Seabourn Cruise Line revealed the inaugural
itineraries for the Seabourn Odyssey, a 450-passenger ship under
construction in Italy that is slated to launch in summer 2009.
Seabourn CEO Pamela
Conover said the ship would sail out of Venice on June 24, 2009,
for a 14-day cruise to Istanbul before embarking on its second
cruise in the Black Sea.
winter, the ship will be used for Seabourn's first world cruise, a
108-day itinerary that leaves from Fort Lauderdale in January
initially accepted Odyssey reservations from people that were on a
waiting list. Now bookings are open to the
general public. Conover said that in the top category, the 14-day
inaugural trip will cost $49,000 per person, and the lowest price
will be $11,000.
Travel Weekly spoke
with Conover about the Odyssey, a ship that generated so much
excitement among wait-listed customers that they put deposits on a
cruise without even knowing where it was going.
Weekly:What will the Odyssey, the first new-build to
enter the luxury market in six years, be like?
Conover: We are building on the winning
formula and success that we've had in the past. With the increased
space that we have because of the size, we are adding certain
features and trying to provide more options.
The most notable
one, from our perspective, is that 90% of the cabins will have
balconies and each balcony will be 65 square feet. The smallest
suite with its balcony will be 365 square feet, and the Grand Suite
will be 1,400.
TW:You mentioned that you expected
there would be more balcony dining.
Conover: When you cruise in warm weather
and the balconies are so gorgeous and so romantic, we think a lot
of people will take the special occasion to dine on their veranda.
I also think we'll see a spike in people that will want to have
breakfast out there, too. We will prepare out hotel team to meet
TW:What are some other
Conover: The spa, at 8,600 square feet,
will be the largest spa on any luxury ship, with two decks, seven
treatment rooms -- some for couples, some of them indoor-outdoor --
and a first-class gym.
in today's market that you will have a spa. But this is certainly a
very large spa for this size of ship and with this few number of
Dining on Seabourn
is a critical part of the experience. We are going to have
increased dining options and more opportunities to dine outside.
People are becoming more casual and looking for casual
alternatives. When they are in a warm climate, they want to take
advantage of dining outside. We have significantly increased the
size of the indoor/outdoor restaurant, the Colonnade, and dedicated
a patio grill restaurant for outside dining, with steaks and
lobster tails on the grill. That is something we don't have
TW:You said you are
capacity-constrained, and the luxury sector as a whole seems to be,
as well. After Seabourn ordered two ships, other luxury lines
ordered ships. Are you concerned that there could be too much
tonnage coming into the sector?
Conover: I think that the sector is growing
and is very robust. I think the fact that the market is strong,
that we are seeing strong demand and that the booking window is
pushing out is a reflection of that.
There is still a
huge opportunity for us in terms of the luxury travel consumer, to
convince the consumer who's going on a land-based vacation that
they should be trying a luxury cruise.
capacity will give us the ability to try new itineraries. This is
an opportunity to expand the passenger base.
TW:What are some itineraries you will
do with the new ship?
Conover: The Odyssey will give Seabourn the
ability to do a world cruise for the first time. That will take us
places we haven't been before. We haven't announced any further
TW:Why have you not done a world
cruise up to this point?
Conover: The existing ships were really too
small and didn't have the speed to be able to accomplish it within
an appropriate period of time.
TW:How have sales been since you
opened the books?
Conover: Good. We are very
TW:You said most people travel on
Seabourn for its itineraries, yet people put down money for this
ship without concern for where the ship is going.
Conover: The primary reason people book a
cruise is to go to a certain place. They say, "Let's go to Europe
this summer," and then they say, "Let's go on Seabourn."
But there are some
very loyal Seabourn passengers who say, "Where are we going to go
next on Seabourn?" They do it in reverse.
TW:Where do your new passengers come
from? Have they cruised before?
Conover: I don't have specific statistics,
but I guess that most of our guests have cruised before.
We do get some
people for the first time. But in general, they have cruised before
and are coming from the premium and luxury lines.
TW:Do you think Seabourn will get into
Conover: No. The key to the Seabourn brand
is to travel to interesting destinations but to take people there
in a certain style. The expedition products out there offer
something that is somewhat different from the Seabourn product. We
are looking to expand and go to destinations we currently don't go
to, but we'd continue to do it in Seabourn style.
TW:Is luxury cruising compatible with
Conover: That's up for debate. There are
people who want to go on Zodiacs and wear waterproof gear, and
there are other people who don't.
contact reporter Johanna Jainchill, send e-mail to [email protected].