Boston Harbor Cruises: Whale Watching

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On a warm, late spring day, folks begin to turn their attention to the waterfront. Visitors from around the country who have traveled to Boston are no exception to this trend. Many want to get out on the water, and who can blame them?

One popular jaunt is the MBTA’s ferry service to Charlestown, but this summer, why not go big with a whale watching expedition?

Yes, these charismatic megafauna are out in full-force over at the glorious Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, and the folks at the Boston Harbor Cruises can get visitors out there in short order.

On my whale watching trip, I found myself chatting it up on the way out to Stellwagen with a Brazilian businessman, a group of talkative teenagers from Utah, and a family of Mennonites who had been planning their excursion for almost a year. These types of moments are the ones that I live for, and it was great to have a little anticipation building in those pre-departure moments.

Questions abounded: Would we see any humpbacks? How close would we get to the white-sided dolphins that flit around near the boat? Were there bathrooms on the boat? (Answers: Yes, 20 feet or so, and definitely).

It takes roughly 65-minutes (give or take) to make it out to Stellwagen. The narration along the way is informative, and delivered in a way that is accessible and compelling. There are plenty of facts about Stellwagen, along with a bit of broader commentary about protecting the ocean, which is a valued natural resource, and key factoids about the creatures that will be seen upon arrival.

Our first sighting that day was quite dramatic, as we were treated to a six-month humpback and her mother, which made for a great experience. The sightings continued over the next 45-minutes in quick succession, as a pod of dolphins made its way back and forth in front of the vessel, along with several minke whales.

All in all, it was a wonderful way to spend a bright and sunny day and it was terrific to see so many people sharing in a bit of communion with some of the ocean’s largest denizens. It’s the type of outing that any number of people can enjoy, as it is easy to find joy and wonder on an (approximately) three-hour whale watching cruise.

For more on Boston Harbor Cruises Whale Watch tours, including departure times and costs, click here.

Whale watching is an experience that you won’t forget, and with Massachusetts boasting some of the top whale watching spots in the world from April to October, this experience can soon be yours. For all things whale watching in Massachusetts, click here

Max Grinnell is a writer based in Cambridge, MA, who writes about cities, public art, geography, travel, and anything else that strikes his fancy. His writings can be found online at www.theurbanologist.com and he tweets over @theurbanologist.

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