We booked the "Ultimate Day Trip" as they call it that leaves from the Westin Bayshore in Vancouver. A short walk from the Loden hotel where we were staying.
It is a bit pricey....but wow....they deliver.
We start at 8am for a briefing and outfitting...good weather...so all we needed was a poncho. Boarded the boat at 9am and after a safety briefing we were cruising out of Vancouver straight away. Great views of the surrounding areas and kind of cool going right up alongside these giant container ships.
TIP -Make sure you wear long pants and layer!
Our crew was very enthusiastic and took the time to constantly work their way around the boat to the various groups of people. Fortunately our group was only 26 people so I think we had a bit more personal attention.
Started out of Vancouver on a southerly course down the Straight of Georgia and cut through some islands where we saw some seals and bald eagles.
The crew got reports from other whale watchers that Orca pods were sighted on the eastern side into US waters near San Juan island so they high tailed it down there though the Haro Straight. I'm American and even my cell phone stopped roaming...smile.
Sure enough...these wonderful creatures were making their way north again and feeding on Salmon along the way. We were treated to wonderful views and one even made a giant breach and turn-over flop back into the water.
The thing to remember about the whales and wildlife in general is that they are NOT employees of a tour company nor are they in a zoo. Thus there is always going to be a chance that you may not have a good viewing or any spotting at all for that matter. So the people that give bad reviews to this company based solely on the fact there was bad luck that day with the whales are just complete pity-party people in my opinion.
After seeing the whales we proceeded up to Victoria (with spectacular views of the Olympic mountains) to spend a couple time there and have lunch about 1pm.
The tour includes tickets and bus ride up to Butchart Gardens. There are multiple buses so you can decide where to spend more of your time depending on your tastes. If you are really into flowers and botany I'd eat lunch on the go and get up to the gardens ASAP.
The gardens has their own boat dock on the north side and our vessle was there to pick us up for our return trip around 5pm.
We took a complete different route back along the west side...again...just great views everywhere to be had. We sat in the back of the boat in the open air relaxing after a long fun-filled day.
Highly recommended for people who like to be outdoors!