Port Adventure Review: Icy Strait Point’s Whale and Marine Mammals Cruise (IS01)

Whale and Marine Mammals Cruise (IS01) is a Disney Cruise Line Port Adventure offered at Icy Strait Point, Alaska. Right off the top, Disney sets the bar high for this excursion as the first thing on their websites is the claim that killer whales-sightings guaranteed. According to Icy Strait Point’s description of the excursion, whales have been sighted on every tour conducted since they opened in 2004. In what sounds like an unlikely event, Disney’s description says the operators of this excursion guarantees you will see a whale. If not, you’ll receive a $100 cash refund when you disembark the vessel.

The whales are so plentiful that Icy Strait Point will give you a 100% refund if a whale is not spotted on the trip. However, don’t anticipate a refund! Whales have been sighted on every tour conducted since we opened in 2004.

Icy Strait Point’s Whale & Marine Mammals Cruise Summary

We booked Whale and Marine Mammals Cruise (IS01) directly with Disney Cruise Line. However, the Port Adventures you book on Disney website are the same you can book at the Icy Strait Point Adventure Center pending availability once ashore. Not sure where the typo is in regards to $100 vs. 100% refund, but this could be dependent on how the trip is booked.

Icy Strait Point Whale Marine Mammals Cruise IS01 Tickets

Disney price for the trip during the summer of 2019 was $189.00 (ages 10 and up), $114.00 (ages 3 to 9), and $109.00 (ages 0 to 2).

After not seeing any whales up close in 2017, we made it a point to book a whale watching tour this time around. Since we were in Icy Strait Point until 6:30, we figured this was the best day to book a whale-watching excursion. We originally planned to join our friends on an independent whale watching tour, but the particular tour operator upped the price once they realized the Disney Wonder was in port. No joke, with the price jump, Disney’s excursion was similarly priced and had a better time. Our friends even dropped the booking with the tour operation and joined ours.

We met in Preludes then waited in the Walt Disney Theatre for fellow passengers to assemble. We then made our way off the Disney Wonder and took an extremely short 30-second walk across the pier and boarded our excursion boat, the American Eagle.

On our way out to the whale watching grounds near Point Adolphus, we spotted bald eagles in the trees and some smaller marine animals.

Icy Strait Point Whale Marine Mammals Cruise IS01 Map 20190711

The weather in Alaska is pretty dynamic, and today was one of those cold days.

Thankfully, for the majority of the sailing, we were inside the American Eagle where hot coffee, tea, and hot chocolate were complimentary. There was a selection of Alaskan beer and other beverages for sale along with some stuffed animals, Alaskan books and souvenirs.

Icy Strait Point Whale Marine Mammals Cruise IS01 HOT COFFEE

It is a lot colder out on the open water than it was on the open decks of the Disney Wonder. I’d recommend dressing in layers to stay warm so you can enjoy the outdoor observation deck which provides the best views of the whales.

During our cruise to and from the Point Adolphus area, the onboard naturalist shared her knowledge not only on the marine wildlife but the area itself. Onboard there were a few handouts and coffee table like books to browse. The following laminated NOAA Fisheries Marine Mammal Viewing Guidelines for Alaska brochure was one such handout.

One of the interesting items onboard was a sample of baleen from humpback whale tagged by NOAA Fisheries as AK2018046. Another handout shared the story of the particular whale and further detailed how baleen, the filter-feeder system inside the mouths of baleen whales, works.

There goes our refund! Just kidding, the number one goal on this excursion was to see a whale and we saw multiple, a humpback and her calf!!!

While we were there, the whales did not put on a National Geographic worthy performance, but it was still incredibly awesome to see these enormous mammals as close as we did.

Icy Strait Point Whale Marine Mammals Cruise IS01 Whale 20190711

It is one thing to see whales on video and in photos, but to see them with your own eyes made the excursion a success. We also saw a few sea otters, which was awesome as well. 

The tour lasted about 2 hours with a good portion of the time spent sailing to the and back from the whale watching area.

Icy Strait Point Whale Marine Mammals Cruise IS01 American Eagle

On the way back to Icy Strait Point, we were treated with a great opportunity to capture some photos of the Disney Wonder.

Our tour ended, and we docked at the cannery dock at the opposite end of Icy Strait Point. Good for them, essentially making sure everyone exits through the gift shop and the cannery museum. Just keep in mind, that it is about a 10-minute walk back to the ship from this point.

While we were happy with the whale viewing, we would have preferred to be on one of the smaller boats we saw in the area. Having said that, our excursion was a tour bus compared to other’s private van tours. I have no regrets; we were able to see whales in the wild and that my friends, was wonderful.

There are a lot of whale watching opportunities in Alaska from excursions to onboard the Disney Wonder. We’d love to hear about your whale watching port adventure success stories in the comments below.

2 thoughts on “Port Adventure Review: Icy Strait Point’s Whale and Marine Mammals Cruise (IS01)

  1. Angela Oschefski

    We did this excursion the end of August when the Wonder went back to Icy Stait Point. We had a FABULOUS time! The weather was spectacular and we saw several whales, including one they call Frederick. He, apparently, stays in Alaska all year and does not migrate, but he is also a rarity to see. In fact, one of the guides on our boat had only seen videos and photos of him so she was just as excited as the rest of us! We were really happy to have booked this tour!

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  2. Deann fromTexas

    We also did this tour, first one of the day. Wonderful!!! And yes the 100 percent guarantee is correct. We saw eagles, otters, whales with calves and on the way back in a couple of killer whales chasing salmon. As for being let out at the cannery museum and gift shops I think it’s a really good marketing idea. They also offer golf cart rides back to the ship for those that need assistance. We walk with a cane and appreciated the lift to and from the ship. To catch it just walk straight from the off load gangplank and you’ll see the signage. We really love Icy Strait Point and looking forward to our next trip here.

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