At Vancouver, I first boarded a ship for my trip to Alaska. I knew I wanted to get back on to the water. The usual time for this trip is 5 hours, but we were out nearly 7, as the seas were rough and the orkas were far south in the San Juan Islands. The boat, called an Explorathor, is a jet boat with a metal hull, large pontoons and has a substantial glass enclosed area. Seating about 40, not all windows slide open for camera positions. Although the naturalist on our boat advised people to share the camera positions, most people who grabbed one early didn't yield. Frustrating!
How rough? Very! Risk of getting sea sick? Yes! Risk of falling down? Substantial! I held on with both hands. There is a washroom on board, but no food service. Bring along a lunch and a supply of ginger cookies (to prevent sea sickness). Also bring your non-alcoholic beverage. I had water, but hot tea would have been really nice.
The also have an open Zodiak called Lightship 1. You have to wear special dry suits and warm clothing to ride that boat, but in any case, the people who did got very wet as did their camera bags. It is only for the athletic!
This company guarantees you will see whales. Our boat spotted about 33 along with some dolphins, bald eagles, and some land animals. Along the way, the fantastic scenery entertained us as we passed along the coast of Vancouver Island (Vistoria) and many others. Our captain slowed from time to time for scenery and wildlife, but kept to all the wildlife watching rules of the WWOANW, which looks out for orkas and other creatures.
Honestly, I had camera problems. My new digital, a Canon, couldn't compete with a 35mm in getting shots of fast-moving whales. By the time the shutter clicked, the whales were beneath the sea. Also, the effort of holding on to the boat made photography difficult. When at the whale watch positions, the engine is turned off and the boat rolls in the waves. At that location, we saw larger whale-watch boats out from the Seattle area. I affirmed my decision to choose the smaller and lower to the water Explorathon.
I had a very good day out, but my Viking ancestors gave me the good genes, so that I don't get seasick. It would be a very hard time so late in the year (late September) if you were sick. I won't recommend this boat to those who have trouble getting around, have recently had major surgery, or have trouble with balance. You get banged around too much. A group of French firemen, who'd been out on a big party the night before, felt none too good and many people stayed on the open aft deck to get fresh air.