With its expedition ships, Seabourn reaches for a new demographic

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Kayak guide Santiago Stabile, ringed by a production team, talking to Seabourn Venture guests ahead of an excursion in St. Kitts.
Kayak guide Santiago Stabile, ringed by a production team, talking to Seabourn Venture guests ahead of an excursion in St. Kitts. Photo Credit: Andrea Zelinski

ABOARD THE SEABOURN VENTURE -- Seabourn Cruise Line is gearing up for the 2023 Wave season, working on one of its largest media productions in recent years. 

The cruise line is planning a slate of television commercials along with content on YouTube and social media, targeting first-time cruisers and cruisers who have never sailed with Seabourn, said Karen Thomas, Seabourn's senior director of brand and external communications. 

Under the brand's theme of "This is your moment," the content will focus on what guests will experience on its expedition ships, whether on polar or nonpolar voyages. 

While Seabourn's target market is generally affluent people ages 45 to 65, Seabourn is also targeting the adventurous traveler age 35 and up for its new expedition product. The Venture is Seabourn's first expedition vessel, and sister ship Seabourn Pursuit is due out in 2023. 

"We're opening up a whole new audience to Seabourn, which is really great," said Steve Smotrys, Seabourn's vice president of global sales and trade relations. 

The challenge is Seabourn is not alone as a new entrant to in expedition cruising, he said. "We have to keep telling our own story of how we're different, unique in this space and that we are full expedition."

The media production comes as part of a Q4 effort by Carnival Corp., Seabourn's parent company, to beef up marketing to drive Wave season demand. 

Thomas said the line expects the next Wave season to approach normalcy, aided by the dropping of Covid testing and vaccination regulations. 

Aboard the Venture on a 10-day sailing from Newfoundland to Barbados, film crews have fanned out to capture content not only from the ship but from excursions, including underwater videos from The Baths in Virgin Gorda on Sunday. 

Big swings in booking volume

Bookings this summer were "interesting," said Smotrys. Some months were "through the roof, like all-time highs," then bookings would suddenly slow, then climb again, he said. "I think we're all trying to navigate this new economy and this new world, but the optimism is really high." 

Asked how the economy has affected booking behavior, he said, "It's hard to tell. It's a strange time right now because I think anytime you get a macro market or people feel it, there's an initial knee-jerk reaction but at the end of the day, luxury guests are going to go on their vacation," he said. "So you'll see those little blips and then it comes back a month later or something like that."

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