SEABOURN EXPANDS EXPEDITION CRUISING
With Seabourn marking a major construction milestone for its second purpose-built expedition vessel Seabourn Pursuit with a traditional coin ceremony at Italian shipyard this month, there was no better time for the company to call in Canada for sessions with the trade to highlight the cruise line’s growing expedition travel segment.
Seabourn execs visited Vancouver earlier this month and Toronto a week later as part of a 12-date North American roadshow that attracted over 600 agents for training sessions and evening sales events during which they could bring clients. It was the first in-person events hosted by the company in Canada since the pandemic.
On the agenda for agents was an introduction to Seabourn Expedition ships; product/ experience/ expedition team/ destinations; booking in Polar Online; and packages and pricing courtesy of Seabourn presenters Mark Spillane, director of expedition sales; Jen Martin, director of expedition product development; and Maxine Gundermann, sr. manager of strategic accounts.
Attending agents also received exclusive booking incentives and offers, including shipboard credits, savings, and reduced deposits.
Underlining the presentations was Seabourn’s now 12-year history in expedition history, which has opened doors beyond the cruise line’s mainline ultra-luxury offerings:
• In 2011, Seabourn announced its entrance into expedition cruising, culminating in the maiden voyage in Antarctica in 2013 of Seabourn Quest (capacity 450 guests).
• In 2015 expedition-style cruising was extended into other regions of the world on multiple ships through the special curated program Ventures by Seabourn, offering optional exploration via Zodiac and kayak lead by expedition guides in Alaska, Australia, Norwegian Fjords and more on select voyages.
• In 2018 Seabourn announced the order of two purpose-built ships, with a capacity of 264 guests, for launch in 2022 (Seabourn Venture) and 2023 (Seabourn Pursuit) respectively.
Spillane explained the characteristics of Seabourn’s “expedition cruising” style: smaller vessels sailing adventurous itineraries to bucket destinations in remote regions. But mostly, they are expeditions certain to provide “life-changing moments,” he said.
He noted that while ships follow set itineraries, flexibility is the key, with captains able to alter course to take advantage wildlife encounters, for example, or mitigate sea or weather conditions for the comfort of passengers.
All the while, doing it in “uncompromised ultra luxury,” he added, giving the example that passengers can come back from excursions from “the wild” to a hot cup of hot chocolate or liqueur, and a soak in a hot tub.
Guests are also provided with appropriate amenities, ranging from binoculars to parkas, backpacks, and water bottles.
“Expedition cruising really is a really special kind of thing,” Jen Martin told the audience, noting that passengers get the chance to see things “they would otherwise never have a chance to see.”
And to that end, she adds, the difference between traditional and expedition cruising is that the focus is on the destination, more so than the ship, no matter how beautiful a platform it is.
“People don’t choose an expedition just for the ship, they choose it because they want to see Antarctica, or the Arctic, or a different view of the British Isles, or the South Pacific and Papua New Guinea,” she said. “And the expedition team is a big part of that experience.”
To that end, Seabourn ships, offer a wide range of expedition activities led by an expert 24-person team of scientists, scholars, naturalists, and more. Complimentary offerings such as Zodiac cruises, hikes, nature walks, scuba diving, and snorkeling highlight every itinerary, as do curated complimentary excursions.
In addition, the ships offer optional shore excursions and optional Seabourn Expeditions with kayaking and two custom-built submersibles at select destinations, providing close-up views of wildlife and natural scenery, as well as unique intimacy beneath the waves.
And while Seabourn’s expedition cruising is “anchored” by the Arctic and Antarctic, it also offers “everything in between,” says Martin.
The next programming evolution for the cruise line will be the introduction at the end of July of Seabourn Pursuit, which is currently in its outfitting dock and is undergoing final construction at the Mariotti shipyard in Genoa.
At the recent coin ceremony, Marco Ghiglione, managing director of T. Mariotti, enthused, “Seabourn Pursuit is so beautiful. At a time when the expedition cruise market is experiencing strong growth, with several players preparing to launch new products, I can proudly say that this ship is the best in terms of aesthetics and cutting-edge performance.”
Beginning Aug. 12, Seabourn Pursuit will sail five voyages in the Mediterranean before embarking on two voyages across the Atlantic and through the Caribbean. On Oct. 10, the ship will arrive in Barbados from where it will begin its expedition journeys, exploring coastal South America, the Amazon, and Antarctica into late March 2024.
Following its inaugural Antarctic season, the ship will head to the South Pacific and Australia, which will include the line’s first exploration of the Kimberley region in northern Australia between June and August 2024.
In addition to the Kimberley, Seabourn Pursuit will visit Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, and sail to the South Pacific from Chile to Melanesia between March and October 2024.
The second of Seabourn’s two new expedition ships to debut in the past two years, the 170 m. vessel is purpose-built for diverse environments to PC6 Polar Class standards and equipped with state-of-the-art hardware and technology to extend its global employment and capabilities. The ship has close to 287 sq. m. of deck space and special touches at every turn. Those include indoor and outdoor guest areas with nearly 270-degree views, and a 4K GSS Cineflex Camera mounted on the mast of the Constellation Lounge capable of broadcasting imagery from up to 8 km away on monitors located throughout the ship.
In summary, Spillane said Seabourn combines “true luxury on board and true expedition on shore” for guests, making for the “best of both worlds.” And that, he says, “is our big differentiator.”
It used to be that people had to sacrifice luxury in the expedition segment. “Now,” he says, “they no longer have to.”
Maxine Gundermann advised that Seabourn provides extensive tools for the travel trade to help sell its cruises, including expeditions. That includes a promotional tool kit and images, online booking capabilities, and travel agent academy. For details, visit goseabourn.com.
First published at Travel Industry Today