Frequently Asked Questions

What to know before you go!

Frequently Asked Questions

 

How do I make a reservation?

You can make a reservation anytime on our website by clicking "Book Your Tour". You will then receive an email confirmation with a QR code that can be scanned by our crew to check you in when getting ready to board the vessel.

When our ticket office opens in May, you can call us at 207-288-2386 or visit our ticket office at 1 West Street, Bar Harbor to make a reservation for a boat cruise. 

What are your reservation policies?

Early and online reservations will be strongly recommended as trips will fill up very quickly. We are projecting a very busy 2021 season. We also cannot guarantee re-bookings/rescheduling for trips that are cancelled due to weather, impacts of the pandemic, or changes to patron's travel plans, due to potential high demand of visitation and reservations.

Tickets are required for all passengers, including infants. To ensure our vessels are in compliance with safety regulations with the US Coast Guard, all passengers must have a ticket in order to be accounted for in our passenger counts. All passengers under 18 must be accompanied by an adult (18+), parent or guardian for all boat cruises and shore-based excursions. Children should be monitored at all times on the docks and vessels.

All passengers 18 years and older must have a photo ID and could be randomly selected for security screening during boarding. This is part of our security protocols and policies with the US Coast Guard.

Have a Plan B! We encourage folks to plan ahead and have alternative plans in place in the event their cruise is impacted by weather conditions and/or the pandemic resulting in rescheduling for desired trip not being available. We do not want to turn people away from joining us, but we are currently experiencing a high volume of visitation and interest in our boat cruises.

Wait lists are not available due to high volume of interest for boat cruises.

Please note, if cruises are modified or cancelled due to Covid-19 or weather Bar Harbor Whale Watch Co. is not responsible for changes or interruptions in patron’s travel plans including accommodation fees and transportation fees.

What happens if we don't see whales on our trip?

Whale Guarantee: If whales are not seen on your whale watch cruise, your reservation will become a voucher that is valid for 3 years. We do not issue refunds for trips that do not see whales. You can use the voucher for other boat cruises we offer.

How do I make changes to or cancel my reservation?

If you need to make any changes to your current reservation you will need to call our ticket office at (207) 288-2386 or email info@barharborwhales.com. Our ticket office staff will assist you in making the changes. If you need to cancel your reservation and be refunded, you will need to call or email us 24 hours before your cruise's scheduled departure.

Do you offer group rates?

Yes, for groups with a minimum of 15 adults. Please email info@barharborwhales.com for more information. 

What do we need in order to board the vessels?

  • If you booked online you can use the QR code located in your confirmation email to board the vessel. You can use your mobile device or print the email for crew to scan. You can also purchase physical boarding passes at our ticket office located at 1 West Street, Bar Harbor.
  • Please make sure to have a photo ID for all passengers over 18 years of age.

Where can we find parking?

It is best to arrive at least an hour before your cruise departs in order to find parking and our dock. Parking can be challenging in the summer months and BHWW Co does not provide parking at this time.

The town of Bar Harbor has paid parking meters and kiosks located along West Street and on the town pier. You can also visit How to Find Us, to see detailed map of the Bar Harbor parking map.

Bar Harbor Whale Watch Co. is not responsible for any parking fees or tickets due to the duration of trips or cancellations.

The Island Explorer is a free shuttle that departs from the some hotels and campgrounds. It drops folks off at the Village Green, which is a short walk from our location by the town pier. There are also local taxi services available that can drop you off and pick you up at our location.

What should we bring with us for our boat cruise? Can we bring food and drinks on with us?

  • Layers! It can be much colder out on the water  so it best to be prepared with layers such a sweatshirt, hat, and jacket, even during the during the summer months, and some heavier layers in the mid-spring and fall months.
  • Sunscreen-the water can magnify the sun's rays so best to make sure you have sunscreen with you.
  • Binoculars-help to get a closer look at the wildlife-especially the puffins!
  • Camera- if you are photographing wildlife, especially puffins, we recommend a 600 mm lens, but you can still capture wonderful scenery photos with any camera.
  • Food-you are welcome to bring food and beverages on with you, however we do not allow alcohol, glass containers, or hard coolers to be brought on the vessels. Our vessels have galleys with snacks and beverages (cash only). The Sunrise Cafe on our dock offers a variety of breakfast and lunch items that you are welcome to bring with you.

