2013 was an amazing year in the waters off of the Olympic Peninsula and the San Juan Islands. Our Southern Resident pod of orcas traveled a bit more for food, which took them to some new locations. Additionally, we saw more transient orcas than we have for many years. If that wasn’t enough, humpbacks gray whales, and other large sea mammals were out in force. All in all, a terrific year of wildlife watching!
We’re excited to hit the water in 2014. We have some very exciting news to share in the coming days about a larger, comfier boat for our 4 Hour cruises (yay!). In addition, we’re expanding our 3 Day Wildlife Cruises in the San Juans, as well as our Puffin Cruises in July and August around Protection Island.
And the good news is, you can make your reservation right now for all of our tours! Follow any of the links below to instantly reserve your seat.
2014 will serve as the 29th year our family has operated whale and wildlife tours in the Pacific Northwest. We are honored that you choose to travel with us, and we hope you will have amazing experiences with us in the coming year!
2014 WHALE WATCHING CRUISES
- Gray Whale Tours (March 15 – April 30, 2014)
- 4 Hour (Morning Departure) Guaranteed Whale Watching Tour (May – October, 2014)
- 4 Hour (Afternoon Departure) Guaranteed Whale Watching Tour (June – August, 2014)
- Full Day, San Juan Islands/Friday Harbor Whale Watching Tour (May – September, 2014)
- One Way (PT to SJI) San Juan Islands/Friday Harbor Whale Watching Tour (May – September, 2014)
- One Way (SJI to PT) San Juan Islands/Friday Harbor Whale Watching Tour (May – September, 2014)
3-DAY SAN JUAN ISLAND WILDLIFE CRUISES
- May 7-9, 2014 Three-Day Wildlife Cruise in the San Juan Islands
- September 28-30, 2014 Three-Day Wildlife Cruise in the San Juan Islands
3-DAY AUDUBON SOCIETY SAN JUAN ISLAND BIRDWATCHING CRUISE
PORT TOWNSEND MARINE SCIENCE CENTER CRUISES
This holiday season, enjoy something a little out of the ordinary with Puget Sound Express.
For 3 nights only – December 14, 21 and 23, we are offering special trips from Port Townsend to downtown Seattle and Lake Washington to take part in the “Christmas Ship Parade.” This is the 16th year we’ve participated, and the Parade is a favorite with our family and customers. These tours are a fantastic holiday tradition for your family or company year-end celebration.
We pick the dates that are the most popular, so that you are sure to get a good show:
- December 14 (1pm-9pm): Lake Union/Ballard Locks/Lake Washington/Kirkland/Medina
- December 21: (1pm-8pm)Lake Union/Ballard Locks/Lake Washington/Madison Park
- December 23: (5:30pm-midnight) Grand Finale on Lake Union!
On board the Glacier Spirit, we enjoy warm soup with fresh baked bread while enjoying Christmas carols and great company. Once in Seattle, we join the Parade by the waterfront soaking up the sights and sounds of the choir singing from the ‘Christmas Ship.’
Reserve your seat online ($85/person)
*Please note that space is limited on these tours. A minimum passenger count is required for departure, and trips are weather dependent.
Join the crews from Puget Sound Express and the Port Townsend Marine Science Center at the Rose Theatre for a special screening of Blackfish
On Saturday, September 28, 2013 at 1 p.m. the new documentary Blackfish will be shown at the Rose Theatre. We are honored that Ken Balcomb, who’s featured throughout the film and is the executive director of the Center for Whale Research in Friday Harbor, will do a Q&A following the screening.
Ken Balcomb is a pioneer in photo-identification of cetaceans and is the founder of Orca Survey (1976), a study of Pacific Northwest Southern Resident Killer Whales (Orcas). Not only has he participated in humpback studies across both oceans but also rare beaked whale identification throughout the world. One of his main interests is the effect of sonar on cetaceans and how that causes mass stranding. He founded the non-profit Center for Whale Research in 1985 and is its executive director. If you’ve taken a whale watching tour with
The event is co-sponsored by Puget Sound Express, the Rose Theatre and the Port Townsend Marine Science Center (PTSMC). Admission is $8 for adults, $7 for seniors and $6 for children.
Blackfish is a mesmerizing psychological thriller with a killer whale (orca) at its center. The film features the story of Tilikum, who is an Icelandic transient. Unapologetically designed to both inform and affect, this delicately lacerating documentary uses the tragic tale of a single whale and his human victims as the backbone of a hypercritical investigation into the marine-park giant Sea World Entertainment.
The events portrayed in the film that took place 40 years ago still affect the orca population in our area today. Blackfish certainly brings to our attention the impact of whale imprisonment for human amusement.
