. Endangered and declining in western Alaska, but they are doing better in southeast Alaska. Males are up to 10.5 feet (3.2 meters), females are up to 7 feet (2.1 meters).
Harbor Seals (Phoca vitulina)
Harbor seals are common, but shy and reclusive. These animals often haul out on rocks or blocks of ice. They can be seen as their small round heads bob in and out of the water. Seals exhale as they dive and can reach great depths. Hundreds live near Juneau and are seen on many of our tours. These cute little animals provide a favorite picture opportunity for many passengers on tour. Length up to 5 feet (1.5 meters).