Twenty Years Under the Sea

Atlantis Submarines celebrates a milestone

By: By Marty Wentzel

Atlantis' Anniversary Specials

Atlantis Submarines
In celebration of its 20th anniversary, Atlantis Submarines is offering savings on tour packages combined with Atlantis Cruises’ sunset dinner cruise along Oahu’s south shore. Through Dec. 31, the sub-and-cruise package costs up to 15 percent less than the a la carte price. All rates are commissionable.

On the Big Island, Atlantis’ Kona submarine tour operation is celebrating the firm’s 20th anniversary through Dec. 15 by offering a 20 percent discount on all retail goods.

In 1988, Atlantis Submarines established its first dive site off Kona on the Big Island, and three years later it followed up with new sites off Waikiki and Lahaina, Maui. Clearly the firm did its homework, because 20 years later some 6.6 million guests have booked an Atlantis ride, bringing them up close to the beauty beneath Hawaii’s seas.

For Atlantis president Ronald Williams, the undersea trip never gets soggy.

"Mother Nature is the star of the show," said Williams. "It’s always a new and different experience, because there is so much of Hawaii’s marine life to see and appreciate."

Atlantis claims to have the most advanced passenger subs in the world. // (c) Atlantis Submarines
Atlantis claims to have the most advanced passenger subs in the world.

Atlantis is currently celebrating its 20th anniversary in Hawaii with special offers for clients, including reduced rates on Oahu submarine-tour-and-dinner-cruise combination packages and discounts on retail goods at its Kona location.

According to Williams, the company’s motto is "Let Us Show You Our Hawaii," with the added objective of promoting Hawaii marine environment conservation.

"Everything Atlantis does is intended to give our guests the undersea tour of a lifetime, creating lasting memories while supporting Hawaii’s marine world," said Williams. "We emphasize to our guests the importance of respecting and protecting the ocean environment by allowing them to safely encounter this invaluable and thriving natural resource."

Atlantis carries clients to depths of 125 feet in what it calls "the world’s most technologically advanced passenger submarine." The interior is comfortable and air-conditioned, and offers plenty of head and leg room. Large viewing portals allow clients to watch Hawaii’s marine life in action. What’s more, the submarine is battery-powered, keeping it quiet and safe for the environment.

"I have been on dozens of submarine dives, and my reaction is always ‘Wow’ because of the constant activity that takes place in our undersea environment," said Williams. "I believe people leave our tour with a greater appreciation of marine life and its role in our ecosystem."

Over the past two decades, Atlantis has been proactive at keeping the tour experience fresh while contributing to the environment. In 1989, in conjunction with the University of Hawaii’s Sea Grant Program and State Department of Land and Natural Resources, it introduced several artificial reefs to the Waikiki site using sculpture-like concrete pyramid forms and ring structures, a decommissioned ship and two airplanes. Previously, the undersea realm off Waikiki was largely devoid of activity, but after introducing the artificial reefs it began blossoming into a self-sustaining ecosystem for marine life to feed, repopulate and live. Today, the same area is teeming with fish and marine life.

On Maui, Atlantis is achieving the same goal with the Carthaginian, the former replica of an old whaling supply ship. In December 2005, after conducting environmental impact studies and discussions with the Maui community, Atlantis successfully sank the 97-foot Carthaginian off Lahaina. The vessel is now serving as a solid substrate to help coral grow and increase the biomass of marine life in the area.

"Artificial reefs are extremely beneficial to Hawaii’s marine life, and Atlantis is proud to have made the undersea environment we work in an even better place for Hawaii," Williams said. "We will continue to do our part to promote our undersea world, and we encourage others to join us in preserving the magnificence of Hawaii’s marine life."

Meanwhile, Atlantis is reaching out to clients on the mainland through consumer newsletters issued by the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau and the Activities and Attractions Association of Hawaii. To keep front of mind with travel agents, it’s taking part in special offers by mainland tour operators and wholesalers, and it participates in major agent trade shows.

"Once clients arrive in Hawaii, we capture their attention through a broad range of print ads as well as in-room hotel television ads," said Williams.

Atlantis also has an extensive visual presence at concierge tour desks.

Agents should be on the lookout for Atlantis’ new travel agent Web site, currently in development. When it launches, said Williams, it "will be tailored specifically for agent bookings."