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Whale Watching in Tromso Norway With Brim Explorer

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Whale watching in Tromso Norway was a huge highlight of my recent 5-day trip exploring the Arctic Circle of Northern Norway. 

Although we initially set our eyes on Tromso thanks to its reputation as one of the best Northern Lights viewing areas in the world, there is so much more to do and see here.

We decided to visit Tromso, known as the Paris of the North, in November so that Northern Lights season would overlap with one of the best windows for whale watching expeditions.

While there are multiple companies in the area offering whale watching excursions, after doing extensive research and spending the day on one of their ships, I would highly recommend planning this activity with Brim Explorer.

Not only did they successfully lead us to a pod of killer whales, but we were extremely lucky and saw humpback whales as well!

A humpback whale tail above water in the Arctic Ocean
I had never tried photographing whales before, and let’s just say it’s easier said than done!

Although no whale watching excursion can truly guarantee a whale sighting, the team at Brim Explorer is experienced and knowledgeable which will give you the best opportunity possible.

During the journey you’ll also be educated by your marine biologist guides about the whales, Arctic ecosystems and surrounding geographies.

Whale watching ship in the Arctic Circle
During your journey to the whale watching area you’ll enjoy beautiful Arctic landscapes

I even had the opportunity to sit down with our ships captain, Bjornar, to learn more about Brim’s custom ships which incorporate silent electric motors to help avoid disturbing the whales.

Whale watching excursion ship captain in Norway
I had a great time chatting with the ship’s captain, Bjornar

And in this post, I’ll cover everything you need to know to make the most of whale watching in Tromso, Norway with Brim Explorer, sharing photos and helpful tips from our experience along the way!

If video guides are more your cup of tea, be sure to check out the full length whale watching video I posted on my YouTube channel. Not only does it include my interview with Bjornar, but it also showcases tons of beautiful footage I shot from our whale safari.

You’ll notice some links and advertisements from partner or affiliate sites throughout this post. I typically earn a small commission on any purchases made through those links at no additional cost to you. If you check those out, great. If not, I’m still happy you’re here! 

Where is Brim Explorer located?

Brim Explorer offers whale watching tours departing right from the Tromso harbor area near the Skarven Kro restaurant in the city center. This allows you to easily access the activity by walking from hotels in downtown Tromso. 

While Brim Explorer also provides whale watching and other Arctic adventures from the Lofoten Islands and Oslo, Norway, this post focuses on the Tromso silent whale watching activity.

Brim Explorer ship preparing for silent whale watching
Brim Explorer silent whale watching tours conveniently depart from the heart of Tromso

Departing from Tromso puts you in prime position to spot whales and other marine life right in the Arctic Ocean. From here the ships will travel to the Skervoy area, located northeast of Tromso, where the whales typically migrate each year.

Where should I stay when visiting Tromso for whale watching?

With so many hotels and home rentals located right in central Tromso, you have ample convenient options for places to stay near the Brim Explorer whale watching departure point. 

Even if you elect to rent a car during your visit, parking around town is expensive and fairly limited. Chances are you’ll be walking to the departure point pickup.

Downtown Tromso Norway
The Radisson Blu has a great location near the water

During my visit to Tromso we stayed at the Radisson Blu which is a short 5 minute walk from the Brim Explorer departure point.

Not only was this a convenient hotel to stay at for this activity, but we also discovered that many other organized activities such as Northern Lights Tours, dogsledding, reindeer experiences and more depart from outside the Radisson Blu.

If you haven’t booked your accommodations yet, definitely consider staying there. It will make your activity logistics 100 times easier. The hotel also has a great breakfast buffet and comfortable accommodations. 

You can browse other deals on hotels in Tromso here.

What is Brim Explorer best known for?

Brim Explorer is best known for running silent ships that are more friendly to the whales. The boats and electric motors are custom designed in house by Brim to minimize underwater noise pollution. 

This allows the vessels to approach marine life without disturbance, resulting in closer sightings and intimate encounters with creatures like humpback whales and orcas!