Are vessels and facilities wheelchair accessible?

All Bar Harbor Whale Watch Co. facilities and vessels are wheelchair accessible. There are ramps located at the front and left side of our building. There are ramps on the dock to assist in embarking and disembarking vessels . Wheelchairs are available on-site. If you need a wheelchair, our staff would be happy to assist you. When boarding, please check with our dock crew if you would like assistance.

 

 

Scripts are available for every boat cruise offered at the Bar Harbor Whale Watch Company. If you would like to borrow one for your cruise, please inquire with the ticket office staff or the guide/naturalist on the vessel. Advanced notice is appreciated so the guide can have materials ready for you when you board the vessel. You can contact us at info@barharborwhales.com to ensure materials are prepared for you before your scheduled cruise. Thank you!

More FAQ's about specific boat cruises:

Whale Watch:

Q: What kind of whales do we hope to see?
A: We most frequently see humpback, finback, minke, and right whales. We also have the chance to see Atlantic white-sided dolphins, harbor porpoise, harbor and grey seals, and many seabirds!

Q: What is our success rate seeing whales?
A: Our success rate is often around 90 to 95%. Especially during our peak season from mid-June to August. We have great speed with our boats and are willing to go far to search. We also know the best areas to search after nearly thirty years of whale watching. The weather makes an enormous difference and when the seas are calm and it is clear and sunny we rarely go without seeing whales. However, they are following schools of fish and plankton and whales are wild creatures and they do move around. Even when we don’t see whales we try to see as much nature and beauty of the Gulf of Maine as possible.

Q: Can I buy food or drinks on board?
A: Yes! We have a cash-only galley with hot and cold beverages, cold snacks, as well as alcoholic beverages for those of age.

Q: Will I get seasick?
A:
Our high speed catamarans are very comfortable, and do not move through the water like traditional mono-hulled vessels. However, we go to sea in a range of conditions, so if you know you are prone to motion sickness, or are worried, we suggest taking ONE form of motion sickness medicine before coming on board. If you are taking Bonine or Dramamine, it is more effective if it is in your system for a few hours before you depart the dock. Feel free to ask a crew member what the sea conditions are and they can help you assess.

Q: How far offshore do we travel?
A:
We travel to specific whale-feeding grounds, which are anywhere from 20-40 miles offshore. We generally travel for about an hour to and from the whale grounds. Any deviation from this trip plan will be announced before we leave the dock.

Q: Is it foggy?
A:
The Gulf of Maine is one of the foggiest locations on the planet, and it is difficult to spot whales in these conditions. Our vessels are equipped with technology that allows us to navigate safely in foggy conditions, but we do not use this technology to find whales. Instead, we use our senses, usually our ears!

Q: What type of vessel will we travel on?
A:
We have two whale watch vessels: the Friendship V and the Atlanticat. These are high-speed catamarans that provide a very comfortable ride and have interior and exterior seating, restrooms, and a galley.

Q: Is this trip good for small children?
A: This trip is great for younger children, and the carpeted interior provides a safe location for them. However, it can be a long boat ride (up to 5 hours) and small children tend to be more prone to seasickness. We inform every one of the weather and sea state before each trip and encourage people with small children not to go on days when the sea conditions could result in sea sickness.

Q: Can I bring my dog?
A: Unfortunately, we do not allow dogs on this trip, except for documented service dogs

Q: How do we find whales? Do we feed them?
A:
We don’t feed our whales! These animals eat thousands of pounds of small fish every day. To find whales, we look for their blow, or breath! On a clear, windless day, we can see their exhale from a few miles away! On foggy days, we can listen for their breath. Within about ½ mile, we can hear their exhales or bodies splashing.

