Having grown to eight vessels, Un-Cruise Adventures has been able to take advantage of opportunities in the marketplace to expand, according to Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing Tim Jacox.
The line has recently added the 64-passenger Safari Voyager, and has boats (they do not call them ships) deployed in Alaska, Hawaii, the Sea of Cortes and Pacific Northwest, although Jacox described Alaska as “the bread and butter” where seven of eight boats are deployed during the summer months.
Three of those boats were bought out of bankruptcy from the now-defunct Cruise West.
The company manages its own refits, thus saving money, and also deposits all ticket revenue into secured accounts, Jacox said.
As for acquiring ships, the company usually reduces capacity, opting to make it a richer experience, and thus charge higher ticket prices, up to $1,000 per person per day in Alaska in the peak of the season.
In 2015 the recently added Safari Voyager will open the map further for the Seattle-based company, sailing to Costa Rica and even spending part of the year in Belize.
Having laid up ships in the past, winter operations is part of the company’s future strategy for success, Jacox told Cruise Industry News.
Being a small-ship player, Jacox said he was operating a company within a niche, and that small-ship cruising is not definable for the most part.
“We have carved our own path with low-passenger counts,” he added, also pointing to an active product.
Having re-branded to Un-Cruise, Jacox said it was important to move everything under one umbrella – as opposed to operating to essentially two companies in American Safari and InnerSeas Discoveries.
“We created styles of adventures, so passengers can see what is best for them,” Jacox said.
Forty employees shoreside in Seattle manage the fleet, and the company runs its own hotel and marine operations, swelling to 300 employees including ship staff during the summer.
Jacox pointed to marketing as his biggest challenge, which is: getting the word out.
“We are hiring new people to get the word out to travel agents and more, brochures and all of those things cost money,” he said. “Every year we adjust our marketing plan accordingly.”
Thus, new source markets and springing up, including Australia, New Zealand and Germany in addition to Asia – especially for the Hawaii voyages.