Swimming with Humpback Whales on The Silver Bank

Dominican Republic

Tour Date: 15th – 22nd March, 2014 and 22nd – 29th March, 2014

Tour Leader: Nic Slocum PhD FRGS

Whales Worldwide are running a unique and once in a lifetime adventure – swimming with humpback whales among the coral heads in the shallow and warm waters of the Silver Bank off the north coast of the Dominican Republic. This amazing, life-changing experience with take place between 15-22 March 2014 and 22-29 March 2014. This is a fully guided whale watching experience with marine zoologist Nic Slocum and includes five full days of boat-based whale watching with nine separate opportunities to swim with these magnificent and charismatic marine mammals. Living on board the luxury 138ft vessel M/V Sun Dancer 11 we use smaller, 25ft twin engine, whale boats from which to view and swim with the humpback whales over The Silver Bank. This expedition, to one of the premier congregations of humpback whales to be found anywhere in the world, has been designed specifically for those where adventure is a state of mind!

Dates & Prices

 Two dates for this amazing 2014 Swimming with humpback whales and their calves over the Silver Bank are now set for 15th to 22nd March and again for the 22nd to 29th March 2014. We are now taking bookings for 2014.

  1. The price of this swimming with humpback whales  opportunity is:
  2. €2,870
  3. (please note this holiday is priced in Euros)
  4. NB.There is an additional charge for sanctuary and port fees which currently stands at $250 US and a fuel surcharge of $175 US. These are subject to small changes each year and are not set until the January of the year of operation.
  5. Print colour brochure
  7. What IS included:
  • 7 nights of luxurious accommodation on the 138ft M/V Sun Dancer 11 from the moment you step aboard on Saturday to the moment you step off a week later.
  • 5 days on The Silver Bank with up to 4.5 days of tender time out looking for whales and swimming with mothers and their calves and male escorts when we find suitable animals.
  • All breakfasts, lunch and dinners with complementary wine and beer (local) where required except for the last Friday where your evening meal is taken ashore. No spirits are supplied on board but if required may be brought on board for your personal consumption.
  • Morning and afternoon snacks on board the whale watching tenders plus a morning in-room beverage service aboard the M/V Sun Dancer 11.
  • Nightly turn down service with daily fresh towel service.
  • Entertainment library and evening presentations and discussions about the humpbacks of the Western and North Eastern Atlantic.
  • A free research service for other elements of your holiday outside the boat based expedition such as flights and hotels.
  1. What is NOT included:
  • Flights to and from the Dominican Republic. On a once in a lifetime adventure of this kind we find many customers like to take extra time in the USA or the Dominican Republic as an extension to their holiday so we let you book those flights to suit your itinerary. We do provide a free research service to find the best prices for flights and hotels if required.
  • We don't include any meals outside those supplied while on M/V Sun Dancer 11. Dinner is not provided on the final evening following our return from The Silver Bank as this is scheduled as free time.
  • Personal items purchased while on holiday such as souvenirs and presents. Wine and beer are provided on board M/V Sun Dancer 11 but not at other times.
  • Any transfers, tours or vehicle hire you require outside the published itinerary. We can help with the arrangement of anything you might like to do.

Detailed Itinerary

  1. Day 1. Saturday. Move from our hotel in Puerto Plata in The Dominican Republic mid afternoon, to the Ocean World Marina where the M/V Sun Dancer 11 awaits us. The magic has begun! We board the M/V Sun Dancer 11 around 5pm that afternoon. Following boarding we have a vessel safety and orientation briefing followed by group introductions and dinner. The vessel sails at 11pm that Saturday night bound for The Silver Bank.
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  3. Day 2. Sunday. The M/V Sun Dancer 11 arrives at the Silver Bank around 9am, moors at her designated site and the tenders are prepared and we have a humpback orientation talk about passive or soft-in-water encounters and how we should conduct ourselves within the marine mammal sanctuary. We have the opportunity for a practice snorkel session and get used to getting on and off the smaller whale boats. We head out over The Silver Bank for our first whale excursion that afternoon.
  4. Day 3, 4, 5, 6, Monday through Thursday. During the morning and the afternoon we take tender based whale watching excursions out to swim with the humpback mothers and calves or simply marvel at their elegance from the tenders. Evenings after dinner we have talks, slideshows and discussions about the humpbacks and other aspects of marine conservation so important to the well being of the humpbacks of The Silver Bank and the Sanctuary for Marine Mammals.
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  6. Day 7. Friday. After breakfast the M/V Sun Dancer 11 drops the mooring on The Silver Bank and returns to The Ocean World Marina at Confresi, arriving around 4.30pm. That evening is free time to explore ashore, shop and eat ashore but returning to the vessel overnight.
  7. Day 8. Saturday. Following breakfast we disembark and say our goodbyes. Many a firm friendship has been forged on these tours cemented by the common bond of a privileged few and memories of humpback whale encounters that will last a lifetime.   Some guests choose to stay on for a few day in the Dominican Republic while others return for a few days in Miami or New York.


