New whale watching catamaran makes debut in Edmonds


Approximately 50 people including local dignitaries, hotel concierges, journalists and folks from the tourism industry boarded the M.V. Saratoga on Wednesday morning for its inaugural trip out of its Edmonds port.

The 149-seat catamaran is a member of the Puget Sound Express fleet, a family-run whale watching company that has provided wildlife cruises for over 33 years in Port Townsend and Edmonds.

Attendees were offered coffee and a delicious BlueBerry Buckle as they boarded. The water was calm, the temperature warm and the skies beautiful as we headed north to Possession Sound and Useless Bay where we almost immediately saw spouting from the gray whales we ended up watching during our time on the water.

“This is a very special event for Puget Sound Express,” said co-owner Peter Hanke. “The Saratoga is the first boat that we have had the opportunity to build, and we designed and built it with customers, whales, and the environment in mind. Since launching our half-day Seattle Whale Watching tours in Edmonds, we’ve seen tremendous interest in the metro area for whale watching, and the Saratoga will help us safely and comfortably meet that need.”

The Saratoga is a catamaran with two asymmetrical semi-planing hulls, and an articulated hydrofoil that allows the boat to efficiently travel at 35 knots, which is approximately 40 mph. This design, coupled with finely-tuned, wave-piercing bows, allows the boat to travel through both calm and rough water at speed, while keeping underwater noise to a minimum. All 4 Scania D16 engines have waterlift mufflers, and carbon fiber driveshafts to save weight. The engine room is equipped with state of the art sound proofing to make the passenger cabin quiet and comfortable.

In addition to a wrap-around viewing deck, restrooms, and galley, the Saratoga is equipped with seven HDTVs and a premium sound system with speakers inside and out, for whale watching naturalist presentations.

“The folks at All American Marine did an outstanding job working with us to construct what we believe is the finest whale watching boat in the fleet,” said Hanke.

Key Facts:
•    Vessel Horsepower: 3800hp
•    Main Engines: Scania D16
•    Jets: Hamilton Jet 364
•    Hull Length: 72′-11″
•    Beam Width: 29′-6″

Puget Sound Express operates guaranteed whale watching and wildlife tours out of Port Townsend, and Edmonds, WA. The company’s vessels include the 60-seat high speed foilcat Chilkat Express, and new 149-seat high speed catamaran Saratoga, which depart from Edmonds; as well as the 70-seat Glacier Spirit and 40-seat RedHead, which depart from Port Townsend.  All boats feature comfortable indoor seating, large viewing windows, and outdoor viewing decks. Tours may be reserved online at, or by calling 360-385-5288.

–Photos by Julia Wiese

5 Replies to “New whale watching catamaran makes debut in Edmonds”

  1. Thank you Hanke family! You have once again done a fabulous job. We enjoyed the “Field Trip”.
    It’s like a class on the water with the education from the Naturalist learning about the local whale populations.
    Also it’s a really fun (fast) boat ride.


  2. My son and I were fortunate enough to be invited out on the maiden voyage of the Saratoga. It was a thrill to see the whales actively feeding in their natural environment. The captains skillful navigated the vessel close enough to watch without disturbing the whales. The trip gave my son and I a whole new level of appreciation for the vibrancy of the life that exists just under the surface of the Sound.


  3. Would like to see lower price options for low income residents who’d love more than anything to go out on the water and see our beautiful sealife. But $135 (which doesn’t even include a sandwich lunch), is way beyond what some local residents can afford. A Groupon would be great, but it’s not an option. I’m happy (and envious, truth be known) for the chosen fortunate locals who were invited on the maiden trip. So many of us will never have the ability to experience this luxury and that’s sad, especially living this close to the water. Please Hankes, consider a discounted price option for those who qualify. (Possibly residents who receive reduced property taxes or EBT, which both would be an easy enough qualifier). It would truly be appreciated and that generosity will come back to you tenfold.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *