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Photograph: Courtesy Seastreak

You can take a whale watching cruise directly from Manhattan this summer

Seastreak is launching whale watching tours that start departing from East 35th St on May 8.

Will Gleason
Written by
Will Gleason

You’ve probably heard reports, or seen the viral videos, of whales swimming in the waters around NYC. Now, there’s a fun new way for you to see the majestic mammals in person.

Seastreak, the high-speed ferry company based out of Highlands, NJ, will offer whale watching cruises departing directly Manhattan beginning on May 8. The new cruises, which depart from the public ferry docks at East 35th St and the Battery Maritime Building, will last for three hours, providing ample opportunity to catch sight of whales and other marine life.

“We’re confident that our customers will see wildlife,” said Abby van Hemmen, Seastreak’s Whale Watch Program Manager, in a statement. “Last season we saw humpback whales on 96% of our trips, but the diversity of the marine life we encountered was what really surprised me. We saw sea turtles, sunfish, pelagic birds, dolphins, sharks and massive groups of migrating cownose rays. The abundance of life in these waters is really a testament to the years of effort put forth by environmental groups to restore the ecosystem. A few years ago whale watching trips in this area wouldn’t have been possible.”

Though you’ll probably be scanning the waters for the duration of the cruise to nab that perfect Instagram shot, the experience on board the ships will also offer plenty of comfort with luxury seating, fully stocked bars and TV monitors displaying relevant education content. Meanwhile, the top deck provides panoramic 360-degree ocean views.

During the cruise, passengers will also pass iconic local land-bound landmarks, including the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Governors Island, Staten Island and Fort Hamilton. In order to provide an extra level of safety, capacity on the ships will be limited to 50 percent. 

While whales were once abundant around NYC, commercial whaling drastically reduced to the population up and down the east coast. Thanks to banning that practice, as well as environmental legislation like the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act, whales are now increasingly coming back to the area.

“The positive impact that these tours could have on local conservation efforts is important to us,” said James D. Barker, Seastreak’s Director of Business Development and Marketing. “That’s why we decided to participate in the Whale SENSE program sponsored by NOAA Fisheries and the Whale and Dolphin Conservation. The program provides training for our crew and naturalists so that we can appropriately educate our passengers and set a good example for responsible whale watching. We are the first company to run whale watching tours from Manhattan, so we intend to set a high standard.”

Beginning May 8, Seastreak is planning to offer one tour a day departing at 10am through November 28. Tickets are $55 for adults and $30 for children 12 and under. Discounts are available for seniors and groups.

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