We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

“Wonderful Whale Experience”
Review of Sanctuary Cruises

Sanctuary Cruises
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Owner description: Explore Monterey Bay year-round with a marine biologist aboard Santuary, a beautiful boat that is only booked to 80% of her capacity for a more personalized passenger experience. We run longer trips with fewer passengers. We really care about the environment and run 100% local biodiesel. Knowledgeable, warm owner/operators engage and enchant. Responsible captains who don't crowd the animals but ease into the area, which often results in fantastic sightings. We have a great device for avoiding seasickness. Located in Moss Landing at the heart of the Monterey Bay & beginning of the submarine canyon for awesome sightings. We are the boat the locals prefer and the National Marine Sanctuary recommends.
Useful Information: Activities for older children, Bathroom facilities, Wheelchair access, Food available for purchase
Saint Louis, Missouri
1 review
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Wonderful Whale Experience”
Reviewed June 28, 2012

Our family of 5, w/children aged 5, 9, & 12, set sail for whales in mid-June w/Sanctuary Cruises. It was a fantastic experience. We chose them for the smaller tour sizes, personal service and sea knowledge. Marine biologist Doris and Captain Mike sure delivered! From pre-trip planning to avoiding seasickness, their website holds a plethera of information. On board, Doris and Mike do a great job teaching about the fascinating creatures of the ocean. We spied sea otters, pelicans, egg yolk jellies, crill and quite a few humpbacks! Once we reached the whales, we so appreciated all the time spent watching them. We saw splashing, breaching, and lunge feeding. After we left the humpbacks, we spied a pod of orcas. Awesome to see them in the wild. Curious by nature, one even swam directly underneath our boat. Amazing memories! Our children especially enjoyed Doris' hands on show & tell items. We had a whale of a time w/Sanctuary Cruises!

Visited June 2012
2 Thank Jennzfam5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Write a Review

465 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
  • Danish first
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
1 review
“Wonderfull day, good trip, worth every dollar!”
Reviewed June 26, 2012

We had a really good day with great views of humpbackwhales, blue whales and even a fin whale.
One of the whales made our day by breaching all over the place. The captain and crew are very enthousiastic en don't rush the sightings. If you want to see whales, I'd say use Sanctuary!

Visited June 2012
Thank KV2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
93 reviews
26 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 90 helpful votes
“Herman Melville couldn't have done better!”
Reviewed April 27, 2012

Sanctuary Cruises guaranteed we would find whales and, once we found them, they said they would stay until the whales left us. They were true to their word. It took us a little while to find them but we eventually came upon two humpbacks, a mother and her calf. Two other commercial whale watching boats found them at the same time. The other boats left in about 15-20 minutes; Sanctuary Cruises stayed for well over two hours providing the photographers on board with literally hundreds of close-up shots of these two creatures, including the whales swimming on their sides to facilitate the nursing calf.

The whales were clearly as curious about us as we were about them, surfacing only feet from the boat to see what was going on. During all this, Dorris Welch, marine biologist and co-owner (together with the ship’s captain, Mike Sack) provided running commentary about the whales, their environment and Monterey Bay’s role in marine biology.

When the whales finally tired of us, or left for other reasons, Dorris and Mike decided that we had not had enough; it was time to pursue the Pacific White-sided Dolphin. Within minutes, we spotted them leaping in the near distance, and, almost immediately, with the boat skimming the waves, literally hundreds of these dolphins were racing at us from all directions—all for a chance to surf our bow wave and give us yet other close-up photo-ops. Those with video recorders benefitted from the opportunity to catch that image permanently, the rest of us had to be satisfied watching these white and silver bullets riding our bow wave’s crest only 3-4 feet below us.

If you could plan your own whale watching experience and execute it according to plan, you could do no better than our day with Sanctuary Cruises.

Visited April 2012
2 Thank PPL61113
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Michael S, Owner at Sanctuary Cruises, responded to this review, April 30, 2012
Thanks for the accurate comments Herman. We love seeing the animals as much as anyone and so much enjoy helping people to experience the wonders of the Monterey Bay. The Monterey Bay is truly a remarkable and diverse environment for marine wildlife.

Captain Mike
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Dorset, UK
Level Contributor
39 reviews
11 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 37 helpful votes
“Excellent onboard knowledge, whales almost guaranteed!”
Reviewed April 22, 2012

If you don't see whales, you get a free trip another day.

I was very impressed by the great-looking website for this company. The captain's log in particular lets you know what has been seen recently with some stunning pictures.

Pre-trip safety info was great and good attention was given to trying to ensure people avoided being seasick (read the advice on their website before you go, they know what they're talking about!!!) We paid the small charge to hire the electronic wrist bands. My instinct was not to imagine they would work... but I didn't even feel queasy, and I often do. Don't know if it was the bands - but they certainly did no harm.

I thoroughly enjoyed my trip even if it wasn't as action packed as trips preceding and following mine. We 'only' saw 6 grey whales migrating north (other trips around this time also had Pacific white-sided dolphins, orcas and humpbacks). But that's the luck of the draw. We had good views of the whales we saw including great views of the flukes as they dived and hearing their 'breath' as they huffed on surfacing. Magic!

Also seen on this trip were sea otters, Californian and Steller's sea lions (the latter was ENORMOUS), harbour seals and lots of seabirds including great views of black-footed albatross all around the boat. Doris and Mike are incredibly knowledgeable about all aspects of the sea and marine ecology and they do all they can to get you onto the wildlife you want to see. This boat is on the water a little longer than the trips out of Monterey and that's why I picked it - lots more chances to connect with marine birds and mammals.

Highly recommended and next time I'm in California, I'll just have to come back another time for those orcas and humpbacks (and blue whales, Dall's porpoise, rightwhale dolhpins... etc.). Thanks guys for such a great trip!

Visited April 2012
Thank KFCDorset_UK
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Level Contributor
54 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 46 helpful votes
“very good”
Reviewed January 27, 2012

They are very passionate about their work....the owner Dorris has a degree in marine biology...so she explains very details things abot sea creatures and they will take you deep into see..no matter how much time it takes to see the whale....very good trip

Visited August 2011
2 Thank coolSH
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Travelers who viewed Sanctuary Cruises also viewed


Been to Sanctuary Cruises? Share your experiences!

Write a Review Add Photos & Videos

Owners: What's your side of the story?

Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.

Claim Your Listing