Luxury yacht cruises planned
STORY SUMMARY »
Seattle-based American Safari Cruises has set its sights on becoming the first cruise line in Hawaii to offer unstructured inter-island yacht cruising that is not tied to conventional port entries and exits.
The company, which caters to the adventurous upscale traveler, is in the process of retrofitting the 150-foot, 39-passenger yacht Safari Explorer. The yacht is slated to enter into the Hawaii market in December 2008 and the company has already scheduled 21 departures through May 2009.
American Safari Cruises, which pioneered yacht cruising in Alaska in 1997, recently increased its fleet capacity by 100 percent.
FULL STORY »
Seattle-based American Safari Cruises is entering the Hawaii market next year with seven-night cruises between the Big Island and Maui abroad its newest yacht, the 39-passenger Safari Explorer.
The 150-foot, 39-passenger yacht Safari Explorer is currently undergoing a multi-million retrofit before it sails to Hawaii, American Safari Cruises' fifth destination. The yacht's first sail is slated for December 2008; the company has scheduled 21 departures through May 2009.
Though American Safari Cruises' vessel is far smaller than the ocean liners operated by NCL America, its entry into the Hawaii market will come in the same year that Hawaii's first home-ported cruise operator cuts back. In a bid to improve bookings and strengthen pricing, NCL America will move its Pride of Hawaii to Europe in February 2008.
American Safari Cruises, which began offering yacht cruising in Alaska in 1997, recently doubled its fleet capacity. Other destinations include Mexico's Sea of Cortés, Columbia and Snake rivers and the Pacific Northwest.
Now, the company has said that it has set its sights on becoming the first cruise line in Hawaii to offer unstructured interisland yacht cruising that isn't tied to conventional ports.
The relatively small size of American Safari Cruises' vessels enables them to go where the big ships can't, and flexible itineraries allow the vessels to follow whales and dolphins or dodge unpleasant weather. The company, whose vessels travel only in the daytime, seeks passages that are rich in wildlife and offer the evening seclusion of protected coves and bays.
"We've built our reputation on spontaneity," said Dan Blanchard, president and chief executive officer of American Safari Cruises. "Our style makes it possible to explore Hawaii without having to be at a specific port at a specific time. We can gunkhole, stop in out-of-the-way bays and coves, and be ready for whatever experiences may come along."
On the eight-day, seven-night Hawaii cruises, which are priced around $4,000 per person double occupancy, the Safari Explorer will sail one-way between Kailua-Kona on the Big Island and Kahului on Maui. Cruising will focus on the leeward side of Maui, including Kahoolawe, Lanai and Molokini.
The company, which carries mountain bikes and kayaks as well as snorkel and diving gear on all its cruises, also will customize add-on extensions to Kauai and other Hawaiian islands, pre- or post-cruise.
Hawaii shore excursions will include: a helicopter tour over Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, a mule ride into Kalaupapa National Historic Park on Molokai, a drive to Haleakala National Park on Maui and night cruising along the Big Island to see Kilauea's lava flow into the sea.
"Hawaii will never be closer," says Tim Jacox, American Safari Cruises' vice president of sales and marketing. "This will be a new way to see the islands, places you can only explore by boat. We'll meet the locals and learn from them. Our goal is to establish new traditions in cruising while respecting the age-old traditions of Hawaii."