American Safari Cruises former CEO Dan Blanchard, who headed the company from 2001 to October 2008, has formed a new company, InnerSea Discoveries, which purchased the assets of American Safari Cruises and will operate the ASC brand beginning with the 2009 Alaska season. Based at historic Fishermen's Terminal in Seattle, the new parent company plans to add several new brands to complement the American Safari yacht cruising experience of up-close, interactive exploration of the routes less traveled.
The InnerSea Discoveries executive team of Blanchard and Tim Jacox, executive vice president of sales and marketing, has a combined 60 years of experience in yacht and small-ship cruising. "Tim and I are extremely excited to be back at the helm of a product we love and to build on the strong name of American Safari Cruises," Blanchard says. "Showcasing nature up-close has been our true passion for decades, and we are looking toward new opportunities for bringing people closer to nature in small-group comfort."
To ease agent and consumer anxiety in the current economic climate, InnerSea Discoveries is voluntarily placing client payments into a secure acoount. "We believe this to be a sound business practice for our new company model," Blanchard says. "This is our own decision -- we are not required to do this by any regulatory agency."
Under ASC's "Alaska – Even More Beautiful At 50" promotion, travel agents who book an Alaska cruise before April 15 will save their clients $500 per person, receive their normal commission plus a $50 thank you, and will be entered in a late-April drawing for a free Alaska cruise.
For the fall 2009 season, the company is introducing new nine-day, eight-night one-way cruises along the Columbia and Snake rivers on its flagship Safari Explorer; details will be announced in late February.
InnerSea Discoveries will continue to provide cruises that focus on natural history and environmental education, all within the framework of luxury cruising. They are retaining the elements that led to ASC's unique reputation – an inclusive experience onboard yachts carrying from 12 to 36 guests; the choice to book private charters or individual staterooms; a two-to-one passenger-crew ratio; professional expedition leaders with specific backgrounds in the cruise route; an enthusiastic all-American crew; an unstructured schedule where the captain follows the wildlife; and itineraries that avoid tourist-clogged towns in pursuit of up-close encounters with nature.
Kayaking, hiking and shore boat excursions remain a top priority, and guests enjoy fine cuisine prepared with fresh, local ingredients and a complimentary bar stocked with premium spirits, wines and microbrews. In 2007, ASC was named one of the world's top five luxury small-ship/specialty cruise lines by the Virtuoso luxury travel consortium.
ASC's Alaska itineraries maximize whale encounters, bear viewing, glacier visits and exclusive explorations such as an unprecedented two days exploring spectacular Glacier Bay National Park with an onboard park ranger. Yacht sizes range from the elegant 105-foot, 12-guest Safari Spirit to the 145-foot, 36-guest Safari Explorer. The 2009 Alaska Inside Passage season runs May 2 to Sept. 11; prices begin at $4,495 per person double occupancy.
The yachts are available for private charter for family or business and incentive travel. To secure charter space, early confirmation is highly encouraged. For information: 888/862-8881 or www.amsafari.com.