Sliding doors bring outdoors in

ONBOARD THE SEABOURN LEGEND -- Few things stir the heart of a cruise marketer more than the B-word: Balcony.

Private balconies have become one of the biggest selling points in recent years, and no new cruise ship is constructed without rows and rows of them lining the sides of the vessel.

But the Seabourn ships were constructed in the late 1980s and early 1990s when ships were built without balconies, and they lack the superstructure necessary to rivet them on.

Instead, the line created "French" balconies -- kind of like a sliding French door in place of a window, with a railing right up against the side of the ship that keeps passengers from falling out.

"Originally, I was suspicious" of the faux-balcony concept, said Richard Meadows, Seabourn's sales and marketing vice president.

But now, he said, he prefers the French balcony.

"You don't have to leave your comfortable suite," he said. "Your living room becomes your veranda, and you don't have to sit on cheap plastic chairs.

"They're absolutely the first cabins to sell," he said. -- R.T.

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For more details on this article, see The Legend: Dress up, dress down, pass the caviar.

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