Whale watching Hervey Bay pics Supplied
Whale watching Hervey Bay pics Supplied

Whale operators to begin season at reduced capacity

MOST whale watching vessels will be operating at 50 per cent capacity when the season kicks off in three weeks.

So far, bookings have been mixed, although they are continuing to build.

Bobbie Hayter from Spirit, of Hervey Bay said strong forward bookings have made up for all the cancellations and refunds due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Tasman Venture is also reporting a lot of inquires about whale watching and the company plans to offer three tours each day, two half day whale tours and a Remote Fraser Island tour. Touring capacity on Tasman Venture will be reduced from 120 maximum per trip to about 55 people.

Andrew Ellis from Pacific Whale Foundation says bookings are happening, but happening slowly, with forward orders down 82 per cent on the same period last year.

PWF will operate at a 50 per cent capacity and the company is hoping the square metre rule is reduced to two square metres to enable it to make some money this whale season.

Blue Dolphin Marine Tours has strong bookings for the school holidays, including the Brisbane long weekend in mid-August replacing the Ekka show holiday. The vessel will operate around 60% capacity until the current COVID restrictions change.

Boat Club Whale Watch will operate about 40% capacity at the start of the season and advanced bookings are currently poor. The tour will not be including children free this season.

Whale Watching tour dates:

• Tasman Venture: July 11 (offering three tours including Remote Fraser Island)

• Whalesong Cruises: 11th July (first Sunset Cruise was on June 13)

• Boat Club Whale Watch: July 11

• Hervey Bay Dive Centre: July 18

• Freedom Whale Watch: July 16

• Pacific Whale Foundation: July 17

• Blue Dolphin Marine Tours: July 18

• Spirit of Hervey Bay: July 18

• Hervey Bay Whale Watch: July 18 (three tours)

Hervey Bay Eco Marine Tours has reported very strong bookings for their sunset and turtle tours, with July looking very positive.

The tour is running at 50 per cent capacity due to COVID.

Fraser Island Boat Charters vessels, Indigo and Cattitude, are now solidly booked until October, with a third boat, Dream On, arriving on the weekend and open for bookings from the start of July. Interest has been strongest from Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast.

Fraser Dingo Tours also have solid bookings, with day trips and hire operating since May.

The company's first tag-a-long tour went out on Thursday for two days.

Hiking tours are also taking bookings, with six adventure hikers due to leave for the island next Friday.