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Captain’s Blog

The 3 Main Differences Between Cruiser & Zodiac Whale Watching Tours

June 28, 2017

For the past few weeks we’ve been unrolling an interview I did with Mick Miller, one of our most popular zodiac whale watching tour captains. Mick is a captivating guy – I was hanging off his every word and came away from our talk wondering why anyone on Earth would ever choose a cruiser adventure over a zodiac experience.

Pretty biased, right?

Right. Well, the truth is that there are plenty of folks in Vancouver or Victoria (and beyond!) who prefer cruiser whale watching to zodiac. Why? Here are the three key differences.

1. Relaxation

While zodiac boats zip people through the waters off the coast of British Columbia at an exciting pace, cruisers prefer the slow and steady method. Who among us doesn’t appreciate an afternoon under the sun (or in the shade) out on the water? Cruiser boats are easily much more conformable and relaxing – there are bathrooms, an indoor area, and enough space to make it easy to bring kids or grandparents along for the ride.

Not that grandparents can’t handle the zodiac tours – doesn’t matter how old you are, maybe you’re just in the mood for a relaxing day on the water with a pod of orca whales chaperoning!

2. Naturalists

Cruiser whale watching tours also come complete with naturalists on board. Zodiacs only have captains, so on a zodiac, you’ll get the ride of a lifetime but you won’t necessarily receive a prepared rundown of the sights you’re seeing.

On a cruiser tour, you can talk to the naturalists and learn more about orca whales in the wild than you ever thought you wanted to know. Plus, there’s other wildlife that the naturalists will talk about. Seals, sea lions, birds, dolphins, and even native plant life. There are even books and pictures and maps to show you exactly what you can expect to see and how the wildlife of the area has developed to the state its in today.

3. Intimacy

Now what you gain in tranquility on a cruiser tour vs a zodiac tour, you might lose in intimacy.

Here’s Mick Miller: “I know I’m biased, but I’ve been doing this for years and I’m as passionate about driving zodiac tours now as I was the day I started. It’s en exciting experience to see the wildlife and then glide in a little closer. From the deck of a boat you can only get so close to a sea lion or a whale for example whereas in the zodiac, I can drift by virtually within a few feet. And that’s a whole different experience when you’re in an intimate environment compared to a bigger boat.”

Mick is still careful to give the orcas, seals, sea lions and all the critters he encounters their natural space, but when you’re out on the open ocean, respect is assumed between all creatures, marine and otherwise.

In fact, some people don’t prefer being that close to an orca or a bald eagle. It can be a little intimidating at first, but again, it all comes back to your personal preference and how close you want to get!



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