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Wild Alaskan salmon, king crab legs, prime rib, veggies, a chocolate fountain with fresh fruit for dunking and s’mores by the fire: It was a true Alaskan feast served in a genuine wilderness lodge. It was also our first meal after boarding the 74-passenger Chichagof Dream in Juneau, Alaska, earlier in the day.
This delectable sampling was just the beginning of what Alaskan Dream Cruises markets as “true Alaska with true Alaskans, shown in the stories told by our onboard Tlingit cultural interpreter and the captain’s willingness to linger near bears and spouting whales.”
On June 12, Alaskan Dream Cruises launched Chichagof Dream, the fifth and largest ship in the nearly 6-year-old cruise line’s fleet. Originally built in 1984 as Clipper Cruise Lines’ Nantucket Clipper, the ship became Cruise West's Spirit of Glacier Bay and Spirit of Nantucket. Acquired by Alaskan Dream Cruises, the 207-foot, 95-ton ship has been refurbished over the last two years in the line’s homeport of Sitka.
Renovations included adding a Himalayan salt room on the main deck. Six guests at a time can use the complimentary relaxation spot, and the salt air is said to help relieve respiratory ailments.
On the upper deck, the aft cabins were removed, creating open space for sunning, wildlife viewing and storing 11 kayaks that are available for passenger use. The 36 renovated cabins have ocean views through non-opening windows. Though compact at 105 to 218 square feet, each has plush new bedding (twin or queen), excellent lighting, ample storage and a small bathroom with a shower. There are no television, phones or Wi-Fi access. Bathroom amenities are minimal — soap, shampoo and a hairdryer — so advise clients to bring their favorite toiletries, robes and eye masks.
All meals are open seating and served in the dining room. Menus feature superb Alaskan seafood, as well as meat and vegetarian dishes. A glass of wine or beer is included with dinner, and additional drinks are available for purchase.
The ship sails a seven-night itinerary between Sitka and Juneau through mid-September. Daily included shore excursions showcase Alaska’s native culture and outdoor adventure. Chichagof Dream carries two DIBs (inflatable boats) for exploring icebergs or waterfalls up-close and transporting passengers to shore for forest walks. In Glacier Bay National Park, travelers are joined by a Huna Tlingit cultural heritage guide, in addition to a park ranger. In off-the-beaten-track Kake, an expert demonstrates totem-pole carving, and Tlingit villagers perform traditional dances. A highlight of each trip is the all-you-can-eat dinner at Orca Point Lodge.
Binoculars and rain gear (boots, jackets and pants) are provided onboard, making packing easier. Clients should be aware that a tour of the embarkation city is included prior to boarding. It’s best to arrive a day early, and transportation from the airport to hotels is provided.