Alaskan Dream Cruises
We began our eight day cruise in Sitka, the home port of Alaskan Dream Cruises.
For centuries, Tlinget Indians thrived in the cool, temperate rainforest of present day Sitka. The Tlinget relied on the resource-rich environment to provide all that was necessary for food, clothing, shelter and tools. They were proficient harvesters of salmon, halibut, rockfish and herring, and skilled hunters and gatherers on land.
In 1799 Russians arrived in the area. They were particularly attracted to the location by the abundance of sea otters, whose furs were of tremendous value.
Sitka is located on Baranof Island. Its population is near 9,000 with more people employed in the seafood industry than any other sector. Many Sitkans hunt and gather subsistence foods such as fish, deer, berries, seaweeds and mushrooms for personal use. Sitka was the site of the transfer ceremony for the Alaska purchase in 1867.
The salmon catch in Alaska grew rapidly with the expansion of the cannery capacity through 1920. This led to over fishing, which resulted in such low salmon stocks that President Eisenhower declared Alaska a federal disaster area in 1953. After Alaska became a state in 1959 it instituted new conservation measures to increase numbers, but real rebound did not occur until the ’70s when a limited entry permit system was implemented. Since then the catch has rebounded to near-record levels.
Sheldon Jackson Museum
The Reverend Dr. Sheldon Jackson was a Presbyterian missionary and first General Agent of Education for Alaska. The majority of artifacts here were collected by Rev. Jackson between 1888 and 1900 and are representative of the Native groups in Alaska. It is one of two museums owned and operated by the State of Alaska.
Alaska Raptor Center
Our final stop before boarding our vessel. It is a rehabilitation center and receives between 100-200 birds each year, with many suffering from gunshot wounds and traffic-related trauma.
We boarded our vessel, the Baranof, at approximately 4:30 p.m. Shortly after settling in, happy hour was interrupted by a bear sighting. There was a brown bear foraging along the shoreline. This same bear is called a grizzly in the lower 48. Alaskan brown bear are generally larger than grizzlies, standing up to ten feet tall bipedal and weighing up to 900 pounds. This bear seemed enormous from our vantage point, but then we don’t often see grizzlies in the wild. It was a perfect ending to a great first day.