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Friday, October 27, 2000

Travel firm
to broaden isle
cruise excursions

By Russ Lynch

A leading international adventure travel company is boosting its services to cruise-line passengers in Hawaii, expecting to provide about 45,000 travelers with shore excursions in the final quarter of this year alone.

The company, Abercrombie & Kent American Adventures Ltd., says it wants to bring its "natural playground" travel concept to the islands, offering outdoor adventures for travelers who come to the islands outside the cruise business. "We see a huge future in Hawaii," said Charles Lafave, president of the Oak Brook, Ill.-based company.

Hawaii activities will include snorkeling, horseback riding, bike rides, kayaking, scenic flights as well as traditional circle-island bus tours, Lafave said today.

For now, the company has only two local employees and has a local partnership with transportation firm Trans Hawaiian Services.

But Lafave said Abercrombie & Kent plans to hire more employees as it grows in Hawaii. He said the company's policy is to have its own operations wherever it can, providing local trips and activities through its own subsidiaries.

Meanwhile, it is concentrating on its cruise business, providing activities for passengers on the Norwegian Cruise, Holland America, and Radisson Cruise lines, he said.

The company was handling 4,000 passengers today alone for two cruise ships visiting the islands, he said.

"The cruse lines recognize that Hawaii is going to be the next Alaska," Lafave said. "Hawaii is what the Caribbean wishes it were. It has great destination activities, good roads, great medical care and you don't need a passport, there is no currency exchange needed, no language barrier."

Abercrombie & Kent American Adventures was founded in 1998 as a U.S. subsidiary of an international business, Abercrombie & Kent International Inc., which was formed as a safari business in Nairobi, Kenya, in 1962.

The adventure company's clientele are typically over 40, affluent, well traveled and well educated, Lafave said. However, there is a growing trend toward family travel and with that in mind, the company launched a new brand, A&K Active, in New York last week.

Abercombie & Kent has a worldwide sales and marketing network, including its Web site, that is being put to work to promote Hawaii, Lafave said.

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