Seabourn Unveils Interiors On New Luxury Expedition Ships

By Staff Writer

Seabourn has released more information on the ultra-luxury public spaces onboard its two new expedition ships, set to launch in June 2021 and May 2022. Design icon Adam D. Tihany, who has served as the creative lead for many Seabourn projects, helped create the communal hubs, as well as all indoor and outdoor guest areas on Seabourn Venture and its yet-to-be-named sister ship.

“When you conjure up images of the ideal adventure trip, you would head out into the stunning wilderness for the day knowing that when you return a cozy, welcoming space filled with luxurious materials like leathers and rich woods that invites relaxation and conversation awaits you,” said Richard Meadows, Seabourn’s president. “Each of these newly designed spaces hits that note perfectly, leaving our guests wanting for nothing and giving them an inviting place to talk to fellow travellers each day about the incredible experiences they had, sharing memorable stories or viewing photos they took.”

The Expedition Lounge, located on Deck 4, is the heart of the ship and will be a gathering place for guests to relax with a complimentary cocktail or glass of fine wine from the bar. The space will be central to the Seabourn expedition operation where guests convene before and after expeditions each day. Custom furniture designed from natural materials creates an inviting atmosphere, while a vintage map of Antarctica and intricate tools and devices of the trade are displayed. Two large touch screens will also showcase photos, navigational charts, weather charts and maps.

Adjacent to the Expedition Lounge, the Discovery Centre acts as the teaching and academic hub for natural history and cultural programming in an environment spacious enough to accommodate all guests at one time. Each day, guests can attend the Seabourn Conversations enrichment programming designed to help educate them throughout the trip. The world-class, 26-person expedition team of wilderness experts, scientists, historians and naturalists will deliver insightful lectures and discussions on a broad array of topics related to the region where guests are sailing. Backed by topography maps and plush custom seating, the Discovery Center additionally boasts high-definition screens showing a variety of programming, including footage from daily submarine voyages.

Port and Starboard, the two landing zones located on Deck 3, are the launch and recovery points for landings. The 60-metre spaces allow guests to change and clean their gear in comfort while also providing room to store their rubber boots. In tropical areas, the Landing Zones will be used for snorkeling and similar activities, with storage space available for fins and masks. Guests will move through the two Landing Zones in small groups to keep waiting time and crowding to a minimum for excursion departures. Just a floor below on Deck 2, they can step directly from the ship and head off across the water or onward to a landing point ashore.

Seabourn ships’ focal point, the Atrium, is a skylit space complete with an elegant winding staircase. A captivating art display emulating traditional wind measuring instruments is suspended at the centre with wood and metal detailing seen throughout.

More details about public spaces and suites on the new expedition ships will continue to be revealed in the coming months. Specific details about itineraries and booking availability will be released in mid-2019.

 

www.seabourn.com

Ultra-Luxury Expedition Ship ‘Seabourn Venture’ to Debut in 2021

By Staff Writer

Seabourn has announced the name of its first new ultra-luxury purpose-built expedition ship: Seabourn Venture, to debut in June 2021.

Seabourn has been offering expedition experiences since it debuted a sailing to Antarctica in 2013 led by a highly qualified, world-class expedition team, and every season since. The success of the Antarctica program subsequently opened the door for similar optional experiences under the name Ventures by Seabourn featuring Zodiacs, kayaks, and guided hikes offered on Seabourn ships in a number of desirable destinations around the world, including Alaska, Australia & New Zealand, South America, and Northern European destinations such as Norway and Greenland.

“The name Seabourn Venture is an exciting step in the process of launching even more immersive voyages designed specifically for the expedition traveller who dares to go beyond the norm in terms of destinations and experiences they seek,” said Richard Meadows, president of Seabourn. “Combined with the team of 26 experts that will bring the expedition experience to life, we are going to draw on our pedigree to deliver breathtaking experiences and I know Seabourn Venture is going to create lifetime memories for the adventurer that wants to go farther, into more remote destinations than they may have ever seen before, in true Seabourn ultra-luxury.”

