Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What about the boats, is everything a 'small boat experience'?
A. We are proud of the six pack experience that our small boats offer guests. However, these boats cannot operate in rough water conditions like our larger boats can. On the day of your tour, if the water conditions are such that it does not make for a good experience on our smaller six passenger boat, you will be given the option of either canceling your tour for a full refund or, if we have space available you can be added to a group on one of our larger vessels. Thank you for your understanding with this matter that is out of our control.
Q. What if I have another tour scheduled before or after your tour?
A. If you have another tour scheduled that ends within an hour before your pick up time or beginning within an hour after of your scheduled drop off time of our tour, you will need to let us know as soon as possible. We do not want to compromise our tour because of scheduling conflicts. This is not fair to the other passengers. We will call a taxi to take you to where you need to go and payment is your responsibility. We try to schedule our tours with ample time between to ensure there is time to allow for any unforeseen delays. Contact the Reservation Team if you are considering multiple tours, so we can help maximize your limited time.
Q. If we are traveling with a group, can we each pay separately and still get a discount rate on a tour?
A. Unfortunately, in order to extend the discount for ANY tour, the payment must be made by one person (exception: a deposit and final payment, if applicable, can be made by two different people).
Q. What type of whales are near Juneau, Alaska?
A. Humpback and Orca Whales. We have seen Humpback Whales on 100% of our trips since 2004. We see Orca Whales about 20% of the time.
Q. What is the best time of the year to see whales around Juneau?
A. The best months are May through September for Humpback Whales.
Q. Do you have a whale sighting guarantee?
A. No/Yes. After seeing whales on 100% of the trips, we decided not to use this as a means to get customers. We promise to do the best we can to locate whales on each and every trip. If you do not see a whale on your tour, you will receive a 50% refund.
Q. How long will we be with you and what happens during that time?
A. From the time we depart from your pick up location until the time we return you, it will be about 4.5 hours which includes round trip transportation from your pick up location. Most tours will include a stop at the Brotherhood Bridge for a photo opportunity of the Mendenhall Glacier.
TOUR TIME-LINE EXAMPLE:
If your tour meeting time is 9:20am, we plan for transportation to leave by 9:30am and arrive at the harbor where our boats depart by 10:00am. When you arrive at the harbor, you will be met by your captain or guide and have an opportunity to use the restroom on land (there is one on the boat, it's just not as roomy) and then you will head down the dock to board our vessel for your whale watching adventure! You will start heading back to the harbor at approximately 12:35pm (depending on where you are) so that you can be disembarking by about 12:55pm to meet your returning transport at 1:00pm. The shuttle will head to the Brotherhood Bridge for a look at the Mendenhall Glacier* on your return to town. This stop will be 10 to 15 minutes in duration, you will then be returned back to your pick up location by 1:45pm. *Mendenhall Glacier sighting is weather dependent
Q. Can you see whales anytime of the day?
A. Yes. Humpback Whales surface + or - every 15 minutes to breathe.
Q. Is it better to go whale watching in the morning or in the afternoon?
A. History has taught us that it makes no difference. We have seen whales on 100% of our tours for the last 11 years. Being the wild animals that they are, you just cannot predict when they will be more active! They have no set time for breaching, tail lobbing, peck slapping etc. If you happen to witness this behavior, you know you are seeing something special. :)
Q. How close can we get to the whales?
A. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) states that boats may not approach Humpback Whales closer than 100 yards (300 ft).
Q. Can you offer assistance with German Speaking Guests?
A. Yes, click HERE to read an article by Sven & Anja (2014 guests). They are also happy to help translate if needed!
Q. Will you pick us up? How do we get to your boat?
A. Yes. We will pick you up in our courtesy shuttle near your cruise ship or hotel and drive you out to the boat and return you to your ship/hotel when we are done with the tour.
Q. Is there a bathroom on board.
A. Yes, flushing toilet and locking door.
Q. Are the boats covered and do they have heaters?
A. Yes. The boats have enclosed cabins with large windows and heaters if the weather is cold.
Q. Is the water rough around Juneau?
A. Juneau is located in - (the inside passage) there is no open ocean water near Juneau.
You are within sight of land at all times. Between May and the end of August the water is usually
pretty calm. The wind is usually 15 mph or less. Although an occasional storm can blow through.
In September expect it to be rainy windy and chilly on the water. SEE: Chart of the Juneau area.