Q: Does it actually get cold offshore?
A
: Yes! The temperature typically drops about 25 degree Fahrenheit offshore. Be prepared with extra layers, jackets, and gloves!

Q: Can I bring food and drink onboard?
A: Yes! Feel free to bring food and drinks. But please don’t bring hard coolers, alcoholic beverages, or glass bottles.

Q: What time should I arrive?
A:
We recommend arriving 45-minutes to 1-hour before the trip departs.

Q: Why do I need my ID to go on this trip?
A: Harbor Place, where our boats depart from, is a secure facility. Because of the number of passengers we carry and the distance we travel offshore, we require each adult over the age of 18 to carry a photo ID. We will visually verify as you board the vessel.

Q: What items are prohibited on the trip?
A: Coolers, alcohol, illicit drugs, weapons, of any kind and anything contained in glass are prohibited. Aerial drones are not permitted. Please also refrain from smoking on board our vessels.

Q: What happens if my trip gets cancelled due to inclement weather?
A: The decision to cancel is made 1-1.5 hrs before a trip's departure. We do our best to alert passengers as quickly as possible. If you ordered tickets online or over the phone and provided an email address, please check your email before arrival to confirm the status of your trip. You can also call our office at (207) 288-2386 from an hour to an hour and a half before trip departure. Due to high call volume, our ticket staff will do their best to answer each call as quickly as possible. Bar Harbor Whale Watch Co. is not responsible for any parking tickets incurred.

Puffin + Lighthouse Cruise:

Q: How many lighthouses will we see?
A: On our Puffin and Lighthouse we see three lighthouses: Egg Rock, Petit Manan, and Winter Harbor Light.

Q: What’s a puffin?
A: A puffin is a small bird, about 10” long, that is a member of the alcid family. They are diving birds, who use their wings to propel themselves through the water, catching fish. These birds are pelagic, which means they do not spend time on land, except for nesting.

Q: Where do we go to see puffins?
A:
We go to Petit Manan Island, which is a protected seabird nesting island. There, we have the opportunity to see terns, razorbills, and puffins in their nesting habitat. Puffins create burrows in the granite rocks on the shoreline where they raise their young.

Q: Will we get to go ashore Petit Manan Island?
A:
Petit Manan is a protected island, and our boats do not facilitate shore landings. We will view the island, and the birds, from our ship. Be prepared for fly-bys and birds sitting on the water!

Q: Will I get seasick?
A: In order to see the puffins we do need to head offshore for a portion of the trip, so it is best to make sure you are prepared for offshore sea conditions. If you are very concerned, we recommend taking one type of motion sickness medication 3 hours before your trip. We also sell Quez away wrist bands which need no medication and work for 80% of the people. We will announce the sea conditions before we leave the dock so passengers have an idea of what to expect for the boat ride. If the reported conditions may seem uncomfortable for your stomach you are welcome to step off and get a refund.

Q: Where can I get information about the lighthouses?
A: We have a professional guide on board who will provide you with information about the lighthouses and region, and will answer any questions. There are many excellent websites with information as well.

Q: Do you have lighthouse passports?
A: Yes, we have the lighthouse passports for sale in our gift shop and on the boats, as well as stamps for each light we visit. The US Lighthouse Society asks for a $1 donation for each light stamp purchased.

Q: How long is this tour?
A: This tour is approximately 3 hours in length.

Q: Will we get to go onshore and go in the lighthouses?
A: Unfortunately, we are not able to go on shore. All lighthouse viewing will happen from the vessel. Because of the design of our vessels, we can usually get very close to the lights!

Q: How much of Acadia National Park will we see?
A: This cruise features some of Schoodic Peninsula and Schoodic Island.

Q: Can I buy food or drinks on board?
A:
Yes! We have a cash-only galley with hot and cold beverages, cold snacks, and alcoholic beverages for those of age.