Marine biologist on a whale watching tour
One of our marine biologist guides dropping some whale knowledge on the tour group

The guides for Brim Explorer are also marine biologists, which make them extremely knowledgeable and big time whale enthusiasts.

Their expertise and passion shine as they provide insightful information during tours. Not only were they knowledgeable, but they were super entertaining!

Where else does Brim Explorer operate tours? 

In addition to their popular Tromso tours, Brim Explorer also operates whale watching and Arctic safari tours in other prime Norwegian locales like Oslo, Lofoten, Svalbard and Bodo. 

Their numerous locations allow more travelers to witness wildlife and beautiful remote landscapes.

Orca whales up close to a Brim Explorer ship
The orcas were putting on a show for visitors during my trip with Brim Explorer

Whether you seek humpback whales in the Arctic Ocean or elusive walruses in the icy Svalbard archipelago, Brim Explorer connects visitors to nature through responsible tourism on their comfortable ships.

What should I bring when whale watching in Tromso Norway?

While the ships interior stays heated, you’ll need to bring enough layers and warm clothing gear to tolerate about 1 hour of time spent outdoors on deck in extremely cold temperatures when you reach the whale sighting areas.

Arctic Twilight in Tromso Norway
The warmer you dress the more time you can spend on the ship deck enjoy your adventure!

I’d recommend wearing multiple layers that you can easily remove during your time inside the ship. A wool hat, heavy gloves and the warmest boots you own will go a long way.

You might want to also stash some snacks and water in your bag so you don’t have to buy everything from the ship’s cafe during the multiple hour tour. 

And remember to bring your best camera and binoculars to spot blows from the whales and get clear photos. The guide will alert the ship when a sighting occurs so having your gear ready to go is ideal.

Whale watching tour ship deck
Don’t be surprised if there’s snow and ice on sections of the ship deck

Parts of the Brim Explorer ship can get icy so footwear with good traction helps avoid slips. You’ll want to be extra careful when moving around the ship deck to view whales.

Finally, while the guide presentations provide good entertainment during portions of the tour, having a book or headphones might help pass time when sailing through open water. 

How long does whale watching with Brim Explorer last?

The entire whale watching experience with Brim Explorer typically lasts between 8 and 9 hours from start to finish.

You can expect between one and two hours of actual whale sighting time once you reach the feeding grounds where the whales congregate.

Captain Bjornar Brim Explorer
Captain Bjornar was more than happy to chat with me for the blog!

The boat ride from Tromso to the prime whale spotting area can vary slightly each year as the creatures migrate and food sources shift. But you’ll generally sail for around 3.5 hours before reaching the target area.

What is the best time of year to visit Tromso Norway for whale watching?

The best time of year to visit Tromso for an unforgettable whale watching experience is during the winter months.

Killer Whale above the water in Arctic Ocean
It was an incredible experience to see so many whales up close in their natural habitat

As the herring begin to congregate in parts of the Arctic, pods of humpback, orca, and other whale species migrate to the feeding grounds found off the Norwegian coast.

Cotton candy skies in Tromso Norway
You’ll see tons of snow capped mountains with cotton candy skies as a backdrop

From November through January, Tromso becomes a prime base for spotting these magnificent marine mammals. While sometimes the whales come and go a bit early or late, these months consistently offer successful encounters.

This is also a great time of year to hunt for the Northern Lights or to plan a husky hike, which were two activities that helped round out my trip to Tromso.

What is the best month to visit Tromso Norway for whale watching?

If you have flexibility, consider planning your Tromso whale watching adventure for mid-November. 

By this point, the whales have usually arrived en masse to forage for fish in the rich feeding grounds. 

Arctic sunset in Tromso Norway
The Arctic sunset we experienced during our adventure was spectacular

A big perk of visiting in November is that there will still be several hours of daylight which can make spotting the whales easier. In addition to daylight, you’ll enjoy lengthy, vibrant Arctic twilight which paints the surrounding landscapes in beautiful colors.

