American Safari postpones its interisland itineraries

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Plans for what would have been Hawaii's first boutique luxury cruise experience have run aground because of the sagging U.S. economy.

American Safari Cruises is deferring entry into the Hawaii interisland cruise market "until a time when the capital funding markets and the overall U.S. economy improve," said Capt. Dan Blanchard, president and CEO.

Although the "response from both consumers and travel agents to the first-ever yacht cruises in Hawaii is positive, the dramatic downturn in the capital markets plus escalating fuel costs and higher airfares, calls for a delay in the company's expansion plans," he added.

"It's the wise and prudent thing to do," Blanchard said.

Blanchard said American Safari Cruises still planned to inaugurate its luxury Hawaii cruises, but only "when liquidity returns to the capital markets."

Guests who were booked for Hawaii cruises will receive full refunds, future cruise savings of 15% and allowances for airticketing.

They also will be given first priority to secure space in American Safari Cruises' other warm-water destination, Mexico's Sea of Cortes.

American Hawaii Cruises was set to begin its eight-day Hawaii voyage on Dec. 19 from Kahului, on Maui, the first of what was to be 12 departures finishing in May.

The Hawaii cruises would have been on the company's newly renovated, 145-foot, 36-guest yacht Safari Explorer, sailing to the less-visited islands of Molokai and Lanai as well as Maui and the Big Island.

The yacht boasts a dedicated fitness area and an on-deck hot tub and sauna. New design features include two large suites with Jacuzzi tubs and balconies.

The yacht carries single and two-person sea kayaks, snorkeling and water-skiing equipment, sailboats and motorized shore boats for close-up wildlife viewing.

The 22-guest Safari Quest begins its eighth season in Mexico on Nov. 13 with eight- and 10-day sailings through April 7. Reaccommodated Hawaii guests will also receive a $250-per-person air credit.

For more information, call (888) 862-8881 or visit www.amsafari.com.

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