I’ve always been fascinated with the beauty and grace of whales. The last time I took a whale watch trip was with my family and friends on July 4th in 2007. We went on Captain John’s Whale Watch boat out of Plymouth and I loved seeing the beautiful whales because they were very playful, waving and showing off yet the boat was NOT very wheelchair accessible. You can see my review by clicking on Captain John’s Whale Watching Cruise. Recently friends told us the Boston Harbor Cruise Whale Watch trips are much more wheelchair accessible so my mom, Ric, Amanda and I decided to venture out to see these magnificent whales of the sea.
The Boston Harbor Cruise’s Whale Watch leaves the dock at Long Wharf in Boston right next to the New England Aquarium. Public parking is very expensive in this area yet we were lucky and found a street meter parking space on the corner of Atlantic Avenue and Milk Street which is FREE with my handicap placard. By the way Milk Street is where Benjamin Franklin was born:-)
We had only short stroll from our parking space to the ticket booth of Boston Harbor Cruise. The ticket counter is a little high but reachable for me. The cost is Adults: $39.95 Seniors: $35.95 and Child: $31.95. There is NO disability discount for a passenger in a wheelchair. We think there should be a discount because a passenger in a wheelchair cannot access the entire boat.
The sales person told us their accessible high-speed catamarans are the fastest, most comfortable way to view the ocean’s whales. We then proceeded to gate 4 located at the end of the dock of Long Wharf to board our boat. Wheelchair access onto the boat is accessible via a lot of ramps. The ramps are a little steep in areas yet my friend Ric is strong and managed to get my chair to the entrance of the boat. Once at the entrance a very kind crew member helped Ric and Amanda get my chair over the last hump of a ramp.
This entrance took us onto the lower level of the boat. The lower level is the ONLY level a person in a wheelchair can access because the upper level has a staircase with no lift. All the crew members I met were very kind, helpful and courteous. The lower accessible level has a front and rear indoor seating area with a snack bar set in the middle. The interior front seating consists of booths on the side and seats in the middle. The rear indoor seating consists of a living room atmosphere with couches and a table.
Outdoor viewing of the whales on the first level is very limited to all. There is no outdoor seating. The front outdoor deck is difficult to access in a wheelchair due to a lip at the doorway. Even if you can get on to the outside deck, the area is small with little room for your chair. There is also an area with steps.
The rear outdoor deck on the first level is very small and the smell of exhaust from the boat is not very pleasant. There is no seating for my friends. We did access this area so we could see the whales. We also accessed it because my friends Amanda and Ric got seasick and wanted some air.
The first level has a wheelchair accessible restroom; it is spacious and fits my chair with no problem; the sink is accessible and the soap and hand drier is reachable.
My mom went up the stairs to check out the upper level of the boat. She told me the upper level is the best area. It has a spacious indoor seating area as well as a spacious outdoor seating area to view the whales. She said it is much more pleasant on this level because the view is better and the air is fresh, yet there is no snack bar or restroom on this level.
It took us qui te a while to reach the area where the whales live. This area is close to the tip of Provincetown which is a shorter trip by boat from Plymouth that is close to my home. The announcer told us all about the whales we saw. They all have names and are easy to tell apart because of the markings on their dorsal fins. We even saw some whales with all white dorsal fins which are rare. The whales we saw weren’t as friendly & entertaining as the whales we saw in 2007 yet we still enjoyed seeing their beauty and synchronized patterns of their diving.
After seeing the whales we headed back at a higher speed; then the boat suddenly stopped. The announcer told us the captain spotted large basking shark. A basking shark is the second largest shark, after the whale shark. It is a slow moving and most often observed when feeding at the surface and appears to be basking in the warmer water there. My mom placed the video camera in the area the shark was sighted and captured a glimpse of it on film.
On our way back to shore, we enjoyed seeing some beautiful light houses; we also passed by Lovells Island, a Boston Harbor Island which is the nearest island to sites of legendary shipwrecks. Finally after a 4 hour trip we saw Long Wharf and were glad to be back on land.
We all decided next time we go on a whale watch trip, we’re going to drive to Provincetown which is only an hour from our home and take a shorter boat ride to view the magnificent whales! Whales which are found in the waters around Provincetown are the fin, humpback, and right whale.
I give the Boston Harbor Cruise Whale Watch trip FOUR STARS for wheelchair accessibility. In order to earn the Fifth Star they would need to offer a discount to passengers seated in wheelchairs because they don’t have full access of the boat; provide an accessible outdoor seating area to view the whales or add some kind of lift to the upper deck so a passenger in a wheelchair can enjoy viewing the whales in some fresh open air! All the crew I met deserves FIVE STARS for their kindness and helpfulness.