Q. What will the weather be like? Click HERE for the current weather in Juneau :)
A. 68% chance of clouds and rain. We are located in a rain forest and it is usually cooler on the water. In 2011, the average temperature on the water was around 55 degrees. A good combination to wear is an outer layer that is wind/rainproof with a fleece coat underneath, this will keep you warm and dry. If you are from a warmer climate, you might want a hat and gloves. May and September can be windier and colder. A comfortable passenger is a happy passenger!
Q. Do people get sea sick on your boats?
A. Almost never. 15 passengers in the last 13 years.
Q. If the water is too rough to go on the tour, can we get a refund?
A. Yes, full 100% refund. Refunds are generally processed immediately, however it gets very busy during the season and may take up to 14 days.
Q. When I make a reservation after April 1st, why do I have to pay in full with no option for a deposit?
A. Since we are such a small operation, we have two people (Kayla and Colleen) handling all of the reservations, payments, follow ups, scheduling, and phone calls. Once the season begins, they do not have time to re-invoice everyone who has a balance due.
Q. What is your cancellation policy?
A. Your tour is 100% refundable if you cancel at least 30 days before tour date. Refund may be subject to a 3% administrative fee if you request a check refund and your original payment was via credit card. Cancellations 15-29 days prior to your tour date will receive a 50% refund*. No refunds for no-shows or cancellations within 14 days of tour date. Refunds are generally processed immediately, however it gets very busy during the season and may take up to 14 days. *No additional administrative fees for partial refunds.
Q. What happens if we miss our cruise ship because the boat breaks down?
A. First, we have never had anybody miss their cruise ship. We guarantee we will get you back to your cruise ship before it departs.
If we fail:
1. You will receive a full refund for the whale watching tour.
2. Each passenger on board will receive $100.00.
3. We will pay the boat or plane fair to get you to your next port of call.
4. If needed, we will provide food and lodging.
Q. What other things of interest might we see on the whale watching tour?
A. Eagles, Sea lions, seals, lighthouses, mountain glaciers, remote islands and
Q. Can I smoke or drink alcohol while on the whale watching tour?
A. For the safety and enjoyment of all passengers, smoking and drinking are not allowed.
Q. If we would like to go to the Mendenhall Glacier, how do we get there?
A. Unfortunately, due to changes in permitting and regulations by the US Forest Service, we can no longer pick up or drop off at the Mendenhall Glacier. You can schedule a taxi ahead of time or call when you arrive, the two main companies that service the glacier are Evergreen Taxi - 907-586-2121 / www.evergreentaxi.com and Juneau Taxi & Tours - 907-789-1111 / www.juneau.cab
Q. How many passengers can you take on a boat at one time?
A. Our smallest boats take 6 guests. For guests who would like a bit of a discount, we offer tours with up to 18 guests. For private groups we can accommodate up to 18 guests. Children and infants regardless of age are included in the total.
Q. What if we have more than 6 passengers in our group?
A. We have several boat options. We can run 6 passenger boats in tandem or we can accommodate groups of up to 18 on a single boat depending on availability for that day.
Q. What happens if we sleep in (or something like that) and are late getting to the Harv and Marv's courtesy shuttle?
A. Our tours are designed to help maximize passenger's limited time in port and it is important to be on time so we can leave on time. Passengers often have other tours or plans for the day where we drop them off at their next location. We feel this is not fair for the other passengers who are on time. WE WILL WAIT 10 MINUTES and then leave for the tour. You will NOT receive a refund. Please be on time. If there is space on a later tour, we will try to reschedule, but we cannot guarantee that the later tours will have space.
Q. Is there a discount for children?
A. Because of our limited seating capacity, we are unable to offer any discounts.
Q. Will there be children on the tour?
A. We have adjusted our child policy. If you would like to guarantee that there are no children on your tour you will need to book a private tour.
Q. Why are you called Harv and Marv, when their names are Pete and Jay?
A. Pete and Jay have been friends since junior high school (1970's). One day after Pete watched a movie which the only sane character was Harv. He started calling Jay, Harv. Jay getting a little tired of this, replied by calling Pete, Harv or Marv. They have called each other Harv and Marv for over thirty years now.
