Mexico’s Sea of Cortes offers unique yachting experience

Sea of CortesBaja Mexico’s Sea of Cortes, also known as the Gulf of California, is a secluded and protected UNESCO World Heritage biosphere reserve formed where Baja California broke away from the Mexican mainland about 20 million years ago. One of the most diverse seas and isolated peninsulas in the world it is also a favorite yachting destination.

Mexico’s Sea of Cortés lies adjacent to the more glitzy and better-known ports of Acapulco, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta, which comprise the Mexican Riviera — and let’s just say: It’s a whole other world” says CruiseCritic.com.

American Safari Cruises has a little 22-guest yacht, the Safari Quest, that sails week-long adventure cruises from La Paz. The ship’s smaller size lets it explore many of the hundreds of islands and islets big cruise ships can’t get to. American Safari’s flexible and unhurried cruising philosophy promises time to seek out wildlife including multiple species of whales, dolphins and sea lions all prevalent in the wildlife-rich waters.”The Sea of Cortés is not as well-known as other destinations, but it’s a gem” said Tim Jacox, executive vice president of sales and marketing.

The inclusive cruise itinerary includes exploration of Isla Partida, Isla San Jose, Isla San Francisco and Isla Espíritu Santo. A visit to Bahia Agua Verde includes a mule ride into the arroyos of the peninsula guided by a local ranchero. At Isla Coyote, guests meet the Cuevas fishing family and tour the village and whale bone yard. Snorkeling with playful sea lions at Los Islotes is often a highlight of the trip.

Anchoring in quiet coves, the crew brings water toys out to play. The yacht transforms into a waterborne adventure platform for kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, sailing, skiff rides, snorkeling, swimming, swinging off the rope swing and tubing. Expert naturalists lead kayaking and hiking excursions to explore the beauty of the sea, the coastline and into the desert landscape to see giant Cardón cacti, red rock cliffs and white sand dunes.

Sea of Cortes

The 22-guest Safari Quest features a hot tub, Tempur-pedic mattresses, heated tile floors in all bathrooms and upper category balconies. An all-American crew has a low guest-crew ratio of 2 to 1. The inclusive cruise includes all from-the-yacht activities and equipment; transfers; exquisite meals; fine wine, premium spirits and microbrews; and all port charges, taxes and feesYachts can be booked as a private charter or by individual stateroom.

Now through September 30, 2011, American Safari Cruises is offering a $200 per person travel credit for new bookings made on 13 select departures.

Flickr photo by Lime Salt Chile

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Big ship cruise not for you? Try gunkhole cruising

Gunkhole cruisingGunkhole cruising is cruising in shallow water, meandering from place to place and spending the nights in coves. The term refers to the gunk, or mud, typical of the creeks, coves, marshes, sloughs, and rivers that are referred to as gunkhole.

This is a place where big cruise ships can’t go.

It’s “that ideal but shallow anchorage that was dicey at best to get into in the first place and impossible to leave behind after experiencing. It’s the place where you might be all alone, at least for most of the time, unless you count the wildlife. It’s the place you never mention to anyone for fear of spoiling what only you alone know about. It’s the place you dream abouta yachter’s paradise of quiet, scenic anchorages” says CoastalBoating.net.

Beginning September 14, 2012, American Safari Cruises tiny, 22-guest Safari Quest does this sailing from Seattle.

“The intimate nature of this upscale yacht is ideal for navigating among the islands and scenic inlets in Washington and British Columbia,” said Tim Jacox, executive vice president of sales and marketing. “Sailing from Seattle will be more convenient for many people, and we’ve also increased the number of sailings in fall and spring.”

Sailing from Seattle, the yacht passes through the historic Hiram M. Chittenden Locks to Puget Sound. In Victoria, guests enjoy a tour of Butchart Gardens with a traditional British high tea, a visit to the Royal British Columbia Museum and the historic Empress Hotel.

A flexible itinerary allows time to search out and view wildlife such as orca whales, eagles, seals, sea lions, porpoise, black bears and deer. Expedition (gunkhole) cruising means the yacht freely explores among the inlets and islands of the Pacific Northwest. An onboard expedition leader provides expert narration while leading waterborne or land-based adventures including kayaking, hiking, beachcombing and skiff rides. Paddle boards are also available for solo adventures in scenic waters.

Other highlights of the cruise include exploration by foot or by kayak in Princess Louisa Inlet, only half a mile wide and culminating at the spectacular Chatterbox Falls; scenery and solitude while relaxing in the upper deck hot tub; stroll along Nanaimo’s picturesque waterfront promenade; a visit to the town of Friday Harbor with boutiques, galleries and a Whale Museum; hiking along a bluff to Turning Point Lighthouse on Stuart Island and kayaking among the sheltered Harmony Islands.

