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Planet Whale is the only place where your review will actually help to protect whales and dolphins! That’s because your feedback will help us to develop a high quality, sustainable whale watching industry worldwide by giving whale and dolphin watch operators important feedback on their trips. 

Our easy-to-use review system asks you to rate your whale or dolphin watching trip based on five ethical questions. Those trips rated highest by the public will always appear at the top of any search results on Planet Whale, encouraging users of the site to travel with the best and most sustainable whale and dolphin watching trips on Earth! 

Planet Whale would like to thank you for taking part in this positive process to improve whale watching for the benefit of whales, dolphins and the people that share their lives with them.

How to post a review?

To post a review you must first register with Planet Whale. If you have already registered, you must sign in before you can post a review. Sign in by using the drop down box at the top of any page on the Planet Whale website. Once signed in, browse trips to find the name of your trip (generally listed by company name) or run a keyword search. Scroll to the bottom of your trip listing, follow the instructions and post your review.

Tips on writing a great review

The Planet Whale review system requires you to rate your trip based on five important questions. Simply hover your mouse over the stars and click to highlight the number of stars you wish to give in answer to each question. The more stars you allocate, the more positive your response.

Your review will help to raise the standards of whale watching so it’s important to think carefully before rating each question. The following information will help you to make sure that your review is the most useful to fellow whale watchers and whale watch operators.

How well did the trip publicise and use guidelines for safe approach to whales / dolphins?

There are many different guidelines (also known as Codes of Conduct) for safe approach to whales and dolphins. In some countries these guidelines are a legal requirement, whilst in other places they are adopted voluntarily. All whale and dolphin watch operators should adhere to guidelines for a safe approach, whether they are required to do so by law or not. Before you encounter any whales or dolphins you should be notified that the whale watch operator always approaches animals safely and in line with a set of guidelines. These guidelines should be followed at all times when whales or dolphins are encountered on your trip. For a review of whale watch guidelines and regulations from around the world, click here.

How valuable was the trip as a learning experience?

The very best whale and dolphin watching trips are a mixture of inspiration and education. There are so many fascinating facts, stories and mysteries that surround whales, dolphins, other oceanic wildlife and the sea that your trip – even if you don’t see any whales and dolphins – should be a great learning experience. On the very worst whale and dolphin watching trips participants are told nothing about the animals they encounter.  They may even be left wondering whether they have seen a whale or dolphin! Almost as bad are recorded messages or standard presentations by guides that discuss the biology of whales and dolphins as if reading from a text book, but give no information about the specific animals you are likely to see on the trip.
The best trips employ an experienced and engaging guide who is available at all times to answer your questions and provides regular and accurate information, not just on the whales and dolphins you may see, but also on other marine life and points of interest on the trip. The very best whale watch operators will have made a concerted effort to learn about the individuals and populations of whales and dolphins you are viewing, and can therefore provide insights into the animals that are highly revealing. These operators have generally been involved in long-term research projects themselves, or have supported local studies and benefitted from the results of that research.

Finally, the provision of materials such as books, maps, photos, and hands-on materials such as ethically sourced whale bones or baleen will also add to the educational value of your trip.

How well did the trip meet your expectations?

Whale and dolphin watching is an exhilarating experience and it is understandable that people have high expectations when they embark upon a trip. Before taking their first trip, most people’s experience of whales or dolphins comes from amazing up-close images in the media. Whilst these kinds of encounters regularly occur on whale and dolphin watching trips, operators have an obligation to make it clear to passengers that whales and dolphins are wild animals that must be approached respectfully, and may not wish to spend time in close proximity to a vessel if they are engaged in other activities.

The worst whale watch operators advertise their trips (in their brochures, websites etc) with images that show species of whales and dolphins that are not present at that location, or behaviours (such as leaping) that rarely occur on those trips. However, be aware that just because you don’t see a certain behaviour or species on a single trip, it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t occur regularly. If you have your doubts, ask the captain or naturalist guide some questions and they will generally reveal the truth. In addition, poorly run trips often don’t reveal their plan for the trip, what is likely to be seen, or when you will reach the best locations to spot the animals. They simply sail out and leave you wondering what is going to happen next?
The best whale watch operators advertise their trips using images of animals that you are likely to see, behaving in a way that is typical for that location. In addition, the guide will be realistic about what you are likely to see at the start of the trip, describing recent sightings, the effect of local weather conditions on your chances of an encounter, and giving tips on how to spot the animals.

