Has anyone used "Vancouver Whale Watch"?

May 22nd, 2003, 05:50 AM
  #1  
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Has anyone used "Vancouver Whale Watch"?

I am going to be spending a day and a half in Vancouver, and I would really love the chance to see Orcas. I've heard lots of positive reviews of boats that leave from Victoria, but nothing about the boat that leaves from Vancouver (and would be much more convenient!). Does anyone out there have an experience to share?
BlueDevil98 is offline  
May 22nd, 2003, 08:19 AM
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You'll probably get more info on the Canada forum with this question.
PamSF is offline  
May 22nd, 2003, 08:20 AM
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And, I will probably figure out that I am on the Canada forum any minute now! Sorry(thought I had gone to Europe)
PamSF is offline  
May 22nd, 2003, 08:09 PM
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LOL @ Pam Sorry (don't feel bad. I lost my glasses today. But I found them ... on my face!! HaHa!!)

As for whale tours, I have done a lot of research and I am going with Lotus Land Tours. It includes a picnic lunch and shuttle service. I also like the fact that they just seem more environmentally friendly.

http://www.vancouvernatureadventures...lewatching.htm

The have other tours that seem very nice as well!
FromAtlanta is offline  
May 23rd, 2003, 09:33 AM
  #5  
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FromAtlanta - Thanks for the link. Do you know what company runs the whale watch? It looks to me like Lotus Land Tours orchestrates, but perhaps doesn't run the boat...
BlueDevil98 is offline  
May 23rd, 2003, 12:20 PM
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I actually work for Vancouver Whale Watch - I started working there on Monday for my summer job. I went out on the boats on Wednesday afternoon and had an amazing time. I'll tell you more afterwards - just taking a quick lunch break!
Carmanah is offline  
May 23rd, 2003, 02:27 PM
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Okay, home from work!

About Vancouver Whale Watch - they are one of two whale watching tours that disembark from Greater Vancouver. The trips are generally longer from Vancouver because the resident pods of orcas tend to feed around the Gulf and San Juan Islands - which are closer to Victoria, hence the majority of whale watch tours located in Victoria.

There are 2 boats that VWW uses to head out on the water. Lightship (open - you wear a bright orange coast-guard suit on this boat) and Explorathor (covered seating area with an outdoor deck for viewing). Both trips are about 3-5 hours long, although it completely depends on where the whales are located.

My first whale watching trip ever was on Wednesday. I'm still training there.. but part of the training included a trip out to watch the orcas, so we could see what it's like. I was on the Explorathor boat with about 15 other international tourists - people from the USA, Japan, the Netherlands, England, other parts of Canada, and Australia. We had Mary as our naturalist onboard, who constantly told us about what we were watching. As we left Steveston harbour, she told us briefly about the marine life we could see in the harbour, and she told us a bit about the history of Steveston. She was also quite knowledgeable about the different kinds of fishing boats in the harbour (as Steveston is the largest fishing fleet in Canada - so there's quite a bit to be seen)!

As we left the mouth of the Fraser River, we followed along the breakers - a man-made rock barrier that prevents the sediment from the river building up. Along these breakers we saw dozens of bald eagles, and we were there just in time to see the last of the California sea lions resting on the rocks, before they made their way south again.

Everytime there was a new species of bird or animal in view, Mary would point it out and tell us about it. Unfortunately, I found that the boat's motor was quite loud - so it can sometimes be hard to hear when you're going full-speed... nevertheless, she Mary answered any question anybody had.

Because the trip can be over 3 hours long, we were told to bring our lunches, but they do offer a lunch catering service for another $8.50. They do offer free bottled water and granola bars if you need it. I brought my lunch with me, as did most of the other passengers. Steveston has many delis and restaurants, so it's easy to pick something up by the wharf before you leave.

What else...

