Seth and I travelled to Alaska in July 2012, and it was absolutely amazing! We did a small ship cruise with Alaskan Dream Cruises, which has a lovely atmosphere, amazing food and was just wonderful. I saw one yacht cruising while we were there, but there were a few in marinas that we visited. I think it would be an excellent yacht cruising destination and I hope to get back there on my own yacht one day.
We started in Sitka which is a lovely little town. It is worth spending a few days here as there is lots to see, including the fabulous Raptor Centre which cares for injured birds of prey. It is a humbling experience to get up close to these incredible creatures and learn more about them.
Sitka also has a strong Russian influence. The Russian Sealers and whalers based themselves here, and you can visit the Russion Bishop’s house and the Orthodox Cathedral. It is also really interesting to learn about the Alaskan History, the different Alaskan tribes and their languages, and cultures. There is also a really interesting Alaskan museum in Sitka which has all sorts of artifacts. The cruise we did included a day tour of Sitka to see some of these amazing sights, and then we did a wildlife boat tour which transferred us to our ship. On the way we saw Orca, puffins, seals, otters, humpback whales, and a grey whale, eagle & seal all in one photo!
The next day we visited Petersberg, a small settlement. The children in the school did an Alaskan Dance performance which was lovely and we visited a salmon farm.
Hobart Bay is Alaskan Dream’s private playground. We went sea kayaking first thing in the morning and then on the four wheel motorbikes along some old forestry tracks. The scenery was specatcular. In the afternoon we went on the zego’s and saw a small bear on the beach. In the evening we had a bonfire and had ‘smoors’ which Seth and I had never heard of! Yum!
Tracy Arm was a wonderful day and we got to get up super close to the glaciers and we saw the most amazing glacier calving. The captain of the ship said it was one of the best ones he had ever seen in his 20 years of sailing around Alaska! The scale, noise and atmosphere of the place can not be captured in a video or photo. It was absolutely amazing.
Our last day was in Juneau, and we got to visit the Mendenhall Glacier which has a wonderful big waterfall, and the ice calves off in to a lake. Absolutely gorgeous. Sadly from here we flew home – well to Disneyland actually.
Alaskan Dream is a small ship cruise company. Small ships are classed as less than a couple of hundred people. There are lots of big ships doing cruises in Alaska as well, but these have a mass touristy kind of feel compared with the small ship which has more of a family atmosphere. Both options are great depending on what kind of traveller you are. If you want different dining options, nightly broadway style entertainment, spa’s, nightlife and kids clubs, then a big ship will be for you.
If you want more of a boutique experience, less people, educational speakers as opposed to night clubs etc then a small ship is for you. Our cruise was more expensive than on a big ship and the rooms were a lot smaller, but the food was absolutely amazing and all our tours were included in the price (on a big ship cruise you pay extra for excursions). On a small ship you are also a lot closer to the wildlife, and if we came across something interesting – like a huge pod of humpback whales – then we would just stop, turn off the engines and float along beside these incredible creatures.
- The cruising season runs from May to September.
- We were there in July – the height of their summer, but it was pretty cold! Dress in layers as it does warm up if the sun comes out.
- Take a decent waterproof jacket, and umbrella and warm hat & gloves – it can get really cold near the glaciers
- Get a good camera – I was really disappointed with my little point and shoot compared with some of the photos my fellow passengers took
- Binoculars – some cruise lines include them, but take your own if not. You can see some great wildlife with them.