Cruise fares start at $3,995 per person based on double occupancy. The inclusive cruise includes all from-the-yacht activities and equipment; transfers; all meals; fine wine, premium spirits and microbrews; and all port charges, taxes and fees. The 22-guest Safari Quest features a hot tub, Tempur-pedic mattresses, heated tile floors in all bathrooms and upper category balconies. An all-American crew has a guest-crew ratio of 2 to 1. Yachts can be booked as a private charter or by individual stateroom.

Well-known in yachting circles as a favorite for gunkhole cruising the San Juan and Canadian Gulf Islands star in American Safari Cruises’ Pacific Northwest Passage itinerary returning in 2012. The cruise features Washington and British Columbia with a new homeport of Seattle, Washington.

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Un-cruise line heads to Hawaii, in style

Un-cruise

Not long ago, we introduced InnerSea Discoveries, an up-close personal adventure experience that just happens to travel on water. The tiny, 2-ship cruise line does what they call an “un-cruise” in Alaska for up to 76 passengers that are about as far away from the big cruise ship experience as you can get and still be floating. Now its time to get to know sister-line American Safari Cruises, also offering a unique adventure experience on water. This time heading to Hawaii. In style.

The darn-near-all-inclusive cruises include all from-the-yacht activities and equipment; transfers; meals; fine wine, premium spirits and microbrews in addition to only the “port charges, taxes and fees” that are included in a big-ship cruise. All American Safari yachts feature a hot tub, Tempur-pedic mattresses, heated tile floors in all bathrooms and upper category balconies. Some also feature saunas, a complimentary massage and Jacuzzi tubs. An all-American crew has a guest-crew ratio of 2 to 1.

“This type of inclusive yacht cruise is a totally new way to vacation in Hawaii” said Tim Jacox, executive vice president of sales and marketing. “We are an exclusive floating resort that cruises between the islands to show you the best of Hawaii. Going ashore with only 36 total guests means cultural experiences are more personal and authentic. And since we provide adventure gear and include activities, it’s 100% fun and relaxation.”

The 36-guest Safari Explorer sails inter-island Hawaiian adventure cruises between Maui and the Big Island (and reverse). From November through April, weeklong Hawaiian Seascapes and 10-night Hawaii’s Traditional Shores itineraries explore Maui, Molokai, Lanai, Molokini and the Big Island.

The 22-guest Safari Quest sails weeklong Aquarium of the World itineraries in Mexico’s Sea of Cortés from November through April. Sailing roundtrip from La Paz, Mexico, the flexible itinerary takes time to seek out the myriad marine life in this World Heritage biosphere reserve and explores Isla Partida, Isla San José, Bahia Agua Verde, Los Islotes, Isla Coyote, Isla San Francisco and Isla Espiritu.

In both warm water destinations, the two yachts feature exciting and novel holiday travel Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, Valentine’s Day (with a special Hawaii Romance Package), Easter and special Kids in Nature family departures during popular spring break weeks in March.

A relaxed itinerary of cruising from cove-to-cove among islands in Hawaii and the Sea of Cortés maximizes the yachts ability to act as a platform for water based adventures such as kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, swimming from the yacht’s swim step, snorkeling, braving the rope swing, sailing, skiff explorations and tubing. Guided excursions are led by expert on board naturalists.

In both destinations, exclusive cultural explorations ashore are included and led by the yacht’s expedition leaders. Guests in the Sea of Cortés visit Isla Coyote, a small island inhabited by the Cuevas fishing family, where guests will tour the village and visit with the family. On Hawaii’s Molokai, guests meet a local family for guided walks through the valley focusing on history and archaeology, a chance to help restore ancient taro terraces and a traditional Hawaiian paina celebration and feast.

Considering one of these? Better move fast; if American Safari to Hawaii and Mexico fills up as well as InnerSea Discoveries did to Alaska, the season will sell out fast.

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Luxury yachts host just a few guests in spectacular destinations

Luxury yachtsEarlier this year, Gadling introduced InnerSea Discoveries, what we called the Alaska Adventure Cruise for people that hate even the idea of a cruise. Called the “Un-Cruise” its an up-close personal adventure experience that just happens to travel on water. The line’s moderately priced inaugural season sold out fast and reports back from the field validate the adventure nature of the travel experience.

