Spotlight on Luxury Travel Provider: American Safari Cruises
As the first blog post in our Spotlight on Luxury Travel Providers series, where we spotlight luxury travel providers on the experiences guests will receive from using their company, we had the pleasure of interviewing Captain Dan Blanchard, CEO of American Safari Cruises. During this interview, Captain Blanchard shared with us the details on what it’s like to partake in an American Safari Cruise, and why this cruise line is so unique from the rest.
See below for the interview:
1. American Safari Cruises is probably best known for the Alaska cruise. Tell us a little bit about what travelers can experience on this cruise.
American Safari Cruises has been cruising in Alaska for 13 years, and it is still our most popular destination. All three yachts sail in Alaska from May through September. The small, luxury yachts let guests see the real Alaska—spectacular wilderness areas, whales, and bears up close, and tidewater glaciers. We don’t spend time in the traditional ports. Instead, we navigate our nimble yachts into unnamed coves and passages less traveled to explore nature and wildlife.
We spend two full days in Glacier Bay where guests can hike ashore high above glaciers and kayak—unlike other cruise ship passengers who must stay on board their ship. We are the only cruise company that can do this in Glacier Bay. Our flexible itinerary means we can stop and watch whales for as long as we like.
We cruise through whale-rich Frederick Sound. If we’re lucky, we’ll see spectacular displays of breeching or bubble net feeding. Kayaking and hiking trips are another great way to see wildlife and the coastline up close. You can spot bears feeding by the shoreline. We’ll also see puffins, sea lions, eagles, and seals. We’ll get as close as we can to tidewater glaciers. Guests can get closer by skiff or kayak. You’ll be close enough to experience the exhilaration of ice calving into the water.
2. Your wine and culinary cruises in the spring and fall along the Columbia River Gorge are spectacular. How do these cruises differ from other wine and culinary tours?
Cruises on the Columbia & Snake Rivers blend scenic exploration and historical discovery. On the wine and culinary theme cruises, guests will also enjoy tasting the best of the northwest, including award-winning wines. A wine expert and a guest chef or culinary expert will sail on board for the full cruise.
Located on approximately the same latitude as some of the great French wine regions, the area of the Pacific Northwest’s Columbia River valley has become well known and popular with wine enthusiasts from around the world.
We’ll visit five wineries where guests will enjoy a private tour and tasting. Cuisine will focus on flavors of the northwest with fresh, locally-sourced ingredients. Guests will also enjoy cooking demonstrations during the cruise.
3. You’re the first cruise line to offer unstructured inter-island yacht cruises through the Hawaiian Islands. What does this mean and how do passengers benefit from this type of cruising?
We are so pleased to be bringing the 36-guest Safari Explorer to Hawaii in the fall. We’ll be the first company to offer unstructured inter-island yacht cruising in Hawaii. Our flexible itinerary focuses on exploring the beautiful scenery, coves, and wildlife. We are free to follow the wildlife and linger while we watch whales or explore a hidden cove. We only sail during the day so guests don’t miss any of the spectacular scenery along the shores of Maui, Moloka’i, Lanai, and the Big Island.
Our guests will enjoy hiking, kayaking and skiff excursions. We’ll also have sailboats, paddleboards, snorkeling gear, and bicycles for guests to use. All these activities are included.
We’ve established relationships with local people in Moloka’i and guests will meet these kind people in their community. Local guides will accompany guests on tours such as hikes or beach combing. This is a chance to talk to the locals and learn about their traditional Hawaiian culture. In the evening we’ll join the locals for a truly traditional Hawaiian Pa’ina with great local food and music. It’s an experience not to be missed and nothing like the canned hotel shows.
4. What makes American Safari Cruises unique from other cruise lines? (Please discuss how the amenities and the suites on the ship are luxurious, as well as the exceptional food that American Safari Cruises is known for).
Our tagline is “Luxury in the Pursuit of Adventure,” and that is a promise we take to heart. Our small group yacht adventures provide an alternative to traditional large and small ship cruises by taking guests into areas that are not accessible to larger groups on big ships. With so few guests, the itineraries are flexible and can be altered at a moment’s notice to maximize wildlife and scenic viewing opportunities.
The yachts travel only during the day so guests miss nothing along the way. They anchor every night in pristine coves or dockside in small villagesso guests can explore by water and on foot. We provide plenty of opportunities for people who like active adventures, but guests can be as active as they want. Hiking and kayaking are popular activities.
We’ve outfitted the staterooms with full bathrooms with heated tile floors (some have Jacuzzi tubs), memory-foam mattresses, flatscreen TVs with DVD players, iPod docking stations, and terry bathrobes and slippers. You’ll be comfortable!
The yachts have an inviting lounge with open bar, a library, DVD library, hydrophones to listen to whales underwater, and an underwater bow camera that streams to stateroom TVs and the lounge. The Safari Explorer and Safari Spirit each have a sauna. All the yachts have on-deck exercise equipment. Meals are served in the dining room at one seating and the cuisine features locally sourced ingredients from the current destination. You’ll enjoy fine dining at every meal. Premium spirits, wines, and micro brews are included.
5. American Safari Cruises offers exceptional private charters and family yacht charters. Who would benefit from booking a private charter? What can travelers expect when booking a luxury private charter?
We can accommodate group sizes from 12 to 40 people on one of our luxury yachts. There are many benefits of chartering a trip, but privacy and the ability to customize your trip are paramount. We’ve had families celebrating special occasions and groups of friends charter trips. Business groups and common interest groups have also chartered yacht cruises.
Chartering allows for more control over all aspects of the trip. We will work with you to make it special, and you can help design the itinerary and arrange custom excursions. It will be a private, exclusive travel experience without any crowds. Our emphasis on flexibility means that if you change your mind about something while underway, we will work to accommodate your request.
6. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Our crews are truly the cream of the crop in our industry, and we have almost no turnover from year to year. We are unique in this area; crew members stay with us for the same reasons our guest do: flexible itineraries, nights at anchor, and small group comfort—not to mention superior compensation.
About American Safari Cruises:
American Safari Cruises specializes in authentic, active, deluxe cruises and charters on three luxury yachts. Itineraries focus on close-up viewing of wildlife, fine dining, and activities such as kayaking, beachcombing, hiking, snorkeling, sailing, and exploration by motorized inflatables. Each of the yacht charters and cruises are offered at one inclusive price, so all premium wines, microbrews and liquors, exclusive shore excursions, on-yacht meals, activities, taxes, port charges, transfers and lectures are included. American Safari Cruises offers an alternative to traditional large- and small-ship cruises by taking guests into areas that are not accessible to most larger ships, and on excursions and to activities that are exclusive, private, and unavailable to most other travelers.
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Contact us today for more information on planning your American Safari Cruise.