When it comes to Hawaii cruises, American Safari is the best kept secret sailing the islands. The small ship has just completed its first season here in Hawaii, but will be returning in the fall. After finishing my week on board, I say it’s well worth the extra cost to savor the most unbelievable water-based, authentic Hawaii experience. Also perfect for anyone like me who is tired of traditional cruising.
Let me start by saying, I had a complete blast. And I was not alone in that feeling. The adventures, amazing crew, and incredible passengers all made for an unforgettable life experience .
Billed the “un-cruise,” our 36 passenger yacht, the Safari Explorer, left from Lanai and dipped into coves and remote areas the big ships can’t touch. Our jam packed adventure week also included Molokai, Maui and the Big Island.
Flexibility: nature dictates our 7-night itinerary making American Safari the ultimate Hawaii adventure.
After late season humpback whales were spotted off Maui, we altered course to watch them. When a pod of 6 humpbacks later appeared, we jumped into skiffs pictured below to follow them. Off the coast of Big Island we sailed near sea caves and unloaded kayaks from the ship to explore. Snorkeling was spontaneous too anytime we found secluded and otherwise unreachable areas teeming with fish. The 80 degree Pacific Ocean “pool” was always open for swimming.
Back on board there were gourmet meals, all the drinks we wanted, ocean view staterooms and the personalized services of 14 crew members. Even the bridge was open to talk story with Captain Scotty.
Unique Hawaii on a smaller scale yacht – starting at less than $1,500 more than large cruise ships.
There’s sticker shock at first because the price is 100% all-inclusive compared to the big ships’ A la carte fares. Everything possible during the week is included on American Safari expect gratuity. When I did a comparison, it worked out much cheaper than expected in spite of the $4,995 price.
Our Report Card – A Cool, Sophisticated Vibe
Expedition Leaders and Ocean Activities: A+
All activities are customized to each passenger’s comfort level. I asked for a prescription snorkeling mask and it was provided. Our two leaders, Jill and Karl, did a fantastic job. Lockers on the swim deck were assigned so I could store my gear for the week.
My master stateroom category comprised half the staterooms. Beautifully decorated with lots of storage space and ocean view. Only drawback was the smallish size and having to jump over the other person to get out of bed. Higher priced staterooms offer more room and even jacuzzi tubs.
Land Activities: A-
The Molokai pa`ina (Hawaiian feast) pictured below scored huge. So did the hike to Halawa falls. Picnic lunch at spectacular Papohaku Beach was fun. Some guests wanted less talk from local guides and more time to explore on their own. While all activities are included in your fare, your participation is optional.
Most passengers raved about the meat entrees while I ate fresh island fish nightly. As a connoisseur of Pacific Rim cuisine I think its interpretation might improve over time on board the Safari Explorer. Two entree options at every meal, half and half if you preferred to try both. Two different premium wines accompany meals. I did have to clarify my dining preferences several times to get it right. On the other hand, snacks and beverages were provided without asking after all activities and the crew quickly learned what each of us liked. For example, one morning I asked for vegetarian sausage, and by the next day the chef had it prepared. Preferred drinks were always remembered and suggested. Cookies on the bed were de rigeur at night.
Understated and elegant. Crew members knew everyone’s name after the first day and we were all on a first name basis. Room service twice daily.
Suggestions If You Go:
- Try something new – your expedition leaders offer a safety net and provide thorough instruction on all activities.
- Bring some dressier sports clothes – while shorts and t-shirts are completely fine, most passengers dressed for evening meals.
- Take a yoga class beforehand if you plan to participate in the excellent daily classes. It helps to know basic postures. Yoga mats are always available if you’d like to practice on your own.
- Know how to swim – the more comfortable you are in the water, the more you’ll enjoy the myriad of ocean activities.
- Prepare your day pack the night before – so you’re ready to go after breakfast. It’s less hassle.
You’re A Good Fit for American Safari If:
- The norm is not for you, you’re looking for adventure, or you can’t see yourself on a traditional Hawaii cruise.
- You are seeking a week of world-class active adventures here in Hawaii.
- Gourmet food and drink is for you.
- You aren’t shy about being on a small ship where everyone gets to know one another.
Note: Beat of Hawaii paid a travel industry rate.