Do I need a reservation to go whale watching in Tromso Norway?

Yes, a reservation is required for whale watching tours in Tromso. The whale watching season is short in this Arctic region, generally lasting from November through January. Because of this, tours can book up fast and sell out.

It would be a shame to travel all the way to northern Norway and miss out on an unforgettable whale sighting due to lack of planning.

As soon as you confirm your travel dates, reserve your spots with Brim Explorer!

Is it expensive to go whale watching with Brim Explorer?

The cost for a whale watching tour with Brim Explorer was around $150 USD per person when we visited Tromso.

However, you’ll want to check their website for the most up-to-date pricing information. This price is on par with many other guided tours and activities you might choose during your stay in Tromso. 

Considering a whale watching excursion will provide you with a full day of world-class entertainment and unforgettable memories, it’s actually a pretty good value in my opinion.

Snacks aboard Brim Explorer whale watching in Tromso Norway
I can vouch for the pizza pastries in the middle, they were delicious!

That said, you’ll want to factor in some additional budget if you plan to purchase snacks or drinks while aboard. 

If you’re looking to keep your activity costs in check, consider packing enough food and drinks to get yourself through the day. With that said, I can highly recommend the hearty soup that they serve on board. It was delicious and worth every penny.

Is there Wi-Fi available with Brim Explorer whale watching?

You’ll be happy to know that Brim Explorer offers complimentary Wi-Fi for guests throughout the whale watching excursion. 

The Wi-Fi connection is fast and reliable, making it easy to share photos and videos to social media in real time once you’ve wrapped up the whale spotting portion of your journey.

The Wi-Fi also makes the lengthy portions of sailing time between whale sightings enjoyable. You can text, browse the web, or stream movies and TV shows on your device. This is a really nice touch that helps make the collective experience that much more enjoyable.

Are there bathrooms aboard the whale watching ship?

No need to worry about restroom availability while whale watching with Brim Explorer. The ship is equipped with several clean, well-maintained bathroom facilities for guest use.

On that note, if you’re someone who struggles with sea or motion sickness, let this be your reminder to pack dramamine!

Other important things to know when whale watching in Tromso Norway?

The crew and guides aboard Brim Explorer all speak fluent English. You’ll have no issues communicating or understanding instructions while aboard.

Whale watching boat in the Arctic
Views of a Brim Explorer ship on the silent whale watching safari

Additionally, Brim Explorer accepts all major credit cards for any onboard purchases. You can feel free to leave cash behind and pay quickly with a tap of your credit card.

Is whale watching with Brim Explorer worth it? 

Whale watching with Brim Explorer was one of my favorite activities from our visit to Tromso Norway. While seeing whales isn’t guaranteed with any provider due to the unpredictability of wildlife, Brim Explorer has a very high success rate for spotting whales and knows the surrounding waters very well.

Whale watching vessel in Tromso Norway
The ships have large decks with plenty of space for guests to spread around

On our excursion, we were fortunate enough to see multiple orcas and humpback whales up close, which felt like a once in a lifetime experience.

Beyond the whales, the excursion was also a great way to experience the beautiful Arctic landscapes surrounding Tromso, including snow-capped mountains and colorful skies.

Sunset aboard a ship in the Arctic Circle
The skies were absolutely beautiful during our sunset voyage back to Tromso

If you’re interested in booking this activity for yourself, the best way is to head over to the Brim Explorer website. For help planning travel abroad or for tips to save on airfare be sure to check out my guides at the links.

The opportunity to get up close with magnificent whales in their natural habitat and take in the scenic beauty of northern Norway, whale watching with Brim Explorer is absolutely worth it.

For anyone trying to fill out their Tromso travel itinerary further, be sure to check out my post covering the Husky Hike with Villmarkssenter. It’s a great way to explore Arctic landscapes while spending time with beautiful and well trained Alaskan Huskies!

I hope you enjoyed my post about whale watching in Tromso Norway!

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