Now, InnerSea’s sister-line American Safari Cruises, promising luxury in the pursuit of adventure, has released its 2012-2013 Schedule Of Active Yacht Adventures deployment detailing voyages for its three yacht fleet.

The nimble yachts, 12-guest Safari Spirit, 22-guest Safari Quest and 36-guest Safari Explorer, specialize in expedition cruising with flexible itineraries. Destinations include Southeast Alaska, Mexico’s Sea of Cortés, Columbia and Snake Rivers, Hawaiian Islands and Washington and British Columbia.

“We are releasing our brochure a bit earlier this year” said Tim Jacox, executive vice president of sales and marketing. “We had a stellar year in 2011, and we want to get the new brochure in travelers’ hands now to book 2012 as early as possible.”

In all destinations, the yachts sail flexible itineraries in order to maximize wildlife viewing opportunities and provide one-of-a-kind active adventures for guests. Activities may vary by destination and include kayaking, hiking, biking, yoga, beachcombing, snorkeling, stand up paddle boarding, tubing, sailing and skiff rides. Expert guides and naturalists lead many excursions.
Let’s take a look at what they are offering in the upcoming season.

Luxury yachtsWashington and British Columbia
For 2012, the 22-guest Safari Quest sails weeklong Pacific Northwest Passages cruises along the coasts of Washington state and British Columbia from September 14 to November 16, 2012 and from March 29 to May 3, 2013. Sailing roundtrip from Seattle, WA, the yacht visits Victoria, Jervis Inlet and the Harmony Islands, Princess Louisa Inlet, Nanaimo and Gulf Islands, B.C.; and San Juan Islands, WA.

Hawaii
Introduced in 2011, the 36-guest Safari Explorer continues sailing seven-night Hawaiian Seascapes cruises between Maui and the Big Island (and reverse) from January 4 to May 3 and November 3 to December 29, 2012; January 5 to April 13, 2013. The inter-island yacht cruise explores Moloka’i and its picture book Halawa Valley, Lanai, Maui, Molokini and the Big Island.

Southeast Alaska
All three luxury yachts sail roundtrip from Juneau, Alaska from May 11 to August 24, 2012. The seven night Discoverers Glacier Country cruises spend two full days in Glacier Bay National Park with opportunities to hike and kayak with park rangers. The yachts will explore around Icy Strait, Frederick Sound, Admiralty Island, Fords Terror and Endicott Arm.

The 15-day Famed Inside Passage cruise from Seattle to Juneau (or reverse) visits San Juan Islands, WA; Canadian Inside Passage; Misty Fjords National Monument, Ketchikan, Petersburg, LeConte Bay, Baird Glacier, Frederick Sound, Red Bluff Bay, Pavlof Harbor, Glacier Bay National Park and Icy Strait, Alaska. In 2012, spring dates include May 11 on Safari Quest and April 27 on Safari Spirit. Returning from Alaska, the Safari Quest departs on August 31 and the Safari Explorer and Safari Spirit depart September 7.

Luxury yachtsMexico’s Sea of Cortés
From January 7 to March 31, 2012, the 22-guest Safari Quest explores this UNESCO World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve on weeklong Aquarium of the World cruises sailing roundtrip from La Paz, Baja California Sur. The itinerary explores Isla Partida, Bahia Agua Verde, Isla Coyote, Isla San Francisco, Los Islotes, Isla San José and Isla Espiritu Santos.

Columbia and Snake Rivers

The 12-guest Safari Spirit sails from Portland, OR to Lewiston, ID (and reverse) on weeklong Rivers of the West cruises September 29, October 13 and 20, 2012. The itinerary visits the Columbia River Gorge, Bonneville Dam, Hood River, Washington Wine Country, Palouse River Canyon and Hells Canyon.

Culinary and Wine Discovery cruises travel the same route but include an on board visit by a guest sommelier, visits with winemakers, food and wine pairings, a visit to the Maryhill Museum and winery tours in the Walla Walla, Red Mountain, Columbia Gorge and Yakima Valley appellations. Culinary and Wine cruises depart October 6 and 27 and November 3, 10 and 17, 2012.

Here’s the best part. These very-inclusive cruises include all from-the-yacht activities and equipment; transfers; exquisite meals; fine wine, premium spirits and microbrews; and all port charges, taxes and fees. All yachts feature a hot tub, Tempur-pedic mattresses, heated tile floors in all bathrooms and upper category balconies. Some also feature saunas, a complimentary massage and Jacuzzi tubs.

With all that, an all-American crew and a guest-crew ratio of 2 to 1 this is too could be called an “un-cruise”.

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