Although two large cruise ships are suspending inter-island cruising in Hawaii, American Safari Cruises is doing just the opposite, bringing its own unique brand of luxury yacht cruising to the islands beginning December 2008. All ASC vessels are American-flagged.

ASC's inter-island Hawaii cruises with just 36 guests will be markedly different than the large-ship experience with more than 2,000 passengers. Cruises will focus on traditional Hawaiian culture and will offer opportunities for guests to get to know local residents by visiting their land and their homes. The small guest contingent will have little impact on the islands, and the all-American crew will include Hawaii residents, especially captains and naturalists who have personal knowledge of the area.

American Safari made the decision to launch the cruises after extensive research into what high-end cruise clientele want in terms of destination and experience – overwhelmingly they seek the Hawaiian islands in an active, luxury setting. "We may be seeing a major shift in Hawaii cruising," says Tim Jacox, ASC vice president of sales and marketing. "While the large-ship inventory in Hawaii is shrinking, we're able to meet a longstanding demand for an intimate, up-close inter-island experience."

The new 145-foot Safari Explorer, now undergoing a multi-million dollar renovation in Seattle, will go where big ships can't -- secluded coves and bays, quaint harbors and tiny villages. The yacht travels only during the day, and in the waters less traveled will visit Molokai, Lanai, 19th-century Lahaina on Maui, the Big Island and several snorkel/dive sites. Guests will also have an included Volcanoes National Park helicopter tour and explore beautiful backcountry waterfalls and exotic terrain on foot.