A newly renovated cruise ship anchored in Petersburg during its maiden voyage this week. As Abbey Collins reports, the boat is complete with a new back deck, a large kitchen and a salt room.
The Chichagof Dream is a new addition to the fleet of Alaskan Dream Cruises, an arm of the Sitka-based Allen Marine.
Freshly remodeled, the 207-foot boat anchored just off of Petersburg’s South Harbor and shuttled tourists to land and back again. During one round of lightering (light-er-ing), the crew took me on board.
Eric Majeski is the general manager of Allen Marine Tours. Aboard the Chichagof, he gave me a look around. We went straight for the salt room. It looks sort of like a sauna, with walls of pink Himalayan salt.
“It’s just a place to come and relax,” says Majeski. “Soak it in. You spend about 30 minutes in here and it’s supposed to sooth you and give you good feelings.”
The boat was built in 1984 and Majeski says it had other names before it became the Chicagof Dream.
“This was previously the Spirit of Glacier Bay, which went aground in 2008,” he says. “And the Allen’s bought it, after of course it was a Cruise West boat. They are no longer in business. And we got the boat and made it into this amazing vessel you see before you.”
He says Allen Marine acquired the ship in 2012 and they’ve been working on renovations right up until this week’s cruise.
“We did some major renovations out of Seattle before we brought it up in 2014 and then we’ve been working on it pretty much straight through since December 2014 until Sunday,” says Majeski.
Now it’s out on a weeklong trip around Southeast. Inside, Majeski takes me upstairs to a room where passengers can hang out and have a drink.
“We’re heading up to the lounge deck. So we have the bar service, we have several beers on tap as well as drinks for the guests, and open bow area for viewing,” says Majeski.
Majeski says passengers can go out onto the deck. He says that was accessible before the renovation but it has changed quite a bit. One big renovation is an open-air deck on the rear of the boat, the promenade deck.
“This is the newly built back deck. This was previously all cabins up here. We had to renovate by cutting all the cabins off. As well as there’s another deck above this that we cut all the cabins off as well, says Majeski.”
He says the boat does fit fewer people now than it did previously.
The vessel holds 74 passengers. Majeski says a number of the changes were made to meet coast guard inspection.
However, some of the renovations, like the salt room, were just extra perks. It’s almost cookie time and the on-board baker is cooking away.
“This is the amazing galley of the Chichagof Dream,” says Majeski. “So it’s a lot bigger then all of our other vessels. Walk-in freezer, walk-in refrigerator.”
Majeski says despite being the first trip out, there have been no major technical problems.
“We’ve had a couple of little quirks just mostly like doorknobs, little things from shipyard work. So been actually very good so far,” he says. “We’re really happy but it took a lot of work from the shipyard staff in Sitka to make it as good as it is today.”
Inside the wheelhouse we find Captain Stu Vincent. He says he’s very pleased with how things are going.
“You know initially startups are always fraught with problems of one thing or another but we’ve been actually very pleased with how things have been running,” he says.
After Petersburg, Majeski says the ship heads to Kake and makes a few more stops before docking in Juneau to end its maiden voyage and pick up a new group of passengers. As for me, I returned to shore.