Seabourn President Josh Leibowitz On Luxury Expedition Sailing And New Amenities For 2022
The cruise industry has been through a lot over the past couple of years, but that has not stopped many lines from innovating, adapting and growing. After a pandemic-induced pause of 26 months, all Seabourn ships are sailing again. That includes the newest expedition ship, Seabourn Venture. Seabourn president Josh Leibowitz shares the latest news from the luxury brand, how it weathered the pandemic and the future as it dips its toes into expedition cruising.
What ports will you be adding with Seabourn Venture?
During her inaugural year, Seabourn Venture will be visiting a number of fascinating locations and remote destinations in the Arctic and Antarctica, as well as in the Amazon, Central and South America. It is scheduled to visit more than 100 unique and fascinating destinations across the globe, many of which few travelers have experienced.
These include Scoresby Sound, Greenland, home to the largest and longest fjord system in the world and Sermilik Fjord, located in southeastern Greenland, renowned for the many icebergs that flow from multiple glaciers at its head into the Denmark Strait.
For the first time, Seabourn will add the Falkland Islands to its destination list. These outer, remote and wind-swept islands are home to nearly 65% of all black-browed albatrosses on the planet. Based on the day’s weather and most favorable anchorage positions, Seabourn Venture may also call at remote Saunders Island; Steeple Jason Island; West Point Island; and New Island.
Of course, the highlight for many guests is the wildlife, including the penguins in the Antarctic and the polar bears in the Arctic.
How important is expedition cruising to Seabourn?
Demand for expedition travel by luxury travelers has been growing and continues to grow. We saw it first-hand when we launched our voyages to Antarctica back in 2013. The success of that season led to the decision to return every year since, and the sailings have been a great success.
That success led us to develop the Ventures by Seabourn program of expedition-style shore experiences using Zodiacs and kayaks, which have grown to operate in a number of global destinations such as Alaska and British Columbia, Northern Europe, Australia and New Zealand.
Two, new purpose-built expedition ships build upon the success of our Ventures by Seabourn program, which has given thousands of guests the opportunity to explore destinations in a more meaningful way. Seabourn Venture (currently operating) and Seabourn Pursuit (set for delivery in September 2023), will offer an active, luxury expedition product that is unlike anything on the market today.
These expedition ships and itineraries are especially designed to appeal to travelers who may typically choose a land-based experience, such as a safari. Expedition ships position Seabourn well to attract new-to-cruise guests. Expedition travel is of keen interest to many people in their late 30s and up.
What can guests expect on an expedition trip?
There are only 264 guests on board in 132 suites plus 26 expedition team members to serve those guests, nearly one for every 10 guests. There are 24 Zodiacs on the ships so guests can experience landings or go kayaking and snorkeling.
There are eight different dining options and facilities like the Bow Lounge, where closeup live feeds of wildlife up to four nautical miles away can be projected on the big screen for the ultimate wildlife experience.
Some remote destinations are best seen or only accessible by ship. These ships are designed to go anywhere in the world, with reinforced steel hulls, which allow them to go through ice that measures five feet thick.
What are some of the most popular Seabourn ports?
With the new expedition ships, Seabourn opted to return to the brand’s roots of smaller, more intimate and purpose-built ships with no more than 264 guests. Because of their size, Seabourn ships often share harbors with private yachts and dock in the heart of town allowing our guests to visit less-populated locations that few travelers have the opportunity to explore.
Among the more popular smaller ports include: Misty Fjords in Alaska; Sete, France; Jost van Dyke, British Virgin Islands; Spetsai, Greece; and Lipari, Italy.
How does Seabourn’s loyalty program work?
Seabourn Club awards members with “Sailed Day” credits (each day sailed earns one credit). For every 140 credits earned, members earn a free cruise of up to 7 nights. Or they can choose to wait until achieving 250 credits to redeem for a free cruise of up to 14 nights.
The program also offers Milestone Awards with special Tiffany & Co. gifts at an onboard when guests reach different milestones. These start with 100 “Sailed Day” credits and increase all the way to 2,500 credits.
There is an elite status program that is based on a points system. Members earn points in many ways. Each day sailing earns one point, and those in a penthouse or premium suite earn double points per day. Members also earn one bonus point for every night on an escorted Seabourn Journey (land-based itinerary) as well as for every $500 of eligible onboard and pre-cruise online spend.
Elite tiers range from Silver to Diamond Elite and include perks like onboard discounts, free laundry, spa services and premium spa access, suite upgrades or welcome amenities.
What is the hiring and training process for staff?
One of Seabourn’s hallmarks is the amazing team members and the personalized service they deliver to guests, including name recognition and remembering individual preferences. Seabourn’s New Hire College for shipboard team members helps them develop practical skills and learn about the brand. The onboard program blends classroom with on-the-job training focused on performance and service standards.
To reinforce the culture, there is also a management-led, virtual coffee hour for all levels of staff to discuss the core values to operate safely, to protect the environment, to deliver “Seabourn moments” and to support each other.
What is the “caviar in the surf” experience?
The “caviar in the surf” experience involves fully uniformed staff wading through the water with trays of champagne and caviar to the applause of everyone. It’s a unique experience for guests sailing to the Caribbean. While they were already able to enjoy champagne and caviar on a private beach, Seabourn takes it to another level.
Having team members wade in the water in uniform and serve guests has been incredibly popular with both guests and team members since it’s such a memorable experience.
What changes has Seabourn made in recent years?
There were many changes to the onboard experience including developing more than 300 new recipes with many healthier and lighter options. Pre-dinner happy hours now feature a new menu of small bites that changes daily. Breakfast at the Patio also features a refreshed menu including more vegetarian, vegan and plant-based options.
There are new production shows, including a Latin American-inspired show aboard Seabourn Ovation showcasing the dances and music of the region, and a classical concert on deck during sail away events aboard Seabourn Serenade. Other changes include a new two-person housekeeping team to service each guest suite (replacing the solo stewardess position).
Enhanced Wi-Fi on board is another change. It involved tripling the bandwidth so that guests could enjoy unlimited, free access during their sailing. There’s also a new app provides passengers with the daily program, the ability to make restaurant, spa and excursion reservations, and a streamlined check-in program. Muster station drills are now electronic, eliminating the need to attend an onboard drill.