What is happening at Seabourn?
What can you look forward to?
Seabourn has been pretty quiet of late compared to some of the other luxury cruise lines, but there not only has been a lot going on, there is a buzz of constant refinement of its product.
You are never going to hear Seabourn make headline grabbing, but very silly, announcements ala Regent Seven Seas Cruises that it has “the most luxurious cruise ship ever built” or it “will establish a benchmark for style and service”…or that it will have the highest guest to space ratio (which simply is not true; no matter how Regent wants to make that calculation!) I do have to ask a question, “If Regent’s new ship is where it will establish its benchmark for service and style, what does that have to say about its current product quality?” I think it says volumes; but I digress!
Seabourn doesn’t market hyperbole. It’s just not its style either in its offices or on its ships. The reasons are known as “class” and “understated elegance“. Seabourn lets its product speak for itself.
In this article you will read about Seabourn’s:
I arrived in Seattle in time for a dinner with John Delaney and the head of Seabourn’s charter and incentives program. Seabourn arranged for me to meet them at Matt’s In The Market, a Seattle institution, where you have to make reservations a month in advance. It is located at the Pike Street Market and specializes in fantastic seafood. This was a purely social evening as the next day a number of Seabourn executives would be converging on the Seabourn Conference Room as I went through my list of concerns, observations, and questions.
You need a security card to get into Seabourn’s offices and, even then, leaving items in the Board Room results in the door being locked. (Seabourn obviously shares some space with Holland America and even getting into the Employee lunchroom requires a security card.) Now this might seem like the “control freak” approach is necessarily a bad thing, and as I don’t run the company I can’t comment on if it the right way to do business, but it does provide an air of Seabourn being a bit fanatical about quality control…and that is a good thing.
Here’s something I didn’t know…and I bet you didn’t either: Seabourn has a Test Kitchen! Yes, Seabourn does try its proposed new dishes at its headquarters (sharing the facility with Holland America, of course.) I was fortunate to not only see the Test Kitchen, but to have lunch with Rick Meadows, It was a very nice lunch with Rick Meadows, John Delaney, Chris Prelog, and Stijn Creupelandt
|John Delaney, Rick Meadows, Chris Prelog, Eric Goldring and Stijn Crepelandt
enjoying lunch in Seabourn’s Test Kitchen
|Salmon, Prawns and Clams with Saffron Risotto|
prepared by Bjoern Wassmuth, my dear friend and recently departed head of Seabourn’s Culinary Operations
And while Seabourn may be very tight-lipped about what it is doing and what it has planned, one thing is for certain: Seabourn listens! The amount of notes taken and subsequent follow-ups make it clear that Seabourn is committed to improving every aspect of your cruise experience.
Seabourn has brought in Adam D. Tihany, an icon in the hospitality design industry to rethink the entire vessel from the dining venues to the spa, lounges, casino, outdoor spaces and even the very popular and successful Seabourn Square. Tihany has created remarkable spaces for some of the top restaurateurs (including the likes of Thomas Keller, Daniel Boulud, Jean Georges Vongerichten, Charlie Palmer, Heston Blumenthal, Paul Bocuse and Wolfgang Puck) and hoteliers (such as South Africa’s One & Only Cape Town resort, Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas, King David Hotel in Jerusalem, The Oberoi Hotel in New Delhi, The Beverly Hills Hotel, The Breakers in Palm Beach and Hotel Cipriani in Venice).
Mr. Tihany said, “What I strive to do is to find an aesthetic that expresses the personality of the brand…Thus, my goal is to design a beautiful, and very uniquely Seabourn ship, one that will reflect Seabourn’s aura of casual elegance and thoughtful attention to detail, that will make their guests feel welcome and invite them to experience Seabourn’s special brand of ultra-luxury.”
Here is a wonderful interview of Tihany from CBS News’ Charlie Rose…at about 3:30 of the interview there is a little sneak peak of the new Seabourn ship!:
Having been fortunate enough to experience some of Tihany’s projects first hand, I can comfortably say that Regent can market its hype all it wants, but Seabourn, quietly, is assuring its clients they will have the ultimate luxury “experience“.
