I’ve wanted to take one of these cruises for a decade. The timing never worked out. For the first several years we were overseas. Then other travel, and then the COVID epidemic intervened.
Allen has been part of our lives in Sitka since the beginning. On our first night in Sitka in 1973 we took Bob Allen’s boat on a tour up Silver Bay. He told me about his plans (they seemed so grand) from boat building to a bigger fleet, to his sons, of whom he was proud, and that at least one of whom would someday go to Harvard. He was right on all counts. He was an inspirational introduction to Sitka.
When we moved here and got our own boat, we called the Allen Boats the “Whale Buoys.” When we saw an Allen Boat standing still, we knew there were whales, sea otters or sealions nearby, and imitated the Allen Boats in keeping a safe and legal distance.
When we sold our boat the Allen boats became our gateway to the water. Allen was generous with the community, special rates and donating boats to charities, the Raven Blues Cruise, the Science Center wildlife and food web cruises, the Historical Society history cruises, the Conservation society nature cruises, the Rotary fundraiser, the Music Festival classical cruises. They helped everyone.
That only encouraged me to go on one of their 7-day jaunts, they do things well and they are always there for the community, always. This looked like the year. We had the time. We were vaccinated. When we booked in in May the pandemic seemed slowing, and we had free time in August. By August, of course, things had changed; but the line was requiring everyone take a PCR test, all staff and passengers must show proof of vaccination, and it was a small bubble, 35 passengers and 14 crew, so we decided to go despite the delta.
Alaska Dream cruises took over some small cruise ships in 2010. There are several more now. They range from 10 to about 76 passengers. The Alaska Dream is a catamaran with three decks above the hulls and crew quarters and engine room in the two hulls. It can carry 40 passengers.
This year the trips are between Sitka and Juneau and the next return on essentially a reversed itinerary. I say essentially reversed because the captain decided, based on weather, wildlife, and interests how, exactly, the ship will progress. The first mate was the daughter of our friends, she grew up on the water on her father’s fishing boat, and the naturalist is the winter Raven Radio Morning Edition host, so I felt at home.
Berlitz Cruise guide is somewhat dismissive of Alaska Dream Cruises in two short blurbs saying it is locally and family owned, an advantage, but the food is not of the quality of other lines. Locally owned is definitely an advantage, they know the territory since they run day boats from Sitka, Juneau and Ketchikan and will explain things better than anyone and get you to the best places. And the food… well, it is better than on Holland America, flavorful and healthy. There is not the choice of a bigger line but always fish, meat, and vegetarian and lots of it. Their soups are particularly good, and were appreciated after time on deck. The Beef Wellington was outstanding, but all their meals were way above standard.
The staterooms are small but cunningly designed. There was plenty of space to stow stuff and hooks outside the door for raingear, so it was not wet in the room. The beds were very comfortable and plenty of places to plug in cameras, phones, and CPAP machines. You could have the bed configured as two twins or a queen. The Water Closets were, well, closets with a toilet on one side, a shower on the other and a curtain between. Towels hung above the toilet and the paper rolls were necessarily high. It worked.
There was lots of outside space on the decks, and you could get out on the bow as well. There was a platform in the back where they launched kayaks. You sat on/in one of the kayaks from the platform and they winched the boat down rollers into the water. Coming back, you paddled to the platform, they winched you up and it was a stable way to pull you out if you had trouble standing.
Each entry that follows is a portion of the trip. I will “light them up” with a link as I post them. Normally I write each night while on a cruise. On this cruise I decided not to take a computer but write it up all at the end. I was happy to be free of the “obligation” to write and happy to live in the moment. Unfortunately when I got back I ended up in the hospital with COVID so it took me longer to write up my experience than I had anticipated. And I had to pull the memories out of a COVID brain fog. Fortunately I had more than 2000 images to trigger my memories, or imagination, I’m not sure which. No — I have not posted 2000 pics here. Here are the posts.