Passengers will have spectacular wildlife-viewing opportunities on sailings with Offshore Outpost Expeditions. // © 2018 Offshore Outpost Expeditions
Feature image (above): Onboard Pacific Provider, the guest-to-crew ratio is 12:8. // © 2018 Offshore Outpost Expeditions
There’s a new player in the yacht expedition sector: Offshore Outpost Expeditions.
The Dallas-based company is offering travel agents a generous incentive to sell a highly customized cruise experience in Alaska and the Sea of Cortez. Launched last November, Offshore Outpost Expeditions provides sailings in both destinations onboard the 12-passenger Pacific Provider.
David Mullen, co-founder and chief expedition officer, is a former Naval officer and world traveler. He acknowledges the crucial role of agents for the company’s success and is offering 10 percent commission plus an inaugural season bonus commission of either $500 per booking (for up to four guests) or $1,000 per booking (for five guests or more).
Mullen notes that although the company carries only a dozen clients per week — and totals around 480 guests per year — the line saw a need to bring on a manager of agency relations. (Julie Davidson, who is based in New York, holds this title and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org).
“It really helps to keep the overall experience focused on supporting our guests, and the benefit of not having a big, dedicated sales team is that when anyone calls with an inquiry, they are talking to someone who is intimately familiar with every aspect of the operation,” Mullen said. “That's something that very few operations in this industry can deliver.”
The cruise operation is unusual, too. With eight crew members serving such a limited passenger count, Offshore Outpost offers clients the flexibility to choose their own adventures. On forms sent between booking and departure, the company asks for passenger preferences; the company then determines the best activities to cater to their tastes. With four tenders onboard, Offshore Outpost can split guests up so that they can enjoy adventures targeted for them. The ship carries equipment for many kinds of exploration, along with sportfishing gear — catches are cooked for dinner by onboard chef Dave Long, whose cuisine is focused on local ingredients, including glacial ice served in nightcaps in Alaska.
Offshore Outpost’s active explorations are backed with creature comforts, from a seven-person Jacuzzi and premium linens to Gilchrist & Soames amenities and high-definition televisions. Staterooms run about 225 square feet and have private bathrooms. Each room has a king-size bed or two twin beds and a large observation window with blackout shades. The ship also carries paddleboards and kayaks for complimentary guest use, and the cruise fare includes Wi-Fi access, airport transfers, three meals per day, snacks and drinks.
Alaska itineraries run from Sunday to Saturday, and prices for the inaugural season in the state start at $7,500 per person, which includes the above amenities, as well as roundtrip airport transfers and an overnight at The Lakefront Anchorage hotel prior to departure. Airfare and gratuities are not included. Cruises sail between Whittier and Cordova from May 27 through mid-September .
According to Mullen, to accomplish all of the adventure activities — including fishing, whale and bear watching, visiting glaciers, hiking, kayaking and more — that will ensure guests have the experience of a lifetime, the ship must traverse the length of Prince William Sound between Whittier and Cordova.
“With frequent stops for activities, it takes the full six days to sail between the two harbors, he said. “We do not feel guests would get the full Alaska experience without operating between these two ports.”
For Offshore Outpost’s Sea of Cortez itinerary in Mexico, where airlift is more plentiful and straightforward, guests fly straight in and out. The ship departs from Cabo San Lucas or La Paz every Sunday through early April, then starts again Nov. 18. The company offers inaugural season cruises at a discount until the end of March: $5,925 per person, based on double occupancy, and $5,775 for families and groups of four.
“Our goal is to immerse our clients in the location and connect them with the outdoors in an exciting, entertaining way, and so far, we have done just that,” Mullen said. “The feedback has been absolutely phenomenal. Nobody has wanted to leave the ship at the end of the week.”
Offshore Outpost is now accepting bookings and inquiries for the 2018 and 2019 seasons. Special inaugural offers for both travelers and travel advisors are available on its agent page.