Whale watching – it’s one of those activities that’s hit or miss. Part of the excitement of spotting an animal in the wild is the fact that there are is no guarantee of success. We are the visitors and sometimes that means that no-one is home, or they don’t feel like showing their face for the guests that show up. I get that, to be honest I often feel the same. But when we headed out on the Sea World Whale Watch Cruise, I had a good feeling. As many of you know, it’s hard to find an accessible sightseeing cruise so I was thrilled to find good wheelchair accessibility on the Sea World Whale Watch Cruise.
Sea World Whale Watch Cruise – accessible Gold Coast
When were booked to travel to the Gold Coast in winter, I put whale watching at the top of my to-do list. Due to a previous, less than successful whale watching trip in another destination, I knew I’d have some convincing to do with the family. I just had a feeling that of anywhere, the Gold Coast was going to be a high chance of successful spotting whales. With the family convinced, I hoped we’d be rewarded with at least one whale sighting.
We hadn’t travelled far when I saw a spout of water in the distance. My hopes were elevated but nothing could prepare me for the thrill of seeing many whales during our cruise. We were determined Braeden should get as close to the action as possible. Despite knowing we could wheel out to the rear deck we decided to give the front of the boat a go. We had help from staff to carry his wheelchair up the half a dozen stairs to the bow.
Even though we had calm seas the rock of the boat didn’t make it easy to walk Braeden up and when we got there he was really unhappy in his wheelchair. We never make things easy on ourselves, if we did we would have sat him on the bench seating on the deck. The problem with Braeden is his visual attention and his distractible nature means he would have people watched from that position and totally missed nature’s whale show.
So, we stood at the front rail and Braeden stood with everyone else watching. He laughed at the fin slapping and the echo-like sound of the whale’s exhaling. He had a front row position and he loved being amongst everyone.
I’ve seen some remarkable photos of the whales off the Gold Coast and had every intention of producing an award-winning photo but it’s so hard to do. Hanging on to the railing with one hand and steadying the camera enough ready for a shot, all the while anticipating the next spot the whale might emerge. It’s like a game of hide and seek. There are more spotters in this game but that adds a different degree of difficulty as excited fellow passengers lift a hand or move their head into your photo at the most crucial moment. I did my best to capture some of the action in the water and given everything, I was pleased with them. No awards are coming my way but I am happy to have captured some and Amelia got some great ones below.
We all felt exhilarated by the trip. Seeing so many whales, including a mother and her bub was an absolute privilege. What impressed us so much about this cruise was that we spent more time with the whales than getting out to the open water as you do in other locations. Informative commentary was provided throughout so we also came away with a bunch of whale facts. And while the cruises are wonderful for the guests, the photographs and information collected by the Sea World team is important for education and whale conservation.
Accessibility of Sea World Whale Watch Cruise
Bookings must be made with a minimum of 24 hours notice for cruising with a wheelchair. There is only one wheelchair space available on the Sea World Whale Watch Cruise. Unfortunately, power wheelchairs are not able to be accommodated.
Ramp access is provided to the Sea World Cruise reception area and to the boat.
Access onto the boat is via a gently sloped ramp.
Once onboard there is a small lip to get from the rear of the boat inside.
Our family boarded first so staff could assist us and tie down Braeden’s wheelchair. Braeden wasn’t happy staying in his chair once the boat was on the move so we swapped him to a seat. Once we made it to open waters, we were free to move Braeden in his chair around the vessel. This is dependent on swell and the skipper’s okay.
Should a wheelchair user prefer to stay inside the large windows provide a great view.
The rear deck is accessible to wheelchair users.
A larger accessible bathroom is available. While it is larger than the other toilet stalls, due to the restrictions of the vessel it isn’t the same size as a standard accessible bathroom.
For anyone that suffers from motion sickness it may be worth taking a Travacalm tablet about 30 minutes before you head out to sea. We had a lovely calm day but the boat still rocks in a manner that might cause you discomfort. We have one family member that has motion sickness so they took a Travacalm tablet which worked a treat. They did cause a hard to shake tiredness for the rest of the afternoon though, so if you don’t need them, I suggest avoiding them. If you forget to take your own tablets, they are for sale on the boat.
Read more about the Sea World Whale Watch cruise on their website.
Our family was hosted but our opinions are our own and hopefully my pictures show our whale spotting success. Not that we can guarantee you’ll see whales but it seems the Gold Coast is a good place to give it a go.