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saw whales feeding

My husband and I have been visiting Newfoundland and Labrador for many years. We were always... read more

Reviewed 29 July 2020
Easton, Pennsylvania
Great experience

We had a wonderful time on our trip. Our guide was very informative. We were able to get close to a... read more

Reviewed 9 October 2019
John M
Rehoboth Beach, Delaware
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Reviewed 27 June 2019 via mobile

Went out today with friends. Saw several ice burgs but unfortunately we didn't see any whales. Too early.
The crew were very friendly and helpful with questions about the ice burgs.

Date of experience: June 2019
Thank wolf3728
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 22 June 2019

The weather on the day of our scheduled excursion did not look promising. It was a cold, damp day — which is fine and pretty much to be expected these early days in June, but the winds were expected to pick up to very strong gusts by the afternoon when were we going to be heading out on the water. That morning we stopped by company’s harbour-side office to see if they were planning to cancel the tour. At that point they weren’t sure — not because of the weather, but because they weren’t sure they would have enough people to make the tour worth their while. They told us to check about 30 min before the start of the tour and they would make a decision then. Apparently they did get enough unwitting tourists, like us, who didn’t know better so the tour was going ahead. By now the winds had really picked up and the water was getting quite rough, but they told us that because the wind was blowing from the land the trip would be OK. It was not OK.

Being on a boat doesn’t bother me, but given how rough the water looked, I decided to take a Gravol as a precaution. Good thing I did because the waves were so rough that I had to keep my eyes fixed on the horizon for most of the trip.

To describe the tour as cold, wet and miserable would just be the tip of the proverbial iceberg we were heading out to see. Picture twenty or so people crammed into the small cabin of a lurching boat. It was standing room only, with most people hanging on for dear life to the steel bars overhead to keep from being tossed around the cabin in the high swells. There were a few diehards that took up positions on the deck, at the bow of the boat, cameras in hand. They were soon soaked by waves that splashed over the bow, but to be fair, Steve the captain, warned that could happen.

We were not able to see much on this trip. There is certainly no guarantee that you would see whales on any whale watching excursion, but rough waters make it that much more difficult to spot anything. Steve did point out a mother and calf humpback whale but it was difficult to see anything through the wet windows as the boat was being tossed about. The high waves also made it difficult to see what he was pointing to. At one point we did manage to glimpse a flip of a whale’s tail and that was the extent of our whale watching experience.

Fortunately we had better luck with the iceberg which we were able to get very close to and get some great photos. It was our first up close look at an iceberg and the thing was massive so it was a pretty incredible sight. But the entire two hour tour really came down to about 15 minutes of circling around the iceberg. Needless to say, Steve our captain and guide did a lot of talking and was entertaining in sharing interesting information and anecdotes. It wasn’t his fault that we were out on that rough water on a day when we probably shouldn’t have been.

Heading back to the harbour was brutal. The water was so rough that the boat was not able to dock back at the dock where we had all left our vehicles. Instead, the captain had to take the boat to another dock on the other side of the harbour. From there, one member from each party had be be shuttled by car back to the parking lot on the other side of town to pick up their vehicle and then drive back to pick up the rest of the people in their party.

All in all it was a pretty miserable and disappointing experience. Even if the Coast Guard had not advised tour operators to cancel all tours that afternoon, it was bad business for Northland to go ahead with that tour under such weather conditions. And it was poor judgement on our part to trust the company’s word that it would be fine to go ahead with the tour. It was not fine; in fact it probably bordered on reckless, which is why I’m writing this review.

Date of experience: June 2019
Thank sonjac3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Northland Disco... B, Manager at Northland Discovery Boat Tours, responded to this reviewResponded 24 June 2019

Thank you for sharing your comments. I'm glad to hear that you did get a chance to see some whales and that you felt the iceberg was an "incredible sight". Im also glad to hear that the interpretation was entertaining and interesting.

Sorry to hear however that you felt disappointed with the overall weather conditions. As you mentioned, it was cool and damp that day but as you stated however it is “expected these early days in June”. Late May and early June is often cool/damp and you have to come prepared. This is why we do recommend on our brochure and website to “bring warm all- weather clothing”. If dressed properly, this would have allowed you to spend more time outside to give you a much more pleasant experience. When inside the cabin the movements seem magnified, making things appear choppier then they really are. Before we sold tickets I was also very honest and forth coming about my opinion about what the seas conditions would be like. I told everyone that there would be a strong offshore NW wind (coming from the land) that typically would create some wind chop ( vertically short close waves) but minimal swell; bit of a bumpy ride but no extended lurching or being kicked around. I also reassured people that their was no safety concern and that we will be staying close to the shoreline where the effects from the wind would be minimized. I also stated because of our restricted shoreline tour route plan, we would have less opportunity of seeing whales but would do or best to find some. I guaranteed to see at least one iceberg in these more sheltered waters. I can honestly say that we did not hold back on any information; we were forthcoming, we stuck with the plan, I felt confident in the safety of the conditions and we lived up to our word. You even got to see a spectacular iceberg and 2 humpbacks. The other thing is that you were under no obligation to go if you were concerned about the weather. This is why we recommend on our website and brochure for guests to plan on staying in the area for a couple of days so that you can reschedule to go the next day if you feel the weather is unsuitable. We always do our best to get our guests out the best day possible and there is no change fee for rescheduling.

Further to the seas conditions that day….it was not rough. Yes at times the wind chop may have created some side role when we had to turn side on to the wind to follow the whales or circle an iceberg but overall it was not bad at all. At times though a strong current can run against the wind in small localized ares to create pockets of turbulent sea which can create some role. This however is normally short lived. I know where the whales showed up you can get this occurring occasionally and may have create some of the role you talked about. For the most part though, you would have mostly experienced wind chop that can create some sudden movements, minor splashing at the bow and somewhat of a bumpy ride. The other thing to consider is that when it comes to the North Atlantic, there is no perfect science when it comes to knowing and predicting all the sea conditions you will experience on a single tour. What I can tell you is that we do not go when the seas are rough and or if we think there is a safety concern. We take this very seriously.

In relation to the spray you observed....when you are heading straight into wind chop, you will often get water deflecting from the bow that can create some minor splashes. This is why our experienced crew warned guests so that they can protect their cameras from it. It was not a safety issue; it was a curtesy thing to protect their cameras and help them not to get wet. Many of our guests however love to get up in the bow to feel a little spray on there face as part of the fun and excitement of the moment. This is what the guests you described were doing.

As for docking at a different location, the floating dock was just put in place by a contractor the day before and just found out before the boat docked that only one of its three supporting anchors was in place at that time. It wouldn’t take much of a cross wind to shift the dock out of alignment. With this in mind, we decided to dock at our own wharf to allow the single anchor to set to its normal state so not to disturb the docks rightful position. It wasn't because of rough conditions that we didn't dock there...the dock just wasn't quite ready for any cross wind tie ups at that point. When fully in place, we have docked there many times with even stronger cross winds with no issues.

Lastly ,I can confidently say that we handled that tour professionally, safely and responsibly . We assessed the conditions before we left, we saw no safely concerns, we were fully forthcoming about the conditions, everyone had a choice of going or not, we created a tour route that would make the trip as comfortable as possible, we did not promise to see whales but would do our best and we promised an iceberg….we delivered on both. Was it the best weather day? No…but we made the best of what we had to work with and we did it with the best interests of our guests in mind.

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 18 June 2019

We jumped on this tour last minute. The company was accommodating and easy to deal with. The tour was so fascinating. Steve, our guide, was so knowledgable and gave us information about so many things. He was open to any question - even when it wasn't related to icebergs or whales! We saw two humpbacks and a beautiful iceberg! It was cold and they offered blankets and shelter. Got to taste the iceberg ice! Definitely a recommend.

Date of experience: June 2019
Thank m7gT6kHF40L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 18 June 2019

Took the early tour, and were not disappointed! Check in was quick and easy. The guide was great, gave lots of good information without talking just to be talking. You could tell both the guide and captain love what they do. Even though it was cold and raining, they made sure the guests were as comfortable as they could be, inviting a good part of us into the cabin where it was warm and dry.

Seeing 5 whales and a big iceberg certainly added to the experience.

Definitely recommend this tour.

Date of experience: June 2019
Thank 1014LisaT
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 15 June 2019

We were hoping to see whales and icebergs and were NOT disappointed. We took the 9:00 tour. The check in process was quick and easy. The boat was good size and in great shape. The captain knew where to go to see whales. In total, we saw 7 Humpback Whales including a baby. After watching whales for a good length of time, we went up close to 2 different icebergs. What a site to see in person. We even had a chance to eat some ice that had fallen off.
Our host on the tour, Steve Sheppard, was fantastic. He is very well spoken with great stories and jokes and is very charismatic.
All in all, great tour and highly recommend.

Date of experience: June 2019
Thank Gord K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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