This week the President of Seabourn, Richard Meadows, discusses exclusively with LATTE the cruise company’s move into the ultra-luxury expedition market. Meadows tells us about the maiden season itineraries, expeditions team and on board submarines and informs us as to how sales have been tracking for the inaugural cruises on board Seabourn Venture in 2021.
Based in Seattle, Meadows has been in charge of Carnival Corporation’s ultra-luxury cruise brand since 2011 and served an additional role as President of Cunard – North America between 2014 and 2016. He is a member of the board of directors for the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) in North America, served on the Washington State Tourism Commission and also serves on the board of directors for Seattle’s Fifth Avenue Theatre.
The launch program for Seabourn’s expedition features 25 immersive voyages spanning destinations including Greenland, Svalbard, Iceland, Arctic Circle, Canadian Maritimes, Antarctica, Falkland Islands, South Georgia, Amazon, Caribbean, Central America and Cape Verde. Itineraries range in length from seven to 22 days, with some back-to-back sailing options stretching to 30 days duration.
Seabourn Venture is expected to enter service in June 2021, while its yet-to-be-named identical sister-ship will launch in May 2022.
How excited are you now that Seabourn Venture is on sale?
We’re very excited to have Seabourn Venture’s itineraries open and for sale. Seabourn Venture is going to be a beautiful ship and a game-changer in both the luxury and expedition cruising segments.
How has the market and Seabourn’s past passengers responded to the release of Seabourn Venture’s sailings? Any surprises?
We’ve received very positive feedback from our guests about these itineraries. The ship is going to many new and fascinating destinations we’ve never been before that will provide guests a trip of a lifetime.
Although early days, have you seen any particular itinerary or destination that’s been more popular than others?
They’ve all been very popular but the first couple of voyages have been in high demand as our guests want to be among the first to sail on the new ship.
Whereabouts in the world are you strong bookings and support coming from?
We’re seeing bookings come in from across the globe – North America, UK and Europe, Australia and other parts of the world.
How has the Australian market responded?
The Australian market has responded favourably to these itineraries with a good amount of bookings coming from this region.
We’re just inside two years out from Seabourn Venture launching, and the steel was only cut two months ago, yet Seabourn has already listed a “Pre-Inaugural” cruise on 5 July 2021 of the English Channel region. Why is that? And is this considered a true expedition sailing?
It is listed as a “pre-inaugural” cruise because it will sail right before the inaugural sailing. This one will operate as a regular voyage like the rest of the sailings.
The ship will have a well-travelled expedition team on board comprised of experienced wilderness experts, scientists, historians and Zodiac operators. On that sailing – like every sailing – there will be a strong focus on shoreside and destination experiences for guests to immerse themselves in the local culture. These activities will be complemented by a high level of academic content delivered by the expedition team, who regularly interact with guests, providing keen insight to deliver a rich holistic travel experience. These fascinating, accomplished experts are also part of the Seabourn Conversations program, providing in-depth insights into the history, ecology and culture of the places they visit. Their valuable insights are offered both in complimentary formal presentations on a variety of topics and in more casual conversations over meals or at leisure.
The 28-day Svalbard, Greenland & Icelandic Sagas departure looks amazing. Can you tell us about some of the highlights and experiences on this itinerary that sets it apart from Seabourn’s traditional style of sailing in this part of the world?
Seabourn Venture will be a very capable, technically advanced expedition ship, and will be able to visit many new destinations and areas, including those on this 28-day voyage. We’ll be able to get closer in and provide more in-depth experiences, led by a stellar 26-person expedition team. The team will also give us the flexibility to take all guests on a Zodiac tour at once should we only have a small weather window to show guests a particular site. Ultimately the size of our team allows us to deliver on destination experiences that would otherwise be lost without this capability.
Another experience that is unique on this itinerary from our traditional style of sailing in this part of the world are the two six-person submarines that will be on Seabourn Venture. We should be able to accommodate quite a few guests on the submarines in a single day of operations based on our current planning, so all guests should have the opportunity to experience the subs in the course of an itinerary. The subs will be an optional activity available for charge. Submarine operations are weather dependent but, provided the weather is good, we are very confident in being able to deliver this incredible, once-in-a-lifetime experience to all guests. Being able to explore the underwater world in the polar regions will be one of the most “expedition” activities a guest could possibly do, keeping in mind that more than 80% of the ocean is unmapped, unobserved and unexplored according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Find out more about Seabourn Expeditions program at seabourn.com/en_US/expeditions.html