Cruise West is resetting its management, fleet

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NEW YORK -- Cruise West, the small-ship Alaska cruise operator and land-tour specialist, is in the midst of management and fleet changes designed to capitalize on the company's expanding cruise operations.

Cruise West is exploring the purchase of a foreign-flag, deep-draft ship that Richard West, the company's president and chief executive officer, said would be "in the Cunard Sea Goddess or Renaissance class" of vessel that could begin operations next year.

West said Cruise West "has experienced rapid growth through ship acquisitions" and is looking to assuage the "high costs associated with operating U.S.-flag vessels."

Acquiring a foreign-flag vessel will allow the company to operate the ship at a lower cost compared with a U.S.-registered vessel, in part by enabling Cruise West to hire foreign crew members.

The new ship also would allow the company to expand its itineraries beyond Alaska and coastal Mexico, possibly into the waters around Costa Rica, a company spokesman said.

West said Cruise West would retain some English-speaking staff on board any foreign-flag ship the company would operate.

Cruise West has ruled out building and operating a new American-flag vessel, said West, because of prohibitive costs associated with a U.S-produced new build.

In other developments, Cruise West is changing its management structure, effective in January.

Chuck West, Cruise West's founder, will become the company's chairman emeritus and hand chairman duties over to Richard West.

The firm is in the midst of a search for a new president and chief operating officer to fulfill company-wide administrative duties, said Richard West.

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