A series of innovations, refinements and enhancements now offered by Seabourn have been wowing guests since the ultra-luxury cruise line restarted operations in Greece in early July this year.
Seabourn Ovation resumed service in the Mediterranean following the pandemic pause with a collection of roundtrip sailings from Athens for fully vaccinated guests, through until mid-October, while Seabourn Odyssey has been offering southern Caribbean itineraries out of Barbados since mid-July. This past week has seen Seabourn Ovation reposition to Miami where she will now sail to destinations in the Caribbean, Panama, Mexico and Central America until March 2022.
According to Gerald Mosslinger, SVP of Guest Operations at Seabourn, returning guests have been floored by the fine-tuning that’s taken place – most of which have very little, if anything, to do with pandemic protocols.
Seabourn’s elevation in guest experience spans entertainment, technology, housekeeping, health and safety and, food & beverage – a topic Mosslinger knows intimately. The Seabourn executive of 16 years was named a Fellow by the Culinary Institute of America four years ago and prior to entering the cruise-sphere, he served as regional vice president for LA-based Joachim Splichal’s Patina Restaurant Group. Before that, he was in catering and events. Now, he continues to cook but “just for relaxation at home,” he tells LATTE.
Mosslinger says the shake-up of Seabourn’s Food and Beverage offering is in line with delivering “the ultimate guest experience”.
“We are always looking at ways we can make the experience for our guests better when they’re on board. This really is the mantra from everyone who works onboard a Seabourn ship. How can we anticipate the guests’ needs?
“We call it ‘intuitive service’. Our team knows things guests will want before the guest actually wants them,” Mosslinger said.
He said the company evaluated where and how improvements could be made, or tweaked.
“One prime example is breakfast on the patio. It’s an area on the pool deck that is underutilised in the morning. Guests generally don’t start using the pool until 9:30 – 10 o’clock in the morning. But yet, it’s the perfect option for people to sit outside and enjoy an al fresco breakfast.”
Mossinger said lighter fare including vegan and vegetarian dishes were introduced to the menu here, along with fresh juices, smoothies and protein powders, “because at the end of the day, it’s all about choice for the guest. And for me, luxury is choice.” Guests will also continue to find the classic dishes on the menu.
“It’s a lovely new option. When I was on board, just sitting there having a coffee, grabbing a little bite to eat – something that we call the ‘Super Bowl’: quinoa, avocado, peppers – it’s absolutely delicious! – it gets the day started in the right way.”
Seabourn’s ‘club bites’ have also been revamped. There’s a selection of canapes that change daily, such as savoury-filled macarons to caviar in cones, that are available in the Club lounge which provides both indoor and outdoor seating, overlooking the stern of the ship.
“It’s a very relaxing and inviting atmosphere and offers guests a little something before they go to dinner.”
Mosslinger suggests the outdoor dining option wasn’t influenced by the pandemic but because people wanted to be out in the fresh air.
“I think we would have done that anyway as part of the evolution of the product. What you need to keep in mind is that Seaborn has one of the largest space-to-guest ratios in the entire industry. So it wasn’t necessarily just looking because of COVID that people want to be outside.”
Along with continuously revamping the shows offered aboard Seabourn’s ships, the Virtuoso-preferred cruise line has introduced what Mosslinger refers to as “entertainment surprises”.
One example is Seabourn’s entertainers singing opera outdoors on the deck above the pool when the ship sails away from port.
Mosslinger explains: “Departing Rhodes, a beautiful Greek port where you are in the old town and overlooking the ruins of old Greece is memorable in itself. But pulling out of that historical area with our team aboard singing opera, as the sun sets, is next level. Everybody gave them a standing ovation, and that’s not because people were standing already. All those around the pool sitting stood up to applaud. It was insane and just thinking back it gives you goosebumps.
“It’s all about those experiences. What we are trying to give the guests. Sometimes it’s not just the big shows that we do.”
Seabourn will aim to deliver similar operatic performances into itineraries around the globe.
He recounts another example of newlyweds among an intimate number of guests being entertained in the Observation Bar late one night by the resident pianist when a guest pianist, scheduled to perform later in the voyage, paired up for an impromptu show.
“It was already late in the evening but it was absolutely magnificent – the guests and these newlyweds who were celebrating their 10-day anniversary. She requested a song and then both piano players played in unison and one sang. It was such a magical moment.”
“It’s those sorts of experiences that we are creating, beyond the production shows there for everyone, that we refer to as a “Seabourn Moment”. Any act, big or small that is customised for the guest, which they will never forget.”
“Look at me. I’ve worked with the brand for 16 years and I think back to that, and I’m getting goosebumps again!” he enthused.
On the tech front, Seabourn introduced a new mobile app for guests when the brand resumed from its operational pause in July dubbed the Seabourn Source. Available for iPhone and Android devices, the app provides a full suite of tools to make the cruise experience more seamless. Features and services are available to assist with planning a voyage and while on a cruise.
Guests can access digital boarding passes to expedite the pier embarkation process, obtain details of what’s happening aboard the ship on a daily basis, book dinner reservations, be sent alerts as to when a spa treatment is coming up, chat with fellow guests, and one Mosslinger is particularly excited about, the ability to order a coffee from Seabourn Square’s coffee-house, directly from the app.
“It’s a lot of fun and a great way to start the day.
“Now instead of getting up in the morning and going to the Square and ordering your coffee in person, you can be laying in bed and order your drink straight from the app, and it’ll be there for you waiting.
“To be honest, it’s a little gimmicky almost, but it works and when guests find out how to use it they think it’s super cool,” he says. And the turnaround time is almost instant. Mosslinger put it to practice himself aboard.
“I tried it a couple of times and I wanted to see if they were paying attention. I was hiding in the Square around the corner. My order printed out for them right there and then and the barista was quick to react and my coffee was ready to go within minutes,” Mosslinger quipped.
Stay tuned to LATTE for more from Mosslinger on some of Seabourn’s other enhancements and innovations.
With two ships already back in service, Seabourn recently brought forward the return of Seabourn Encore by two months to 19 February 2022. Seabourn Encore will operate a series of new 10- and 11-day itineraries to the Canary Islands and the Mediterranean roundtrip from Lisbon, Portugal over the northern winter and spring.