The philosophy of Tihany’s charge from Seabourn is to not only create new and improved spaces, but to do so in a way that the “older” (they are still “new”) Seabourn Odyssey, Seabourn Sojourn and Seabourn Quest can be retrofitted in a way that provides an overall improvement in the Seabourn product and a consistency between all of the ships.
One thing that needs a change and which Seabourn is already working on is the lounge furniture. While it is quite comfortable, the ocean air has taken its toll on the finishes. New furnishings are already being installed throughout the fleet, but it will be interesting to see if something new will be used on the forthcoming ship.
Seabourn has made huge improvements in the one area I felt was previously its weakest: Enrichment. It has done this two ways: Seabourn Conversations Series and partnership with UNESCO…as well as some special culinary and other focus cruises.
The Seabourn Conversations program is bringing literally dozens of world renowned speakers on topics ranging from world affairs to marine biology, historians to culinary geniuses and more onto a wide range of Seabourn itineraries. Please click: Seabourn Conversations to see a list of sailings by subject matter interest and dates. (This is a dynamic page, so it is updated regularly.)
|Seabourn Captain Hamish Elliott
holding Jon Landau’s Oscar for Titanic
Just recently Jon Landau, producer of Titanic and Avatar brought one of his Oscars onboard for the guests to hold while he chatted with them and Apple’s co-founder, Steve Wozniak, providing some very insightful and enjoyable discussion.
The UNESCO Partnership, according to John Delaney, Seabourn’s Senior Vice President, has been a two year project and as it continues to roll out it will become more robust and more offerings will be provided. This is one improvement I am particularly happy to see, as I am always looking for ways to make my time on shore “experiential” rather than just looking at things and ticking them off. UNESCO stands for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Many people believe when they hear something is a UNESCO World Heritage Site it must be historical, but alas that is not the case. It can be of special cultural, physical or scientific importance and includes things as massive as Africa’s Serengeti Plains or Australia’s Great Barrier Reef to as small as a cathedral in Central America.
Believe it or not Seabourn visits 170 ports with UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Seabourn’s program has two types of tours that involve UNESCO: Seabourn World Heritage Tours and Seabourn Discovery Tours. Each of these tours has a small donation to UNESCO added to the tour with the former being focused on tours of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, while the latter is focused on an enhanced experience through Seabourn’s alliance with UNESCO.
Seabourn has also announced it has installed PressReader Offline on all of its ships. It has been testing a version of this for a while. Essentially you download an app to your iPhone, iPad, Mac or Android device (Seabourn will have a limited number of tablets for those guests who don’t have one) and then you will have complimentary access to over 2,500 newspapers and magazines. And, the best part is, you do not need an internet connection to accomplish this as you can simply log into the Seabourn wireless network.
So if you want to stay connected via your hometown paper you will be able to do it.
Seabourn is going to be spending less time in the Caribbean and more time with exotic destinations ranging from Southeast Asia to Australia to South America and the Antarctic in January and February 2016, coupled with two trans-Pacific Ocean cruises to/from Los Angeles, California.
Winter 2015 includes cruises in Asia and Arabia, the Antarctic and the Caribbean, but in March 2016 Seabourn is headed to China and Japan as well as the Pacific Islands with an eventual transition to India and Arabia before returning to the Mediterranean in the late Spring of 2016.
With only three ships and extended itineraries, the the demand is going to be extremely high, so don’t wait to book one of these improved itineraries.
While I still receive comments about how Holland America will ruin Seabourn, the fact is that while the approach today may be much more corporate and almost secretive, the goal remains to keep Seabourn at the top of the luxury cruise market; not by resting on its laurels, but by improving the product and the onboard experience…quietly and with class.
If you are considering a Seabourn cruise, why not give me a call at (877) 2GO-LUXURY, in Australia on (07) 3102 4685, in the UK on 020 8133 3450 or elsewhere + 1 732-578-8585 or drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You do want to make sure your travel agent is an expert AND provides you with excellent service and prices, right?