My wife and I had a wonderful time on our 7 night Alaskan Dream Cruise on the Chichagof Dream embarking in Juneau and ending in Sitka. The Chichagof Dream is a small ship built in the 1980's and overhauled in 2016 for Alaskan Dream Cruises.. It had only 37 passengers on our cruise so we got acquainted with most of them over meals and excursions. We enjoyed the small ship experience which included kayaking and DIB boat days in Kelp Bay and Takatz Bay in eastern Baranoff island, visits to Petersburg and Kake, dinner on shore at the Orca Point Lodge, and a DIB boat tours in Endicott Arm to view Dawes Glacier as it calves into the water and to a sea lion "haul out."
We were interested that our captain, who was very experienced and did a fine job of navigating, was hired only for this trip, and that our tour leader had only been on the job for a month or so. A kick-off visit to the newly opened Alaska State Museum would have been informative and enjoyable with a knowledgeable guide. But the DIB boat, dining room, and lounge staff were very helpful and accommodating. Our cabin, category A, was small with 2 twin beds and portholes but was comfortable. The visit to the fishing village of Petersburg included an explanation of how Norwegian settlers got to Alaska and some children dancing Norwegian folk dances, a village bus tour, and a hike along a board walk to see muskeg required more time than the sights warranted. The same was true for a visit to Kake, a Tlingit village where we saw some native dancing, the world's tallest totem pole, a presentation by a local carver, and a local fish hatchery where we watched a black bear catching a salmon.
The after dinner presentations by the staff in the lounge on Alaska living, native animals, and Tlinigit culture were informal, well intentioned, and amateurish. The food in the dining room was abundant and generally good but the chef didn't deliver on the full ambitions of his menus. Not surprisingly, the visits to Juneau (where there were 4 large cruise ships in port) and Sitka which were the most interesting shore excursions, but we were partly, if not mostly on our own. We got to see whales, sea lions, harbor seals, bears, mountain goats, salmon, and lots of birds as well as the fantastic Alaska fjord/mountain/seaside scenery. Interestingly, in Sitka we docked at the home of the cruise line owners and disembarked from there. So for an informal and relaxing exposure to southeast Alaska, this was a very enjoyable cruise with some rough edges which I hope will be addressed in the future. Interestingly, several college alumni travel tours as well as Road Scholar tours use Alaskan Dream ships.