American Safari Cruises
The Line in a Nutshell
American Safari Cruises offers one of the most luxurious and yet adventurous experiences in the small-ship market -- and also one of the most expensive. Sails to: Alaska and British Columbia, Sea of Cortez/Baja, U.S./Canada coastal/river cruises, Hawaii.
Unlike the competition's mostly basic vessels, American Safari's three ships -- 12-passenger Safari Spirit, 22-passenger Safari Quest, and 36-passenger Safari Explorer -- are honest-to-God yachts that bathe passengers in plush comfort, with homey lounges, hot tubs, and large cabins. Everything except gratuities is included in the pricey base price, including alcoholic beverages and shore and water activities. The always-casual onboard vibe is in keeping with mostly middle-aged passengers who tend to be wealthy granola types looking to bond with nature without sacrificing luxury. Some charter an entire vessel for a family reunion. Days might be spent kayaking in the wilderness (kayaks and inflatable launches are carried on board), fishing right off the side of the yachts, and meeting families living in remote pockets to exchange stories and buy their fresh sea catch. Expedition leaders accompany passengers on off-vessel exploration, and in Alaska, you might take out a Zodiac boat or kayak to investigate shoreline black bears or river otters, or to navigate fjords packed with ice floes and lolling seals. Expeditions include trips to cannery towns with boardwalks, Tlingit villages, and tiny hamlets.
Cabins are comfortable and have TV/DVDs. The newer Explorer and the Spirit have the largest cabins and are considered the most luxurious of the fleet. The best accommodations on the Spirit are the Admiral's Cabins and the Commodore Suites on the Explorer, all of which have large picture windows, a small sitting area, plus other features such as a cedar-lined sauna, bathrobes, slippers, memory-foam mattresses, heated tile bathroom floors, and iPod docking stations. Some have a small step-out balcony with a sliding glass door (two cabins have balconies on Spirit and Explorer, and four cabins on Quest). The main lounge is the social center of each ship, a place for guests to relax, listen to an informal lecture by the ship's naturalist, play a game of cards or Scrabble, or watch a movie from the ship's library on the big-screen TV. There's a hot tub on deck and a couple of fitness machines for those who want to work out. For dining, there's a choice of entrees and all meals are served family-style on a burnished mahogany table in a casual room on Spirit, and at a cluster of tables on Quest and Explorer, usually when the ship is at anchor.
American Safari's typical per diems are $950+.
Safari Explorer sails the Columbia/Snake Rivers from Portland, OR, and Lewiston, ID (spring); Alaska from Juneau (summer); and Hawaii from Maui & the Big Island (fall, winter, spring).
Safari Quest sails Alaska from Juneau (summer); and the Columbia/Snake Rivers from Portland, OR, and Lewiston, ID (fall).
Safari Spirit sails Alaska from Juneau (summer); the Pacific Northwest/British Columbia from Friday Harbor, WA (fall); and Baja/Sea of Cortez from La Paz (winter & spring).