THE CONDOR EXPRESS
For over 30 years, the Condor, and more recently, the Condor Express have been a part of the Santa Barbara waterfront. Captain Fred Benko started Sea Landing in March of 1973 as a charter service offering sport fishing, diving, harbor cruises, and limited whale watching. At that time the Pacific Gray Whale population was very endangered and estimated to be only 8,300 animals. Fortunately, with time, this number grew and by 1985 the herd was over 15,000 individuals. It was about that time, that the Condor began offering whale watching full time. Cruises aboard the Condor were called Condor Cruises for many years.
The New Condor Express
The new Condor Express is one of Santa Barbara’s most modern whale watching, dinner cruise, party cruise, and private charter boats. Built and launched by All American Marine in March, 2002, this high speed catamaran was designed to replace the original 88-foot all-steel vessel, the Condor. With a specially built wave-piercing hull, the Condor Express provides an exceptionally smooth, stable ride. The vessel features a modified hydrofoil “wing” mounted between the hulls that provides lift to raise the boat at high speed and produce the smooth ride that this design is noted for. Powered by four computer-controlled 740 hp Detroit Diesel engines that power high performance HamiltonJet waterjets, the Condor Express is environmentally friendly and safe around marine animals. With an average cruising speed of 28+ knots, the Condor Express is capable of reaching the islands in just a third of the time (45 minutes) of other charter boats.
A beautifully appointed vessel, the Condor Express boasts large walk-around decks, a generous upper sun-deck, and a raised forward bow area. These features provide unparalleled, close-to-the-action, viewing of California’s Santa Barbara Channel marine life and scenic coastline. The luxurious teak-paneled cabin seats 68 people for comfortable dining with a smoked glass skylight. Continuous side windows create a bright, cheery atmosphere in the cabin. A built-in teak salad bar and buffet table are fitted for dinner service or hors d’oeuvres and the cabin features a fully equipped cocktail bar and separate food preparation area for dinner and cocktail cruises. The afterdeck is also very large, providing lots of room for dancing to a DJ or live band. Our Bose stereo system provides wonderful clarity for music throughout the vessel for dancing or dinner. Two 42″ Sony high-definition plasma monitors are mounted in the cabin for viewing movies, video-microscopes, and PowerPoint displays.
The Condor Express is the ideal platform for whale watching, island excursions, weddings and receptions, company charters, dinner cruises, educational and research trips – virtually any type of ocean outing! The Condor Express’s unique combination of speed, luxury, safety, and experienced crew offers our passengers the opportunity to see and experience more of the sights, wildlife, and beauty of the Santa Barbara Channel and the Channel Islands than any other vessel.
Other features of the Condor Express include:
- 75-foot-long, 26.5-foot-wide, quad-jet-powered catamaran capable of cruising at 28+ knots
- Has a displacement of 118,200 pounds when full (77,000 pounds light)
- Powered by four computer-controlled, low emission, 740 hp Detroit Diesel engines
- Hull features a modified hydrofoil wing that produces an extremely smooth and stable ride
- U.S. Coast Guard certified and insured to carry up to 127 passengers
- Features a large and luxurious teak-paneled cabin with skylight, expansive windows, booth seating for 68 people, buffet hot table, and a full-service galley and cocktail bar
- Upper sundeck seating offers unobstructed animal viewing and sight seeing
- The wheelhouse is equipped with top-of-the-line equipment and state-of-the-art navionics
- Huge raised bow allows passengers a up-close look at the wildlife
- Three full-size rest rooms aboard
- High-tech Bose audio system and two 42-inch high-definition plasma screens are located in the main cabin
- A large afterdeck provides lots of room for dancing to a DJ or a live band, as well as a powerful hoist and plenty of space for educators and researchers to work