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A new cruise ship will explore the California coast — and stop in Avila Beach

A rendering of the National Geographic Venture, which is currently being built. On its maiden voyage the ship will stop in Avila Beach.
A rendering of the National Geographic Venture, which is currently being built. On its maiden voyage the ship will stop in Avila Beach.

A new adventure cruise ship will make its maiden voyage down the California coast this winter, and one of its stops will be in Avila Beach.

Lindblad Expeditions, partnered with National Geographic, is launching an experimental one-time cruise expedition from San Francisco to Long Beach aboard a small-capacity boat designed to offer a closeup view of the state’s scenic shores.

“We chose Avila Beach to give our guests a unique perspective of California coastal living,” Lindblad director of expedition Craig Moylan said. “Avila Beach has excellent opportunities for hiking and local exploration.”

Micheal Brink of SLO.TOURS spotted a pod of about five orcas south of the Port San Luis Pier in Avila Beach on Saturday, May 20, 2017. The pod of about five orcas was feeding on bait fish, along with about 30 sea lions.

The ship, called the Venture, will anchor offshore and guests will be boated in for their day in Avila, spokesperson Patty Disken-Cahill said.

Here’s the Avila Beach itinerary, from the line’s website:

“This morning begins with an early zodiac foray from our anchorage to Port San Luis Pier, to give those interested a long, challenging hike directly from the pier out to Point San Luis Lighthouse. Or choose the less demanding option — a leisurely morning, some kayaking or a trolley to the Lighthouse for a head start. Visit Pismo Beach Butterfly Grove where December is an ideal time to visit as some 10,000+ butterflies are in residence. Observe, take photographs, and enjoy a natural history talk. Both the Grove explorers and the hikers will head back for lunch aboard, as we sail south to the Channel Islands for sunset. Be sure to spend time on deck as this stretch of ocean affords great whale watching.”

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Unlike its behemoth cruise ship counterparts, the Venture has a shallow draft depth, meaning it can navigate closer to shore, making it easier to explore the ins and outs of the California coast.

The 50-cabin ship is equipped to accommodate up to 100 guests and is specially designed to give them more natural observation time, with open decks, large windows and special “exploration tools” like scuba and snorkeling gear, hydrophones, undersea video equipment, glass-bottom boats and various watercraft, according to its website.

The five-day voyage will also make stops in Monterey and Catalina Island. Rates for a stay on the ship range from $3,800 to $6,500.

It’s unknown if National Geographic and Lindblad will offer the coastal California voyage again at a later date — the only available booking on the website is for the single December passage.

Disken-Cahill said there are no immediate plans to return to Avila Beach, “but if successful, we would definitely include Avila Beach in our future coastal trips.”

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Among the Point San Luis Lighthouse educational offerings is a fourth-grade field trip, sponsored by the Harold J. Miossi Charitable Trust. The children learn about the lighthouse, which was completed in 1890, about technological aspects, and abou

Kaytlyn Leslie: 805-781-7928; @kaytyleslie
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