American Safari Cruises Aims to Pick Up Cruise West Passengers

Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau

A Seattle-based, small-ship tour company is trying to pick up passengers left behind when Cruise West shut down operations.

American Safari Cruises and its sister line, InnerSea Discoveries, are discounting next year’s Alaska sailings. The lines are also looking into the closed company’s assets.

Cruise West, also based in Seattle, stopped operations on Sept. 18 after its Alaska season ended. The company, with ships carrying about 100 passengers each, also shut down sailings in the Pacific Northwest and other destinations.

American Safari’s Tim Jacox says his company, which follows similar routes, is offering $150 to $300 price breaks on next year’s Southeast Alaska sailings.

“We have informed travel agents around the country and internationally that we do have savings available for those who had already been booked on Cruise West. So if they have been booked with Cruise West and want to take advantage of that offer then they can go ahead and rebook with us,” he says.

InnerSea Discoveries and American Safari ships are smaller and generally more expensive than Cruise West’s, though prices vary greatly.

It’s unclear how many tickets Cruise West will refund. But travel insurance and credit card reimbursements are expected to pay back most passengers.

While the company tries to win Cruise West’s customers, Jacox says it’s considering the closed company’s fleet.

“We certainly want to be wise and be looking at opportunities. So as time goes forward, certainly, we’ll see what’s out there and let all the complications unravel and keep an eye on everything,” he says.

Cruise West this year sailed four small ships to Juneau, Sitka, Haines, Skagway, Petersburg, Wrangell and Metlakatla.

InnerSea Discoveries and American Safari plans to sail five small ships and yachts between Juneau, Ketchikan and Seattle next season. Some will stop at Klawock, Wrangell, Glacier Bay, and Admiralty Island.

Download Audio (MP3)