Q: Can I bring my dog?
A: Unfortunately, we do not allow dogs on this trip, except for documented service dogs. We do allow dogs on our shorter 2-hour nature tour.

Q: What type of vessel will we travel on?
A: We will travel on a high-speed catamaran, most likely either the Acadia Explorer or the Friendship V. These vessels are very sturdy and comfortable, with indoor and outdoor seating available, multiple viewing decks, restrooms, and a galley.

Q: What time should I arrive?
A: We recommend arriving 30 minutes before the trip departs.

Q: What items are prohibited on the trip?
A: Coolers, alcohol, illicit drugs, weapons of any kind and anything contained in glass are prohibited. Please also refrain from smoking on board our vessels.

Q: What happens if my trip gets cancelled due to inclement weather?
A: The decision to cancel is made 1-1.5 hrs before a trip's departure. We do our best to alert passengers as quickly as possible. If you ordered tickets online or over the phone and provided an email address, please check your email before arrival to confirm the status of your trip. You can also call our office at (207) 288-2386 from an hour to an hour and a half before trip departure. Due to high call volume, our ticket staff will do their best to answer each call as quickly as possible. Bar Harbor Whale Watch Co. is not responsible for any parking tickets incurred.

Somes Sound, Acadia National Park, & Lighthouse Cruise:

Q: How many lighthouses will we see?

A: We usually see 4 to five lighthouses during the cruise depending on the weather and sea conditions.

Q: Will I get seasick?
A: We stay within a few miles of shore, so most people do not get sick on this trip. If you are very concerned, we recommend taking one type of motion sickness medication 3 hours before your trip. We also sell Quez away wrist bands which need no medication and work for 80% of the people.

Q: Where can I get information about the lighthouses?
A: We have a professional guide on board who will provide you with information about the lighthouses and region, and will answer any questions. There are many excellent websites with information as well.

Q: Do you have lighthouse passports?
A: Yes, we have the lighthouse passports for sale in our gift shop and on the boats, as well as stamps for each light we visit. The US Lighthouse Society asks for a $1 donation for each light stamp purchased.

Q: How long is this tour?
A: This tour is approximately 3 hours in length.

Q: Will we get to go onshore and go in the lighthouses?
A: Unfortunately, we are not able to go on shore. All lighthouse viewing will happen from the vessel. Because of the design of our vessels, we can usually get very close to the lights!

Q: How much of Acadia National Park will we see?
A: We will spend the first part of the trip traveling past the ocean drive region of Acadia National Park, which features Sand Beach and Thunder Hole, some of the most famous sections of the park.

Q: Can I buy food or drinks on board?
A:
Yes! We have a cash-only galley with hot and cold beverages, cold snacks, and alcoholic beverages for those of age.

Q: Can I bring my dog?
A: Unfortunately, we do not allow dogs on this trip, except for documented service dogs. We do allow dogs on our shorter 2-hour nature tour.

Q: What type of vessel will we travel on?
A: We will travel on a high-speed catamaran, most likely either the Acadia Explorer or the Friendship V. These vessels are very sturdy and comfortable, with indoor and outdoor seating available, multiple viewing decks, restrooms, and a galley.

Q: What time should I arrive?
A: We recommend arriving 30 minutes before the trip departs.

Q: What items are prohibited on the trip?
A: Coolers, alcohol, illicit drugs, weapons of any kind and anything contained in glass are prohibited. Please also refrain from smoking on board our vessels.

Q: What happens if my trip gets cancelled due to inclement weather?
A: The decision to cancel is made 1-1.5 hrs before a trip's departure. We do our best to alert passengers as quickly as possible. If you ordered tickets online or over the phone and provided an email address, please check your email before arrival to confirm the status of your trip. You can also call our office at (207) 288-2386 from an hour to an hour and a half before trip departure. Due to high call volume, our ticket staff will do their best to answer each call as quickly as possible. Bar Harbor Whale Watch Co. is not responsible for any parking tickets incurred.

