Voyages to Australia aboard a brand new SeaDream Yacht Club ship are likely to come to fruition in future years, says the Vice President of International Sales for the superyacht operator, Jannicke Daae Rognstad.
In Sydney this week to meet with industry partners, Rognstad told LATTE the luxury cruise line is coming off its second best year on record. Launched in 2001 with two former Seabourn sister-ships, SeaDream I and SeaDream II, it’s been more than 10 years since the Oslo based company achieved such sales success, pre the 2008 global financial crisis.
The 112-passenger SeaDream I and II are both around 30 years old. The ships annually alternate between the Caribbean (December to March) and the Mediterranean (May to October), chasing the sun, with transatlantic crossings splitting the zones. Sailings generally operate with around 100 guests, and with a crew number of 95, that means a near 1:1 ratio of guests to crew.
SeaDream’s combination of great food, service and its casual yet sophisticated product makes it a hit with a range of audiences. The average age of guests is 50-65, but can fluctuate from 40 to 70. SeaDream also caters for a share of the family market, however there are no kids’ clubs or child-minding facilities.
Being a Norwegian brand, the cruise line is well supported by Europeans (Norwegians, Scandinavians, Benelux countries, Central Europe and Brits) who make up the bulk of passengers for Mediterranean sailings. Australian clientele comprise about 10% of the passenger share. As a single-source market, and considering the Caribbean program, Americans are the largest single source market.
“There is a very good mixture of clientele which makes a good ambience on board. We love having Australians as they mix well with the Europeans and Americans,” Rognstad said.
She said that 2020 has been an “amazing year,” for SeaDream. “This year Australia has have a very good year, and numbers are growing with good revenue.”
Accompanying Rognstad on sales calls yesterday, SeaDream’s Director of Business Development for Australia/New Zealand, Julie Denovan, said forward bookings are strong.
“We’re still seeing interest in 2020 departures. In fact we are seeing more enquiries for 2020 than next year which is unusual. We’re filling up those departures this year that still have space.”
Rognstad said fresh interest in the superyacht class of cruise ship in recent years is good for the market.
“It will increase awareness of having these kind of holidays. Some people aren’t even aware of this style of product. They know about big ships, but not so much the small ship offering. I think it’s good that more companies are getting into the space,” she told LATTE.
Operating a fleet of only two ships does make sailing to Australia difficult, but SeaDream Yacht Club has cruised to local waters previously, stopping in Cairns back in 2014 as part of an Asian program.
Late last year, SeaDream chose to terminate a contract for a third vessel, SeaDream Innovation, with the Damen Shipyards Group, which was slated to launch in 2022. That cancelled vessel had already taken “lots of Australian bookings”, Denovan said, including a client who had booked the Owners Suite for the inaugural 70-odd day sailing. SeaDream Innovation was earmarked to sail to multiple Australian ports.
At the time of the cancellation, SeaDream emphasised that it “hoped” to announce another new ship in 2020.
Rognstad and Denovan remain tight-lipped on the potential third ship and its deployment, however hinted that Australia was an important market. The cruise line is actively looking to expand its local team here, they said.
“We are still planning on announcing new ships so Australia remains a very important market for us,” Rognstad concluded.