I found the trip to be incredibly scenic. The whales happened to be quite far from Steveston - located at the southern tip of San Juan island... so the trip took 6 hours! But it was beautiful. While getting there, we went through these beautiful passes between the Gulf Island, close enough to look at the sealife along the rocky shores... and enough to admire the homes that sat on the cliffs. We saw many harbour seals in this area, and you could see bald eagles resting in the trees.

When we finally got to the whales, there are certain rules that you have to follow, such as... you can't cut off the pod of whales, you must turn off your engine... you must not interfere with them (ie: no petting/feeding them... some people thought they could feed the whales bread, and brought a bag of bread especially for the whales!!! Major no-no.)

We were able to see the entire family... there were probably about 15 whales all along the south coast of San Juan Island. They swim quite fast, but surface often. We saw the old male orca, Ruffles, with his gigantic dorsal fin... and Granny, the oldest orca, about 90 years old. We saw 2 mother orcas with their babies... swimming side by side.

The boat would align itself near the path of the orcas... and they would surface for air right next to the boat. We would wait about 10 minutes in one location, and would then start up the motor again, race off further down the coast and wait... and soon enough, the pod would arrive, surfacing, all together. It was beautiful and magical. Everyone was loving it. Everyone was snapping away pictures from the outside deck of the boat. We were probably with the orcas for 45 minutes.

Driving back to Steveston was great too because we had porpoises (like dolphins) swimming next to our boat... as if they were racing us. We also saw many harbour seals, and took a very scenic route between the Pender Islands in the Gulf Island... it went right under a tiny wooden bridge, and we could see the purple starfish and the thousands of mussels growing along the rocks. Apparently there was even a sea otter that lived in this area, but we never saw him.

Personally, I really enjoyed it and would definitely recommend it, even despite that I now work for them. Even before I worked for them, I had a friend visit from Budapest, Hungary who said that she went on a trip with Vancouver Whale Watch, and she couldn't stop raving about it. She said that next time she comes back, she's going on another trip.

If you're just going to be in Vancouver, then go with Vancouver Whale Watch. If you're going to visit Victoria anyway, then look at other options. But if you're heading over to Victoria just to watch the whales, you'll also have to consider the cost of the transportation and ferry over there too.

Anyhow... hope this helps! Feel free to ask any more questions!
Carmanah is offline  
May 23rd, 2003, 07:25 PM
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That actually sounds very nice! I don't know why I got the impression they weren't that good.

Carmanah, do you mind if I ask you a question? (since you do work there) I saw something about shuttle service. Will they pick me up from my B&B in Kerrisdale, or do I need to take the bus somewhere?
FromAtlanta is offline  
May 23rd, 2003, 08:46 PM
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They do have a shuttle service which is run by a different company. That shuttle company has preset pick-up/drop-off zones... I think there's about 8 different zones where they pick people up from. I'm not sure of the zones, but I would imagine there would be one nearby Kitsilano. If not, they definitely have a few pick-up zones in downtown Vancouver, which is only across the bridge from Kits. You can e-mail Vancouver Whale Watch and ask them. Give them your B&B address, and they could tell you where the closest pick-up zone is. There will be people in the office tomorrow, so I'd imagine your question could be answered in the morning.

Hope that helps!
Carmanah is offline  
May 23rd, 2003, 08:56 PM
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Oh... and about the question regarding Lotus Land Tours. It sounds to me like Lotus Land Tours is just one of many private tour companies in Vancouver that will set up and make arrangements for you... such as reserving tickets for a whale watching tour. My guess is that they do the phone calls and reserve the tickets... and you just have to show up in Steveston for the tour. But you don't have to go through a tour company for whale watching tickets. You can contact Vancouver Whale Watch directly

http://www.vancouverwhalewatch.com
Carmanah is offline  
May 23rd, 2003, 09:17 PM
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"some people thought they could feed the whales bread, and brought a bag of bread "

ROTFLMAO!!!!!!!!!!
Sam_Salmon is offline  
May 24th, 2003, 11:55 AM
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I got the impression that Lotus Land Tours actually does the tours - I don't understand why people are getting a different impression, unless I am really missing something. Also, pick up from your hotel and lunch is included in the price.
I do admit that Vancouver Whale Watch sounds better than I thought-and I will contact both places to find out which would be the best for me.

