Vanessa Lee, Publisher of Cruise and Travel Lifestyles Magazine, sat down recently with Rick Meadows, president of Seabourn at the company’s Seattle offices to learn more about the expansion of the brand and other new initiatives. 

Seabourn EncoreCourtesy of Seabourn

Q: Rick, I am thrilled about Seabourn’s expansion with the coming of two new yachts. Can you share some of the news?

The arrival of Seabourn Encore goes back, in fact, to the three highly successful Odyssey Class vessels launched in 2009, 10 and 11 respectively. At that time, we increased the size of our ships to accommodate 450 guests – a move that was very well received by our repeat cruisers. Those ships delivered so well with the new venues and the extra space, that when we looked at how to grow, we decided to build a similar ship with an extra deck to accommodate more guests and suites, and an expanded dining experience. 

Q: Can you tell us more about the new Seabourn Encore’s shipboard design?

Seabourn Encore will launch in December of 2016 with capacity for 600 guests. We have the renowned hospitality designer, Adam D. Tihany designing every aspect of the ship - a first for us - and we feel he’s the perfect partner. He knows the minds of luxury consumers and has sailed with us to see how the guests interact with each other and with the ship. He has designed the space with the senses of the guests in mind. The ship will feel like a super-yacht with clean lines, high-gloss wood and sleek modern style – a very current look – and little changes will open up the onboard space. Adam has done an incredible job of moving us along in the design process.

Seabourn Encore_WintergardenCourtesy of Seabourn

 

Q: What else can you unveil for us?

We will have some amenity changes and will be announcing new partnerships soon. We care about all the small touches and points and will enhance these fleet-wide. Our suites are so popular that we won’t make many changes other than adding new, interactive TV systems and such things as more plentiful electrical plugs and USB ports . The suites will also be a little more colorful than those on the Odyssey Class and will have more pop. The marble bathrooms will continue to have two sinks, a shower and a separate tub.

Q: You recently announced a very impressive new partnership with Celebrity chef and restaurateur Thomas Keller of Per Se and French Laundry fame. Our readers would love to know more about Seabourn’s plans there.

Thomas Keller_Rick MeadowsCourtesy of Seabourn

We started speaking with Chef Keller a few years ago and found him very relationship-oriented and aware of his partners. It has been an amazing experience to see how he and his team look at the world through a culinary lens - his sense of detail and exactness is amazing. From the cooking to the plating of the food and the service - he has an end-to-end vision for delivering fine food. Thomas is truly an authentic master and all his accolades are well-deserved. We have been testing dishes onboard the Odyssey and also planning the bespoke restaurant that will open soon on Seabourn Quest. Thomas Keller has an incredible concept for the new signature restaurant on Seabourn Encore and her sister ship, Seabourn Ovation (launching in 2018) and as Adam Tihany has designed Chef Keller’s restaurant Per Se, there has been no introduction needed between them. These are two of the best at what they do and this will be showcased on the Encore.

Q: How would you describe the traits of a typical Seabourn guest?

We find that experiences are more important than ever and our guests want to be collectors of those experiences. We’ve been able to attract luxury traveler guests who are new both to cruising and to Seabourn and we’re working hard to deliver those special Seabourn moments. People don’t just want to accumulate ‘stuff’ - they really want to see the world and have authentic, enriching experiences.  

Q: Can you tell us about the Adventures by Seabourn program and your partnership with UNESCO?

These are great examples of the kind of offerings Seabourn can provide to our guests as we deliver an authentic destination experience. We looked at organizations that could help us with access and go deeper and we found that UNESCO was a perfect choice. Our guests want to give back and help preserve and promote sustainable tourism and this has become a great platform. Our guests’ travels with Seabourn will be enhanced by deeper insight during visits to World Heritage Sites.

With our success in sailing in Antarctica on Seabourn Quest, we realized that our guests want the adventure of going to incredible places but they also want luxury. So they wouldn’t have to choose one over the other, we started Adventures by Seabourn. We’ll be expanding the program with the extra things that luxury travelers want to see and do, including having incredible speakers on ornithology, glaciology and more.

Q: How will the bigger size of Seabourn Encore affect some of our favorite places on board?

Seabourn GrillCourtesy of Seabourn

The Patio Grill will be a much larger area with more deck space and a lot of shade. The main restaurant will have a grand piano so we’ll be able to offer dinner dancing there on one night during each cruise. The Seabourn Square and café - redesigned somewhat by Adam D. Tihany - have been expanded and will offer new services. The Club is going to be spectacular and the design of the library will change. Another favorite - the Observation Lounge - will be bigger and there will be a sushi restaurant on Deck 8 and, of course, the popular Colonnade for casual dining on Deck 9.

Originally published in Cruise & Travel Lifestyles Winter/Spring 2016 issue.

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