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Eight months after the sale of half of its fleet, Seabourn announced a letter of intent with Fincantieri for a newbuild to be delivered in the second half of 2016.
The cruise line had previously mentioned the possibility of a new vessel when it announced the sale of its three smaller ships — the 208-passenger Seabourn Pride, Seabourn Legend and Seabourn Spirit — to Windstar Cruises in February. The ships will be transferred to Windstar in April 2014, April 2015 and May 2015, after receiving extensive refurbishment.
Seabourn officials say the new ship will be similar in design to Seabourn Odyssey, Quest and Sojourn. These 450-passenger vessels have charmed Seabourn’s repeat guests and attracted many who had not previously sailed on the line.
Seabourn has had an unusual history: It operated its first cruise in November of 1988 on Seabourn Pride, and Carnival Corporation bought 25 percent of the line in 1991, followed by another 25 percent in 1996 and a full buyout in 1999. In 1998, Seabourn was merged with Cunard Line — at that time, its fleet was made up of the three smaller ships and Seabourn Goddess I and II. SeaDream Yacht Club, which launched in 2001, bought the two Goddess ships and operates them as SeaDream I and II, while Seabourn Sun now sails as Holland America Line’s Prinsendam.
Cunard detached from Seabourn in 2004 and moved to Princess Cruises, leaving Seabourn to operate on it own until 2011, when it moved to Seattle to come under the wing of Holland America. Ironically, Windstar Cruises — which now owns Seabourn’s first ships — was formerly joined with Holland America.
In recent years, Seabourn has had two faces: the very intimate initial ships and the three new ships that feature more than twice the size, tremendous spas and outdoor areas and very large standard staterooms of 300 square feet. Since Seabourn’s reputation is based heavily on extraordinary service and superb cuisine, there was early speculation that these qualities would be diminished with the larger ships, but the response has been overwhelmingly positive. Now, Seabourn is unifying its brand with the Odyssey-size ships while Windstar is diversifying its fleet with ships that travel by motor, not sail.
“We are pleased to be moving forward with the plans we announced earlier this year to build a fourth ship similar to the highly regarded new design we introduced with Seabourn Odyssey, Seabourn Sojourn and Seabourn Quest,” said Seabourn president Richard Meadows. “The experience and amenities offered by these award-winning ships have raised the bar in ultra-luxury cruising.”