(2:55 p.m. EDT) -- Due to a last-minute concern by a regulator, Seabourn Cruise Line has been forced to cancel Zodiac-only Ventures by Seabourn tours in Alaska this cruise season. Its kayaking and hiking excursions, as well as Zodiac tours in British Columbia, will operate as scheduled.
Seabourn is marking its first cruise season in Alaska in 15 years, and one highlight was the more active Ventures tours led by Seabourn Sojourn's onboard team of naturalists and experts. "Recently, a regulator asked a very specific question about our operations under the U.S. coastwise trade regulations," a company spokesman told Cruise Critic in an email. "As a result, we have adjusted our Ventures by Seabourn Zodiac-only excursions in Alaska, which have been cancelled and replaced by alternate tours for sailings this season."
Cruise Critic member marazul, who is onboard the inaugural Alaska sailing, reports on the Seabourn forums: "Here is what the Ventures specialist told me. Seabourn has had all permits for several months. On the day we sailed, the 'regulatory agency' withdrew the permit for Seabourn to use its own Zodiacs and kayaks. They have been unable to source the same equipment locally."
Seabourn is handling the last-minute excursion changes by replacing all Zodiac-only tours with catamaran tours, so passengers can still enjoy scenic cruising in remote areas of Southeast Alaska.
According to marazul, it's a smart choice. "The substitute excursion in Misty Fjords was very good. They contracted with Allen Marine to bring two large catamarans to take the same route into the far end of the fjord (God's Pocket) as the Zodiacs would have. As usual, Seabourn only filled the cats to about half capacity and there was lots of room to move about, go outside for pictures, etc. The cats returned us to the ship, not to Ketchikan as they do for other cruise lines which would have taken two hours… The Ventures team came on board for added comments to the cat's naturalist.
"In my opinion, Seabourn should add this option in addition to the kayaks. It enabled many people to go who would not be able to ride a Zodiac or kayak."
Seabourn is reaching out to passengers on impacted Alaska itineraries. Seabourn Sojourn is sailing 11-, 12- and 14-night cruises between Seward and Vancouver through September.
--By Erica Silverstein, Senior Editor