All week, we’re recounting our small ship cruise experience with Alaskan Dream Cruises. Small ship cruises offer a more intimate cruising experience.
Day 7: Kasaan
On day 7, we woke on the Baranof Dream while arriving into the tiny harbor at Kasaan, a native Haida community. We were met at the dock for a private tour through temperate rain forest to the oldest Haida lodge still standing, the Son I Hat whale house. Our Haida guide was among the most knowledgeable we’d experienced, and many agreed this excursion to be a favorite. Along our hike to the whaling house, we learned about the many totems en route through the forest, then visited a carving house to see wood being carved to restore the house and make canoes. We were happy to buy souvenirs that would help fund the totem park and whaling house restoration directly.
In the afternoon, the kids enjoyed more Alaskan curriculum with their youth leaders, then practiced for an impromptu talent show. Our evening presentation with cultural guide Emily taught us more about the many marine mammals we’d seen so far.
Day 8: Misty Fjords and Metlakalta
Misty Fjords National Monument proved to be a ‘drive through’ for us, en route to SE Alaska’s only Alaskan Native reservation at Metlakalta. Around breakfast time, we arrived in Misty Fjord’s famous ‘punchbowl’, pausing to cruise slowly for everyone to get a good view. (Though large cruise ships cannot fit into the areas we visited, it is possible to take a day excursion through Misty Fjords from Ketchikan.) Misty Fjords is marked by 3000 foot cliffs making deep fjords, but true to it’s name, it was very misty and foggy, making photography difficult but only adding to the tranquility of the water. We stayed on the ship all day until 3 pm (giving the kids time to finish the travel logs they’d worked on all week with their youth leaders) and then disembarked at tiny Metlakalta on the Annette Island.
The Tsimpshian Alaskan Natives of this region came to the reservation by choice, led by a Euro-American missionary. Our guide took us to the original missionary cottage, along a beautiful boardwalk rain forest walk, and then to their local community hall where we made craft drums and both watched and participated in a native dance in the Tsimpshian great house. The people were very warm, and cruise visits to this region are very rare.
In the evening, we enjoyed a special Captain’s Dinner (though every meal on the Baranof Dream was excellent, thanks to chef Eric and his crew). We honored our crew at this dinner, and enjoyed a dessert buffet that had us practically rolling out of the dining room to watch a video presentation of our trip together. We had opportunity to thank everyone and say goodbye before retiring in anticipation of a very early wake up call.
Day 9: Ketchikan
Disembarkation was painful, and not just because we needed to have our bags outside our cabins by 6 am. Though nine days aboard a small ship seemed like a lot before our experience, we now realized it was barely enough time! We disembarked by 8 am, following a very helpful orientation by the Alaskan Dream Ketchikan team, who had arranged all transportation for our travel schedules and provided Ketchikan tourism information for our time in the town.
We had just a few hours before our van ride to the Ketchikan airport, and spent it doing some last-minute souvenir shopping and visiting historic Creek Street and the SE Alaska Discovery Center in Ketchikan. At every shop we patronized, the staff would ask which ship we had been on, and when we named the Baranof Dream, each and every one of them told us we’d been very lucky to see the ‘real’ SE Alaska. We knew they were right.
Alaskan Dream Cruises offers family cruise itineraries every summer.
As we disclose whenever applicable, Pit Stops for Kids experienced this itinerary as guests of Alaskan Dream Cruises, for the purpose of review. All opinions are our own.