Following Seabourn Venture’s launch in June 2021 will be a second yet-to-be-named sister ship slated to launch in May 2022. Both ships will be designed and built for diverse environments to PC6 Polar Class standards and will include a plethora of modern hardware and technology. The new ships, which are being built by T. Mariotti, feature a new, innovative design created specifically for the refined expedition traveller. Two custom-built submarines and a complement of kayaks will be carried onboard for a truly immersive experience, while 132 oceanfront veranda suites treat guests to luxurious comfort.

The vessels additionally offer an onboard crew with an expedition team comprised of highly-regarded wilderness experts, scientists, historians and naturalists. During each sailing, team members regularly interact with guests, providing keen insight to deliver a holistic travel experience. These accomplished experts are also part of the Seabourn Conversations program, providing in-depth insights into the history, ecology and culture of the places they visit. Their valuable insights are offered both in formal presentations on a variety of topics and in more casual conversations over meals or at leisure.

Specific details about itineraries and booking availability will be released in Spring 2019. The first ship is currently planned to sail in the Arctic in late summer 2021, with a full summer season in Antarctica to follow.

 

www.seabourn.com

Review: Seabourn Encore

By Lucy Jones

There are few sounds more appealing than the popping of a champagne cork, which made my week on board Seabourn Encore a particularly delightful experience. I lost count of the popping corks early, but barely 20 minutes would go by without the celebratory sound. This is indicative of the ship; one on which you’d feel practically naked walking the decks without a glass of chilled Nicolas Feuillatte in hand.

I’ve joined Seabourn’s brand new vessel in Sydney, where she launched her maiden voyage in March of 2016. It’s quite a coup for Australia to be the first port of call for a luxury launch, which tend to head straight for the more traditional markets of the Mediterranean or Caribbean. Right now, Encore is arguably the most luxurious ship in the world and she looks suitably striking parked right by the Sydney Opera House.

The ship is largely flawless. Bright, airy and spacious; famed hotel and restaurant designer Adam D Tihany is behind the aesthetic and he’s worked hard to make it feel more like a private yacht than a commercial cruise ship. It’s sleek and sexy with sculptural staircases and chandeliers plus a remarkable on-board art collection.

There are just 300 Verandah Suites, starting at a very roomy 34 square metres and ranging up to the huge Wintergarden Suites that, at more than 100 square metres, are about the same size as my two-bedroom apartment (though considerably more stylish). TVs are loaded with a great selection of movies and series (perfect for binge watching). The bathroom is enormous with a separate shower and tub, double vanity and plenty of storage space.

Encore’s hub is Seabourn Square, a hybrid lobby/living room/library as well as the ship’s one really good coffee bar. It takes the place of the traditional customer service desk and is a much more user-friendly space to ask questions or book shore excursions. The main swimming pool is pleasantly deep and there are rarely more than a handful of swimmers. I’m assured there are many more deckchairs than passengers, so it’s always easy to find a place to recline. I come to favour the comfy double day beds, well-stocked with cushions, for my daily catnap.

Tihany has gone a bit wild in the spa, a gleaming futuristic space that looks like the flight deck of a spaceship. Seabourn has partnered with wellness guru Dr Andrew Weil to create a holistic program overseen by a Wellness Guide, the first of its kind at sea. There are daily yoga and meditation classes and, while I have good intentions, somehow I don’t make it for any of the 7am starts. There’s the usual menu of treatments plus a few interesting extras, such as a sound bath with humming Tibetan crystal bowls.

Then there’s the food. Seabourn has partnered with American celebrity chef Thomas Keller to launch The Grill, its new signature restaurant. The dining room is dark and clubby, the menu a modern twist on classic 1970s steakhouse fare. In keeping with the theme, I order crab cakes, lobster thermidor and an enormous ice cream sundae prepared right at the table.

Encore is also home to the line’s first standalone sushi restaurant (called, simply, Sushi) that’s so good I eat there two nights in a row. There’s a different themed dinner held each night in The Colonnade (which operates as the buffet during the day) and it’s excellent the night I attend. As with all Seabourn ships, all dining and drinks (excluding some top shelf stuff) is included in the fare.

