Safari Endeavour at the head of Rudyerd Bay in Alaska’s Misty Fjords National Monument // © 2012 American Safari Cruises
Guest capacity: 86
Number of crew: 34
Ship length: 217 ft.
Beam: 37 ft.
Draft: 8.5 ft.
Cruising speed: 12 kts.
According to folklore, solar eclipses often accompany significant historic events. If so, American Safari Endeavour made a fitting return under the ring of fire to Seattle’s Fishermen’s Pier at the end of its inaugural voyage on May 20. Seattle-based parent company InnerSea Discoveries christened Endeavour with sister ship Wilderness Explorer on May 18 — Explorer under its InnerSea Discoveries brand and Endeavour under its American Safari brand.
Once part of the now-defunct Cruise West fleet, the 217-foot Endeavour is American Safari’s largest vessel, accommodating 86 passengers. Public rooms include a dining room, a wine bar, a lounge, two hot tubs, a sauna and a massage room. The guest-to-crew ratio is 2.5-to-one.
“It is still an upscale experience but, because of its increased capacity, it is at a lower price point than our other yachts,” said Sarah Scoltock, director of communications and business development at InnerSea Discoveries.
American Safari is usually geared to higher-income clients who don’t want as much physical activity as InnerSea Discoveries guests, according to Linda Rumburg, adventure travel specialist at Frontiers Travel in Wexford, Penn. But Endeavour is for more active clients, so she would market it as she would InnerSea.
With a product dubbed the “un-cruise,” the emphasis is on a leisurely pace that provides meaningful experiences. Itineraries combine outdoor recreation — kayaking, hiking and paddleboarding — with nature activities such as whale watching, birding and other wildlife viewing. Instructors cater to all levels of experience.
Additions to Endeavour include the watersports launch platform for kayaks and motorized shore boats.
Denise Mager, an independent luxury and corporate travel specialist at Bainbridge Travel, in Bainbridge Island, Wash., said she would recommend these sailings for outdoors enthusiasts and families.
“It’s more of an adventure vacation than a pampering vacation — although they pampered us pretty well,” said Mager. “It’s a good educational trip for children to learn about marine life and the environment.”
Whales don’t follow tight schedules, so neither does Endeavour, which has a flexible itinerary that allows the ship to stop to view animals when they appear.
Guests can enjoy the great indoors with a therapeutic massage, provided free with each cruise. Other onboard activities include naturalist presentations, use of fitness equipment and yoga classes.
The ship’s stateroom renovations have converted pairs of cabins into suites and reconfigured rooms so that they can accommodate larger beds, with king, queen and twin beds available. All rooms have flat-screen televisions, DVD players and iPod docking stations as well as balconies. Additions to some include heated bathroom floors, Jacuzzis and step-out balconies. It’s important to explain to clients that staterooms don’t lock from the outside and have no individual safes. Guests may store valuables in the ship’s safe.
Endeavour’s onboard attire is casual, with guests dining in comfortable attire including T-shirts and jeans at the open seating meals. But the cuisine is anything but casual. Gourmet meals feature local ingredients when possible, including fresh-caught seafood. Dishes on the inaugural cruise included salmon guacamole appetizers, the popular Alaskan dish halibut cheeks and triple-chocolate desserts.
Dining options include early, self-serve breakfasts with pastries, cereals, yogurt and fruit. The full breakfast includes specialties, standards and made-to-order eggs. Lunch may feature pasta salads, sandwiches, soups and ethnic dishes. Hors d’oeuvres and drinks in the lounge mark cocktail hour and dinner entrees include meat, seafood and vegetarian options. The dining room’s self-serve wine bar features eight wines — four red and four white — from Washington’s Proletariat Wine Company and the lounge has espresso drinks, wines and microbrews.
Endeavour operates seven-day trips out of Juneau from May to September, two two-week cruises between Seattle and Juneau in spring and fall and sailings on the Sea of Cortez out of La Paz from November to April. Per diem fares start at $685. Included are meals, drinks, activities, shore excursions and port taxes. Tips are recommended at 5 to 10 percent.