Cruise West, the Seattle-based adventure- and exploration-oriented cruise line continues to expand. The line, which made its reputation for offering small-ship cruises that explore nooks and crannies on otherwise well-trodden itineraries, particularly Alaska, has launched its newest vessel. The Spirit of Oceanus -- the line’s first oceangoing vessel -- once was part of the Renaissance R fleet of yachtlike ships. The 114-passenger ship launched in April and is sailing its inaugural Cruise West (summer) season in Alaska. Oceanus will sail Asia in the winter months.
Cruise West is known primarily for offering off-the-beaten track itineraries in Alaska, the U.S. (such as California Wine country) and Mexico. However, the addition of the Oceanus means the company can take in more far-flung destinations; that ship will winter in the South Pacific and Asia. The company also has entered into partnership with Temptress Adventure Cruises to operate the Temptress Explorer, which has established itself as a leading choice for exploration-minded cruises to Costa Rica, Panama, Honduras, Guatemala and Belize.
Cruise West recently made headlines for another reason when its Sheltered Seas vessel, sailing an itinerary of off-the-beaten-track Alaskan ports, ran into engine problems in the relatively isolated Tracy Arm. The company contacted the Coast Guard and also chartered a ship out of Juneau, which sailed to Tracy Arm and picked up passengers. No injuries were reported and the cruise continued on the replacement ship.