As the sun sinks below the English Bay, the lights of downtown Vancouver flicker on. Accent Cruises’ fleet of yachts provide panoramic views of this crepuscular splendour as they glide past Burrard Inlet, Point Atkinson, and Whytecliff Park during private and public charters. The event planners at Accent Cruises strive to match the opulent backdrop of international ocean freighters and coastal mansions with equally lavish cruises. A resident chef prepares B.C. salmon and garlic teriyaki chicken during the dinner cruise, which departs 2-6 nights a week, and 200 party guests can carouse on the M.V. Burrard Queen's deck for private charters. Vessels come with stereo systems, fully stocked bars, and at least one passenger who used to be a class clown, further enlivening cruises.
Since 1982, Granville Island Boat Rentals has served more than a half million visitors as they step into a boat from Granville Island Marina and set off to explore sights such as Vancouver's vibrant downtown skyline and the islands and inlets of the serene Howe Sound and Indian Arm. With an priority on safety, their crew offers dockside instructions on operate speed boats before, with the harbour seals offering directions during the journey. Customers are replete with several experiences, ranging from calm cruises past the snow-capped mountains of Granite Falls of Indian Arm, or an adrenalin-fueled excursion through the islands of Howe Sound.
Pride of Vancouver Charters provides groups of up to 200 with a floating venue for weddings, office parties, and other social gatherings. They also host dinner cruises aboard their two ships, the Pride of Vancouver and the Star of Vancouver, that let passengers feast on views of the city and live entertainment as well as a gourmet buffet with table served beverages and dessert.
From the views of snow-capped mountains and the cascading Granite Falls of Indian Arm to the bustling public market of Granville Island, the Vancouver area overflows with seafaring escapes. Realizing the abundance of sandy beaches meeting lush green forests, diverse wildlife, totem poles, and charming seaside villages, the owners of Lonsdale Boat Rentals decided they needed to give locals and visitors easy access to the region's splendour. To accomplish this, they offer rentals of Hourston Glascrafts, Bayliners, and fishing boats to licensed boaters. They also create customizable sightseeing tours piloted by experienced captains who ferry passengers to Bowen Island for a coffee or to Deep Cove for dinner at a seaside restaurant. To accommodate groups, the team can charter 40- to 80-foot boats, allowing corporate outings, private parties, or the Brady Bunch's family reunion to take place in a scenic setting.
Since 1962, owner and U.S. Coast Guard–licensed captain Terry Buzzard has gotten to know the San Juan Islands and surrounding miles of water pretty well. Having hauled mail for the Post Office, salvaged wrecks, assisted in oil spill cleanups, and ferried passengers throughout the San Juan Islands, he has built quite a resumé of seafaring. This relationship with water isn't so surprising considering he began boating at the age of 3 when he was allowed to pilot a single-horsepower boat by himself with his trained rescue dog, Rusty.
Regardless of the actual job he's performing, Terry is always drawn to whales. By 1978, this fascination lead him to chartering trips specifically for whale watching, especially toward the schools of orca that made the region their home. Looking back, he's pretty certain his boat was the only one in the area at the time dedicated to the thrill of witnessing some of the world's largest and most beautiful animals. Today, the waters are spotted with various boats filled with passengers snapping pictures of the great aquatic beasts and shouting ululations whenever one smacks its enormous tail against the water, takes a playful leap, or belts a Mariah Carey song.
Terry's boat, the 110-foot Island Caper, provides generous sightlines to all passengers via its spacious outdoor deck and ample indoor viewing areas, and is decked out with a 34-speaker sound system. In business for 52 years, Island Mariner Whale Watching's unparalleled time and experience on the water offers cruise-goers an ideal experience, and also employs a seaplane to help spot whales and guide tours. With his chief navigator––a 7-year-old airedale terrier also named Rusty––Terry is right out there amid the excitement, ferrying whale watchers and sharing his life-long passion.
A tiny ripple glides along the smooth-as-glass water, alerting captain Pete to the fact that he and his passengers are about to have company. Sure enough, within seconds a group of glossy black fins breaks through the sea in a silent, synchronized ballet. A native Washingtonian who has spent his entire life on the water, captain Pete orchestrates San Juan Excursions to grant guests the chance to go head-to-head with nature in moments such as these. As marine naturalists certified by the Whale Museum’s Naturalist Training Program, captain Pete’s crew of passionate guides take to the peaceful waters of the Puget Sound to entertain boatloads of guests with informative facts about area wildlife witnessed during excursions.
The team’s passion for nature informs its low-impact approach to whale and wildlife watching, which is exemplified in the Odyssey, the company's tour boat. Originally a U.S. Navy search-and-rescue vessel forged in 1941, the craft is fueled by biodiesel when possible and maintains a low propeller RPM to minimize the Bono moans it releases into the water column. Though San Juan Excursions specializes in whale watching, it also sends adventurers forth to explore the waters on their own steam during sea-kayak tours.