“The documentary Blackfish helps us understand the social structure of whales and provides a glimmer into their complex society,” said Janine Boire, executive director for the PTMSC. “The movie challenges our view of humans and whales and how we interact together.”
We are set to have a VERY fun October. The San Juan Islands in Washington State were selected by National Geographic as one of the World’s Top 3 destinations. The waters around the San Juan Islands are home to orcas (killer whales), minke whales, gray whales, steller sea lions, porpoise, otters, and a dizzying array of seabirds.
In October, we hope you can join us for either of two, 3-day wildlife cruises we’ll be running.
- Port Townsend Departure: September 29 – October 1, 2013 - RESERVE ONLINE
- Sequim Departure: October 6-8, 2013 (presented in partnership with The Olympic Peninsula Audubon Society) - RESERVE ONLINE
On each tour, our Naturalist will be Bob Boekelheide (formerly Director of the Dungeness River Audubon Center). Bob’s life-long interest has been the ecology of marine vertebrates, particularly birds and mammals. With an M.S. in Ecology from UC Davis, Bob participated in several marine research projects, including seven years as biologist at the Farallon Islands off San Francisco. While there, he coauthored a book and several papers about the marine ecology of seabirds and marine mammals.
A certificated teacher, Bob taught science and math in WA public schools, including marine science and environmental studies. He is the compiler of the annual Sequim-Dungeness Christmas Bird Count and the Clallam County International Migratory Bird Count, and maintains records of Clallam County Birds for the Washington Ornithological Society.
- 3 days/ 2 nights roundtrip cruise aboard the M/V Glacier Spirit.
- Small-ship cruising through the spectacular San Juan Archipelago and Deception Pass.
- Personal ship-board naturalist providing in-depth information about birds, whales, porpoises, history, and the islands.
- Overnight accommodations at historic Roche Harbor Resort.
We’ll leave Port Townsend at 10am on September 29 aboard the comfortable MV Glacier Spirit. While crossing the strait of Juan de Fuca a light breakfast will be served. The Strait of Juan de Fuca is bordered by three mountain ranges, the Olympic Peninsula and the San Juan Islands. It is one of the most beautiful seas to cross in the world. Along the way our captain will point out many seabirds and mammals that frequent these waters. Depending on where the orcas are traveling that day, we may also be fortunate to see them in transit.
After lunch onboard the boat, we’ll reach our home base for the next couple of days – Roche Harbor Resort, on San Juan Island. The story of Roche Harbor began more than 200 years ago, in 1787, when Captain de Haro and his crew became the first Europeans to actually sail among the forested San Juan Islands.
In 1886, a sleepy Hudson Bay camp was transformed into a full-fledged lime works and company town. Today because of it’s beauty and location to Canada, Roche Harbor is the most popular boating resort in the Pacific Northwest and the Resort is renowned as the centerpiece of this harbor.
After arrival, you will have plenty of time to explore on your own to the scenery around Roche Harbor. Hiking, kayak and bike rentals, tennis and swimming, are all possibilities for you to enjoy. Dinner is on your own in the evening at Roche Harbor Resort.
On September 30 we’ll board the Glacier Spirit at 9:30 for a wonderful day of sightseeing and hiking through the San Juan Islands. We will journey to famous Sucia Island State Park for 2 hours of hiking.
Sucia Island State Park is a 564-acre marine park with 77,700 feet of shoreline. It is considered the crown jewel of the state’s marine park system and is consistently ranked as one of the top boating destinations in the world.
The shoreline is famous for its evocative, highly eroded sandstone formations – with cliffs, hoodoos, arches, and caves. Sucia Island is also a tremendous viewing area for seals, porpoise, eagles, seabirds, and whales.
Upon arrival at Sucia, a sack lunch is provided for you as you explore the island for the next two hours. We’ll return to Roche Harbor at 4:30 where you can enjoy the late afternoon and dinner on your own.
On October 1, we begin our return loop back to Port Townsend. We’ll say goodbye to Roche Harbor at 9am. We will head on a new course through the islands, south through the Swinomish Slough and on through Deception Pass. Wildlife should be plentiful and the scenery simply stunning.
After taking in the historic La Conner waterfront and the nearby tidelands, soaking in the views and the endless variety of shorebirds, we will journey through the wild tide currents of Deception Pass.
Back out on Strait of Juan de Fuca we will head south past Smith Island Marine Sanctuary – an island in the middle of the sea that is home to thousands of seabirds and mammals. Weather permitting, we expect to arrive in Port Townsend at 3pm.