Victoria Whale Watching Excursion Reviews
Whale watching trip was a bust. The people from the ship told us that this company was very good and that the people on the excursion always see at least 5 whale sightings, humpback and orca. We saw two humpback whales, only one of which showed its tail. The group didn't go looking for the orca because it was getting darker out, but they had time to stop in front of a light house for 13 minutes and talk about it. All of this plus choppy seas contributed to a terrible experience. Not worth the money.
Great guides, water was rough but we did see a humpback whale and her calf, did not last very long.
Victoria – CRAPPY port times. 6PM to midnight. Ã¯ÂÅ We were able to find BC Whale tours that took us out. (more information on Tripadvisor) They were accommodating and willing to work with our times available. They picked us up, got us suited up (the suit for our 4 year old worked out mostly but was WAY too big) quickly and we were off. They knew where the whales were, but didn’t tell us it was over an hour away. That would have been nice to know.. but didn’t change anything in the long run. They went out of their way to make sure we saw some Orca (even though we went all the way to Vancouver .. seriously) to see them. We saw at least a dozen (some at a distance), probably 8 fairly close, and 4 or so that hung around for a few minutes and were very close.
Sooooo…. Here’s the thing.. I’m torn on my review… they really did do a good job for us seeing the whales.. so they get 5 stars on that..
BUT… on the way back, WE RAN OUT OF GAS. We were about 5 miles from the harbor where you would have to slow down to no wake and the boat just lurches to a halt. The pilot handled it well and didn’t panic, and answered all of the one young boys questions well.. better than I would have tolerated it when I was dealing with a situation like that. He called for help and was able to get one engine started and we limped towards the harbor. It was PITCH BLACK in the middle of the Peugeot Sound and we were crawling back to shore.. AND we were about 40 minutes from “all aboard” for our ship. Also it was getting cold.. and there were 15 or so people, and only enough room inside the "cabin" for about 6.
Help arrived but it was too choppy to transfer fuel or people, so they just stayed alongside us as we slowly made our way back. They decided to drop us off at the dock by the cruise ships since we now had about 20 min before we had to be back on board and the trip to the normal dock and the drive back would have made us miss our ship.
Here’s the only time I actually thought we were in danger. One the other boat had to keep herding our boat away from shore.. had we run out of gas totally and were as close as we were, we could have been pulled in. Then, we went to go around the cruise ships to get to the dock we needed when suddenly, and with one engine and no gas to spare, he hurries and puts the boat in full reverse. The Holland America ship was backing out and we almost went right behind them!!!! OMG!!! Granted.. it wasn’t like 3 feet or anything.. but it was probably less than 100.. and that is a BIG ship with a BIG pull. The pilot blamed the ship for not doing the 3 blasts with its horn, but it was after 11 PM.. and I think there’s a time frame for waking everyone one, that they don’t do that.. and the pilot should have known that too.
The crew didn’t apologize or offer any money back.
I think an apology was due as it did scare some of the kids and the adults were stressed about the timing thing. The money part, was probably fine since we did get to see the whales, and we did have to go a LONG way to see them, and we did make it back in time in the end. Still left me a little unsettled.
Prince of Whales Ultimate Day Tour
Check in at 8am. 90% of the group was there on time. Wilma, our naturalist, did wait for a family that was late, to start the briefing in the lounge area of the Westin Bayshore, down the hall from their office. The lemon infused water in the lobby was fantastic. The boat pushed off on time. In the bay they gave us a safety briefing. After the no-wake zone it was full speed ahead into the wind and even though there were no waves it was very bumpy. It stayed bumpy and cold (upper deck) for the 2 hour crossing, until you get between the islands. Then another 2 hours of cold, breezy ride. It got colder as we reached Victoria and a large fog bank. We did not see any whale, but the captain, Gavin, tired very hard to locate a Minke whale he heard about by Trails point. The boat was very clean Anthony, Wilma and Gavin were genuinely friendly and kind and tried to locate wildlife along the way. But, it was cold despite our layering of clothing and the 70 degree temps and sunny skies. At Victoria we opted to take the second, 2:20 bus. We walked (15 minutes) to Fisherman's Wharf as they said there was a fish and chips place. Barb's Fish and chips had a 25 minute long wait in line, so we ate next door at the Fish Store and got an excellent piece of halibut, fried, coleslaw in about 10 minutes. Also the Mexican place was very good with each dish made to order, from scratch. Ordered chicken and cheese burritos which was very good. You eat outside on picnic benches. Some of took the $5 shuttle back to 'downtown' and some walked quickly back to catch the 2:20 bus. We found Victoria not as pretty as imagined and very crowded. The waterfront was a mix of junkie vendors, cheap crafts with tents, and old, (not well maintained) buildings. The drive through downtown was like any bug city. There were beautiful baskets of flowers on every lamppost, but it was just a city. The double decker bus was clean but the driver was dull and boring. 75% of the bus feel asleep on the way to Butchart Gardens. Butchart Gardens was wonderful.
The boat ride back was not as crowded. Thinking it was going to be bumpy and cold we opted for seats inside the boat. WRONG. It was such a smooth ride!!! And we saw Orcas. The captain said if no one had to catch a flight he could go a little bit out of the way to locate Orcas. The crew really wanted us to see the whales. We were not disappointed. About 45 minutes back a pod of 5 entertained us for about 20 minutes. There were 5 other boasts floating along the same area of straight watching the family. A male, female and 1 year olds were swimming powerfully through the area. It was fantastic!! One hour later we were back at the marina, by 7:40pm. The crew were genuinely happy for us, that we got to see the whales. Anthony said he would e-mail us some of the photos he took of the whales from our trip, and he did. When I got home Anthony's e-mail was waiting for me. Thank you!!!