Clients can sail to Antarctica in the comfort of Seabourn’s new spa suites // © 2013
Antarctica is hot. Cruise lines able to offer sailings to the White Continent have waiting lists of guests eager for the once-in-a-lifetime adventure, so it’s no shock that additional lines are finding ways to enter the market, despite the stringent restrictions to protect the fragile ecology. Seabourn Cruise Line is establishing a position between the larger ships and those with a capacity of 100 passengers or less who can bring guests onto land.
The all-suite, 450-passenger Seabourn Quest will bring its guests to shore in staggered groups to comply with the rules, while being able to offer the space and amenities of a larger vessel than a 100-passenger ship. Quest will begin a series of four sailings between Valparaiso, Chile, and Buenos Aires, Argentina, starting in November. Seabourn president Richard Meadows noted that Antarctica has been the only continent the line did not feature in its itineraries.
A Seabourn team discussing Antarctica cruises at an agent event in New York City explained that the company is offering three 21-day sailings and one 24-day cruise that includes South Georgia. Susan Prinzing, business development manager for the Manhattan and upstate New York region, told agents that the two late-2013 cruises are being offered at somewhat lower pricing than the two early 2014 voyages and urged travel agents to let their clients know about the opportunity as quickly as possible.
The Seabourn team also told travel agents their clients need not be deterred if they have limited mobility, saying that there are always helping hands to help them reach the ports of call, and even if they don’t go to shore, they will see a great deal. Expedition leaders said they bring people who can do limited walking on shore at end of a group so they sit down on a rock and experience Antarctica, pointing out that, in places like Port Stanley, “everything is literally at your feet 20 meters from the water.
Seabourn guests will spend five days in Antarctica, including scenic cruising of highlights such as the Lemaire Channel, picturesque Paradise Bay and the Gerlache Strait Scientists; naturalists and other lecturers in a number of disciplines will speak on board and accompany guests ashore.
The ship will visit Puerto Montt for the Chilean Lakes District, Castro on the island of Chiloe, and Puerto Chacabuco for the Rio Simpson Valley and Coyhaique, as well as Punta Arenas, where guests can visit Torres del Paine National Park. A cruise through the Chilean Fjords culminates in a transit of the Beagle Channel and its spectacular Glacier Alley. Weather permitting; following a call at Ushuaia in Argentina’s Tierra del Fuego, Quest will cruise by Cape Horn bound for the Southern Ocean.
Adding to the onboard luxury on these sailings are four new elegant Penthouse Spa suites, just a spiral staircase away from the lobby of the spa. At 516 to 538 square feet plus 172-square-foot verandas, the suites each have a living and a dining area with seating for four, a separate bedroom, a walk-in closet, a glass door and floor-to-ceiling windows, a bathroom with a tub and a special spa shower, as well as two flat-screen televisions, plus elegant spa amenities and a spa concierge, along with daily access to the spa’s Serene Area, with special pools, an aroma steam bath with salt inhalation, and an herbal bath.
Seabourn expects the combination of luxury and pampering onboard with the drama of Antarctica and excellent lecturers to be irresistible. And one member of the exploration team warned travel agents, “I can see a dramatic difference there due to global warming. Tell your clients to go now.”