Q. We see all these photos of whales, how many can we really expect to see on a trip?
A. We have seen as many as 25 in one day, but we are happy if we get to see 2 to 3 different Humpback Whales per trip.
Q. There are lots of photos of whales breaching and bubble feeding, what can we really expect to see on the tour?
A. By far, most of the time we just watch the whales swimming through the water, coming up to breath every 7 to 15 minutes. We always enjoy seeing the fluke or tail, but they don't always show their tail when they dive. We see a whale breach on about 14% of our trips. In 2011 we saw bubble feeding on 16% of the tours. Each trip and each day is different.
Q. We have heard you now have up o 18 passengers, what about the 6 passenger boats?
A. YES! We have been observing the demand over that past few years and have come to realize that we can still offer the same fantastic personalized tour with up to 14 guests - and with the weather being unpredictable - we have increase our capacity. We are still operating 6 passenger boats for guests who have smaller private groups or would like that experience.
The custom built M/V Alaskan (12 guests), has sailed very successfully since 2010. We added another custom built boat in 2012, the M/V Riptide (14 guests), and brand new in 2015, the M/V Chilkat (18 guests - for larger private groups).
Q. Where is Eileen?
A. Eileen is still around, she has worked hard for the past few years and has decided to enjoy some R&R. However, she is still helping out and available whenever she is needed. Kayla and Colleen are now in their third season as our Reservation team and they have done a wonderful job of handling phone and email reservations and inquiries.
Q. Are there changes going on at Harv and Marv's?
A. YES! We have expanded our team! ~ We have realized the demand is growing and we want to make sure we can continue to offer the same level of service and business model that you have all grown to expect AND offer more space so we don't have turn away as many guests. We have added one more departure per day for each vessel and will also be adding a new captain (more info to come soon). In addition, we have added Dock Representatives to assist guests in finding their transportation, and have also shuttle/van drivers to enable the captains to take that one additional trip each day. So, look for some new friendly faces as you arrive into Juneau, and we look forward to seeing you!
Q. We have heard lots of good things about your company, so what are some of the negatives?
A. Since we operate smaller, personalized boats, if the water is rough, a larger vessel (40 to 150 passengers) will give you a smoother ride. This is why we have increased our capacity and added the 12, 14, and 18 passengers vessels to our line-up.
A. There are three big steps to get in and out of our boats and the van parks about 300 yards away from our boat. If you cannot walk 1/2 mile or up and down stairs with ease, you should consider booking with a different company - although, all companies in Juneau leave from the same dock so they will all require the same walking distances.
A. If you have less than six (6) people in your group and do not pay for an exclusive tour, you may end up with some people that are not so fun or enjoyable to be around! We have no control over this. If you are concerned about other people on the boat, the exclusive tour may be the way to go!
Q. How soon do we need to make a reservation?
A. You can wait as long as you like, (we need about 1 hour notice if you are in town and we have space), however, it is best to make the reservation as soon as you can to get the dates and times you want, some dates are filling up already. If you have been been e-mailing and asking questions for awhile, you may lose the spot you are interested in because someone else called or emailed and booked for that date and time.
Q. How do we make a reservation and what is your payment policy?
Go to our contact page and send off an email or call Kayla or Colleen. If you are making a reservation through our online system, you will be required to pay the balance in full at the time of booking.
If you would like the option to pay a 50% deposit, you will need to contact us directly via email - email@example.com - or call 866-909-7288. To confirm a reservation by phone, we require a 50% deposit at the time of booking if paying by credit card. If paying by check, payment in full is required 30 days prior to your tour.
Please make checks payable to Harv and Marv's and mail to P.O. Box 32825, Juneau, AK 99803
Deposit is 100%* refundable if you cancel 30 days before tour date.
*If you pay by check we will issue your refund in full by check = 100% refund.
Credit card refunds may be assessed an additional 3% fee
Your payment is fully refundable (less fees stated above) up to 30 days prior to your tour date. If you cancel 15-29 days prior to your tour date you will receive a 50% refund, if you cancel within 14 days, or do not show up for your tour, there is no refund.
Q. What do your boats look like?
A. Click HERE to see pictures of the boats.
Q. What other whale watching companies do we recommend? And what other activities are there to do in Juneau?
A. We recommend Alaska Galore Tours (our sister Company with the same costumer service and tour quality). If you would like to do more research, check the official Juneau travel website. Most of our competitors are listed here along with everything else there is to do in Juneau. Look through them and pick the one that works best for you.
We hope this helps! If you have other questions that are not answered here, please email us.