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When one travel company closes its doors another opens its checkbook. Alaska-based Allen Marine Tours is launching an eco-friendly cruise line called Alaskan Dream Cruises with two of the vessels formally owned and operated by the late Cruise West (rest in peace), which ceased operations in September. Each carrying 78 guests, the Spirit of Alaska and the Spirit of Columbia will operate seven-night itineraries from Sitka under the new names of the Admiralty Dream and the Baranof Dream. The announcement came as surprise to many, but the owners of Allen Marine Tours said that they’ve been planning on expanding for some time, and prior to Cruise West’s closure, had already acquired a smaller, 40-passenger catamaran, now named the Contessa (which will become the Alaskan Dream). Cruises will sail to the Icy Strait, Point Adolphus, Hobart Bay, Tracy Arm, and Glacier Bay National Park, and include daily excursions and meals that consist of organic, locally produced ingredients.
The well-established, family-owned company has already been working with major cruise lines like Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Silversea, and others to offer adventurous shore excursions and tours for passengers. Branching out to provide lengthy cruises in their own backyard may seem like a natural progression, but the company is planning on a very aggressive launch date: May 2011. Vice President Jamey Cagle says that “Our family and company have a lot of history here. We're good at hosting people three to five hours on tours and we would like to see if we can do more."
While they may be experts at what they do (with over 40 years of experience), overnight cruises are a whole new ballgame and it will be interesting to see how this pans out over the next few months. There has been no word yet on when tickets go on sale, but rates are expected to start around $4,500.