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Harv and Marv's Outback Alaska
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Superior Whale Watching - 3hrs on the water!
Certificate of Excellence
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Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
Owner description: Harv and Marv’s mission is to provide the highest quality, personalized, Alaskan outdoor experience available; and do so in an honest and sincere way.
Reviewed 29 September 2011

Captain Tony was wonderful. We saw Humpbacks, seals and a pod of Orca's. All I can say is amazing. It was the best excursion I have ever been on. We wanted a small boat, not the normal cattle call boats from the cruiseline excursion. We got what we asked for and so much more!!! Even our driver to and from the boat was very friendly and informative.

I would highly recomend this to any one wanting a whale watching excursion!!

2  Thank joannel1234
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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"captain liz"
in 98 reviews
"small boat"
in 118 reviews
"sea lions"
in 244 reviews
"person boat"
in 40 reviews
"highly recommend harv and marv"
in 18 reviews
"whale watching"
in 354 reviews
"cruise ship"
in 161 reviews
"mendenhall glacier"
in 253 reviews
"private tour"
in 58 reviews
"larger boats"
in 27 reviews
"cruise critic"
in 13 reviews
"bubble net feeding"
in 55 reviews
"see whales"
in 69 reviews
"van driver"
in 22 reviews
"auke bay"
in 44 reviews
"great captain"
in 23 reviews
"great trip"
in 53 reviews

1,135 - 1,139 of 1,316 reviews

Reviewed 27 September 2011

Decided to try Harv and Marv's based on other reviews. We had a very good time. The boat was small, just 6 of us and Sean, our guide. Sean was very knowledgeable of the area and of whales and made the trip very enjoyable. The weather was perfect and the seas were calm. Started out kind of slow and Sean said we might not see that many whales. Well he was wrong! We saw about a dozen humpbacks, some very up close and personal!, Got pix of them blowing, jumping and breaching. On the way back Sean took us to see a bald eagle nest and the new hatch-ling, another plus for the trip. Finally on the way back we stopped at the Mendenhall glacier, truly spectacular scenery.

I guess the only disappointment was while talking to others who also went out that day was they got to see Orcas which we didn't, I guess the eagles and the glacier made up for that!

1  Thank hankp
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 25 September 2011

We had a sunny clear blue sky day.

Harv and Marv operate now very differently than only a few years ago. First, they have someone else taking reservations. There is no Eileen (wife of Marv or Harv) any more. Not along ago we didn't have to pay in advance for our trip and there is a cancellation fee involved. But as long as we know that there is no problem. Their policy is clearly stated on their website. Farther, now If you want to drive your car and park you won’t get a discount any longer since you need to pay for a parking.

The plan for that day was to drive our car and park at the marina parking so we can continue north to one of the hiking trailheads right after whale watching. First, a person who takes reservation for Harv and Marv forgot to tell us there are only limited (very limited) parking spaces available. previously we used the shuttle. We got to the parking lot and drove around looking for a place to park. There was nothing available, not a single spot and it was only 8:15 in the morning. At this point we had only 15 minutes before our tour. We drove and drove trying to figure out where to park and what to do since there was still no empty parking spot anywhere. Then one car left. What a relief!

After we parked our car we went to a machine to get a ticket ($4.00), and then returned to a car to put a permit on a dash board. We now quickly dashed to the top of a ramp where about 12 people already waited and some kind of a representative was chatting with a couple of people completely, at first, ignoring us and others, then making some sarcastic remarks when asked by someone how many people are going to be on their boat. All people but us arrived by a van provided by Marv and Harv. My first thought was “but we supposed to be on a 6 people boat.” Soon we learned there were two groups.

Our companions were two parents with two teenagers. They were very nice but we all hardly had any time to exchange pleasantries since we were all involved in watching whales. And there were many whales to be watched.

Our captain arrived almost at the same time we arrived. When finalizing our booking I asked for a tour with Jay since we were on the boat with him previously. No promises and I understood that. Our captain was James. Harv and Marv now have a group of captains listed on their website. After we got back to our hotel I checked and “our” captain is not listed. So I don’t even know if he is licensed to take people on tours. Nonetheless, he was wonderfully accommodating and excited about all whales we were able to observe. The boat we were on was very clean and there was plenty space for all of us to sit and move comfortably. There were granola bars, bottles of water, and cans of sodas provided. We did not have any time to eat or drink. Too busy watching whales.

A few minutes to our trip the captain stated the negative side of such early tour is that there are no other boats to tell him where whales are and he would need to look for them. That didn't sound too encouraging but we persevered and waited. Only a couple or so minute later he told us he can see whales but we couldn't at first. Then we saw one small boat a very far away. As we got closer we saw zillion of gulls flying and screaming. Then we saw our first bubble net feeding display. Quick but amazing! We slowly came closer hoping for more. Our captain emphasized rules and regulations of how close to whales he is allowed to maneuver his boat. Soon there was another bubble net feeding display, then another. There were more.

