Right off the bat, I'll say that I would give this cruise 10 stars if I could! We couldn't have been any happier and the cruise and staff more than exceeded our expectations. There are so few reviews of this boat, that I was a little worried about what we would find when we got there.
The Alaskan Dream holds about 40 passengers and is a large catamaran, which makes it fairly speedy and very maneuverable. I couldn't picture what it would be like, but it's a very smooth ride and very functionally comfortable. There is no need to sign up for any shore excursions, because everything was included. We were whale watching all the time, bear watching, bird watching, with cultural activities, hiking and city tours every day. Plus free time in town, if we chose.
During our voyage, we saw tons of humpback whales, fluking, breaching and even bubble net feeding. There were so many whales and they were so close that Alex, our boat Marine Biologist, mentioned that the odd smell we all could smell was whale breath!! The cool thing (one of them), is that whenever we saw whales, Captain Eric would follow them for as long as it was still interesting.
In addition to humpback whales, we followed several pods of Orca Whales, including babies fluking and breaching. We followed them for an hour while several big ships cruised right by. I'm sure while we were enjoying an up close and personal experience, no one on the big boat even realized what was there....it was during the dinner hour on the big boat. Our dinner was postponed until the whales were out of sight.
In addition to whales, we saw Momma bears and cubs along the shoreline. Captain Eric brought the boat as close as was allowed so we could see them feeding along the shore. We also went to the Anan Bear Conservancy, which ended up being a highlight. The bears were feeding on salmon while we were watching from a deck and a blind, just a few feet from the bears. We saw beautiful waterfalls and icebergs all over Tracy Arm and Glacier Bay. We even saw a moose at Barlett Cove.
In Glacier Bay, we had a National Park Ranger on board, and he was very helpful identifying the animals and birds along the way to the glaciers. We saw Crested Puffins and Horned Puffins and many other sea birds, mountain goats, sea otters and sea lions. We were lucky enough to see several glaciers calve and were, close enough to feel the wave from the ice dropping into the water.
Jno, our onboard Alaskan Cultural Expert explained the history and culture of the three native groups in this part of Alaska. We saw many totems, longhouses, dancers and families. All were very proud to share their culture and to educate us on the modern practices and bringing back the language and customs. It was equally as fun and interesting as the wildlife.
The boat provided binoculars, rain boots and waterproof rain suits, that we wore several times when it got really cold or wet. When we were on the boat, I would wear flannel lined hiking pants, a winter "undershirt" and a light sweater underneath my lined raincoat. When it got really cold, and it did a few times, I would put the rain suit over everything. Now granted....I'm a tourist and spent a lot of time outside. I also wore a winter hat and gloves a few times. In the towns, jeans, hiking shoes and my lined jacket were adequate....and remember, this was the end of July. This area is a temperate rainforest, so it's wet all the time.
The food on the boat was spectacular, as good as any very nice restaurant. I'm gluten free and every meal was presented beautifully prepared and delicious AND gluten free. Only on one other cruise (and we've done several), was I able to get gluten free meals without a hassle.
We were in cabin 102 on the main level. It was small, but adequate. By the time we got in our cabin each day, we were usually ready to nap and the bed was comfy. The shoilet is interesting and takes some getting used to, but we had plenty of laughs about it! It's a toilet/ shower combo and small, but perfectly adequate.
Everyday at 3:00 there were homemade, warm cookies and at 5:30 a new cocktail of the day and appetizers. The food, crew and staff were outstanding and personal.
What you won't find is a casino, TV or a Broadway show or dress up night. Only bring functional clothes, which simplifies packing!! Almost half the boat was from Australia or New Zealand, a family from UK and the rest were from all over the US. A wonderful group that we enjoyed tremendously.
Go for it!! You won't regret your time on the Alaskan Dream!
Simple but comfortable.