Chuck and Dick West
From our Press Folder came news of CRUISE WEST which happens to be a part of the NAUTICAL LOG sea career history. On September 08, 2010 the Company stated it was pursuing a number of options with various parties to maintain operations, including investment, selling assets and selling the company. They suspended all new bookings and closed their reservation centre. On September 18, 2010, they ceased operations a Press Release titled Cruise West Ceases Operations stated in part;
"because of the recent dip in the markets and the continued lack of economic confidence, these options have not come to fruition".
It was signed by Dick West, Cruise West's Chairman and Managing Director, the full Release can be read online.
In the 1960's NAUTICAL LOG was living in Canada and was offered a position as Third Officer in the SS Glacier Queen operating from Vancouver, BC. She was under the Canadian Flag and sailed on eight day cruises from Vancouver, BC to Skagway, AK via the Inside Passage. Both the SS Glacier Queen and her sister ship SS Yukon Star where converted Royal Canadian Navy WW2 frigates. Back in 1947 Chuck West had formed Westours and offered Alaska cruises using three small ships operated by Union Steamship Company of Vancouver, Canada. NAUTICAL LOG had previously served as Third and Second Officer in Union Steamship Company of New Zealand. Chuck West was very successful and in 1958 bought the two ships mentioned above and formed Alaska Cruise Lines. Being once again successful in 1971 he sold out to Holland America Line (HAL), as things happen in seafaring NAUTICAL LOG later served in the MS Veendam/Monarch Star as a First Navigation Officer on Holland America/Westour Alaska cruises.
In 1973 Chuck West restarted in the tour business, bought ships and interests now operated as Cruise West the company which was passed on to Dick West. However things began to slip and slid somewhat and the Cruise West safety record suffered. In 2007 and 2008 there were four groundings. The Spirit of Columbia ran aground in Latouche Passage Prince William Sound on August 19, 2007. On November 08, 2007 the Spirit of Nantucket hit an object in the ICW near Virginia Beach, VA. During the 2008 season the Spirit of Alaska hit a rock in Tracy Arm on June 04, 2008. Then on July 07, 2008 the Spirit of Glacier Bay (formerly the Spirit of Nantucket) was cruising Tarr Inlet in Glacier Bay National Park when it grounded on a silt bar.
It is notable that all the incidents involved different ships in different areas which tended to indicate an overall operation and training problem which clearly needed to be addressed. In fact after this latest incident namely the silt bar grounding the United States Coast Guard (USCG) released a statement which stated that the Cruise West vessels were part of a programme designed to review the Cruise West safety procedures and maintenance records due to their recent incidents at sea.
So it would seem that perhaps there is a bit more to the demise of Cruise West than just the current economic situation. Chuck West, whom NAUTICAL LOG knew personally, successfully restarted several times so maybe Cruise West will rise like the phoenix.