Seabourn Cruise Line (www.seabourn.com) has signed a contract with Italian shipyard Fincantieri to construct a new, all-suite 40,350-ton vessel. It’s the latest news in the line’s fleet modernization effort that began in 2009 with the launch of Seabourn Odyssey.
Seabourn had indicated back in October that it had signed a letter of intent to build a new ship, but today's announcement finalized the order.
Seabourn Sojourn followed in 2010 and Seabourn Quest in 2011. While based on those popular Odyssey-class ships, the new 604-passenger vessel also will feature one additional deck and new expanded public areas. The ship is scheduled for delivery in mid-2016.
Seabourn said the design will maintain Seabourn's high ratio of space per guest and enable highly personalized service by nearly one staff member per guest. Every suite will have a private veranda.
From a trade perspective, “the most important thing for a seller of luxury cruises like Cruises Etc. is to have great product, so I am thrilled that Seabourn is going to add another ship to their fleet,” Ruth Turpin, the agency's owner, Fort Worth, TX, told Travel Agent. “They are a quality luxury line and our clients love this product. I feel that this will appeal to past cruisers as well as new to Seabourn clients.”
Drew Daly, vice president of sales performance, CruiseOne and Cruises Inc., Fort Lauderdale, FL, said the news was exciting for the travel agency community because of the luxury sector's growth; that, he said provides more choices for customers and the potential for additional agency earning opportunities. In addition, he said, the announcement "reinforces Seabourn’s commitment to offer a unique luxury experience and a modern fleet to remain competitive in the market segment.”
From the line's perspective, "the new ship will continue the evolution that began with Seabourn's fleet expansion, adding modern design elements and innovations consistent with Seabourn's reputation for understated elegance," said Rick Meadows, Seabourn's president. "With its delivery, the most highly rated cruise line in the world will also offer travelers the newest fleet of ships in the luxury segment."
The vessel will replace capacity that will be reduced when the company's Seabourn Pride, Seabourn Spirit and Seabourn Legend are transferred to new owner Windstar Cruises, which will take delivery of them in April 2014, April 2015, and May 2015, respectively.
Seabourn said its contract with Fincantieri continues a longstanding relationship of more than two decades between its parent company, Carnival Corporation & plc, and the Italian shipbuilder.
Giuseppe Bono, CEO, Fincantieri, said the order was a source of great satisfaction and that now his shipyard is building ships for all the operators in the ultra-luxury segment, which he characterized as "a niche market that has seen strong investments in the past year."
“A new ship always brings great light to a cruise line,” said Michelle Fee, CEO, Cruise Planners-American Express Travel. “To stay competitive, it makes sense that Seabourn is building a new ship since it’s been a few years since they inaugurated the Seabourn Quest. She said that the traveling public is attracted to newer ships and hopefully Seabourn’s new ship launch will get media play to draw consumers’ interest and help drive demand.
Fee also said: "When cruising is in the spotlight in a positive way, the opportunity for travel agents increase, so we think Seabourn’s new ship order will be beneficial to agents.”