Seabourn senior vice-president, global sales & marketing, Chris Austin, explains why the line’s new luxury expedition ships will elevate the brand to a whole new level.
What destinations have been popular with Seabourn guests this year?
Australia, Vietnam and Thailand are very popular with our UK guests.
You recently extended your partnership with UNESCO – can you provide a bit more detail?
We have been working closely with UNESCO World Heritage for a number of years and this tie-up with them will give Seabourn an exclusive partnership for a further five years.
This will allow us to give our guests more unique and exciting excursions to 170 of their sites, with many trips before other tourists get there. We are being allowed easy access to many of the sites alongside great experts including archaeologists. We are very proud and excited about this initiative.
How do you think Seabourn is perceived by its guests?
They understand that we are offering them a bespoke six-star experience both on and off board. They realise that they are getting an ultra-luxury travel experience on an all-inclusive basis.
What else are you excited about?
In August this year we introduced the chance for our guests to travel on private planes by Seabourn Private Air. This is the perfect addition to our ultra-luxury offering.
It provides guests with the chance to charter a private plane as part of their holiday. They can arrange this through their travel advisor. This will be an exciting extra for travel agents to sell.
And you have two new expedition ships launching…
We always listen to our guests and over the years they have told us that they would love to do some expedition cruising with us. So we are building two new ultra-luxury expedition ships that will offer our legendary service. This feels like a natural evolution of the brand.
We are launching our first polar-class ship, Seabourn Venture, in 2021. This will be very special as it will only carry 264 guests, so it will be an amazing experience. We’ve had such a great response to these new ships – the itineraries we have on offer will be real bucket-list trips.
What can we expect to see on board?
We will have 24 zodiacs on the ship and two amazing battery-powered submarine that will take guests 300 metres below the surface. I’m so excited about Seabourn Venture – it’s going to be a real James Bond experience. We are also incredibly excited about the interiors.
Top interiors expert Adam D Tihany has done an amazing job. The suites and public areas look like the world’s best ski chalets and we think our guests will love this. It’s real ‘chalet chic’. The suites are so well laid out – they even have heated wardrobes. We are particularly proud of the two-storey suite with a Grand Winter Garden.
What trends do you think we’ll be seeing in cruise in the next 12 months?
There’s a real buzz in the new-to-cruise sector and we are seeing a lot of people who have never cruised before booking a Seabourn cruise. Younger people are also getting on board, too – I think Instagram has a lot to do with this.
There’s also a real appetite for shorter cruises. Our seven-day itineraries are particularly popular, especially our seven-day cruises to Alaska with no repeat ports. In Europe, cruises to Greece and Turkey are proving to be really popular with guests telling us they love the history-rich cities of Istanbul and Athens.
There’s also a trend for cruises that stay overnight in ports so guests can enjoy the excitement of the destination, plus there’s a demand for round-the-world cruises too. Our 146-day cruise from Miami to San Francisco has been incredibly popular.
Looking into your crystal ball, what do you see coming next?
Younger, affluent travellers don’t want to compromise when they book a holiday, which is why ultra-luxury cruises like those that Seabourn offer will appeal to them. They are also interested in travelling to bucket-list destinations, so our new expedition ships will appeal to them.
For more information on Seabourn, visit seabourn.com.