Discover Alaska’s Whales

Get more from your cruise and tour experience. You will play a significant role in providing ongoing documentation and data collection for local University and regional science programs; all the while enjoying the up-close vantage from our custom safari vessels. Hands on experiences may include collecting water samples, invasive species monitoring, humpback whale identification, orca identification, and recording marine mammal observations. Your completed observational data-logging will improve scientists’ understanding of the local food chain and other environmental variables that affect local marine wildlife populations.

More than Whale Watching: Citizen Science & Natural History

A short drive with your naturalist science guide brings you to a quaint harbor where you will board a safari vessel on your quest for gathering scientific research & while enjoying the antics and displays of area wildlife. Our custom built vessels provide a comfortable heated cabin, a low to the water vantage, large opening panel windows, and an open bow perfect for observing wildlife. Your group will learn about the smallest plants and animals in the oceans and how these tiny animals and plants support the ecosystem as a whole. As a citizen science observer, you will attempt to track and record the behaviors pertaining to various marine animals including humpback whales. The time spent on the water will provide an opportunity for interpretation & discovery, as your trip leader and captain work to make the most of your time on the water.

In addition to an amazing tour experience, you will also have the satisfaction of knowing your efforts made a contribution towards safeguarding and deepening our understanding of the delicate marine environments of Southeast Alaska.

To learn more about the difference science activities and our collaborating research partners click below:


DISNEY TOURS ONLY: On the “Alaska’s Whales & Science Adventure” (5 hours) you will also have the chance to visit the Mendenhall Glacier Recreation Area. Here you will witness the recession of the world’s most visited glacier. In the wake of the glacier’s retreat over the past 100 years, the Steep Creek drainage has blossomed with life. This small stream supports two species of Pacific salmon and in turn provides sustenance for area bears and wildlife. Water quality testing and plant phenophase observations help us understand how the area is impacted by human activity and a changing climate. You will have time for picture taking while taking in impressive glacier vistas. The walk is easy and covers about 1/2 a mile.

View tour details

  • Tour Time: 3.75 hours
  • Sea Time: 2.5 hours
  • Trail Time: None
  • Elevation: N/A
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Includes: Water, snack pack, and all transportation *We encourage guests to bring a reusable water bottle to minimize plastic use*
  • Adult Price: $189.00
  • Child Price: $109.00


We believe the value of this excursion is built upon the expertise of your guide and the unique sights,activities and stories provided throughout the tour experience. Guests must be proficient walkers as there is a 100 yard walk down to the vessel that includes negotiating a 50ft. sloped ramp with handrails. Wear shoes suitable for walking and layers of warm clothing and rain gear are recommended. Your guide is with you for the entirety of the tour. A restroom is available on the research vessel. Binoculars, maps and a whale ID book are provided on the vessel as well. Group size is limited. Each guest receives exclusive access to a free digital publication titled “Discover Alaska’s Whales,” as a memento of this special trip.

Select Your Cruise Line to Book this Tour : why ?

Reserving shore excursions online is the fastest, most convenient way for you to confirm your tours. Your cruise line will handle the request and in most cases have your tickets waiting in your stateroom when you arrive. If the cruise ship delays or if there is inclement weather, then the shore excursion department will take steps to inform you of any time changes or cancellations. And if your tour runs late, the ship will remain in port or they'll arrange transportation to the next port of call at no expense to you.


First excursion selected by Holland America Line’s “Cruise with Purpose” program. Highlights:

  • Guaranteed Whale Watching (May 15th – Sept 15th)
  • Collect data for ongoing research
  • Experience the science behind the scenery
  • Custom Safari Vessels

Guide lines

We conceived this adventure tour because of our desire to increase the appreciation of science on our daily lives. Through activities such as this, we can all contribute directly to the betterment of the environment in a measurable way. As such, we continue to see and learn more each day and we hope you will too. – Bob Janes

Gastineau Guiding supports responsible viewing practices adhering to the Alaska Humpback Whale Approach Regulations and does not intentionally approach whales within 100 yards. Our tours are operated under special use permit in the Tongass National Forest. We are an equal opportunity service provider. Persons with disabilities should inquire at least 48 hours in advance about the specific risks and challenges associated with this tour.