Seabourn is the most upscale brand coming under the umbrella of the vast Carnival Corporation, operating four (soon to be five) sleek, yacht-like ships.
Three of them – Seabourn Odyssey, Seabourn Sojourn and Seabourn Quest – carry 458 passengers each in unfettered luxury, while in 2017, the slightly larger Seabourn Encore (carrying 600) joined the fleet, building on the success of her smaller sisters and adding even more features. Her twin, Seabourn Ovation, arrives in 2018.
Seabourn’s trademarks include sumptuous, all-inclusive accommodation with some of the finest dining at sea and an open bar. On a Seabourn ship, the pool attendants come round to polish your sunglasses, while your cabin steward will stock your minibar with your favourite tipple and the bartender will remember your name from your last voyage. The service on-board is second to none: friendly, unobtrusive and intuitive.
Several other features distinguish Seabourn from other luxury lines, not least the layout of each ship. Seabourn Square forms the heart of each vessel, doing away with the formality of a reception area and replacing it with a buzzing coffee shop, library, internet centre and concierge lounge, a feature I love. Each ship has a water sports platform at the stern and a hidden stash of water toys, from stand-up paddle boards to kayaks. There is an excellent guest speaker programme, Seabourn Conversations, bringing on board luminaries from the worlds of politics, science and the arts, while a new initiative, Ventures by Seabourn, combines talks from a dedicated expedition team with wildlife watching and adventurous excursions in the ships’ Zodiac inflatables, or by kayak.
So who will you meet on board? Seabourn regulars, for sure; there are high numbers of repeat guests. Mainly couples (including gay couples – Seabourn is a very gay-friendly line), some singles and in summer, a few families. Passengers tend to be over 40 (and generally well-heeled, as this is far from a budget product), cultured and well-travelled. There is quite a glamorous vibe, too. While the nightlife isn’t wild, there is dancing every night in The Club and on most cruises, a fantastic deck party.
Seabourn’s ships sail all over the world, including Antarctica on Seabourn Quest, which has an ice-strengthened hull, and otherwise offering anything from seven-night Mediterranean and Caribbean voyages to extended explorations, some of more than 150 days – the last word in indulgence.