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“Nice Trip Through the Salish Sea” 3 of 5 stars
Review of Island Mariner Cruises

Island Mariner Cruises
2621 S Harbor Loop Dr, Bellingham, WA
877-734-8866
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Gering, Nebraska
Top Contributor
55 reviews 55 reviews
17 attraction reviews
Reviews in 39 cities Reviews in 39 cities
30 helpful votes 30 helpful votes
“Nice Trip Through the Salish Sea”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed June 25, 2013

We went on the Orcas whale watching on a damp Sunday. We did not see any Orcas but we did see Minkie whales. The guide was very good and seemed knowledgeable but the ship itself was disappointing. There was food available for purchase but the galley seems dirty and I would recommend bring your own aboard. The one crew member in the galley smelled extreme bad. The bathroom was surprisingly nice and large for the ship of its size. The trip was nice even though it was wet and it was disappointing not seeing the Orcas.

Visited June 2013
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39 reviews from our community

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English first
Vancouver
Senior Contributor
28 reviews 28 reviews
4 attraction reviews
Reviews in 15 cities Reviews in 15 cities
59 helpful votes 59 helpful votes
“Wonderful Whale Watching”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 23, 2013

I took my husband whale watching for his birthday on Saturday, June 22, 2013. I found a great deal through Groupon! The reviews on Trip Advisor were mostly from 2012 (yes, I know the 2013 whale watching season just started) but they were great. There were some negative reviews on Google which made me worry... I am writing today to say DON'T WORRY- Island Mariner Cruises is simply excellent!! I have broken my review down into categories.

1. Staff- the staff were simply amazing- from Ginger in the office who checked us in to Casey and Dan the Naturalists who kept us well informed about all the wonderful things that were in nature around us! The Captain, owner right down to the folks running the snack bar were all fantastic and friendly. I really can't say enough about how well we were treated.

2. Boat- The boat was built in the 1970's but is still in pretty good condition. The boat is about 100 feet long and holds up to 133 passengers. There are three different sections to roam about. There is a lounge area with random couches and chairs, as well as some tables, in an adjoining section there are about 10-12 tables with 6 chairs to a table and then the top deck which is open air, about half covered by a canopy with metal benches. There are two proper bathrooms on the boat which were quite clean. The boat does not move fast like a speed boat so the ride was relatively smooth which is great. It is not a luxury yacht or anything but was comfortable and did the trick. There is food for purchase on the boat which was a nice touch. The menu was quite large of simple things like bagels and muffins for breakfast and pizza, sandwiches, and hot dogs for lunch. The menu was reasonably priced as well. We brought our own picnic lunch which was also allowed and encouraged.

3. The Cruise- the boat left promptly at 10:00 AM and there were about 80 people on board. It took about 3 hours of cruising until we started to see whales. We saw Orcas and Minkie whales, as well as a lot of other west coat wildlife. Fantastic!! We got to watch the whales for about an hour and then had to head back for Bellingham. 80% of the cruise is spent going to, and returning from, the whale spot. This was no problem for us as it was a beautiful day and we enjoyed watching all of the different islands go by.

Tips and Tricks:

1. We got there early at about 8:45 AM (boat starts loading promptly at 9:30 AM). We were able to get our pick of good seats by being one of the first to board.
2. Bring layers of clothes! If you are outside, even on a sunny day, it ranges from hot to windy & freezing cold depending. I wore a t-shirt and had a fleece jacket, wind breaker with hood, hat, and scarf all of which I used in different combinations.
3. Bring a blanket. We used this to put between us and the metal benches upstairs as they were very cold.
4. Please wear sunscreen! We saw quite a few people who had burned red faces at the end of the cruise which is totaly avoidable

We had such a great time and I wouldn't hesitate to reccomend Island Mariner cruises!