Nature Cruise:

Q: How long is this tour?
A: This trip is 2 hours in duration

Q: What kinds of nature will we see?
A: You will have a chance to see great variety of species! On most of our nature tours we see bald eagles, peregrine falcons, harbor seals, black guillemonts, eider duck, cormorants, and common loon. On many trips we also spot harbor porpoise, grey seals, deer, and osprey. Occasionally we see Minke Whales, Ocean Sunfish or sharks.

Q: Will there be narration during this trip?
A: We will have a professional naturalist narrating this trip. They will point out the local landmarks, give historical information, and identify any wildlife seen during this portion of the trip. They make every trip highly educational and fun!

Q: Will I get seasick?
A: We usually stay within Frenchman Bay, which tends to be a bit more sheltered from larger waves. If you are very concerned, we recommend taking one type of motion sickness medication 3 hours before your trip. The captains will also inform passengers of current sea conditions before leaving the dock.

Q: Will we see whales on this trip?
A: We find the large whales 20-40 miles offshore, and this trip stays within 3 miles of land. We have sighted all the larger whales inside Frenchman Bay. Whales that feed on fish like minke, humpback and finback will follow schools of herring or menhaden into the bay. We will most likely not see whales during the trip, but during July and August we do often see pods of harbor porpoise, a small toothed whale related to dolphins.

Q: Can I bring my dog?
A: Yes! You can bring your dog on our nature cruises! We have water and treats from Bark Harbor.

Q: How much of Acadia National Park will we see?
A: During the first half of the trip we will take in all the entire eastern shore of Acadia and ocean drive, which features Sand Beach and Thunder Hole, some of the most famous sections of the park.

Q: Can I buy food or drinks on board?
A: Yes! We have a cash-only galley with cold and hot beverages, snacks, and alcoholic beverages for those of age.

Q: What type of vessel will we travel on?
A: We will travel on a high-speed catamaran, either the Acadia Explorer or the Friendship V. These vessels are very stable and comfortable, with indoor and outdoor seating, multiple viewing decks, restrooms, and a galley.

Q: What time should I arrive?
A: We recommend arriving 30 minutes before the trip departs.

Q: What items are prohibited on the trip?
A: Coolers, alcohol, illicit drugs, weapons of any kind and anything contained in glass are prohibited. Please also refrain from smoking on board our vessels.

Q: What happens if my trip gets cancelled due to inclement weather?
A: The decision to cancel is made 1-1.5 hrs before a trip's departure. We do our best to alert passengers as quickly as possible. If you ordered tickets online or over the phone and provided an email address, please check your email before arrival to confirm the status of your trip. You can also call our office at (207) 288-2386 from an hour to an hour and a half before trip departure. Due to high call volume, our ticket staff will do their best to answer each call as quickly as possible. Bar Harbor Whale Watch Co. is not responsible for any parking tickets incurred.

Sunset Nature:

Q: Will we still be offshore when the sun sets?
A: We adjust the departure time of the trip throughout the season to accommodate for the sunset. We have timed the trip to coincide with the sunset at a given time of year!

Q: Will there be narration during this trip?
A: We will have a professional naturalist narrating for the first hour of this trip. They will point out the wildlife, local landmarks, and share historical information during the first hour. The second hour we will sail up the bay while listening to fun ocean/beach/ happy hour themed music.

Q: How long is this tour?
A: This tour is 2 hours in duration.

Q: Are there happy hour specials?
A: YES! We have the lowest happy hour prices in town. We have a partnership with Atlantic Brewing Company, the local brewery on the island, and we serve their award winning Blueberry, Real and Stout beers. We also have imported and domestic canned beer, canned mixed drinks and wine.

Q: Is there music?
A: Yes, we play fun beach and happy hour themed music over our sound system as the sun sets.

Q: What kinds of nature will we see?
A: We have the chance to see many types! Peregrine falcons, harbor and grey seals, guillemonts, harbor porpoise, bald eagles, and deer are all frequently seen on our trips.

