We carefully chose Blue Ocean Whale Watch for our whale watching tour yesterday, after having a torturous experience a week and a half earlier with Randy's from Monterey (summary of our experience with Randy's - bad boat, crew didn't care about passengers, bad weather, no mammals seen even though there had been amazing sightings earlier that day and the previous 2 days).
I would HIGHLY recommend Blue Ocean Whale Watch. They have a guarantee that you can keep going on trips until you see a whale. The top viewing deck is awesome (I only wish more than 9 people could be up there at once, as there was still plenty of room and we felt bad hogging such a great viewing spot!). There is lots of space inside which we realised from our other experience is important, although there wouldn't be enough seats in there in bad weather conditions if everyone wanted to be inside at once.
You are better to leave from Moss Landing – if you're lucky the whales might be just off shore in which case you save 2.5 hours compared to going with Monterey companies. Also these guys do 4 hour trips, and it's good to have that extra hour.
Most importantly, the Blue Ocean crew actually care about their passengers. Kate and Jim were up on the top deck with us most of the time (not separated from the passengers like on Randy's boat), chatting constantly and answering questions. Kate commentated on everything of interest, including birds. They offer herbal remedy to put behind your ears, as well as ginger snacks/drinks to purchase for cheap. They basically do everything they can to help you enjoy the trip!
We were lucky enough to have perfect weather conditions once we got out past a fog bank. Only a teeny bit of swell. We saw 4 species of dolphins on our way out, and two sunfish. Then we chased a blue whale for awhile, but it was diving for 15-20min at a time, and kept popping up far enough away that by the time we got to that spot it had gone under again. So we only got a really quick glipse of it from far away, apart from the water spouts and a good look at it's poo! At that time Kate and Jim spotted humpbacks breaching miles away, and at first I heard them say to each other that they were too far away, but then Jim was enjoying the nice sea conditions so much that he said he would make the most of it and we ended up being out for 5 hours after watching the humpbacks from a distance and seeing one tail flip. Later I heard Jim saying that we went out 19 miles, when they would usually go out 7-10 miles. They really tried to give us a good trip :) Our whale sightings weren't as spectacular as you would hope for, but the dolphins were awesome, and Jim and Kate and the good weather made all the difference to our overall experience .
We paid $29 through travelzoo for our terrible trip with Randy's (lucky we didn't pay full price of $40) with no whale sighting guarantee, but if you go on cheap Tuesday with Blue Ocean it is only $28 including fees, and they have a guarantee! It's a no brainer for us, after seeing the contrast between the two companies – in hindsight we are disappointed that we didn't go with Blue Ocean the first time!
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