Generally I do not discuss any of the “lists” put out by various publications because of a variety of flaws incumbent in how the lists are compiled. However, of late I have been discussing at length just what the heck “luxury” is and why, for example, anyone who believes Oceania Marina is competition for Seabourn simply has no real concept of what “luxury” is all about.
So with that intro, I offer you part of Seabourn’s news release today:
MIAMI, February 14, 2011—-They say a rising tide lifts all boats, and in the case of Seabourn’s intimate, luxury cruise ships, a tide of enthusiasm from cruise travelers has elevated the entire fleet to the top of Condé Nast Traveler magazine’s prestigious annual survey of its readers. Seabourn’s ships were ranked above all other cruise ships, regardless of size, in the three all-important categories of Service, Food, and Accommodations in the 2011 edition of Condé Nast Traveler’s prestigious Gold List, published in the magazine’s January issue. In the February issue, individual ship results show the 450-guest Seabourn Odyssey as the highest-rated cruise ship regardless of size. Odyssey’s smaller, 208-guest sisters Seabourn Spirit, Legend and Pride, are ranked number two, three and five respectively in the small-ship category. Odyssey’s twin sister, Seabourn Sojourn, debuted in June of 2010 and was not rated in the poll. Seabourn Legend, meanwhile, achieved the highest scores in several categories, including a perfect 100 for Crew/Service, 99.1 for Food/Dining and 97.4 for Schedule/Itineraries.
“Scores like these would be an outstanding achievement under any circumstances,” noted Richard D. Meadows, Seabourn’s President. “The fact that they were earned during a period of very rapid fleet expansion is a testament to the professionalism and passion of Seabourn’s onboard management and their staffs.”
Seabourn enjoys a peerless reputation for delivering exceptional, personalized service to guests. Its small ships carry nearly one staff member per guest, hand-picked and trained to anticipate not only the needs of their guests, but also extra touches to surprise and delight them. Guests cite being addressed by name almost immediately as a hint of good things to come, and one recent guest recounted how the executive chef called his counterpart on another Seabourn ship to get a recipe for a dish the guest had enjoyed on a previous cruise, and served it the next night. Because Seabourn’s onboard experience is so all-inclusive, with open bars and no gratuities expected, the relationship of service staff with the guests is sincerely helpful and free of any ulterior agenda.
Dining is a key metric for luxury cruise guests. They are generally patrons of the finest restaurants ashore, and arrive on board with elevated expectations. Seabourn enlisted the guidance of two-time James Beard Award-winner Charlie Palmer in designing its menus, and the partnership has created a repertoire that is varied, intriguing and eminently satisfying. Innovative dining alternatives such as the line’s avant garde small-plates tasting menus in Restaurant 2, have kept it at the top of the list consistently. Unlike many of its competitors, Seabourn never charges extra for any alternative dining on its ships.
Accommodations aboard Seabourn’s ships are all ocean-view suites. Generously sized and thoughtfully appointed, they are designed as gracious vacation homes, perfect for private relaxation and large enough to welcome company if desired. The in-suite bar is stocked with the guests’ requests prior to arrival. Walk-in closets, marble or granite bathrooms and separate seating and sleeping areas are enhanced with clever touches such as personalized stationery, a World Atlas and even an umbrella to carry ashore.
If you compare the ratings of the other cruise lines you will see that there is something…regardless of how you may want to define it…that sets Seabourn apart.
What does this all mean? Possibly nothing other than the folks that read Conde Nast and decided to vote consistently find that Seabourn is the best and by a margin that makes one take note. But then again, possibly that Seabourn has good reason to believe that it is the best…and that it needs to (and is) improving its product so that the distance between it and the competition increases.