Take 'Er Down

Company celebrates 15 years beneath the waves

By: Marty Wentzel

It was 15 years ago that Atlantis launched the first U.S. passenger submarine, choosing Kailua-Kona on the island of Hawaii as its port.

Over the years, the company became Atlantis Adventures, broadening its focus to include visitor attractions worldwide.

Today, Atlantis Adventures is celebrating the Hawaii anniversary with a pair of value-added promotions. Clients booking an Atlantis submarine excursion out of Kona pay $69 per person, a $15 savings off the regular price, good through Dec. 31.

On Oahu, rates for the Deluxe Royal Sunset Dinner Cruise on the Navatek I tour boat, run by Atlantis Adventures, have dropped to $100 per person (regularly $127), through March 31, 2004.

Submarine operations continue to account for Atlantis’ core business, according to Ronald Williams, president of Atlantis Adventures in Hawaii. Along with a total of five submarines on the Big Island, Oahu and Maui, the company has operations in nine resort locations in Guam, Cozumel and throughout the Caribbean.

In recent years, however, Atlantis has been looking beyond submarines, expanding its focus and investing in compatible products. In April 2000, for instance, it assumed ownership and operation of the Navatek I, based at Aloha Tower Marketplace in Honolulu Harbor. Since then, Atlantis has invested $1.8 million in renovations and upgrades to the vessel.

In Hawaii, Atlantis also operates, manages and provides marketing services for Sea Life Park, a marine-life attraction on Oahu’s Windward Coast.

In 2002, Atlantis’ Hawaii unit entertained 680,000 guests and earned $39 million in revenue.

Williams said Atlantis is looking at ways to further expand its attractions business, which combines entertainment, education and ecotourism.

“In Hawaii, Atlantis Adventures is a major supplier of attractions to key wholesalers in the U.S.,” said Williams. “We make frequent visits to the mainland to enhance longstanding relationships, and to evaluate trends that provide the catalyst for the creation of new products.”

An Atlantis submarine excursion on the Big Island begins with a seven-minute shuttle ride from the Kailua-Kona pier along the coastline of Kona town. Guests then transfer to the submarine for a 35-minute ride in the air-conditioned vessel, descending to 120 feet under water.

The cruise explores 25 acres of coral-reef gardens, inhabited by hundreds of species of tropical fish and other sea life. Passengers view the underwater sites through large viewports. Tours are offered daily from 10 a.m.

On Oahu, the two-hour dinner-cruise aboard Navatek I departs at 5:15 p.m. Clients get drinks and pupus, a steak and lobster dinner with salad, drinks and chocolate mousse cake, while entertainers perform a Hawaiian revue. Rates include round-trip transportation from locations in Waikiki.

Atlantis runs whale-watching cruises on Navatek I from December through April, and its submarine rides off Waikiki depart daily from Hilton Hawaiian Village.

On Maui, submarine cruises depart from Lahaina Harbor. Atlantis also offers packages on Maui and the Big Island that combine a submarine ride with a luau, helicopter tour or snorkel/whale-watching cruise.

800-548-6262; www.atlantisadventures.com.