This week marks the launch of Seabourn Cruise Line’s new expedition ship, Seabourn Venture, which will first sail the northernmost continental ports of Norway and Svalbard (a Norwegian archipelago in the Arctic Ocean).
It’s an exciting time for the luxury cruise brand, and we caught up with Josh Leibowitz, president of the line, to get his take on the new product and the company’s future.
(Note: Leibowitz was not at liberty to confirm any details regarding recent reports that the Seabourn fleet is up for sale, noting that as parent company Carnival Corporation is publicly traded, he cannot comment on rumors or speculation.)
What does the delivery and upcoming launch of Seabourn Venture mean for the luxury brand’s future?
Expedition travel has been increasingly in demand among luxury travelers over the past several years, and we saw this firsthand when we launched our voyages to Antarctica in 2013. It was the success of those itineraries that led us to return every year since, and eventually led to the development of our Ventures by Seabourn programming of expedition-style shore experiences onboard Zodiacs and kayaks.
This programming has since expanded to global destinations such as Alaska/British Columbia, Northern Europe and Australia/New Zealand. In addition, it laid the foundation for our two new purpose-built expedition ships — Seabourn Venture and Seabourn Pursuit — which will give our guests even more opportunities to connect to some of the world’s most remote destinations.
We feel like our new ships blend expedition and luxury elements in a new way that will evoke a positive response from a wider range of travelers than ever before.
With the launch of Seabourn Venture, we’re offering a true ultra-luxury expedition product that's unlike any others on the market. It also allows us to [highlight] a new type of expedition cruising that we’ve dubbed “active luxury.” Active luxury combines Seabourn’s renowned service and ultra-luxury amenities with an innovative, active experience that brings travelers to the far reaches of the globe that can only be accessed by ship, to enjoy the same types of thrills they may expect from a safari or other land-based adventures.
What are the short-term and long-term strategies for Seabourn’s expedition product?
We’ve designed our new expedition ships in partnership with some of the best and brightest in the worlds of travel, expedition, fine dining and luxury cruising, who came together with the same objective: to create an environment that evokes a social and inquisitive vibe but follows the traditions of expedition travel. We want guests to share in these experiences of a lifetime with not only one another, but also our onboard teams.
With our historic knowledge and experience of operating our Ventures by Seabourn programs and voyages in Antarctica, it’s a natural next step for us to build a ship from the ground up. We want our new ships to appeal to our loyal Seabourn guests, while also drawing in new guests who crave adventure, connectivity and a glimpse of the world’s more remote destinations.
Our intention is to also welcome travelers who may have never considered cruise travel and expose them to the quality, decadence and convenience of a voyage with Seabourn. We feel like our new ships blend expedition and luxury elements in a new way that will evoke a positive response from a wider range of travelers than ever before.
As the expedition market rapidly expands, how does Seabourn Venture stand out from other ships?
Seabourn Venture offers true, active luxury experience that’s completely unparalleled. There are only 264 guests onboard in 132 suites, and we have 26 expedition team members to serve those guests — nearly one for every 10 guests. These team members will not only offer their expertise and guidance about the natural world, but also offer the exemplary service for which Seabourn is renowned.
There are countless amenities and innovations we are offering onboard that are redefining the future of travel, not just cruise. Not only is the ship designed to go anywhere in the world, but it also boasts submarines that allow guests to jump in and see life below the surface. There are 24 Zodiacs on the ships, so every guest can experience landings wherever we sail, plus kayaks and snorkeling and scuba gear.
There are eight different dining options and state-of-the-art facilities such as the Bow Lounge, where close-up live feeds of wildlife up to four nautical miles away can be projected on the big screen for the ultimate wildlife experience.
What message do you have for travel agents looking to sell Seabourn Venture to their clients?
We are delivering a truly differentiated travel experience with Seabourn Venture, one that allows guests to enjoy an ultra-luxury experience steeped in relaxation and indulgence, while also exploring destinations in a deep and meaningful way. There will be no shortage of activity for travel advisors to showcase.
We hope that existing Seabourn fans will love this product, but we feel the opportunity exists to attract those who haven’t sold Seabourn or cruises generally. We know there’s a vast pool of advisors who specialize in land-based experiential travel, and our new ships are perfect for the same type of traveler.
Onboard, the carefully curated design by the team at Tihany Design is a “wow” factor all its own. They captured the look and feel of an authentic luxury lodge, from the privacy of the guest suites to the multitude of public areas built to encourage socializing.
We hope that advisors understand how different our expedition ship product is from our existing Antarctica and Ventures by Seabourn expedition experiences that they’ve come to know and love. We hope that existing Seabourn fans will love this product, but we feel the opportunity exists to attract those who haven’t sold Seabourn or cruises generally. We know there’s a vast pool of advisors who specialize in land-based experiential travel, and our new ships are perfect for the same type of traveler.
We always believe in offering advisors the tools they need to best understand and sell Seabourn’s ships, unique offerings and brand. We offer Seabourn Academy, which features a number of training resources, techniques and tools to set advisors up for success.
I’d recommend that travel advisors harness these tools to also make themselves experts on the expedition lines and itinerary destinations. Read up on the history, understand what makes each region so special and leverage this knowledge for your clients. Another tried and true way to better understand the product is to experience it for yourself. We encourage advisors to sail with us on our new expedition ships to see the Seabourn difference themselves.