Firstly – Welcome back! It’s been a while, since last we posted anything, but the drought is finally over. Thank you for stopping by and checking out what we are sharing. We truly appreciate you.
So…. thanks to the Covid-19 outbreak, we really haven’t been able to travel or explore much for the last few months. This has obviously been stifling for us, so it was high time we got out and did …something …anything!
In our case, that something turned out to be Whale Watching !!
Instead of driving out to New Jersey or Massachusetts, we heard about American Princess Cruises, who operate out of Sheepshead Bay, in Brooklyn. We checked the weather forecast and booked 2 seats on the midday cruise on Saturday, August the 8th.
How we heard about this company in Brooklyn was through a slightly strange conversation that Ken had with a fellow bus rider, one morning, a week or so prior to our own outing. The lady was quite excited about what she had done the previous weekend, and wanted to share that excitement… unfortunately, there was initially a little confusion at the start of the conversation as you can see from this excerpt from Ken’s Facebook…
Obviously, the conversation progressed about 1000% more coherently after things got clarified!
The cruises depart out of Pier 3 at 2498 Emmons Ave., in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, NY 11235 for the rest of the current season. There is a parking lot nearby and there is street parking available in what is mostly a residential area.
They recommend that you arrive 90 minutes before your departure time, mostly to allow for traffic through Brooklyn and finding somewhere to park.
Sheepshead Bay is a very nice, quiet part of Brooklyn, not more than a few minutes away from Coney Island and Kingsborough Community College. We probably should have explored a little, but that wasn’t what we were there for.
We located the boat with an easy half hour to spare – and found a seat on the upper deck, starboard-side. The windows on the upper deck are made of plastic sheeting, which can be rolled down in the case of inclement weather, while the lower deck had fixed-glass windows. The boat was in excellent condition and comfortable enough for its purpose.
There were probably between 25-30 people onboard when we set off, yet social-distancing was still very possible, most people kept their face masks on their faces, and the crew sanitized all surfaces before we boarded, twice during the trip, and again after we disembarked at the end of our tour.
At noon, on the dot, the boat pulled away from the dock, and we set off in search of whales !!
In addition to the boat’s regular crew, there were two naturalists, one of whom provided some nice educational running commentary as we sailed. When not telling us whale-related things, she and the other crew were busy scanning the waters around us, looking for a tell-tale spout of water, which would be a whale breathing at the surface.
From Sheepshead Bay, the boat took us more or less straight out into the Atlantic Ocean. Very rarely were waves sufficiently strong enough to cause any violent rolling motions on our boat, but one poor lady got seasick almost from the get-go.
*️⃣ Quick reminder: If you think you might get seasick, take some Dramamine 30-60 minutes before you go out on the water. Once you’re out there, it’s too late for the Dramamine to really help you much *️⃣
We saw a lot of container ships, tankers, and many,many fishing boats of all different sizes. In fact that’s pretty much all we saw until around 2pm, when we finally encountered a Humpback Whale.
And while the whale never breached or brought his head above the surface of the water, it was an amazing thrill to even see a real whale in the wild. Here are a few pictures we took:
We only saw the one whale, but it was a wonderful encounter nonetheless. When the whale finally got bored of having us follow him around (from a respectful distance), he lined up on our boat, started swimming toward us and dived under us!
Now that was a thrill and a half !!
We next caught sight of our whale when he resurfaced a good quarter-mile away on the other side of the boat.
And then it was time to return home to shore. Actually, we were out on the water for a half-hour longer than had been intended, but I think everyone – crew included – wanted to make the most of our single sighting.
Aside from some seagulls, cormorants, and a few dolphin, we didn’t see much else on the way back to Brooklyn…
We had a great time and with a little preparation, we were both able to enjoy the wonderful natural spectacle of seeing a whale in its habitat – the ocean.
So – what were those preparations, you ask? Well, there were just a few things we did:
1. We both slathered sunscreen on any exposed parts of our bodies to prevent sunburn. Very important!
2. We set off from home very early, so as not to be late…duh! We found there to be ample parking opportunities in the streets of the surrounding neighborhood, but there is a nearby parking lot, if we had been unable to get a free spot (and well-shaded, too!) on the street.
3. Ken took his Canon 5D Mark IV dSLR camera, with Sigma 150-600mm lens attached, for as close a look as possible. Most of the pictures in this piece were taken with this camera/lens combo. Shot entirely hand-held in Manual mode, f11, a shutter speed of 1/800, and Auto ISO, with Image Stabilization turned on. Bracing against the boat’s railings or cabin helped keep most images on the sharper side. A neck strap was in place at all times !
4. We had obtained some binoculars the week before – Celestron Nature DX 10×42 – and these were what Gabby was scanning the waters with. These binoculars turned out to be a really good purchase, and at $148 – quite a bargain. Gabby was able to really get a good look at the whale, passing container ships, etc.
5. We were among the first to board, so we were able to have our choice of where to sit, which isn’t necessarily a big deal, but it made us happy!
6. As mentioned – if you think you might get sick on the boat, take your Dramamine tablets before boarding the boat.
Tickets for adults are $55, seniors are $50, children are $40, and under 5yrs old is Free.
You can by tickets on the day (if any seats are left), but you’d probably be best off if you book online, in advance. Check the long-range weather forecast to make sure you don’t buy tickets for a day when there’s a thunderstorm or something!!
You can get more info and book tickets at:
We had a great time and will probably go out again, hoping to see even more whale action, next time.
We’d definitely recommend this trip, with this company, to anybody. There were groups of friends, families, couples like us, and even a couple of solo passengers on our boat. The crew were friendly, helpful, and informative and the boat gave us a really smooth ride for nearly the entire trip out and back, which we hadn’t really expected, so that was a plus!
Yeah… we drove nearly 75 miles round trip to do this boat ride, and we’d definitely do it again !!