Visited June 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 8
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Marinercruises, Naturalist at Island Mariner Cruises, responded to this review, August 23, 2013
Thank-you so much for writing a review about your trip with us! We really appreciate your feedback. We are happy to hear you enjoyed your time with us on the Island Caper. Your information is set up beautifully for our future guests. We hope to see you again on a whale watch! Good luck to you in your future adventures.
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Seattle
Contributor
17 reviews 17 reviews
5 attraction reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
20 helpful votes 20 helpful votes
“Excellent whale watching experience”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 28, 2012

The staff on Island Mariner was great. They were very helpful from the time I called and made reservations throughout the whole trip. The crew is very friendly and knowledgeable. They know where to go and find the whales along with other wild life in the area. We have been on there whale watching cruises and were very disappointed which made us a little hesitant about this trip but, It was a FANTASTIC experience and we would highly recommend this cruise to others and will do it again.

Visited September 2012
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New Jersey
Senior Contributor
26 reviews 26 reviews
4 attraction reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
31 helpful votes 31 helpful votes
“Awesome boat ride!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 24, 2012

The trip was great. We were out seven hours. Weather was warm and beautiful. We took some great pictures. The view of Mt. Baker from the boat was awesome. We had a naturalist on board. She told us so many things about the fish, birds and the islands. You could buy lunch or bring your own. They had large tables inside. We opted for hamburgers, soda and snacks, which were reasonably priced. We saw some smaller whales, the Orcas had left the area before we got there. Pulled up near an island full of huge Stellar sea lions. Well worth the price!

Visited September 2012
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ferndale, Washington
Top Contributor
111 reviews 111 reviews
40 attraction reviews
Reviews in 37 cities Reviews in 37 cities
61 helpful votes 61 helpful votes
“Fantastic experience!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 23, 2012

We are locals, but despite numerous ferry rides in the San Juans and a few private boating trips, I had never seen either orcas or porpoises here. Not so anymore! We took a late season (mid-Sept) whale watching excursion with Island Mariner. It was spectacular.

First, a caution. Go EARLY for check-in. They tell you to be there at 9:30 for a 10:00 AM sailing, but when we showed up about 9:25, nearly everyone had already checked in and were in line to board. By the time we got on, all the interior seating was taken unless our party wanted to split up. (There were only 3 of us.) There is room for everyone inside, but only if a lot of people stand. I was afraid that we were in for a miserably cold trip, but we found seats at the stern that were out of the wind, and we were fine.

The day started out unpromising, dreary and cold, but after all, this is the Pacific NW. The water was glass smooth during the entire trip, which is a little unusual, but makes for excellent wildlife spotting, since there were no wavelets to hide behind. At first there was little by way of wildlife other than the usual starlings of the sea (gulls and cormorants.) We did see a couple of harbor porpoise fins about 45 minutes out, but as they were at quite a distance, it wasn't all that exciting. We also saw a number of harbor seals hauled out on rocks about that time.

Our first great siting was of a group of 10 or so Stellar sea lions on Whale Rock between Lopez and San Juan Islands. We got close enough to get a great view and great photos. The captain slowed way down so we could all have a chance to see them.

Soon after, on the west side of San Juan we hit the big time! About the time the weather cleared we found a pod of our resident orcas (K pod, plus a few J pod individuals) feeding. There must have been 20 or 30 of them - everything from large males to small youngsters. They put on a great show, lots of porpoising (the roll where they show the dorsal fin), logging (hanging out near the surface with the fins exposed for longer periods) breaching (leaping out of the water!) and spyglassing (sticking their heads up to people watch ;-) We stayed for about an hour watching them before time to move on back home.

On the trip back, the captain veered way to the west and we wondered why. Turns out he had seen or heard of a large pod of Dall porpoises that way. They look like orcas only much smaller. We had over a dozen riding our bow wave and wake, again sometimes leaping out of the water and generally looking like they were having terrific fun. I know we humans were!

Then we had to hurry home, since we were a little late, so no more stopping for - - - oh, wait. A minke whale! (I missed it, but the others in my party got a decent look.) After that, nothing but a spectacular sunset to see before we got back to Bellingham, tired but happy.

I thought the crew was fantastic. Because of our location, it was a little hard to hear the naturalist over the speakers, but she gave a ton of information about the animals, geology, and history of the area. The captain also chimed in from time to time with interesting tidbits. The shore staff was also very friendly and welcoming, even after checking in so many people. I would heartily recommend this outfit. (But go early.)

Visited September 2012
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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