Saturday, May 7, 2011

Former Cruise West chairman tries for a comeback in the Galapagos

Saturday, May 7, 2011

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This item was written by Johanna Jainchill, who covers cruising for Travel Weekly. Jainchill is serving as Guest Editor of The Cruise Log while USA TODAY Cruise Editor Gene Sloan is away.

Cruise West fans might not have to wait much longer to find a cruise product similar to the defunct brand's style.

The former chairman of Cruise West said his comeback cruise and tour company would launch operations in the Galapagos by the end of this year, and would start taking bookings this summer.

Dick West said that his new company, Explor Tours, would offer a product similar to Cruise West, his family cruise line that went bankrupt last September after 40 years in business.

West said that Cruise West had been successful in operating cruises in partnership with local companies in places like the Galapagos and Europe, companies that he said offered experiences that were "our kind of 'Up Close, Casual and Personal' ", the Cruise West motto.

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After first hinting in February about starting a company based on the at model, West said this week that he has itineraries in place and a commitment from operators in the Galapagos Islands and Ecuador.

The first itinerary Explor Tours will offer, he said, will visit Quito and Cuenca in Ecuador before flying guests to the Galapagos for a six-day cruise. West said all tours would have add-on options for Peru and Machu Picchu. The company plans to eventually expand to southern Patagonia.

Alluding to potential concerns about booking with a start-up, and because the demise of Cruise West left some travelers who had paid cash for their trips out of luck, West said all payments would be accepted by credit card and that money would go into an escrow account until after travel was completed.

Tell us Cruise Loggers, were you a fan of Cruise West and if yes, would you be willing to give a Dick West product another chance?

Posted May 5 2011 3:36PM

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