Ok gang, I have booked Capt. Larry's Orca Express at $110.25 per head. He'd better be as good as you all say he is or I going to be in the dog house (move over Lucky-Golden Retriever) for a loooooonnnnnggggg time.
Boy, I'm with you! I booked this too (when are you going?) based on recommendations I saw here..
and then found something that sounds *very* similar right in the Princess excursion book, for less $$ (not much less, but some...)
I've been told that the Princess excursion is on a bigger ship, many more people, and not as nice....I'm hoping that's right, as I committed a friend to the Orca cruise, too...and she'll be disappointed if we don't see whales!
I have done the excursion from the Princess ships in the past and I have done Capt. Larry. There is no comparison. Capt Larry is far superior. The cruise lines use bigger boats that hold over 100 people usually. Capt Larry takes 20 to 25 people on a boat that will hold 35 to 40. This leaves more room to move around.
Cruise lines due to all the people use larger boats that do not vary a lot from specified routes. They will vary some. Capt Larry will go where he knows or where other boaters are telling him the whales are.
Capt Larry's boat is much faster so it can cover a much larger area to get to whales.
One very important fact is that many of the naturalists that are on all the cruise ships use Capt Larry because they know their chances of seeing whales are much better with him.
I have done a lot of whale watching in Alaska and Hawaii and Capt Larry is one of the best. You can look at many of his pictures on their website. Capt Larry is quite a character but I will use him when I return.
You may have a great time with the cruise line tours as we did the time we used them but you will be more crowded and have to stake out your place onboard to get pictures due to the amount of people. With Capt Larry you will be closer to the water and not have to struggle as much to get your pictures. Capt Larry also has a platform onboard so that people can take turn to go higher up to get some pictures.
Ok gang I have been in contact with Carol who owns Orca Enterprises.
They do not take bookings through the cruise ship.
This is part of her email:
Orca Enterprises and Capt. Larry are not booked with any ship.
Princess uses a very large catamaran and takes approx 180 persons per trip. They added a tour last year that is called Orca Point and it is a boat that takes people over to an island for a salmon bake.
Just got back from our cruise -- you did not make a mistake booking with Capt. Larry. We went with him on a gray somewhat foggy day and we were still able to see both orca and humpback whales as well as many eagles, some oyster catching birds and came right next to some harlequin ducks. It is a small boat with many windows as well as deck space in the rear and you can also go on top of the cabin. Capt. Larry was on the radio with other boats sharing information about whale sightings and with his fast boat we were able to get to the locations in time to see the whales. A plus is you get a good view of Mendenhall glacier both from the road on the way to the boat and from the boat near the pier.
We took this tour in Aug. '02 it was the best tour we were on. I didn't get seasick!!!
My husband took some awesome photos with his digital camera. We both felt the smaller boat was great. He went out on the deck and I stayed inside the cabin. I was able to see the whales, eagles, islands ect. with out being in the wind. Do take your jacket along as it seemed cool out on the water. Have fun.
Our experiences were totally different from the others on this thread. We have taken both Captain Larry's tour and the cruiselines tour (Princess) IMHO, the cruiseline was far superior to Captain Larrys tour. First, the cruiseline had a larger and more stable boat (catamaran vs a single-hull). We were far less crowded that on Captain Larrys boat. There were fewer people on board than Captain Larry carried. Many people got sick with Captain Larry. There was only room for 8 people on the aft (viewing) deck at a time. It is usually too rough for anyone to go to the upper deck to see the whales. The snacks on the cruiseline tour were better. Captain Larry offered som smoked salmon and ritz crackers. All the whale watching tours communicate with each other via radio, so everyone converges on the available whales. The people in Captain Larrys office are very nice as described elsewhere, but the tour ,IMHO, doesn't match up. Whoever you choose, you will have a wonderful experience.
GKarschnick I have also used the tours from the ship. They are far more crowded the boats are much higher up from the water and much slower getting to the whales. If you go on Capt Larry's boat you will find that the naturalists from the cruise lines use him because their chances of seeing whales are much better than on the cruise line tours. They get to go on the cruise line tours free they pay for Capt Larry. That deffinately gives me an impression that Capt Larry is better. I have done both ship tours and Capt Larry and in my mind there is no contest. Capt Larry wins hands down. JMHO
I will agree that if the waters are rough the larger boat will be more stable.