The True Alaskan Difference
Allen Marine, the parent company of Alaskan Dream Cruises, was established in 1970 when Bob and Betty Allen, and their five children, restored a ruined boat that became the St. Michael- the first in a long line of Allen Marine tour vessels named after saints of the family’s Russian Orthodox faith.
By working together, the Allen’s were able to keep pace with Alaska’s rapidly expanding tourism industry. The Allen Marine tours of today are highly professional, staffed with well-trained crews, and guided by gifted naturalists. While altogether more polished marine tours than in the days when Betty and her children served treats and dispensed Russian tea from a samovar while Bob ran the boat, Allen Marine remains a company owned, operated, and guided by a family of life-long Alaskans.
Allen Marine’s success can be traced to Bob and Betty’s competitive drive, creativity, ingenuity, and good timing. But the most important ingredient is family. In the early years, as the couple struggled to keep their business afloat, their children worked beside them—cleaning, crewing, and later, skippering the vessels. Bob and Betty’s children and grandchildren now run the company.
Bob Allen is fond of saying, “Just because it hasn’t been done before, doesn’t mean we can’t do it,” a can-do attitude reflected in the boats Allen Marine designs, builds, and operates. The operating characteristics of these one-of-a-kind tour vessels so impressed NY Waterways of Weehawken, New Jersey, that the Allens were commissioned to build a total of 19 passenger ferries. When Flight 1549 crash-landed on the Hudson River, half of the boats surrounding the sinking jet had been built in Sitka, Alaska. The rescue effort, greatly aided by the fast and highly maneuverable Allen Marine ferries, put the “miracle” in “Miracle on the Hudson.”
The sale of 19 vessels to NY Waterway represents the largest single export of manufactured products in the history of the 49th state. But it is just one of the remarkable achievements of this uniquely Alaskan family and the company they run. Allen Marine operates over 30 vessels, employs more than 300 Alaskans, and provides daily and week-long tours and cruises throughout Southeast Alaska, while building aluminum boats and structural products at its boat shop in Sitka.