Today, December 4, 2019, the Seabourn Venture’s keel has been laid, so with this milestone bringing the first purpose-built luxury expedition ship into reality, I figured it was the best time to explain everything and anything that is known (and can be made public…hint, hint) about the Seabourn Venture and the Seabourn Ventures Expedition experience that will be provided onboard.
There is far more to luxury expedition cruising than sailing a ship into an exotic location. Seabourn has spent a decade perfecting the balance between expedition and luxury. The result is Seabourn Venture. But, alas, it is not just about the ship!
More important than the ship, in my opinion, is the Expedition Team. Without an extraordinary expedition team there is a palpable void that you cannot explain until you find it missing! And Seabourn made sure it had the best, hiring Robin West (now Seabourn’s Vice President, Expedition Operations & Planning) to create the Seabourn Ventures program as the first step in Seabourn’s merging of the “luxury” experience with the “expedition” experience. However, there must be a fine balance and sophisticated approach to create a truly exceptional luxury expedition experience.
And that is where the Seabourn Venture expedition ship comes in!
Seabourn stepped thing up with the Seabourn Quest by creating what was (and remains to date) the closest iteration of true luxury expeditions to the Polar regions by retrofitting her with additional hull plating. adding cranes and zodiacs, etc. Obviously, however, due to her size and number of guests, as well as her need to be able to convert from expedition to pure cruising, the Seabourn Quest has some limitations.
Silversea has pretty much followed in Seabourn’s footsteps by converting the Silver Cloud, albeit one of its oldest ships, into a luxury expedition ship, but without any real innovation…and actually quite a few steps behind. Ponant – either itself or through its chartering a ship to Abercrombie & Kent – has also become engaged in this arena though its staterooms do have serious limitations and, hence, questionably luxury and, to be sure, they are not expedition ships. Compare Lindblad Expeditions, for example, which are true expedition ships though they lack luxury; though its newest ships will focus more on upscale, but not luxury.
Seabourn has always been about luxury and exceeding guests expectations. The “easier” part of the process is not designing the hull or the expedition team, but the interiors. But that, in and of itself, is not a simple process because the spaces need to integrate with the expedition experience. While I will detail a bit of the Seabourn Venture interiors below, again designed by Adam Tihany, here is a short video highlighting some of Seabourn Ventures’ features:
Seabourn and Robin West has not done what you are seeing with other lines today: Many new-build expedition ships are designed and then the lines fill in the expedition personnel. To my mind, and obviously to Seabourn and Robin West, the correct and more successful way is:
Build the best expedition team first and then, after modifying the Seabourn Quest and learning how to merge luxury with what I call “expedition light”, purpose-design and build the world’s most advanced and most luxurious true expedition ship.
Putting the plan into action, now that Seabourn has an extraordinary Seabourn Ventures Expedition Team (more on that below) and true experience with polar expeditions, Seabourn is primed to become the world leader in the true luxury, true expedition experience with its purpose-built Seabourn Venture which, by design, integrates the Seabourn Ventures Expedition Team…and luxury.
This is not hyperbole! Seabourn started planning for its first Antarctic Expedition back in 2011; long before the 2015 deployment of the Seabourn Quest on her first season. I was fortunate to be on that first Seabourn Venture’s cruise which “coincidentally” was also the 2015 Goldring Travel Culinary & Cultural Cruise:
where everything was checked out (and some modifications were made) before the Seabourn Quest headed to Antarctica for, now, its Seventh (7th) Season in Antarctica with its history of thirty (30) sailings!
This has provided Seabourn’s captains, staff, crew, expedition team, home office operations management and more to have world-class first-hand operational and nautical experience integrated with world-class biological, geological, glaciological, and historical experts. (Think about that when you consider some of the new entries into the Expedition market who have none of that experience and are trying – some with significant failures – just to build their new ships!) [I must note that SeaDream Yacht Club has just abandoned its efforts and Silversea is actually promoting that it is training its naturalists that are “new to (the) expedition cruising industry”. This is concerning to me because naturalists, biologists, etc. that have no experience is not what I want hired to take me on expeditions. Learn your trade, become the best and then lead me on an expedition!]
