Travel advisors get educated on cruise vs expedition

Seabourn's Robin West, Head of Expeditions, hosts MasterClass on expedition

Seabourn gave travel partners and advisors in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney the chance to hear from the ultra-luxury cruise line’s Vice President and General Manager of Expeditions, Robin West, who was in Australia last week on a whirlwind visit.

West, who is based outside of Amsterdam, has been heavily involved with bringing Seabourn’s expedition fleet to life over the past five years. The first ship, Seabourn Venture, commenced operation in the Arctic in late July 2022. Her sister ship, Seabourn Pursuit, will begin operation in October 2023 [and cruise the Kimberley in 2024], he revealed.

Some 60 travel partners had the chance to hear from West during a presentation in Sydney on Thursday night at the Park Hyatt. That followed a high-tea event earlier in the day, and other events in Brisbane on Tuesday and in Melbourne on Wednesday.

Seabourn Venture in the Arctic a few weeks ago | Source: Seabourn/Facebook

West’s presentation outlined key differences between cruise and expeditions, and how Seabourn is targeting the next generation of high-net-worth travellers with its new ships, as well as how the cruise line has found a niche within a cluttered luxury expedition space.

“When you go on a cruise ship, the pace of the holiday is controlled by you.”

“When you go on an expedition ship, the pace of the holiday is controlled by nature, the wildlife, the ice, the expedition leader, and all the activities that are taking place,” he explained to a captive audience.

Seabourn Venture has 132 suites catering for 264 guests. Onboard are a fleet of 24 Zodiacs, two submarines, eight two-person kayaks, as well as snorkelling and scuba gear for tropical expeditions.

Its ice-class hull, bow thrusters and azipods are designed to enable the ship operate in any condition around the world.

“[Seabourn] Venture has an autonomy of up to 21 days, meaning the ship can operate and be totally isolated for three weeks without requiring any shoreside support,” he said.

Robin West, Head of Expeditions, Seabourn

“That autonomy gives us the ability and flexibility to operate in really remote regions.”

“Zodiacs, kayaks, hiking, wildlife is what draws many people to expedition and it also determines where expedition vessels sail,” West said.

“Three months in the Arctic, three months in the Antarctic in ice environments looking for wildlife on the move on the ice: sea ice, fast ice, glacial ice.”

West said Zodiacs are “the foundation of any expedition vessel, and we have a fleet of 24 aboard Seabourn Venture, utilised every day – if not twice a day (in the morning and afternoon).”

He said Zodiacs are crucial when there are no piers, jetties or infrastructure, providing the means to take guests ashore for activities such as guided hikes with Seabourn Venture‘s crew of 26 expedition team members. Those expedition leaders specialise in various topics such as geology, ornithology and glaciology, providing guests with the interpretation of what they are experiencing or seeing.

Expedition Lounge, Seabourn Venture

Back onboard Seabourn Venture, it’s those expedition leaders that give live presentations, lectures, re-caps and briefings.

Onboard, luxury abounds. Learn more about Seabourn Venture‘s public spaces and lounges, bars and restaurants, suites and ‘toys’ in LATTE‘s previous ‘Ship of the Month’ editorial features on the links.

On a recent voyage, as Seabourn Venture was carving its way effortlessly through ice, and while standing on the bow, West said a guest beside him provided some fantastic feedback on his experience aboard the still new expedition ship.

He said “I’m up at 82 degrees North, breaking through 1-metre thick ice with a glass of champagne in my hand. I expected nothing less from Seabourn.”

West told his audience in Sydney, “that comment captured what we really wanted – to design a vessel that there is no compromise in the onboard luxury component and the off-ship expedition experience.”

Find out more about Seabourn’s ‘Extraordinary Expeditions’ here.

Lead image: Pictured from left at the Park Hyatt Sydney event are Seabourn representatives – Andrew Thwaites, Robin West, Catherine Rynd, Ryan Taibel, Jennifer Compton, Anastasia Kotanidis, Rebecca Crankston, Liz Simbaqueba, Helen Courias and Rob Graham.

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