We are not "cruise people." Our idea of a vacation is not being crammed onto a floating city with thousands of other people but getting out and hiking in beautiful places. However, to see the Inside Passage, you need to go on a cruise. It quickly became obvious that the large cruise lines were not a good fit for this region, as they spend too much time on open ocean and can't get into the fjords and nooks and crannies that make the Inside Passage what it is. (And "excursions" booked as extras from those big lines are a hassle and can quickly add to the price.) We also didn't want a super "active" water adventure cruise, as we're not water people. We did, however, enjoy the sea kayaking one day with ADC.
After reading several reviews, we settled on ADC and decided we liked the layout of the Admiralty Dream ship the best, as you can walk around the entire craft on two levels. The cabins aren't fancy, but they have been recently updated a bit (not what you see on the website this summer), and the beds are very comfortable. Besides, we were only in our cabin to sleep and change layers. We were either on a shore excursion, listening to an interesting naturalist or Tlingit interpreter give a presentation, eating, or standing outside watching for wildlife and visiting with other passengers and crew.
To be fair, we seem to have had exceptional weather and wildlife siting on our week. The crew said it was the first time this year they had seen the tops of the mountains in Tracy Arm Fjord, and we saw 13 Alaskan brown bears (aka, grizzlies), including one up close at Reid Glacier! An hour and a half of whale-watching in Frederick Sound during a magical sunset was another highlight. However, even if the weather had been wetter, the crew goes out of their way to make sure you get the most out of every wildlife-watching opportunity. Michele and Jamie were wonderful expedition leader naturalists--informed, easy-going, professional.
Everyone associated with this Sitka-owned company was outstanding. They all clearly love working for this company and go out of their way to make the whole experience "real," enjoyable, and friction-free.
If you want to be pampered with spa treatments, take a big cruise line trip. If you want to see Alaska and learn about it, go with Alaskan Dream Cruises! We packed layers of the same clothes we would have taken on a hiking trip and felt right at home. (Do take a warm hat, gloves, and core layers so you can enjoy being outdoors.) Note that I'm not giving an "entertainment" score because there wasn't "traditional cruise entertainment." However, our fellow passengers were entertaining!
Thank you all for our most memorable trip ever!