Our first port of call, Mooloolaba, is cancelled due to rough weather. And I can’t say I’m disappointed. The real story here is the ship and I soon feel I would be happy enough never to set foot on dry land again. Cruising through the Whitsundays, we drop anchor right beside Hamilton Island. Surrounded by the curved green backs of the islands and with seemingly doll-sized sailboats bobbing about beside us, it must be the prettiest cruise port in the country. I jump aboard a Zodiac and zip out to Sawmill Bay for one of the line’s custom Ventures by Seabourn shore excursions. The program focuses on active excursions led by members of the expert expedition team; a good way to burn off a few of those champagne calories.

The highlight of the voyage is the Champagne and Caviar evening, one of Seabourn’s signature events. The ship’s singers perform opera on the main deck as we sail away from Hamilton Island at sunset, and it’s exceptional. These are genuine word-class performers, far above the usual ‘cruise ship cabaret’ fare, and even an operatic philistine like me is moved. The ship also hosts a new show from Broadway legend Tim Rice, featuring songs from shows such as The Lion King, Aladdin, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, and Evita. Sadly, it’s not performed during my leg of the journey and I don’t get the opportunity to wow everyone with my rendition of ‘Hakuna Matata’.

Cruising through the Whitsundays, we drop anchor right beside Hamilton Island. Surrounded by the curved green backs of the islands and with seemingly doll-sized sailboats bobbing about beside us, it must be the prettiest cruise port in the country.

I spend one day in the private confines of The Retreat, an exclusive adults-only area on deck 12 that’s making its debut on Encore. It is Tihany’s favourite space and the man has good taste. Fifteen cabanas circle a large central hot tub, each with sun loungers, a TV, mini bar and couch. The house pour is Bollinger, which, it turns out, is the ideal breakfast champagne (if you like that sort of thing). A day at The Retreat will set you back an additional US$249 (about A$330) on port days or US$349 (about A$462) on sea days, which is potentially why it remains largely empty during the voyage. It’s a shame, because it really is divine, but Seabourn might need to rethink how it operates.

This isn’t the only problem that crops up. If the outdoor section is closed, there isn’t enough seating in The Colonnade buffet (unless you like to sit with strangers, which I do not). Cabin lighting is unnecessarily complicated. One night, after at least 20 minutes of frustrated flickering, I throw a towel over a lamp that remains stubbornly inextinguishable. There are also few hiccups in the famed Seabourn service that don’t go unnoticed.

I spoke with other passengers who had sailed with the line for close to 100 days and they felt it wasn’t up to the usual standard. Service around the pool was often slow (or non-existent) and a particularly surly waiter left a bad taste in my mouth. But the service improved considerably as the voyage continued. With just a handful of sailings under its bow, Encore is a new ship and is considerably larger than others in the Seabourn fleet, so I’m happy to chalk these up to teething issues. Especially considering the experiences at the other end of the spectrum.

One night, as I’m walking back to my cabin, a man calls me over to the railing. A pod of dolphins are frolicking in the bow waves, their slick silver bodies visible just under the surface. They race along beside the ship for a magical half hour, leaping over the breaking waves and tumbling underneath the foam. It seems everyone wants a piece of Encore.

 

seabourn.com

Seabourn Returns to Australasia for 2018-2019 Cruise Season

By Staff Writer

Ultra-luxury cruise line Seabourn is heading to Australasia again this year with Seabourn Encore and Seabourn Sojourn offering multiple cruises around Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific during the 2018-2019 season.

Curated itineraries feature boutique ports, sheltered coves and hidden harbours that larger cruise ships cannot access, as well as onboard luxuries and fascinating on-shore experiences.

Guests will have many opportunities to explore and enjoy the region, including optional for-charge Ventures by Seabourn kayak and zodiac tours in select destinations guided by skilled expedition teams.

Special programming such as Shopping with the Chef excursions will allow guests to discover local food markets, and special deck events, dance parties and movies under the stars will keep things lively and entertaining.

The itineraries also offer not-to-be-missed shore excursions to UNESCO World Heritage Sites with exclusive experiences available only to Seabourn guests via the luxury cruise line’s unique partnership with UNESCO.

“We’re excited to be heading back to the beauty of Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific over the 2018-2019 season ahead,” says Chris Austin, Seabourn’s senior vice president of Global Marketing and Sales.

