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“Winding down in November, still a good trip”

Whale Watching Sydney
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: Whale watching Sydney offers daily cruises from Darling Harbour and Circular Quay to watch Humpback whales. Whale watching Sydney (Bass & Flinders Cruises), have been operating since 1979 and whale watching since 1991. Award winning Australian certified eco-tours. Success rate is 98% and all cruises are guaranteed to see whales. Also, see other marine wildlife such as dolphins, albatross, seals and the beautiful coastline of Sydney. Check website for rates & specials.
London, UK
Level Contributor
9 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 87 helpful votes
“Winding down in November, still a good trip”
Reviewed 24 November 2011

For our final day in Sydney (November 21st) it was a toss-up between Taronga and whale watching. My brother said the cages in Taronga are far too small for the animals, which put me off..and besides, you can visit a zoo anywhere you like, but where can you whale watch? The decision was pretty easy to make, and we're so glad we went with this company instead of watching yet more bored animals staring from bars.

To begin with, this company are very honest and the agent in the ticket booth (opposite jetty 3 in Circular Quay) will warn you immediately if mist is expected at sea (and so poor veiwing potential) as well as how calm or choppy the water will be. I was very impressed as he accepted my very late cancellation due to illness (ten minutes before departure!) and kindly transfered me onto the next morning's trip.

I was already aware the whale watching season was slowing down for the year...by November, I later learned, the only whales still migrating are the elderly/sick/slow, or mothers and their babies.

We took the morning cruise and, other than two dolphins in the distance and three very close flying fish, which were pretty great to see, nothing appeared. The staff did their next to find a whale but their system is to just look for 'blow' in the distance (inviting the passengers to help them). This seemed a bit of a low-tech and rather useless way to search, although apparently it can be more effective than using sonar detection etc. The jury is still out on that one!

Anyway, one poor woman was very seasick and vomited the entire journey. I felt the whole trip was a little lacklustre because very little information was given over the intercom, information about the whales which would have been welcome even if none appeared. There were very few of us on the boat, so maybe that affected things, I don't know. It was overcast and dull weather too, but on a fine day, just the journey through the harbour and past Manley would be very enjoyable even if you didn't spot any whales.

As promised, if no whales appear you can have a return journey free of charge. We were flying out in the early evening so were cutting it very find by staying onboard for the afternoon cruise, but were so desperate to see the whales we took the chance. We were very glad that we did...

The afternoon cruise was much, much busier, and so there was a better atmosphere on board. Within the hour, a mother and her calf were spotted and we followed them for around an hour or so...the whales kept their distance (the baby came a little closer for a look) but even so, it was pretty magnificent to see these two swimming together.

The information the speaker gave was very good, and I was heartened to hear him berate another boat which was also observing the whales but doing so unethically (following their tail, getting too close etc). I hope he reported this boat as it was breaking the law and possibly stressing the whales. The highlight of the whole trip was when the mother whale breached...amazing! It was the highlight of our holiday in Australia. Also, when a pod of dolpins swam past...you really can't compare any of this to going to a zoo and seeing captive animals.

We got a great discount online, just flick through any of the brochures in the tourist information offices in Sydney and you will find discounts for this company. We actually found one which offered it for $50 instead of $85, but most will get you down to $60. You have to book direct for the discount, so either visit the booth or phone/go online.

The boat journey and the anticipation of finding a blow made this trip one of the best we have done, even in bad weather. I would highly recommend it.

Visited November 2011
3 Thank Rattylover
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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419 reviews from our community

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San Francisco, California
Level Contributor
103 reviews
56 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 34 helpful votes
“Fantastic and Awesome.”
Reviewed 30 October 2011

Went with my two children, 4 and 5 and half. The sights of the whales and the chase was amazing. We had an awesome time. Definitely one of the most worthwhile trip. Get the tickets online to enjoy online discount.

Visited October 2011
Thank Trippyhappy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
191 reviews
65 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 136 helpful votes
“Brilliant, but the whales were having a quiet day!!”
Reviewed 21 October 2011

I did this tour with my disabled brother.
We both enjoyed it immensely, but were disappointed to discover that the ship's photographer doesn't travel on a Monday, which is the day we took the tour.
Unfortuneatley, the whales, & there were plenty of them around, were having a quiet day...we didn't get to see anything really close, but saw a number of mother's & their calves. The tour guide told us repeatedly that the whales are wild animals, & do not perform like trained circus animals...we were disappointed that we didn't see much, but understand why.
The boat is fitted out well, the crew very helpful.
The price was good....$72 when booked online, instead of $85.
Will definitely do it again, & again...until the whales are more energetic!!

Visited October 2011
1 Thank Bubbles-in-Oz
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Blue Mountains Australia
Level Contributor
19 reviews
17 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
Reviewed 16 September 2011

I found our cruise disappointing. The advertising suggested that they used searchlight sonar to find the whales underwater. This was not the case instead the passengers and crew all looked in different directions until someone found something. When we did find a whale we followed it the entire cruise. It felt like we were whale hunters rather than watchers. There was no expert commentary (some fellow questioning if it was a real whale or a rock whale) and there was no one taking photos. I emailed the company following the cruise but they never responded. I will try another company next time. Other companies had great success while we were out according to their website and photos.

Visited July 2011
3 Thank 22mummyof2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
sydneywhalewatcher, Manager at Whale Watching Sydney, responded to this review, 23 October 2011
I am sorry you were disappointed about your trips, I'll try to address some of your issues.
The Searchlight sonar is a helpful tool , but it has a number of limitations and 9 times out of 10 it is faster and more reliable to spot the whales with your eyes when they come up. It was installed primarily as a research tool to gauge its effectiveness and its effect on the whales..there is a research paper from Macquarie Uni based on the research done aboard over the last 3 years out soon on all of this, so we are a bit cautious in its use for this reason.
The photographer is not on absolutely every trip (normally Monday is the off day), in that instance we may have someone videoing or will get our normal crew to take some photos from our boat camera, but we don't restrict people taking their own cameras on board to take whatever photos they wish. If people want, they can check when booking over the phone with our office that one will be one rostered on board that day.
Finally the whales, we can't make them active if they don't wish to be. It can be very hard to guess which pod will be active or not, one boat may head one way and find a very active pod, and another will go the opposite direction and find and watch a quiet pod..all I can say is that we (and one other long established company) tend to find the whales first most of the time and spend the greatest amount of time with them of all, since most of the others just follow us to find whales. There is always an element of luck in finding and watching whales that are or become active, but its also a question of your perspective and expectations, many people find the experience is seeing the whales in the natural environment the thrill and the breaching and other surface activity is all a bonus.
So again I am sorry you feel disappointed about your experience, we try very hard to make sure everyone has the best possible time.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Yorkshire Dales National Park, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
14 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
“Whalewatchingsydney.com.au come highly recommended.”
Reviewed 20 August 2011

We had a great trip out with this company. We can't make a comparison because this is the only one we've tried but they were very good. We took the 3 hour trip which means you have a bigger boat and more facilities and shelter.

It took a while to locate a whale, but in the meantime a couple of dolphins joined us for the search! When we found the whales it was very exciting, but the crew were careful to ensure we kept a safe distance so as not to disrupt the migration.

Plenty of free tea, coffee biscuits and fruit on board ensured that our 3 and 5 year old were kept happy and the crew were very friendly and informative throughout.

Visited August 2011
1 Thank Viggle
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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