How well did the trip minimise its impact on the marine environment?

As a significant and important part of the ecotourism industry, whale and dolphin watch operators have an obligation to actively seek ways to minimise their impact on the marine environment, and to encourage their passengers to behave in a similar way. There are many ways for a whale watch operator to reduce their environmental footprint and the best trips will notify you of several strategies they have implemented to be as ‘green’ as possible. Examples include, but are by no means limited to; carbon reduction programmes, beach clean-ups or at-sea removal of marine litter, propeller guards to reduce the risk of collisions with marine life, speed restrictions to save on fuel and minimise risk to marine life, educational programmes to encourage passengers to be eco-friendly, and an emphasis on purchasing organic or locally-sourced products. 

Emphasis on trip operator's own research work or support for conservation?

Ecotourism is defined as “Responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people." Many whale and dolphin watch operators allow scientists to conduct benign (doesn’t harm the animals) research on their vessels, and this has led to a greater understanding of the conservation and welfare issues affecting these animals and their habitats.

These studies often provide the basis for improved conservation and management efforts in the area, and are therefore essential in all whale and dolphin watching locations if we are to develop a sustainable whale watching industry. All operators participating in research should therefore rate highly on this question. However, it is probably unnecessary for all operators in one location to conduct research. Those that do not should be clear that they support nature conservation in another way, either by committing funds to a relevant conservation project or charity, or by being actively involved in local marine conservation efforts themselves. If you were not made aware of any of these practices, then award your trip with a low score for this question.

The review

This part is very important. It’s your opportunity to say what you think about the trip. You may wish to add more information about why you gave certain questions a high or low score. Alternatively, you may wish to give a description of your experience which will be of most use to other whale and dolphin watchers reading your review. Most importantly, try to be positive and constructive when writing your review. Even if the trip was the worst experience of your life, try to give examples of how it could be improved, rather than simply listing every reason why you hated it. This is important because our mission is not to alienate whale watch operators but to work with them to improve their trips for the benefit of people, whales and dolphins. Your positive solutions are the tools we need to help whale and dolphin watching improve, and your positive comments will mean that future travellers will have a better experience thanks to you.

Malicious reviews

Planet Whale does not accept reviews that are deliberately inflammatory or of a personal nature. Planet Whale reserves the right to delete malicious reviews instantly and without notifying the reviewer, and to delete the reviwer if necessary. Criticism of a trip is acceptable, but please note that whale watch operators are also allowed to respond once to any review.

What do I do if the trip I want to review isn't listed with Planet Whale?

If your trip isn't listed with Planet Whale we need to know about it! Planet Whale encourages the world's whale and dolphin watch operators to list their trips for free. If a trip isn't listed, please email us at sending as much contact information as possible. We will endeavour to contact the operator and encourage them to list their trips so that you can review them. Alternatively, why not help us by contacting them independently and encouraging them to list themselves with Planet Whale.

Who created the Planet Whale rating system?

Planet Whale's unique rating and review system was built by Planet Whale as a core part of its strategy to raise the ethical and sustainable standards of whale and dolphin watching worldwide. The system is based on five questions that identify important aspects of the quality and sustainability of a whale or dolphin watching trip. Five Founder Partners representing whale and dolphin watching and marine conservation across the world worked together to develop these questions. They are DolphinCare Africa, OceanCare, Whale and Dolphin Watch Australia, Sea Life Surveys, and Whale Watch West Cork. For more information on our Founder Partners click here.
We value your thoughts on the concept. If you would like to comment please contact Dylan Walker by emailing

Training for whale and dolphin watch operators

If you run whale or dolphin watching trips and would like to improve your ranking on Planet Whale, raise the sustainable standards of your business, and attract more customers than ever before, we can help you! Not only can our team analyse the Planet Whale review data from your customers to pinpoint exactly where your business is going right and wrong, we can also send our experts to join you onboard. Having witnesses your trips first hand, we will work with you to improve any aspect of your business that you feel needs support, from marketing to customer relations, science to education, ensuring that you set the very highest standards and generate more income at the same time. For more information contact Ian Rowlands by emailing


2013 Responsible Whale Watch Partnership:Click here to read more about the partnership