Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Former Cruise West Chairman Dick West Eyes New Venture

Richard “Dick” West, former chairman of shuttered Cruise West, is looking at re-entering the world of small-ship cruising. West is considering launching a company called Explorer Cruises, which would market overseas small-ship products in the U.S., putting together groups and perhaps eventually charters.

West said Cruise West had entered into similar arrangements to sell a limited number of cruises on lines such as Cruceros Australis in Patagonia and Canodros in the Galapagos Islands. In addition, a ship such as Spirit of Oceanus, which was sold in the waning days of Cruise West, still has a following. West said he was considering such as options as finding past onboard exploration leaders to serve as “Pied Pipers” on the ship or perhaps he would lead a group. Spirit of Oceanus was renamed Sea Spirit and now is operated by Quark Expeditions. Although the Cruise West databases are now owned by new operator InnerSea Discoveries, West said he is still has contact with Cruise West customers through Facebook and other ways.

Cruise West closed on Sept. 18 after operating for 64 years in Alaska. The company was started by Dick West’s father, the late Chuck West, who was known as “Mr. Alaska.” Although he’s now calling his own start-up Explorer Cruises, West said that name is a “placeholder” that might be changed. He does not have a website for the company yet, but he can be reached by email at dick.west@comcast.net.