  1. Silver Bank 17 LOW RES
  2. The M/V Sun Dancer 11...
  3. The securely moored 138ft long M/V Sun Dancer 11 is our home for the week we are living with the humpbacks on The Silver Bank. With her three passenger decks, spacious staterooms and airy saloon, comfort and luxury are assured. At 371 gross tons she is the largest vessel to visit The Silver Bank. Built for offshore work originally she is a strong, well constructed, sea kindly vessel and ideal as a base for operations for our swimming with humpback whales experience. With large picture windows and comfortable seating the whale watching can continue from the comfort of the saloon or as we enjoy our evening pre dinner "sundowners" on deck.
  4. Silver Bank 18 LOW RES
  5. Your Safety
  6. Aboard M/V Sun Dancer 11 your personal safety is paramount. With a highly trained crew of eight professionals and a full inventory of state-of-the-art safety equipment that complies with all International Safety at Sea Regulations we are free to relax and enjoy the whales, the sea, the sun and lovely food selections for vegetarians and non vegetarians alike.
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  8. Culinary Excellence
  9. Guests aboard M/V Sun Dancer 11 can look forward to an excellent culinary experience catering for all tastes. With our on board chef, who uses local and fresh produce where possible (shipped aboard prior to departure) - hearty breakfasts are followed by a buffet lunch. The day finishes with a four course, full service evening meal, preceded by drinks where we swap notes about the unbelievable encounters we may have had that day.
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Tour Add Ons

  1. There are no add ons for this expedition. Many customers do spend a few extra days in the Dominican Republic at the beginning or end of their whale watching tour

Trip Notes

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  2. The Silver Bank...
  3. The Silver Bank, our destination for this once in a lifetime experience, is a territory of the Dominican Republic which comprises the eastern two thirds of the island of Hispaniola; the second largest island in all the Antilles. The Silver Bank is located in the larger Sanctuary for the Marine Mammals of the Dominican Republic, east of the Turks and Cacos Islands. The Bank is a shallow, irregularly shaped limestone plateau, 10 miles by 20 miles in size, lying some 70 miles north of the Dominican Republic. Varying in depth from 18 to 30 metres, the north eastern section comprises a series of coral heads among which lies the wreck of the freighter, Polyxeni, clearly visible above the surface. It is to this unique, shallow, warm sea that the humpback whales come to calve and breed and where the mother vessel M/V Sun Dancer 11 moors at our designated, sheltered anchorage.
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  5. More about swimming with Humpback Whales...
  6. The Dominican Republic is to be applauded for enforcing stringent controls on activities which may impact the humpbacks of The Silver Bank. The only type of in-the-water interaction that is permitted in the sanctuary entails floating quietly and passively on the surface of the water, in the vicinity of a whale or whales tolerant to our presence. During our week on The Silver Bank we may encounter mothers and their calves, "singing" males or courting males known as "dancers". The natural curiosity of these animals may result in a close encounter. We schedule nine passive in-the-water encounters, weather permitting, so there is an excellent opportunity for memorable and life changing experiences during the expedition. Just being in the water with some of the largest mammals on earth is an adventure unlike any other on earth! Guests may use a wetsuit, fins, mask and snorkel but no SCUBA or other diving equipment is permitted at anytime. No aggressive swimming or free diving is allowed and those in the water stay in a group and are under the direct supervision of an experienced in-water guide. Because it is snorkelling only it is open to all levels of ability and is very safe. Although it is referred to as swimming with humpbacks, when there are ideal conditions there is in reality very little swimming involved. By adhering to this stringent code of conduct we minimise any disturbance to the whales and their calves. It is an encounter in their environment, on their terms and they are not constrained in any way. They choose how close they may come. There are times when the most meaningful and memorable encounter can be when an animal approaches the tender to look at us.
  7. Your Guides in More Detail

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  9. Captain Gene Flipse
  10. Over the years, Capt. Flipse’s work has found him supporting researchers, explorers, film makers, photographers, and conservation organizations. In addition to his time on the Silver Bank Gene works seasonally as part of a large team of top marine mammal scientists, researchers and veterinarians representing the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute; conducting a multi-year Level A Health and Environmental Risk Assessment (HERA) of bottlenose dolphins in the waters of Florida’s Indian River Lagoon, and Charleston, South Carolina. He has participated in nine field operations to date.
  11. Gene has 80 weeks of direct experience with the humpback whales of the Silver Bank, gained over the course of ten seasons. He also has over a decade of experience guiding guests to in-water encounters with wild Atlantic spotted dolphins and bottlenose dolphins in the Bahamas. Gene has also worked and played with pacific spinner dolphins; pan-tropical spotted dolphins; sperm whales, minke whales; pilot whales; sea turtles; whale sharks; manta rays; and a wide variety of sharks.
  12. Gene has an undying enthusiasm for the daily adventure of being on and in the water that, when combined with his hard work ethic, ensures that guests have the most rewarding experience possible. He is intelligent, organized and thoughtful. Combined, these traits have earned Capt. Flipse the respect of not only his guests aboard, but also the respect of professionals in all sectors of the diving and marine industries.
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  14. Nic Slocum has been watching large whales from small boats for 30 years, from humpbacks and fin whales in Ireland to Southern Right whales in Patagonia and Pacific gray whales in Mexico. He has been instrumental in putting together one of the most comprehensive codes of conduct for boat based human - whale interactions right down to the species level and is an established authority on the threats currently faced by this unique group of marine mammals.
  15. Nic is an experienced naturalist and wildlife guide and is best known for his escorted tours taking enthusiasts out, both in Ireland and overseas, to view and photograph whales and dolphins. Nic has maintained a lifelong passion for the conservation of our wildlife and wild places and has appeared as an expert commentator on RTE, Channel 4 and ITV and is regularly called on to comment on national radio.
  16. A zoologist by training, Nic has published articles on conservation related issues in both regional and national newspapers. Nic Slocum divides his time between West Cork, Ireland and other iconic whale watching destinations around the world. He is the CEO of Whale Watch West Cork which runs boat based tours to watch and photograph whales and dolphins off the coast of southwest Ireland.
  17. Nic is no stranger to adventure and leading groups to remote places on earth. In 1976 he led an expedition across the Sahara Desert to Central Africa and back which earned him Fellowship of the Royal Geographical Society. Nic's attention to detail and extensive knowledge of the species and the locations where they are found ensures his customers have a whale watching experience second to none.