Our Tour, Your Questions.
Search for an answer or browse the most commonly asked questions.
If you can’t find an answer, give us a call at 1-888-383-4884.
Marine mammals related
How close will we get to the whales?
There are strict guidelines when it comes to watching whales in Canadian and US waters. We take these regulations very seriously so as not to influence the behaviour of marine mammals in any way. We want to respect the fact that these are wild animals and remain impartial observers. Current regulation requires that all vessels (including whale watchers, recreational boaters and even kayakers) maintain a 100-metre buffer zone, although that distance can vary. Orcas, for example, require a 200-metre zone.
Whales are wild animals and they don’t know the rules. If the whales turn toward a boat, the captain makes every reasonable effort to slowly back up out of their way. If a whale unexpectedly surfaces near a boat—as sometimes happens—the engine is turned off or put into neutral, if safe to do so, until the whale has passed.
When is the best time of year for watching whales?
Southern Resident Killer Whales are consistently sighted April through November. Humpback whale sightings have increased steadily over the last 10 years and now we enjoy the opportunity to spot them at almost any time of the year (although the vast majority of sightings occur in August through December). Gray whales are occasional visitors throughout the year as they transit seasonally, with a small number that take up residence in our waters. Transient Killer Whales can be sighted at any time during the year as they come to our waters to hunt marine mammals, particularly seals and sea lions. Most summer days we also know where to find minke whales.
Between November and May we spend time looking for killer whales, seals, sea lions & porpoises. We have a success rate better than 75% of finding whales in the winter months.
Will we really see whales?
Yes! Prince of Whales Whale Watching has a success rate of ~93% averaged across all of our year-round departures with the success rate being slightly higher between April and October.
What to expect on trip
Are there snacks or beverages on board?
The Ocean Magic sells packaged snacks and both hot and cold beverages on the boat. You are welcome to bring your own food onboard. There are no snacks or beverages on the zodiac-style boats.
How early should we check in?
Thirty minutes prior to your scheduled departure time.
Are there bathrooms on the boats?
We have two airline-style washrooms on the Ocean Magic Express Cruiser. The open Zodiac-style boats are equipped with a chemical toilet for emergency purposes only. We recommend that you use the public washrooms (located next to our office) before your departure.
Can we bring luggage on board?
Due to limited space, luggage is restricted to 50 lbs (23 kgs) per person on Salish Sea Dream. Luggage exceeding 50 lbs (including sports equipment, strollers and pet carriers) is not guaranteed and is subject to the amount of space available plus a charge of $2.00 per lb per leg of the voyage. Guests are responsible for transporting their own luggage to and from the vessel. Wheeled luggage is recommended. Backpacks are accepted. For our 3 hour tours from Victoria and our half-day tours from Vancouver, we have lockers in our office where you may store your belongings.
Can we bring a camera?
Yes, bring your camera and/or video camera. We also recommend that you bring a plastic bag to keep your camera safe and dry during transit. The boat will come to a complete stop for photo opportunities. Don’t forget your batteries!
What should we wear?
Please dress very warmly and wear flat, closed-toed shoes (strappy high heels are not ideal for marine travel). We will be travelling at more than 30 miles per hour (55km/h) and temperatures are at least 10 degrees C cooler on the water, so a windbreaker or jacket will help you to comfortably enjoy the outdoors. Zodiac passengers are required to wear our stylish red cruiser suits, which serve the dual purpose of keeping you warm and acting as a life preserver. Cruiser suits are required by Transport Canada to ride aboard the Zodiac. Ocean Magic passengers are encouraged to dress extremely warmly for their tour, but we are happy to lend them cruiser suits if they need them!
Don’t forget sunscreen, sun glasses (even if it’s cloudy, they help keep wind out of your eyes), binoculars, and an extra layer, just in case.
What else will we see on our trip
In addition to killer whales, minke, humpback and gray whales, you may see Pacific white-sided dolphins, Dall’s porpoise, harbour porpoise, harbour seals, elephant seals, California sea lions, Steller sea lions, bald eagles, common murres, rhinocerous auklets, and cormorants.
Here's our policies
Do we need a reservation?
Reservations are definitely recommended so that we can offer you the best departure time to fit your schedule. Trips often sell out and we don’t want you to be disappointed. Also, if you reserve in advance we can alert you to any possible changes in our schedule.
What is your cancellation policy?
Most of out tours have a hassle-free 48-hour cancellation policy. Just contact us at least 48 hours prior to your tour to cancel and receive a full refund, no questions asked. Groups of 10+ passengers are subject to a 72-hour cancellation policy. Some tours have a longer cancellation periods. You will be informed if this is the case.
What happens if we don’t see a whale
If you come out with us on a whale watching tour, no matter what time of year, and miss the whales on your first try, we guarantee you another tour free of charge at any point in the future. Additionally, if you do not see whales on your second tour, you are free to continue to come back as many times as you like until you see a whale! This offer is valid for life; however it is non-transferable.
To redeem your Salish Sea Whale Sightings Guarantee, simply take note of the name you made your initial reservation under, the confirmation number, as well as the date and time of your tour. Then call our reservations line (1-888-383-4884) with this information and one of our friendly team members will be able to help you arrange your second departure. Guests must present valid photo identification when checking in.
All of our guests who would like to take advantage of this offer are welcome to do so on either our Victoria or Vancouver-based tours. Some departures are available only on a standby basis and guests may incur additional charges when choosing an option exceeds the value of the original purchase.