Now for some basics. The Seabourn Venture is a truly modern, state of the art, purpose-built luxury expedition ship. It is unlike any ship in existence. Even it’s hull is unique (having recently undergone model ice hull testing; rather than using a hull that already existed).
|Testing a model of the Seabourn Venture’s hull in ice conditions|
Seabourn Venture, which is three years in the making (four by the time she is launched) will have the following primary “expedition” features:
– 24 Zodiacs
– Mountain bicycles
– SCUBA diving
(You will note from these that Seabourn Venture has primarily been built for the harsher and more demanding polar regions, but is also outfitted for expedition journeys into warmer and tropical climates as well. In fact, the 2023 Goldring Travel Culinary & Cultural Cruise is going to be on Seabourn Venture as she sails the Peruvian Amazon!)
The Seabourn Submarine
One thing that has been missing from most ship-based expedition experiences is personal exploration of the world that is far larger, far more biologically diverse, and far less understood: The waters beneath the waves. And with over 80% of the underwater world unmapped, the experience can be both extraordinary and exciting.
With Seabourn Venture there will be the opportunity to (at extra cost) dive beneath the ocean’s surface in two (2) purpose-built six guest/one mariner submarines. (Scenic has a similar one and Crystal as a small submarine that is not designed for polar extremes.)
The Seabourn Submarines – subject to weather and water clarity have the ability to operate up to 18 hours per day. Thus a typical day could be six to eight 40 minute dives per day. In other words with 96 possible guest experiences per day, the entire ship-full of guests could enjoy a submarine experience in only two and one half days…and each Seabourn Venture sailing is far longer than that.
However, don’t worry that 40 minutes seems too short of a dive. Seabourn anticipates also conducting longer dives focused on such things as:
The Seabourn Venture experience intentionally does not include helicopters. The reasons are many (and you can read my full article about it: Expeditions, Nature and Helicopters), but briefly they have a significant negative impact on the wildlife and your own experience when not flying in one. In fact, while there are already significant constraints on operating them in the Antarctic, there is a serious push to ban tourist helicopter flights altogether.
The Public Expedition Spaces
On an expedition ship the public spaces need to be different than on a cruise ship. Older expedition ships do not have the space or technology to provide these necessary enhancements, but the newest ships do. Seabourn Venture takes it to the highest level, leveraging the rapid sophistication and improvements in the guest-technology interface.
The Expedition Lounge is where Seabourn guests will gather before and after their expedition. It will have two touchscreen stations where you will be able to pull up navigation and weather charts, and more along with a bar and lounge area.
|Seabourn Venture’s Expedition Lounge|
The Bow Lounge is located on Deck 6 right off the bow where guests will have great views and direct access to the deck overlooking the bow for even better views and wildlife spotting. The Bow Lounge will have touchscreens with access to scientific information, live maps, information on the Seabourn Venture’s plotted location and planned next location. Large screens will provide live footage from cameras mounted outside the ship and, when conditions permit, from a drone flying overhead. Of course the Seabourn Ventures Expedition Team will be present throughout the day to answer questions and make this venue come alive. (As noted below, there will be a Pantry in the Bow Lounge for light fare and snacks.)
|Seabourn Venture’s Bow Lounge|
The Discovery Center with its 32 foot wide and 8 foot high hi-definition video display is where the Seabourn Ventures team will hold its briefings and lectures and special guests will hold their Seabourn Conversations. One very cool feature is that the daily submarine voyages will be shown so that those who were not submariners that day can truly appreciate the underwater world that surrounds them.
|Seabourn Venture’s Discovery Center|
|Seabourn Venture’s Landing Zone|
With all the expedition activities and, of course, this being a luxury experience Seabourn Venture will have dining venues:
The Restaurant: As with all of Seabourn’s ships, The Restaurant is the main restaurant. While it will be more formal in style, it is not a “formal” experience; except on limited occasions. While it is more intimate than on her sister ships, you will note similarities as Adam Tihany works to blend familiar with the more yacht-like experience you will have on the Seabourn Venture.
|Seabourn Venture’s Restaurant|
|Seabourn Venture’s Colonnade – Casual Dining Venue|
Sushi in The Club: A variety of sushi bites are freshly made to order here every evening. Sushi on the Seabourn Encore and Seabourn Ovation are very popular. This will not try to mimic that, but offer just a casual taste.
Seabourn Square: A sociable oasis serving delectable specialty coffees, pastries, sandwiches and homemade gelati throughout the day and into the evening.
Pantry in the Bow Lounge: Help yourself to freshly prepared light fare and refreshments as you scan the horizon.
