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The Alaska cruise market welcomes another new entrant in 2011 when Alaska Dream Cruises makes its debut, joining this year’s other small ship start-up InnerSea Discoveries. In addition, big-ship brand Disney Cruise Line makes its Alaska inaugural in 2011, and Crystal Cruises returns for the first time in six years.

Owned by a Native American company, the Sitka-based Allen Marine Tours, Alaska Dream Cruises will operate three vessels that should be familiar to longtime fans of Alaska small-ship cruising. Two 78-passenger ships, named the Admiralty Dream and Baranof Dream, were formerly operating for the recently departed Cruise West. A third ship, a 42-passenger catamaran called the Alaskan Dream, was once part of the Glacier Bay Cruiseline fleet. Two of the ships will be deployed on regularly scheduled service, while a third will be reserved for charters.

The emphasis of the new line will be on sustainable tourism, bypassing traditional ports and focusing on wilderness experiences. Shipboard menus will highlight local and organically produced items, especially Alaskan seafood, while expedition leaders and guest speakers will provide onboard enrichment.

Alaska Dream Cruises’ inaugural season begins on May 14 and runs through September 3 with eight-day/seven-night voyages roundtrip from Sitka, visiting destinations along the Inside Passage known for their wildlife and whale-watching opportunities, including Icy Strait Point, Point Adolphus, Hobart Bay, Tracy Arm, and Glacier Bay National Park. Introductory fares begin at US$1,895 per person, cruise only. For more information, log on to www.alaskadreamcruises.com.