Seabourn Venture ‘opening up new audience’ for luxury line

Luxury cruise line Seabourn has said its first purpose-built expedition ship, Seabourn Venture, is “opening up a new audience” for the brand.

The ship, which launched in July, has been sailing in the Arctic for its inaugural season and is currently on a repositioning cruise between Newfoundland, Canada, and Barbados.

The 132-suite ship features two custom-built submarines, 24 Zodiacs that can accommodate all onboard guests and a team of 26 expedition experts.

Speaking during a press conference onboard the ship, the line’s vice-president of global sales, Steve Smotrys, said the vessel had “definitely” prompted an increase in new-to-brand guests.

He said: “We have a lot of existing Seabourn guests onboard because we have a lot of hardcore Seabourn fans and whether they have done expedition in the past or not, they wanted to experience the ship.

“We are definitely getting a lot of new-to-Seabourn guests. [Seabourn Venture] is definitely going to open up a new audience for us – those who maybe aren’t big cruisers but expedition is appealing to them. I think there is this great appeal for doing a more adventurous experience but then also having the luxury [element] – it’s like a glamping experience.”

Smotrys was unable to put an exact figure on how many new-to-brand guests the line was seeing but said bookings for both Seabourn Venture and its upcoming sister ship, Seabourn Pursuit, which will join the fleet in 2023, were “going well”.

“There’s a lot of new entrants into the [expedition cruise] space so we have to keep telling the story of how we are unique and that we are full expedition,” he said.

“We started [offering cruises] in Antarctica in 2013 but I think people didn’t put us in the same category as Lindblad Expeditions and Quark Expeditions because they are just expedition. But now we are full expedition in every way so we have to keep telling that story about how we have evolved.”

Smotrys said Seabourn had seen an increase in both direct and trade sales across the fleet, but said the “vast majority” of business still comes from agents.

“In luxury, because it’s high touch, the relationship with the advisor is so important,” he said.

“[Agents] are still far and away where the vast majority [of our business] comes from. Engagement with the travel agent community is higher than ever.”

Asked what makes Seabourn Venture unique in an increasingly busy expedition cruise sector, Smotrys highlighted the ship’s 1:10 ratio of expedition leaders to guests.

“Before you have a question to ask, you have someone anticipating it,” he said. “Having that ratio really matters.”

Onboard guide and featured speaker, Peter Damisch, who has been guiding in remote areas since 1977 and has worked for Seabourn since 2014, said the team on Seabourn Venture had more years of experience than any other team he has worked on in 40 years.

“Our director of expedition and human resources has spent an enormous amount of time trying to find the very best [expedition] leaders who come back again and again, so it’s not just that we have a lot of years of experience in the business and in these remote areas but we have a lot of experience working together as a team,” he said.

“We are an efficient operation, and we are able to identify opportunities [like polar bear and whale sightings] even if they are rapidly coming up. That’s a unique experience. The flexibility, responsiveness, quick reactions and efficiency – you can’t get that anywhere else.”


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