Category Archives: Alaska

Alaska Whale Watching


whale Sitka Alaska

Imagine sitting in an enclosed area in a large boat drinking hot chocolate.  You might be in a large ocean inlet surrounded by breathtaking mountains, or on rocky seas where you see land a little ways away from the boat on one side.

Suddenly, people jump to look to the starboard side of the boat.  You follow their movements with your gaze, and see a whale’s fin pop out of the water as a whale rolls like a log.  Then, within seconds, the whale is gone, only to reappear on the other side of the boat.

When that whale is gone, the driver tells everyone to keep watch.  Everyone peers in anticipation from one side of the boat, to the next, hoping for another glimpse of a whale.

Whale watching is a memorable shore excursion taken by many people who voyage to Alaska on a cruise.  My family has taken two whale watching cruises:  one in Auke Bay near Juneau on Disney Cruise Line, and another out of Sitka, Alaska on Holland America.  The shore excursion out of Sitka was technically a sea otter excursion.  The captain darted in and out of inlet, where we saw numerous sea otters and eagle nests.  However, it quickly turned into whale watching when we saw a whale’s fin pop out of the water.  From then on, everyone wanted to see another glimpse of a whale.


Sitka, Alaska Whale Watching

The first shore excursion did not involve breathtaking scenery.  Many times, the boat was out in the ocean, bobbing in the rough seas.  We could not see many mountains, except when we were closer to the shore.  However, we could see the whale more clearly because we could get closer.  There was one moment when we did not know when or where a whale would pop up.  I just stood waiting to rush to the other side of the boat.  Suddenly, a whale rolled right next to the boat not more than ten feet beside me.  It was amazing seeing the dark grey color of the whale while a grey fin popped out of the water, rolling to reveal the white underneath.  In that moment, you could get a small glimpse of how big the whale was.  I could only see a small part of the whale’s back, yet I knew that the whale was much larger than this.  It was humbling and amazing at the same time.

Whale Tail in Auke Bay

Whales and Mountains in Auke Bay

The other whale watching excursion in Auke Bay had beautiful scenery because you were surrounded by snowcapped mountains and green forest.  It was a clear, bright day, and the snow glimmered in the sunshine.  Just the scenery itself made the shore excursion memorable because of the majestic beauty of it.  Who wouldn’t want to take a journey sailing past snowy mountains and rich Alaskan forest?  In this excursion, however, we did not see the whales up close like the previous excursion from Sitka.  In this excursion, the boat would not come more than fifty feet from the whale.  Therefore, even from the highest point of the boat, you could not really look at the whale.  You saw the fin, of course, but you did not get to see as much of the whale rolling.  Therefore, this excursion had scenery that was much more memorable; however, the whale watching was better in the other shore excursion.  However, the shore excursion was still wonderful.  It was nice to combine the scenery with the whales.

Overall, whale watching is a wonderful shore excursion that should not be missed if you are taking a cruise to Alaska.  You will always remember seeing a whale up close in its natural habitat.  Whales are beautiful, majestic creatures that should be treasured.

© Amy Burney, Amy’s Fantastical Writings