Q: Will I get seasick?
A: We stay within Frenchman Bay, so it is highly unlikely you will be seasick on this trip. If you are very concerned, we recommend taking one type of motion sickness medication 3 hours before your trip.

Q: Can I bring my dog?
A: Yes! You can bring your dog on our nature cruises!

Q: How much of Acadia National Park will we see?
A: During the first half of the trip we will take in all the entire eastern shore of Acadia and ocean drive, which features Sand Beach and Thunder Hole, some of the most famous sections of the park.

Q: What type of vessel will we travel on?
A: We will travel on a high-speed catamaran, most likely either the Acadia Explorer or the Friendship V. These vessels are very sturdy and comfortable, with indoor and outdoor seating available, multiple viewing decks, restrooms, and a galley.

Q: What time should I arrive?
A: We recommend arriving 30 minutes before the trip departs.

Q: What items are prohibited on the trip?
A: Coolers, alcohol, illicit drugs, weapons of any kind and anything contained in glass are prohibited. Please also refrain from smoking on board our vessels.

Q: What happens if my trip gets cancelled due to inclement weather?
A: The decision to cancel is made 1-1.5 hrs before a trip's departure. We do our best to alert passengers as quickly as possible. If you ordered tickets online or over the phone and provided an email address, please check your email before arrival to confirm the status of your trip. You can also call our office at (207) 288-2386 from an hour to an hour and a half before trip departure. Due to high call volume, our ticket staff will do their best to answer each call as quickly as possible. Bar Harbor Whale Watch Co. is not responsible for any parking tickets incurred.

Baker Island:

Q: What should I bring?
A:
Bring warm clothes, rain gear, water, a snack or bag lunch, bug spray, and sunscreen.

Q: How long is this tour?
A: This tour is 4 ½ hours.

Q: How much time do we spend on the island?
A: There is a 45-minute boat ride to and from the island. You spend approximately 2 hours on the island.

Q: How much physical activity is involved?
A: Travel 9 miles out to sea aboard the 56 foot lobster fishing boat Miss Samantha. Then step down onto our 24 foot Carolina Skiff “Baker’s Dozen” with handrails, stairs, and a retractable ramp that extends from bow to shore, making your landing safe, easy and waterfree. On the island you will take a short walk through a field up to the high point on the island to visit a lighthouse. Then ½ mile walk through the woods to the dance floor rock formation. Please watch your step for rocks and some tree roots. Enjoy a moderate 1 to 1.5 mile hike in total.

Q: Can I bring my dog?
A: Unfortunately, we do not allow dogs on this trip, except for documented service dogs.

Q: What will we see during the boat ride?
A:
During the boat ride, we travel through Frenchman’s bay on the way out – with beautiful views on the mountains of Acadia. Along the way we often see harbor porpoise, seals, and many seabirds – including diving northern gannets. On the way back we hug the shoreline of Mount Dessert Island and ocean drive so you can see many of the crown jewels of Acadia and spectacular geology.

Q: What type of vessel will we travel on?
A: We will travel on the M/V Miss Samantha, a 56’ fiberglass boat. It is very comfortable, and has covered seating as well as a restroom. To land on Baker Island, you will transfer to a smaller vessel that will shuttle you from the Miss Samantha to the island.

Q: What time should I arrive?
A: We recommend arriving 30 minutes before the trip departs.

Q: What items are prohibited on the trip?
A: Coolers, alcohol, illicit drugs, weapons of any kind and anything contained in glass are prohibited. Please also refrain from smoking on board our vessels.

Q: What happens if my trip gets cancelled due to inclement weather?
A: The decision to cancel is made 1-1.5 hrs before a trip's departure. We do our best to alert passengers as quickly as possible. If you ordered tickets online or over the phone and provided an email address, please check your email before arrival to confirm the status of your trip. You can also call our office at (207) 288-2386 from an hour to an hour and a half before trip departure. Due to high call volume, our ticket staff will do their best to answer each call as quickly as possible. Bar Harbor Whale Watch Co. is not responsible for any parking tickets incurred.