This week, we’re recounting our small ship cruise experience with Alaskan Dream Cruises. Small ship cruises offer a more intimate cruising experience. Alaskan Dream’s new family cruise itineraries are offered three times per summer, starting in the summer of 2013. Miss a post? Read Aboard a small ship cruise, Part 1.
Day 4: Hobart Bay, Day 2
We were lucky enough to spend a second half-day in native-owned Hobart Bay. The youth expedition leaders took charge of the kids, sending them on a photo scavenger hunt and giving them extra Zego training for a ‘Zego driving license’. The adults enjoyed a second adult-only kayak tour with our cultural and scientific leaders before reuniting with the kids for lunch. We enjoyed watching a mother black bear with her cubs from the seats of our kayaks (the kids had an even better view directly from the ship), and then we departed Hobart Bay in search of humpback whales.
We loved that an entire half-day of our itinerary was dedicated to whale watching. Captain Stu knew just where to find them, and the Baranof Dream could get close enough for us to hear their exhale from the deck. But that wasn’t good enough: we launched our attached zodiac (DIBS) boat for a closer look. Within feet of these majestic creatures, we watched whale after whale’s fluke. In the distance, we watched the splash of their breaching.
By dinner time, we’d left the whales behind (though we’d see more later) and headed toward Tracy Arm and its famous Sawyer Glacier. We enjoyed our nightly presentation (the kids had their version in the ‘kids’ corner’) followed by a native Tlingit legend told over the intercom as we settled into our cabins, read by cultural leader Koo Hook.
Day 5: Sawyer Glacier
Our expedition leaders had let us know to be on the sun deck by 6:30 am to see our arrival into Tracy Arm, and though the fog was thick, I snapped photo after photo. By breakfast, we were at our destination of Sawyer Glacier, with a DIBS boat schedule in-hand. In three groups, we disembarked to explore the glacier and floating icebergs with our leaders, observing glacial calving and seals resting on ice as we went. It was a cold day, but we still opted for chucks of glacial ice in our drinks that evening. We spent the entire day between Sawyer Glacier and South Sawyer, and saw only a small handful of other small ships; the large vessels cannot get this close.
During ‘downtime’ on the ship, the youth leaders organized crafts and art projects for the kids, and our lead steward led kid yoga (followed by the adult version). We loved how the entire crew worked together to make the guests’ experience magical whether we were sightseeing or relaxing. Tobias (age 8), loved helping the crew, and they welcomed his efforts. While most passengers won’t want to ‘work’ on their trip, this sort of participation made his week!
Day 6: Petersburg
Day 6 dawned as we docked in the tiny Norwegian fishing town of Petersburg. Unable to accommodate large cruise ships, the dock was all ours, shared only with local fishing boats. We disembarked to enjoy a Norwegian dance show conducted by local children, followed by time to explore the town for adults and organized geo-caching for the kids with their youth leaders. (My kids loved this activity so much, we continued on our own after lunch…schedules are always flexible on the Baranof Dream!) In the later part of the afternoon, families rode bikes on a guided tour of the town.
In the evening, we were treated to a presentation on growing up Tlingit from our cultural leader, in preparation for our visit to a Haida village the following day. The kids worked more on their knot-tying and played cards together, and just before bedtime, we spied porpoises off the bow. We enjoyed this view in the twilight, allowing for an extra late bedtime.