Yes, You Can Go Whale Watching in New York

September 03, 2020

Photo: Michael Blum, Unsplashed

Growing up in the bustling city of New York with all of its skyscrapers and dazzling lights, one might find it hard to conceive the idea of witnessing something as miraculous as whales in the wild. Huge whales at that, no less: Humpback whales, the size of a school bus, right here in the backyard of New York City! Located in the borough of Brooklyn is a neighborhood called Sheepshead Bay. There, one can be greeted with the scent of salt water, in addition to the sight of boat after boat docked along the piers.

Due to current COVID-19 conditions, safety regulations and precautions are taken into account to ensure the health and safety of passengers and crew alike. According to American Princess Cruises, they have:

  • Limited the number of people on the vessel.
  • Limited the number of people in the cabin.
  • 6-feet markers are posted on railings outside the cabin, indicating where passengers should stand.
  • Before and after all trips, surfaces are thoroughly cleaned and sanitized. Staff will be re-sanitizing during trips. 
  • Face masks/coverings MUST be worn inside the cabin AND when 6 feet social distance cannot be maintained.
  • Hand sanitizing stations are available, and may be used as often as needed. Soap and water are available in restrooms.
  • Daily health checks of all crew are required. 
  • If anyone is experiencing COVID-19 related symptoms and/or have a fever, they will not be permitted to board the vessel. 

In addition, in order to board the vessel, a reservation must be made online. According to the American Princess Cruises’ website, whale watching day cruises are currently being offered Wednesday through Saturday and Sunday, with an additional sunset whale watching cruise being offered Thursday evenings, which was the one my family and I had opted for. 

Upon arrival at the pier, check in was done with a crew member prior to boarding. Safety markers were posted to ensure different groups of family and friends were within 6 feet of each other. Once everyone who registered was accounted for, the cruise departed from Pier 3. Light refreshments were offered upon purchase.

Departing Sheepshead Bay. Photo: Tina Li

After approximately 10-15 minutes of cruising along the bay, the loudspeaker announced the first sighting of a humpback whale. Off to the right side of the boat, around two o’clock, was a spotted tail slapping whale. The captain then turned the boat around so that other passengers could spectate and observe the whale as well. The cruise continued  down the bay in hopes of more whale and sea creature sightings, and, luckily for us, we were able to see a bunch more humpback whales, some of them breaching, lunge feeding, and many of them tail slapping. The search for whales continued for approximately three hours before the boat turned around to head back to the dock.

By then, the sun had begun to set, and the sky was lit with beautiful shades of red, orange, and yellow. Upon arrival back at the pier, we could see tons of buildings light up in the dark, creating an illusion of the infamous New York City skyline in the distance. To end the night, restaurants are lined down the strip next to the piers for hungry passengers.

Sunset Cruise. Photo: Tina Li

The thought of whale watching in New York is so bizarre that one could hardly picture it, however, with a little bit of research and the help of social media, experiences like these aren’t so far-fetched. Live vicariously, explore a little more, and until the next one!

Leave a Reply