April 14, 2011 |

Express catamaran to return

    Jilkaat Kwaan Cultural Tours plans to operate the catamaran Chilkat Express between Haines and Skagway this summer, providing another option for cross-canal travel.

    The 63-passenger boat, touted as the “fastest catamaran in upper Lynn Canal,” will offer two round-trip sailings per day from Haines, departing at mid-morning and late afternoon, Monday through Friday, May 23 to Sept. 21.

    “It provides an option both for commuters and visitors,” said Hakan Sebcioglu, recently hired as general manager of the village tour company. It plans to use the vessel for ferrying cruise passengers from Skagway-docked ships to its village tour, but there will also be room aboard for independent travelers, he said.

    The ride will cost $33.50 one-way.

    Sebcioglu said the Klukwan Cultural Experience tour is currently sold on Princess Cruises ships calling in Haines and the company is seeking to get other ships docking in Haines and Skagway to sell the tour on board.

    The cultural tour, operated last year on a trial basis, will include a dance show in the new village longhouse, carving and fish-processing demonstrations, and lunch in the village Hospitality House.

     The catamaran recently was overhauled in Port Townsend, Wash., including interior and exterior improvements, and has been restored to its original power. The vessel tops out at 46 knots and will make the trip between towns in 30 minutes, according to Sebcioglu.

    The vessel previously was operated by Chilkat Cruises and Tours, a subsidiary of Klukwan, Inc. It will dock at the Skagway boat harbor and the private ferry dock in Portage Cove. More information will be posted at www.chilkatferry.com

     Sebcioglu has worked as a shore excursion manager for Royal Caribbean Cruise Line and also worked for a zipline tour company in Ketchikan and for the Underground Tour in Seattle.