“With two ships sailing in the region, guests will have a wide range of opportunities to soak up the ultra-luxury experience on board our vessels and to explore on land and at sea, including Ventures by Seabourn excursions, mid-cruise overland tours, and special pre- and post-cruise journeys. It’s going to be quite a season for guests returning or visiting the region for the first time with Seabourn.”

The 2018-2019 season of Seabourn Encore in the South Pacific will launch with an 18-day cruise from Bali to Sydney, departing December 3, 2018) and will include four 16-day voyages between Sydney and Auckland (departing December 21, 2018, and January 22, February 7, and March 11, 2019 respectively).

The start of spring will see the ship head out of Sydney on a 16-day voyage to Bali (departing March 27), featuring the Queensland Coast and Great Barrier Reef, plus various islands of Indonesia.

 

For more information and reservations, call Seabourn on 1800 929 9391, or visit seabourn.com.

Review: Seabourn Encore

By Lucy Jones

There are few sounds more appealing than the popping of a champagne cork, which made my week on board Seabourn Encore a particularly delightful experience. I lost count of the popping corks early, but barely 20 minutes would go by without the celebratory sound. This is indicative of the ship; one on which you’d feel practically naked walking the decks without a glass of chilled Nicolas Feuillatte in hand.

I’ve joined Seabourn’s vessel in Sydney, where she launched her maiden voyage in March of 2016. It’s quite a coup for Australia to be the first port of call for a luxury launch, which tend to head straight for the more traditional markets of the Mediterranean or Caribbean. Right now, Encore is arguably the most luxurious ship in the world and she looks suitably striking parked right by the Sydney Opera House.

The ship is largely flawless. Bright, airy, and spacious, famed hotel and restaurant designer Adam D Tihany is behind the aesthetic and he’s worked hard to make it feel more like a private yacht than a commercial cruise ship. It’s sleek and sexy with sculptural staircases and chandeliers plus a remarkable on-board art collection.

There are just 300 Verandah Suites, starting at a very roomy 34 square metres and ranging up to the huge Wintergarden Suites that, at more than 100 square metres, are about the same size as my two-bedroom apartment (though considerably more stylish). TVs are loaded with a great selection of movies and series (perfect for binge watching). The bathroom is enormous with a separate shower and tub, double vanity and plenty of storage space.

Encore’s hub is Seabourn Square, a hybrid lobby/living room/library as well as the ship’s one really good coffee bar. It takes the place of the traditional customer service desk and is a much more user-friendly space to ask questions or book shore excursions. The main swimming pool is pleasantly deep and there are rarely more than a handful of swimmers. I’m assured there are many more deckchairs than passengers, so it’s always easy to find a place to recline. I come to favour the comfy double day beds, well-stocked with cushions, for my daily catnap.

Tihany has gone a bit wild in the spa, a gleaming futuristic space that looks like the flight deck of a spaceship. Seabourn has partnered with wellness guru Dr Andrew Weil to create a holistic program overseen by a Wellness Guide, the first of its kind at sea. There are daily yoga and meditation classes and, while I have good intentions, somehow I don’t make it for any of the 7am starts. There’s the usual menu of treatments plus a few interesting extras, such as a sound bath with humming Tibetan crystal bowls.

Then there’s the food. Seabourn has partnered with American celebrity chef Thomas Keller to launch The Grill, its new signature restaurant. The dining room is dark and clubby, the menu a modern twist on classic 1970s steakhouse fare. In keeping with the theme, I order crab cakes, lobster thermidor and an enormous ice cream sundae prepared right at the table.

Encore is also home to the line’s first standalone sushi restaurant (called, simply, Sushi) that’s so good I eat there two nights in a row. There’s a different themed dinner held each night in The Colonnade (which operates as the buffet during the day) and it’s excellent the night I attend. As with all Seabourn ships, all dining and drinks (excluding some top shelf stuff) is included in the fare.

Our first port of call, Mooloolaba, is cancelled due to rough weather. And I can’t say I’m disappointed. The real story here is the ship and I soon feel I would be happy enough never to set foot on dry land again. Cruising through the Whitsundays, we drop anchor right beside Hamilton Island. Surrounded by the curved green backs of the islands and with seemingly doll-sized sailboats bobbing about beside us, it must be the prettiest cruise port in the country. I jump aboard a Zodiac and zip out to Sawmill Bay for one of the line’s custom Ventures by Seabourn shore excursions. The program focuses on active excursions led by members of the expert expedition team; a good way to burn off a few of those champagne calories.

