Following a short four-day voyage on Seabourn Venture, Seabourn marketing manager Carly Perkins speaks to Gary Peters about her experience on board and why it’s a new era for the brand.
Picture the scene. A new ultra-luxury expedition ship, the Caribbean sun shining down. “The weather was warm, so it was a mixture of expedition and sunshine,” says Carly Perkins.
“It was a great opportunity to see Seabourn Venture. It’s most beautiful ship I’ve ever seen in all the 30 years I’ve worked in cruise.”
That’s some statement, however those who have followed the story of Seabourn Venture – from initial conception to launch this year – will not be overly surprised.
The first purpose-built luxury expedition vessel for Seabourn carries all the hallmarks of the line’s first-class service and sleek design of its ocean fleet, with touches of its own uniqueness to ensure it stands out among the crowd.
One place on board that Perkins enjoyed in particular was the Expedition Lounge. “You’ve got the faux fire, beautiful furniture with lovely fluffy cushions and things like that,” she says.
“It becomes a very cosy retreat from the rest of the world where I can imagine guests will sit and talk about their expeditions and what they’ve been doing during the day.
“There is also lots of deck space to enjoy looking at the scenery, and, in my case in the Caribbean, enjoy the sunshine. However, in the polar regions, having that deck space is an advantage because guests can get out on deck and see everything for themselves.”
Perkins also highlights the people on board, making Seabourn Venture more than just pleasing to the eye.
She explains: “The 26-strong expedition team makes all the difference. They are everywhere around the ship to chat to.
“They have so much knowledge and information, which they are happy to impart to guests. That really that adds to the expedition experience.”
Reaching more people
Seabourn Venture will be joined by sister ship Pursuit, launching in October 2023, and the two vessels offer the opportunity for the line to expand its reach and attract not only loyal Seabourn clients and other luxury cruise passengers, but also non-cruise travellers.
“We’re trying to teach travel agents to go to their expedition guests, people who go on safaris, or adventure holidays, who want that learning and that enrichment from going to the polar regions, for example, and seeing remote destinations in the most immersive way possible,” says Perkins.
“Long term, expedition is about attracting those people who haven’t thought about cruise yet, who don’t think they want to go on a cruise – they want to go on an expedition and an adventure.”
Having only departed for its maiden voyage at the end of July, it’s early days for Seabourn Venture, but the initial signs are very promising, with “fantastic” guest feedback, says Perkins.
Seabourn, has to date, been unable to get many agent partners out to see the ship, but Perkins says agents will be able to get on board in the future. Next spring, the ship will also be in Greenwich and Dublin.
She continues: “This year has been an opportunity to show many travel agents our ocean ships, so we’ve done a lot of fam trips to educate agents and allow them to experience, for themselves, their own Seabourn moments. We can do that with expedition in the future.
“We are looking to work with new agent partners who don’t necessarily have ocean cruise guests but do sell adventure,” says Perkins. “Our business development team is working hard to talk to those partners.”
New beginnings for Seabourn
Those conversations will no doubt focus on the fact that Seabourn Venture and Pursuit do very much represent a new era for Seabourn.
“We have always been at the front of looking at new markets and new innovations with our products,” says Perkins. “[Our] expeditions we started in 2013 when Quest went down to Antarctica, so we have that experience of creating and selling an expedition product.”
Change is also in the air when it comes to the internal processes at the line. The restructure of Holland America Line and Seabourn will see Perkins, and others, take on dedicated roles with Seabourn.
Perkins explains: “It means that the two brands sitting under Carnival Corporation will be separate, so there’ll be more focus and a dedicated team that can help agents to promote those brands.
“We are looking forward to the exclusive focus on Seabourn and I think that will mean that we can delve deeper. It’s been a good year; we’ve grown and we’re in a good position.”