Out with Goliath Cruise Ships; In with Luxary Yachts

Just as the aft of two massive cruise ships—which attempted to profit from inter-island sailing—can be seen departing Hawaiian waters, two 145-foot yachts arrive to restore faith in Hawaiian cruising.

Seattle-based American Safari Cruises is readying to launch its own brand of "luxury" yacht cruising, starting this December, with plans to remedy where Norwegian Cruise lines couldn't deliver. First, the vessels are American flagged. Second, 2-to-1 passenger to staff ratios plan on upping the ante of personal service. And third, the most passengers allotted onboard for any sailing is thirty-six. This, an American Safari Cruises release states, allows the experience to "focus on traditional Hawaiian culture," in addition to offering guests "opportunities to get to know local residents by visiting their land and their homes."

The company also touts that the all-American crews (inclusive of Hawaii residents), onboard naturalists and eco-savvy captains will have little impact on the fragile environment surrounding the Hawaiian Island chain. Perks like all ocean view quarters (most with private balcony) and onboard wine library are certainly a change from the prior inter-island sail options.

The vessel—named "Safari Explorer"—is currently receiving finishing touches in Seattle. Tim Jacox, an American Safari Cruises vice-president, says that the newly refurbished Explorer will go where the big ships can't. Sailing only during the day, the ship will venture in to secluded bays and coves, quaint harbors and villages, including those off Moloka'i and Lana'i.

The company's inaugural Hawaii cruise season will run from December 19, 2008 to May 9, 2009. Their other vessels, which carry from 12 to 36 passengers, sail in Alaska, Mexico's Sea of Cortez and the Pacific Northwest's Snake and Columbia rivers.

Prices for a 7-night, 8-day sail range (depending on stateroom) from $3,995 to $8,295 per person. For more information, go to www.amsafari.com/Hawaii or speak with your dedicate travel professional.

ASC boasts two-to-one passenger to crew ratios, onboard naturalists and eco-savvy captains who will keep the environment safe