The highlight of the voyage is the Champagne and Caviar evening, one of Seabourn’s signature events. The ship’s singers perform opera on the main deck as we sail away from Hamilton Island at sunset, and it’s exceptional. These are genuine word-class performers, far above the usual ‘cruise ship cabaret’ fare, and even an operatic philistine like me is moved. The ship also hosts a new show from Broadway legend Tim Rice, featuring songs from shows such as The Lion King, Aladdin, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, and Evita. Sadly, it’s not performed during my leg of the journey and I don’t get the opportunity to wow everyone with my rendition of ‘Hakuna Matata’.

Cruising through the Whitsundays, we drop anchor right beside Hamilton Island. Surrounded by the curved green backs of the islands and with seemingly doll-sized sailboats bobbing about beside us, it must be the prettiest cruise port in the country.

I spend one day in the private confines of The Retreat, an exclusive adults-only area on deck 12 that’s making its debut on Encore. It is Tihany’s favourite space and the man has good taste. Fifteen cabanas circle a large central hot tub, each with sun loungers, a TV, mini bar and couch. The house pour is Bollinger, which, it turns out, is the ideal breakfast champagne (if you like that sort of thing). A day at The Retreat will set you back an additional US$249 (about A$330) on port days or US$349 (about A$462) on sea days, which is potentially why it remains largely empty during the voyage. It’s a shame, because it really is divine, but Seabourn might need to rethink how it operates.

This isn’t the only problem that crops up. If the outdoor section is closed, there isn’t enough seating in The Colonnade buffet (unless you like to sit with strangers, which I do not). Cabin lighting is unnecessarily complicated. One night, after at least 20 minutes of frustrated flickering, I throw a towel over a lamp that remains stubbornly inextinguishable. There are also few hiccups in the famed Seabourn service that don’t go unnoticed.

I spoke with other passengers who had sailed with the line for close to 100 days and they felt it wasn’t up to the usual standard. Service around the pool was often slow (or non-existent) and a particularly surly waiter left a bad taste in my mouth. But the service improved considerably as the voyage continued. With just a handful of sailings under its bow, Encore is a new ship and is considerably larger than others in the Seabourn fleet, so I’m happy to chalk these up to teething issues. Especially considering the experiences at the other end of the spectrum.

One night, as I’m walking back to my cabin, a man calls me over to the railing. A pod of dolphins are frolicking in the bow waves, their slick silver bodies visible just under the surface. They race along beside the ship for a magical half hour, leaping over the breaking waves and tumbling underneath the foam. It seems everyone wants a piece of Encore.

 

seabourn.com

Zumba & Room Service: Indulgence on Seabourn Sojourn

By Louise Goldsbury

Invited to a private cocktail party with the Captain and other past passengers, I am surprised – and let’s be honest, somewhat miffed – to find hundreds of other people in attendance. It seems my status of two cruises aboard Seabourn Sojourn is nothing remarkable. According to our host, 351 out of the 370 guests have previously sailed with the line, and some are clocking up more than 2,000 days at sea. If loyalty is the best gauge of excellence, it doesn’t get any better than this.

The cheerful camaraderie among these regulars creates a community vibe on this luxury ship, and newcomers are soon welcomed like members of the club. As I sit down at the poolside bar for my first glass of champagne (drinks are complimentary on this all-inclusive cruise), a deeply tanned French couple chat to me excitedly about Adelaide’s climate. A fellow Australian hears my accent and comes over – amid the sea of Americans onboard an Australian accent stands out and always sparks a conversation. He tells me the way things work around here.

“There’s a rhythm, which you’ll soon fall into,” he explains. “When the sun starts to fade, we head inside to freshen up before pre-dinner drinks at the Observation Bar. Come up around 6:15pm,” he advises, and I happily oblige.

Within seconds of settling in, the bartender nods, smiles, places a napkin and nuts in front of me. Four Americans bring me into their conversation about things to do in Western Australia, where we’re sailing toward. Ten minutes later we have agreed to do the organised excursion to Margaret River on Friday.