I just want to point out that I thought Lotus Land Tours looked good and when I emailed them to make sure they picked up at my B&B, they were very friendly.

This is what their website says:
Lotus Land Tours Inc. is a British Columbia registered company, which has been operating nature adventures around Vancouver since 1993
We offer offer short wilderness adventures around Vancouver for individuals and groups that are easy, accessible and includes a beach barbecue picnic.
Our clientele visit Vancouver with the intention of having a good time. We view it our mission to facilitate this.
We offer trade discounts and accept your vouchers & coupons. For more information about these contact us by:
Telephone 1-800-528-3531 in the US & Canada
(604)684-4922 anywhere else
Fax (604)684-4921
E-mail [email protected]
Mail Suite 2005, 1251 Cardero Street, Vancouver, B.C., Canada, V6G 2H9

As far as NOT being able to feed the whales, I will also be participating in a program at the Aquarium that lets you get up close and personal. I am excited about that!!

FromAtlanta is offline  
May 24th, 2003, 02:40 PM
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I've heard good things about the Vancouver Aquarium's "behind the scenes" program. My dad is a high school science teacher, and takes his kids on some of these programs. I was lucky enough to join him during a session last year, and it's always a blast!

Definitely call up Lotus Land Tours... if they pick you up from your B&B and also give you a picnic lunch, then that sounds wonderful!

I'm more or less curious if they book their whale tours with Vancouver Whale Watch, because I looked at their itenerary, and it says that they drive you out to Steveston. And there are only two whale watching tours located in Steveston: Vancouver Whale Watch, and Steveston Seabreeze Adventures. The latter one just started this year.

I know that many wilderness/adventure tours in Vancouver book their whale watching expeditions through Vancouver Whale Watch, so I guess that's all I was saying. Whoever you book your tour with, you'll have a blast. Be sure to have a good camera and lots of film with you!
Carmanah is offline  
May 27th, 2003, 10:59 AM
  #14  
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Hello again all. I emailed Lotus Land Tours to ask if they own their ships, or if they are run by another company. The whale watch portion of the trip they sell is operated by Vancouver Whale
Watch. Basically, they are selling the convenience of the pick up so you don't have to bother arranging your own travel. With a group, this would become a very expensive convenience.

Carmanah - Can you speak a bit about the smaller boat Lightship? Does it really have a bathroom on it? (I've looked at the photo, and I can't understand where the bathroom could be!) What are the differences besides number of people and covering? Does one travel faster? Is one recommended for people worried about seasickness? (I've heard the open boats are actually less likely to cause seasickness, is that true?)



BlueDevil98 is offline  
May 27th, 2003, 05:52 PM
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Yeah, I contacted them too, but I was too embarrassed to post back on here. Please forgive me. (Their other tours looked good!) Yes, it is in fact more expensive to go with them (especially because they told me they require a 2 person min. to be picked up at your hotel and I would have to catch the shuttle downtown since I am flying solo!) Even if I spend the $8 for lunch w/ VWW (it sounds good, they told me it was a "hearty ham and swiss, famous Amos cookies, and juice) and the $12 r/t shuttle I am STILL SAVING $25!!!

So forget the fuss I made, book directly with VWW

(Good question about the "wash room" I was thinking the same thing! - BTW, I rather be on a bout with less people!!
FromAtlanta is offline  
Jun 5th, 2003, 08:55 AM
  #16  
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Carmanah - any additional info?
BlueDevil98 is offline  
Jul 30th, 2003, 10:21 AM
  #17  
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Well, I'm back from my trip and had a good experience with "Vancouver Whale Watch." We got to see a good sized group of Orcas. This trip does require patience -- We spent about 4 hours traveling and 25 minutes viewing...
BlueDevil98 is offline  
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