Constellation Lounge: A nod to the heritage of Seabourn, the Constellation Lounge is the spot for early-risers’ pastries and beverages, elegant afternoon Tea Time and cocktail-time tapas. This is akin to the Observation Lounge on the standard Seabourn ships, but harkens back to the original triplets’ Constellation Lounge.
24-Hour In-Suite Dining: Choose from a varied menu anytime, or have dinner from The Restaurant menu served course-by-course in your suite or on your veranda.
|Seabourn Venture Veranda Suite|
Seabourn Venture Veranda Suite Bathroom
(Separate Shower not shown)
Veranda Spa Suite: There are only two of these suites, located on Deck 7, feature the same amenities as the Veranda Suite and include additional in-suite spa amenities and spa concierge service available in conjunction with Spa & Wellness with Dr. Andrew Weil, including a selection of blossoming teas and fresh juices. Total space: 355 sq. ft. (33 sq. m.) including veranda of 78 sq. ft. (7 sq. m.)
Panoramic Veranda Suite: These 16 suites (a favorite of mine!) feature a semi-circular expansive floor-to-ceiling windows providing a spectacular perspective of the world outside. A queen-sized bed or twin beds are also oriented to face the windows, allowing guests to enjoy views of beautiful scenery and gorgeous sunrises and sunsets. The bathroom features a separate shower and large soaking tub placed next to a window, providing relaxing views to the private furnished veranda and scenic outdoor landscapes. Total space: 417 sq. ft. (39 sq. m.) including veranda of 85 sq. ft. (8 sq. m.)
Penthouse Suite: Located on Deck 8, include a living area with dining table for two. A separate bedroom that can be closed off from the rest of the suite and adjacent to a marble-lined bathroom with separate shower and bathtub. Penthouse Suites also come with a Nespresso® machine with a variety of coffee choices. Total space: 529 (49 sq. m.) including veranda of 96. (9 sq. m.)
Penthouse Spa Suite: The one Penthouse Spa suite, located on Deck 7. This suite features the same amenities as the Penthouse Suite coupled with the amenities of the Veranda Spa Suites. Total space: 637 sq. ft. (59 sq. m.) including veranda of 205 sq. ft. (19 sq. m.)
|Seabourn Venture Penthouse Suite|
Owner’s Suite: The two Owner’s Suites, located on Deck 7 (Suites 700, 701) overlooking the bow have a total space 1,023 sq. ft. (95 sq. m.) including a spacious veranda of 484 sq. ft. (45 sq. m.). With its private bedroom and extra-large walk-in closets, these suites the amenities of the Penthouses.
|Seabourn Venture’s Signature Suite Living Area|
|Seabourn Venture Signature Suite Bedroom|
Wintergarden Suite: These two suites bi-level suites are located midship on Deck 7 (Suites 735, 736) with space totaling 1,044 sq. ft. (97 sq. m.) including a large veranda of 129 sq. ft. (12 sq. m.). These suites are clearly designed for a more inside experience than say the Signature Suites.
|Seabourn Venture’s Wintergarden Suite Living Area|
|Seabourn Venture’s Wintergarden Bedroom|
Accessible Suites: Guests with disabilities will find four handicapped-accessible suites available; two in V4 Veranda Suites and two in Penthouse Suites.
At the beginning of this article I mentioned that the Seabourn Venture without the Seabourn Venture Expedition Team would not be the incredible luxury expedition experience it will be. I have, since 2015, been fortunate to personally observe and be enriched by a wide variety of experienced and personable expedition professionals that make up the Seabourn Ventures Expedition Team.
The Seabourn Ventures Expedition Team which is onboard for Seabourn’s current Antarctica journeys include, without limitation:
These are not general naturalists that are trained after being hired to be “experts”. The breadth and depth of the Seabourn Ventures Expedition Team provides each guest a truly multilevel, integrated, enriching experience while being guided safely by experienced and friendly engaged experts.
To be honest, until you have experienced the difference between being guided by general naturalists and such a team of experts, it is hard to fully appreciate same. But as certain as you can be that Seabourn will be delivering a true luxury expedition experience, you can be certain of the benefits of the Seabourn Ventures Expedition Team.
Now, your next question may well be, “What Seabourn Venture expedition should I take? The first thing to do is give me a call, drop me an email or send me a Facebook message!
US: (877) 2GO-LUXURY (877-246-5898)
UK: 020 8133 3450
AUS: (07) 3102 4685
Everywhere Else: +1 530 562 9232