I can soon see that this ship would also be perfect for romance. A hot tub is hidden away at the bow, and upper decks have sun lounges where few people venture. The most secluded area of the yacht is the Spa Villa, which can be booked for several hours at a time. Meals, drinks, beauty treatments and bathing rituals can be privately indulged on the al fresco terrace. The villa experience can also be added, if available, to any face or body treatment booked at The Spa, such as a 24-karat-gold facial, Elemis aroma stone therapy, or a lime and ginger salt exfoliation.

I have a suite to myself but a few friends have also come on the voyage. We meet for dinner at Restaurant 2, a dark and sexy degustation venue, serving 10 small portions in four courses with matching wines. Our Argentinean waiter is exceptionally charming.

He introduces the first trio: lobster roll with yoghurt caviar sauce; bacalaito fritter with avocado and tomato salad; king salmon with white bean salsa. Next is a shiraz-braised oxtail presse, manchego potstickers, white asparagus vanilla cappuccino and mushroom toast. Drunken John Dory is a highlight, as well as the veal with mascarpone mashed potato. Dessert is a rich chocolate ganache, condensed milk ice cream and espresso citrus panna cotta. After a performance like that, there’s no need (or energy) to go to the 10pm song-and-dance show, Groove Tonight.

Confession: I order room service far too often. With no extra charge, and selections available from the main restaurant menu (which changes every day), it feels more decadent than hotel room service. Seared spice-crusted tuna, spring chicken cassoulet with truffle oil, soft shell crab, venison, marinated goat cheese and pesto flan – it all arrives hot on a silver tray.

The next night, after dancing in The Club, I order a midnight pizza and the most deliciously crunchy chips; then another evening it’s a cheeky bowl of caramel ice-cream while watching Gravity in bed. Celebrating with a new friend Natasha, I ask for a bottle of riesling to be delivered and it appears in an ice bucket within minutes. At 22, Natasha is the youngest person staying on for the full 108-day world voyage, which is sold in shorter segments along the way. She’s accompanying an older friend who needed a few months recuperation and decided to splurge for two. One of the eldest is a woman pushing 90 who has been on more than 150 Seabourn cruises. Most people are semi-retired and living like they don’t need to work.

On the third morning I attempt my first-ever Zumba class, presumably safe in the assumption that I won’t know anyone, but already I recognise most faces. It turns out to be a lot of fun, and afterwards I join a group of retirees for lunch at The Colonnade. This is also the best place for a casual breakfast. Aside from the usual continental and hot food items, tasty options include the fig compote, cinnamon toast (all bread is freshly baked onboard) and coriander, chilli and feta omelette.

I can soon see that this ship would also be perfect for romance. A hot tub is hidden away at the bow, and upper decks have sun lounges where few people venture.

However, the poolside patio grill is a favourite as it feels more like summer holidays. The food theme switches every day from Caribbean to Indian, French to surf and turf. But it’s not all about the great dining on Seabourn (and there is barely an overweight cruise stereotype to be seen).

Daily activities include ballroom dance classes, trivia, bridge, arts and crafts, golf putting games with prizes, lots of live music and movies screened under the stars on the pool deck. Educational lectures by guest speakers are popular and our week features local historian Warren Fahey, who discusses Australia’s Aboriginal, colonial and convict past.

In between the action, I relax at the café in the Seabourn Square, a central hub with lots of couches (with an ocean view), a library and iPads loaded with international newspapers. Of course, I also retreat to my suite to read a book on my balcony or watch one of the on-demand new-release movies. There’s also a walk-in wardrobe, a free minibar (and welcome bottle of Nicolas Feuillatte Champagne), a bath as well as a shower, Molton Brown toiletries in the marble-clad bathroom, and a stewardess to attend to any requests.

No wonder almost everyone comes back. The company rewards its loyal cruisers through the tiered Seabourn Club, granting a choice of benefits. When your account reaches 140 days, you receive a complimentary seven-day cruise. At the top tier, Diamond Members are also entitled to free laundry, internet, phone calls (40 minutes) and a massage, among other benefits. But if you ask me, the cruise experience itself is beneficial enough.