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Seabourn Venture Expedition Ship and Program: Everything You Want to Know! (Update I)

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!

The Beginning
In order to fully appreciate the luxury expedition experience the Seabourn Venture will provide, we need to look into the past and some of the issues looking into the future.
In the past, prior to the modifications to the Seabourn Quest, combining luxury and an expedition experience has been only partially achieved via the conversion of older expedition ships and more or less calling them luxury experiences when they really weren’t. Ships with uncomfortable old designed hulls, staterooms optimistically called “suites”, public spaces that were little more than a dining hall or lounge for talks and the logistics for getting into zodiacs that were challenging at best.

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.

The Vision

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:

Goldring Travel’s 2015 Culinary & Cultural (formerly Food & Wine) Cruise – Seabourn Quest – Part V (Honningsvag) – Ventures By Seabourn

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!]

The Execution: Seabourn Venture

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:

  • PC6 Ice-Strengthened Hull which will allow the Seabourn Venture to operate in medium summer/autumn first-year ice rather than just thin first-year ice.
  • Ability to cruise further north and south as well as warm and tropical locations
  • Highly maneuverable with twin Azipods and three bowthrusters
  • Dynamic positioning – Ship maintains location without the use of anchors (great for the environment)
  • Landing Zones and Shell Doors (Port and Starboard) – Easy storage of your personal gear and direct access to zodiacs for fast and easier boarding
  • 26 member Expedition Team
  • Two six guest submarines
  • A number of other accessories, the use of which is dependent on the location of the expedition, including:

24 Zodiacs
– Kayaks
– Mountain bicycles
– e-Bicycles
– SCUBA diving
– Snorkeling

Before discussing these features (and, of course, the suites and public areas) let’s focus on what these features allow for:
Multiple landings or explorations per day – Presently Seabourn Quest offers one landing or experience per day plus kayaking, if conditions permit and you book space in advance. With Seabourn Venture you will be able to have at least two experiences per day, subject to conditions and location.
Multiple, simultaneous, expedition activities per day – Having port and starboard landing zones and shell doors allow, when conditions permit, for rapid deployment of guests. And with twenty-four zodiacs, coupled with a large multidisciplinary Expedition Team, Seabourn Venture will be able have its guests off to diverse expedition experiences with the best expedition team members and the appropriate equipment.  So, for example, if some guests want to make a landing while others prefer to kayak and yet others (already certified) want to scuba dive and a fourth group want to explore via zodiac it will all be possible at the same time.  Even better is that when opportunities arise you may engage in two (or more?) options in a day.
Exploiting smaller windows of opportunity – Responsible expedition cruising requires time frames for safe operation when weather or sea conditions are expected to change. Seabourn Venture’s ability to rapidly deploy equipment and guests permits not only more options, but the ability to work within smaller timeframes so every possible opportunity is safely taken advantage of.

(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:

  • Historical sites
  • Wrecks
  • Deep Wall Dives
  • Wildlife
Again, it is important not only to have a submarine, but to be able to operate it safely and properly…and have a well-trained member of the expedition team to not only drive the submarine, but to know where to take it and to explain what you are seeing and how it relates to not only the underwater environs, but those above the surface and on the land.  Think about it akin to having a fancy camera:  There are those that can really utilize it and others that just take snapshots because it is not the camera that has the knowledge and vision, it is the person behind it.
Just imagine not only having things explained to you as you dive, but to have true experts sitting down with you over cocktails engaging in a real discussion of the back story of that wreck or the excitement over seeing a wildlife behavior that was totally unexpected!

No Helicopter
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
The Landing Zone is, essentially, the locker room.  It is where guests will “gear up” with their stored personal items (rubber boots to snorkels and fins, etc.) and then be able to clean them so they are ready for the next adventure later that day or the next.  Once geared up the guests are, in small groups, escorted down one deck to the Deck 2 Shell Doors and directly onto the zodiacs waiting for them.
Seabourn Venture’s Landing Zone
The Dining Venues

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
The Colonnade: A more casual alternative for buffet or table service breakfast and lunch, and themed dinner served tableside, including family-style menus by Michelin-starred Chef Thomas Keller. The Colonnade will extend to the aft deck into The Patio, with guests welcomed to dine outside amid the fresh sea air, featuring its own menu offering extended hours for lunch.  The same aft deck will also be home to the infinity-inspired pool and two Jacuzzis, as well as two elegant sculptural showers, all with clear views off the back of the ship to the stunning vistas beyond.
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.

The Suites:
There are eight types, with the standard veranda suites divided into four categories, dependent on location:
  • Veranda
  • Veranda Spa
  • Panoramic Veranda
  • Penthouse
  • Penthouse Spa
  • Owner’s
  • Signature
  • Wintergarden
Veranda Suite: This suite includes a separate seating area with a coffee/dining table for two, which is ideal for in-suite dining at any time of day. A queen-sized or two twin beds, spacious walk-in closet and sliding glass door leading to a private furnished veranda. Total space: 355 sq. ft. (33 sq. m.) including veranda of 78 sq. ft. (7 sq. m.)*
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.)

Seabourn Venture Panoramic Veranda Suite


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.

Signature Suite:  The two Signature Suites, unlike on the classic fleet, overlook the stern of the Seabourn Venture, on Deck 8 (Suites 832, 833) have a total space: 1,377 sq. ft. (128 sq. m.) including an very large veranda of 592 sq. ft. (55 sq. m.) that is perfect for birdwatching and taking in magnificent views.
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.

Seabourn Venture Expedition Team

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:

  • A world-renowned Penguin Whisperer
  • Two men who re-enacted the Shackleton Journey from Elephant Island to South Georgia Island
  • Cetacean (whales and dolphin) experts
  • Marine Biologists
  • Ornithologists (birds)
  • Glaciologists
  • Geologists
  • Historians
  • Photographic experts

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

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