Seabourn Sets the Bar

Yachts of Seabourn's fleet of small ships are models of luxury By: Marilyn Green
Yachts of Seabourn’s ships are smaller in size but not short on value. // © 2011 Yachts of Seabourn
Yachts of Seabourn’s ships are smaller in size but not short on value. // © 2011 Yachts of Seabourn

Seabourn Moves to Seattle

In a move expected to save $20 to $25 million a year, the Yachts of Seabourn headquarters is being relocated, joining Holland America Line (HAL) in Seattle. Rick Meadows, CTC, HAL executive vice president, marketing, sales and guest programs, will add the presidency of Seabourn to his title when the transition is complete. Pamela Conover, Seabourn’s current president, will continue to serve in her role during the transition period, but has chosen not to move to Seattle. Following the transition, she will continue to serve as special advisor and brand ambassador for Seabourn.

Meadows was formerly a key figure in developing Seabourn’s brand as senior vice president of sales and marketing, and the company has stated that the product will remain consistent and the published schedules unchanged.

“Rick is uniquely qualified to oversee Seabourn’s further progress in its new headquarters,” said Micky Arison, chairman and CEO of Carnival Corp. & plc, the parent company of the Yachts of Seabourn and HAL. “Seabourn’s move to Seattle will allow this great brand to further prosper through the natural efficiencies realized from sharing technology and support services with Holland America Line. Once the transition is completed and the synergies are fully realized, we estimate annual savings starting in 2012 in the $20 to $25 million range.”

According to the Miami Herald, 66 of the 116 positions at Seabourn will be lost. No personnel will be changed until after the end of March, however. Seabourn and HAL will maintain independent brand management teams at their joint headquarters in Seattle, while sharing resources including a unified field sales force and advanced technology platforms.

In terms of other appointments, Mark Kammerer will rejoin HAL as senior vice president, marketing and North American sales. Kammerer was vice president of global marketing for HAL from 1999-2003, and currently is vice president of cruise and exclusive products at Virtuoso.

John Delaney has been appointed senior vice president, marketing and sales for Seabourn; he has been HAL’s vice president of revenue management for the past two years and was previously director of analysis at Carnival Corp. and manager of financial planning and analysis for the Walt Disney Company.

Only Online

Scroll down to read more about Yachts of Seabourn’s strategic move to the West Coast.

The Details

Yachts of Seabourn
Although luxury cruise lines are expanding their vessel size and contemporary lines are claiming a "ship-within-a-ship" luxury experience, smaller luxury cruise ships continue to attract an extremely enthusiastic public and their agents.

Among them, Yachts of Seabourn gets high praise from top agents who consider the line to be the benchmark in luxury small-ship cruising. As of this year, with the advent of Seabourn Quest, Seabourn's fleet will be evenly divided among its three 450-passenger vessels (Seabourn Odyssey, Seabourn Sojourn and the Quest) and its three 208-passenger ships (Seabourn Pride, Seabourn Spirit and Seabourn Legend).

"If I had to compare Seabourn to any other small-ship product, it would be the best," said Tom Baker, president of the Cruise Center in Houston and a 24-year industry veteran honored by Conde Nast Traveler.

Baker also considers Seabourn's smaller ships to be "the epitome of the true Seabourn experience."

Staterooms on Seabourn vessels are all suites with 277 to 575 square feet of space, walk-in closets, flat-screen televisions, DVD players and Bose Wave radios. Complimentary champagne is waiting in each suite upon guest arrival, as is a bar stocked with guest selections and thoughtful features right down to an umbrella.

The three smaller ships were refurbished during the past year with new color schemes and a fresh, contemporary look from the open decks to the public rooms.

"These ships are absolutely unique in the industry," said Bruce Good, director of public relations for Yachts of Seabourn. "They still deliver the kind of magic that has given them their reputation. It's also a combination of the onboard product and the itineraries -- we're placing them in some exotic destinations, and they are small enough to enter unique ports."

The size and onboard culture of the ships give guests a sense of ownership. The layout takes moments to master, and alcohol, gratuities, etc., are all included in the fare.

Under the guidance of celebrity chef Charlie Palmer, Seabourn's cuisine draws rave reviews from passengers. Individual head chefs use their pick of fresh local ingredients in each sailing  region; even the room service menu shows imagination and panache.

Baker sees the line's target market as travelers inclined toward Abercrombie & Kent FIT travel, or clients who prefer smaller luxury properties.

"And, the pricing is amazing. You can take an exotic seven-day Caribbean cruise on one of our ships from $2,199, which is an incredible value, especially when you consider that a courtyard villa on Norwegian Epic is $3,500. The smaller Seabourn ships are simply the best value in travel," Good said. "It all comes down to a qualifying lifestyle, not just money, but an understanding of what real luxury is."
Adventure Travel JDS Africa Middle East JDS Destinations