Soon other boats were arriving. With our mouth opened in amazement we hardly used our cameras. How could we limit ourselves to a small area through a viewfinder of cameras when we have such breathtaking show going on? Nonetheless, we took some pictures. At this point we counted 15 boats watching such exceptional show. We stayed at this one spot for about 45 minutes. As whales moved our captain repositioned the boat slowly and carefully.

After about one hour we left to look for other whales. And we soon found them or maybe whales found us. We watched them closely as they were coming closer to our boat. They were all around. We hurried from one side of the boat to the other. We all tried to figure out where was the best viewing? Starboard, port side, bow, stern? Whales seemed to be all around us and now they were getting closer to us. They were breaching, slapping tails, showing flukes, blowing, groaning, making strange to us sounds while falling to water after breaching. Our captain pointed to us a baby whale next to a mother. Three whales came within no more than 30 feet from the boat, dove under our boat and then... They were gone. It was startlingly quiet now. Our captain informed us we should expect them somewhere on the stern so we waited but meanwhile watched other whales blowing and swimming at no too far distance showing their tails and flukes.

Suddenly, not on the stern but on the starboard, port and bow sides of our boat three huge humpbacks emerged, a few feet from us. They could so easily turn our boat with their huge bodies. We could smell their awful breath as we continued to watch them. They now were getting away from us and closer to other boat. It was time for others to experience what we just experienced. We watched them in disbelief as they got farther and farther away. Then it was time to go back. We saw lots of blows on the way back but there was no time to slow down.

In conclusion, we had an extraordinary whale watching trip but I wouldn't hesitate to book with another company if Marv and Harv were sold out. After all humpback whales don’t care who a captain is or who owns a boat and we went to see whales.

7  Thank Places
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 25 September 2011

I found Harv and Marv's on tripadvisor.com. All the reviews were excellent. I called, and spoke with Danielle. She answered all my questions. I had no idea what a great time we were in for even with all the fantastic reviews.
I had fretted about the weather since we were traveling late in the season, worried we wouldn't see any whale, was afraid that I wouldn't get an opportunity to get a good look/picture, among other things.
I can now report ALL of the things I had worried about were a waste of time. A young lady was waiting right off the gangway and directed us to the waiting van (only a few yards away) where we only had to wait on a few people and then were on our way. The driver was so interesting. He was brimming with great information about Juneau, Alaska and the lifestyle and weather.
Once at the harbor we met Captain Steve who led us to our boat and we were on our way. There was only 6 of us and Capt. Steve. We were able to go outside on the bow of the boat and the back of the boat as well. Inside there was sufficient seating for the 7 of us and large windows for viewing. We were barely outside of the trolling zone and we began to see eagles and then whales spouting!
During our time on the boat we must have seen 20-30 whales, both orca and humpback. We also saw eagles and seals. I was able to take too many pictures but now talented/timely enough to get a tailfin! Finally just put the camera down and enjoyed the trip.
I can't say enough positive about this adventure. On the cruise ship they offer a whale watching experience that is with about 50-100 other people fighting for a spot at the railing when a whale is spotted. We paid less for a higher quality experience. When my husband would spot a whale spouting Capt. Steve would take off in that direction, I'm sure we wouldn't have had such input on the cruise excursion.
We paid less, had a more personal experience and greater participation. The van driver even took us to two different spots to view Mendenhall Glacier on the way back allowing us to take pictures and even took ones for us. You would be crazy not to choose Harv and Marv's Outback Alaska for your whale watching experience!!!!

2  Thank CindyMillburg
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 25 September 2011

We first made enquires with Harv & Marv 5 months ago, looking for something of better value than cruise ship tours. Were picked up at the dockside in Juneau on time at 11am, taken some 30 mins to Auke Bay where we were introduced to 'Capt Steve'. My Wife suffers from sea sickness so we were a little concerned, but we didn't need to be. This was truly the most fantasic experience of our holiday, 3 hours our in a smallish boat with two other couples, there was lots of room to move about at will, plenty of space to position yourself and take countless photos. I think the number of whales we saw even surprised Steve, he was as excited as we all were. Orca's, Humpback's, mothers and babies, just a wonderful display. You could see the larger 'double decker' boats crammed with passengers, less manouverable, difficult for people to get the photos compared with us, ample room and the speed to get around. Absolutely the best value for money. On the way back to the harbour, we were taken to an island where we saw an eagle nesting, and during the drive back to Juneau, we were able to get close up views of Mendenhall Glacier. Great day, thank you Guys so much

1  Thank rob3066
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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