How was your experience?
Fabulous! A really amazing and awe-inspiring experience. We didn't see much at first and I understand that some trips are duds because the whales can't be forced to make an appearance. But after an hour or so of evasions and frustration we were rewarded with many sightings (one of the crew counted at least 20 different whales) and even--ahem--two mating couples! We also saw delightful dolphins and sea lions. This trip would have been well worth the full price, but with Goldstar it's a no-brainer. The trip lasts 4 hours, so for the sail alone it's worth it. The captain pointed out many interesting sights along the way, including military installations that are not really view-able from any other vantage point. On the way back, we even got to see a nuclear powered sub being escorted on its way out to sea. During the return voyage, docents from the Natural History Museum gave a nice little talk below deck about the whales, complete with hands-on objects like a piece of balleen. I really do not see how this could have been a better experience. To make sure you really enjoy yourself, however, I do have some advice: Dress warmer than you think you need to (bring layers and a windbreaker and gloves), don't forget binoculars if you have them (or they are for rent on board), bring snacks/sandwiches unless you want to pay snack-bar prices--and finish with a bowl of clam chowder and a glass of wine at the Fish Market, on the other side of the Midway for a perfect end to a perfect day. Also, if you tend toward sea-sickness, don't forget the Dramamine!