All Rise for Seabourn Ovation
Joining us in celebrating 30 years of luxury, Seabourn welcomes its latest ship to its luxurious fleet. We spoke to Business Development Manager of Seabourn, Bekkie Skipp, to find out what we should expect…
This year, Seabourn has capped their 30-year anniversary with the launch of new ship, Seabourn Ovation. How you are celebrating this incredible milestone?
The debut of Seabourn Ovation in May has reinforced our status as the newest ultra-luxury fleet in the industry, with five intimate, all-suite ships, each with an average age of just 5 years!
Seabourn’s 30th Anniversary started in January 2018, however the anniversary celebration will continue throughout the year as we roll out unique events and amenities, from our signature Passion Pearls cocktail by world-renowned mixologist, Brian van Flandern, to commemorative merchandise – with a ‘pearl’ theme, of course! The ships will also be doing other fun things like trivia, special turn downs and unique desserts.
There’s more to come from Seabourn, too, as we’ve just announced two new 264-guest, all suite ultra-luxury expedition ships, the first of which will arrive in June 2021, and the second in May 2022
What are your five favourite features of the latest addition, Seabourn Ovation?
- Our intimate Sushi, with innovative menus prepared by master sushi chefs while you watch, which can even be served in Bento Boxes!
- The Grill by Thomas Keller – for really sophisticated dining with dishes such as Sole Meuniere served tableside.
- The Retreat, an area on deck with 15 private cabanas underneath beautiful sailcloth canopies.
- The wonderfully tucked away (and often overlooked) whirlpool deck on the bow, which features complimentary sun lotions (all factors) and a fridge with cold drinks.
- Seabourn Square, the ‘living room’ of the ship, with a speciality coffee bar (we roast our own coffee beans!), concierge service, library and more.
What sets Seabourn apart from the competition?
Seabourn is the world’s finest ultra-luxury hotel or resort experience…. at sea! Therefore, we regard our competition to be the luxury land based boutique hotels rather than other cruise lines, since we offer all ocean-front accommodation, incredible dining and intuitive, personal service, with nearly one staff member to every guest.
In terms of travel destinations, are there any emerging destination that you have on the radar?
We find that our guests are ultimately seeking bespoke, authentic experiences in their chosen part of the world, and one of our strengths is that we can visit smaller boutique ports and offer a personalised experience. For example we anchor off the tiny island of Ko Kood in Thailand for guests to enjoy our ‘Caviar in the Surf” experience. We can also sail right into cities such as St Petersburg or Ho Chi Minh City, where larger ships have to dock miles away.
Seabourn is the only cruise line to have a partnership with UNESCO, meaning that guests may enjoy exclusive World Heritage and Discovery tours with expert guides, for instance at the temples of Borobudur in Asia or Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia.
How would you describe a typical Seabourn client?
Seabourn guests are sophisticated and well-travelled. They are interested in culture and educational experiences, such as regional cuisine and art galleries. Longer itineraries will attract the more mature guest, while we find that younger travellers consider their time to be a very precious resource and may opt for shorter, more destination intensive, itineraries.
“We believe that more travellers are recognising cruise as a new way to experience the world in great comfort, to immerse themselves in a destination, then come ‘home’ to their luxury hotel at sea.”
The average age of cruise passengers has fallen to its lowest in 20 years. Why do you think this is?
We believe that more travellers are recognising cruise as a new way to experience the world in great comfort, to immerse themselves in a destination, then come ‘home’ to their luxury hotel at sea where they can dine, learn and enjoy themselves. Seabourn welcomes guests of all ages from our very loyal, more mature, Seabourn Club members to explorers seeking new experiences and younger couples, who may be celebrating a honeymoon or anniversary.
You have incredible partnerships with musical theatre extraordinaire Sir Tim Rice, three Michelin-starred Chef Thomas Keller and wellness expert Dr Andrew Weil. Why did you approach these individuals?
Partnerships are so important. Ultra-luxury travellers recognise and relate to luxury brands, therefore being thrilled by behind-the-scenes UNESCO experiences, dining at The Grill by Michelin-starred chef Thomas Keller, watching An Evening with Tim Rice and even enjoying interior design by Adam Tihany (who has completely designed Seabourn Encore & Ovation) is part of that unique experience.
Why did Seabourn decide to return to Alaska after 15 years?
With the arrival of Seabourn Encore in 2016, having an expanded fleet allowed us to return to Alaska and offer a more in-depth and immersive experience to places where larger ships cannot go. The Seabourn Sojourn offers optional Ventures by Seabourn™ kayak, Zodiac and hiking excursions, led by our skilled expedition team, which really do enhance the experience.
What is Seabourn’s most popular journey?
That’s a tough one, as the concept of Seabourn is to provide a worldwide travel experience that is personalised to every guest! With the popularity of “experiential” travel we are definitely seeing a trend towards long haul destinations such as Asia and the Pacific, where we offer some incredible experiences. However guests with less time to spare will love our 7-10 night Mediterranean cruises which may combine Corsica and Elba with Malta and the French & Italian Rivieras.
“The concept of Seabourn is to provide a worldwide travel experience that is personalised to every guest.”
Seabourn has enhanced shore excursions with UNESCO and developed the Ventures by Seabourn® programme. Tell us about some of the interesting sites that a Seabourn guest can experience around the world…
Here are just a few of the experiences our guests can enjoy on our exclusive “Ventures by Seabourn” and UNESCO Discovery tours
- At Heimaey, guests may hike to one of Iceland’s earliest Viking settlements. Kayak among giant blue-white icebergs at Paaimiut and cruise the sheer bird cliffs of isolated Lady Franklin Island in Zodiacs, watching for polar bears, seals and walrus.
- In Alaska, guests may watch whales and eagles in Kenai Fjords National Park from a Zodiac. Kayak up close to wildlife in tranquil Misty Fjords. Take a photo safari for bears in Wrangell and hike the Davidson Glacier with an expert naturalist in Haines.
- From Ho Chi Minh City, guests may disembark the ship for a 3-day mid-cruise UNESCO Partner journey to The Temples of Angkor, which is South East Asia’s long lost temple complex, then rejoin the ship at Sihanoukville.
- Guests can explore Avignon, seat of the Papacy between the 12th and 14th century on a UNESCO Partner tour where, along with tasting the wines of Cháteauneuf made famous by the Popes, they will enjoy an exclusive escorted entry into the newly renovated Saint Martial Chapel.
Tell us about your talented expedition team – are there any that particularly stand out?
We created Ventures by Seabourn to provide our travellers with exciting, adventurous optional activities that are expertly planned, professionally operated and escorted by skilled expert guides. They are focused on letting you experience nature up close in a way that is unique and exciting by active kayaking, Zodiac cruising and scenic trekking experiences.
In Alaska, the Arctic, Antarctica, Australasia and even the Amazon, our Expedition team are likely to include a Marine Biologist, Ornithologist, Geologist, Historian, Glaciologist, Environmental Scientist, Researcher, Photographer/Videographer, Kayak Guide and Naturalist
Seabourn recently announced the construction of two new ultra-luxury expedition ships in 2021 and 2022. What do these add to the Seabourn experience?
Demand for expedition travel by luxury travellers continues to grow, and these two new ships build upon the success of the Ventures by Seabourn programme. Each will feature 132 luxurious oceanfront veranda suites, which will be home for up to 264 guests. We also believe these new ships position Seabourn well to attract new guests while appealing to our loyal Club members who have sailed with us in the past.