I’ve been on several whale watching cruises (including one with another operator in Victoria) and this was by far the worst.
These trips often begin with a long period of direct travel to the whale ground before any whale activity is expected. Most operators will use this time to orient their customers to how the trip is expected to unfold, along with presenting information on the wildlife they may see, the surrounding areas we pass through or even their own experiences with the company. It can make a boring stretch really engaging and entertaining. On this trip, after orienting us to how to use the ship’s toilet, there was nothing further said for the next 40+ minutes as we traveled to the whale grounds. Customers who had never been on a trip like this were left to stare and wonder if/when they might see anything but open ocean. The staff member on our level stood in the cabin scanning the ocean and did not engage with the customers at all. If asked direct questions, she would gladly answer, but otherwise never volunteered any information whatsoever.
Once we had whales in view, her priority was finding a spot at the rail and using a camera (with the most obtrusive lens in the world) to take photos. Paying customers were left to try to view the action from around or behind her. I finally asked her why she was being a photographer instead of assisting the customers, and she explained that the photos would be made available to everyone on social media after the tour. It would have been helpful to know that was the case before we started out, but, again, no information was volunteered.
The next day I checked Springtide’s profile. Several photos from our departure were included there, but the best of them were prominently watermarked, rendering them useless for customer sharing. Worse, the watermark wasn’t for Springtide, but an employee’s personal photo business. In other words, customers are buying expensive tour tickets and subsidizing an employee’s side gig while being effectively prevented from taking photos of their own.
On the way back, the biologist finally decided to talk about what we were going to see in terms of whales—their characteristics and how to I.D. them; that’s right, on the way back. And since there was no attempt to incorporate this information into spontaneous conversation, it came off with all the luster of a college marine biology lecture, complete with latin species names and whale anatomy lessons. Most of the customers in the cabin, after 2+ hours of scanning for whales, literally fell asleep during this lecture; in fact, the speaker abandoned this talk long before finishing it.
There are many operators to choose from if you want to go whale watching in Victoria. You’d be well served to choose another.