How is Seabourn positioned in the crowded ‘five star’, some say ‘luxury’ cruise market, globally?
Seabourn is positioned incredibly well in the ultra-luxury cruise category and in luxury hospitality overall. We just celebrated our 30th anniversary in 2018 and are the pioneers who created the small ship ultra-luxury category back in 1988. That legacy, along with the most consistent and newest ultra-luxury fleet in the industry, our revered partnerships with Chef Thomas Keller, Dr. Andrew Weil, Sir Time Rice, Adam Tihany, Molton Brown, and UNESCO, gives us the experience necessary to deliver the finest luxury travel experience available today.
To what extent Is the lower number of accommodations inventory an advantage or a disadvantage?
With “small” resonating with the global affluent consumer, our ship size allows us to access hidden harbours and marquee ports, which is a significant advantage. Today’s luxury traveler places increasing value in experiences they have as they move from place to place throughout the world. The affluent are seeking out travel companies that are emotive, immersive, memorable and that enrich their lives and are tied to their passions. Our size and scale certainly influences the level of dedicated, intuitive service that can be delivered to a luxury guest while on a voyage with Seabourn. We feel our ships – with 228 to 300 suites – are incredibly well-positioned to provide a rich onboard experience that never feels congested or overcrowded.
Your latest cruise ships have benefited from the interior design of reputed interior designed including Adam D. Tihany? How important is to involve such interior designers?
Design is a quality appreciated by many of our guests, whether that is in appreciation of architecture or interior design. We’re proud to work with Adam Tihany, who has such a notable history in the world of hospitality design, creating spaces in a number of iconic luxury properties around the world. Adam has invested his talents on all of our ships, most notably on Seabourn Encore and Seabourn Ovation, where he is responsible for all interior spaces. The magic of a designer like Adam is how he studies the flow of the ship by guests and our staff, creating spaces that are not only beautiful but also highly functional and that create a home away from home for our guests.
What are the cross-over’s with the luxury hotel industry? Are there any common elements?
Certainly there are cross-overs between the Seabourn experience and luxury hotels. In fact, we often say we are the world’s finest ultra-luxury resort at sea that just happens to take guests from place to place. Like most luxury hotel properties around the world, we provide a six-star level of service, the finest in accommodation – all with 100% ocean front views – as well as a variety of delectable culinary venues along with a robust selection of fine wines and spirits.
We have an onboard spa, wellness and fitness center that rivals the finest at any hotel property as well. And guests can find wonderful entertainment through our partnership with Sir Tim Rice or our Seabourn Conversations enrichment lecture program. But the difference between Seabourn and a hotel is this is done in an all-inclusive environment, where many of these amenities are included in the price the guest pays. In most luxury resorts and hotels, a guest will typically pay for their room that may have some added amenities or features, but often a number of activities come at an increased cost, adding to the overall price of the experience. A Seabourn travel experience truly offers tremendous value when compared with land-based travel options.
Which has been your approach towards F&B? What are the key differentiating factors compared to your competition?
Seabourn has always focused on high quality food and beverage offerings since our inception 30 years ago and that effort remains firmly in place today. Our culinary team has consistently been held in high regard, with a reputation for excellence that can compete with many of the finest restaurants in any major city around the world. As we remain focused on consistency, we also look to carefully innovate as well. Our partnership with Michelin-starred Chef Thomas Keller has elevated our culinary offerings even more since the inception of The Grill by Thomas Keller back in 2015. In 2018, we brought homemade artisanal gelato to our fleet, as well as a new dinner concept, Earth + Ocean at The Patio, with a diverse menu of dishes created with global influences. Travelers will also find a wide array of complementary fine wines and spirits available as well, along with a healthy selection of premium wines and spirits available for an additional charge. When you combine this philosophy with an array of dining venues that allow guests to dine whenever they want with whomever they want, the result is something quite special.
What is your comp set? Is it only made of cruise-liners or also luxury super-yacht charters, similarly to what Airbnb has brought to the hospitality sector?
Our competitive set is traditionally comprised of the ultra-luxury cruise category; those brands that truly deliver the finest in service and accommodation. Many brands say they are luxury but those claims are perhaps subjective in the eyes of the consumer. Over the past few years we have increasingly viewed luxury resorts and hotels in our competitive set as part of a deliberate effort to attract more new to cruise guests. Statistically speaking, an estimated 30 million people will cruise in 2019 out of a total of 1.5 billion travelers worldwide. That presents an enormous opportunity to bring many new travelers over to our form of travel and hospitality. Once they experience it, we feel they will be hooked and want to return at some point in the future.
Recently, luxury hotel brand have launched cruise-line offerings. What is your take on this?
We welcome competition when it presents opportunities for the cruise market as a whole to attract new guests. Amidst that competitive environment, we’re very confident that the level of experience luxury travelers have come to know from Seabourn will remain an attractive reason to return to one of our ships time and again.
How important is the consumer profile and the offering in terms of itineraries? Does a certain consumer target prefer a particular region / area for cruising? Is there also an ‘adventure’ spirit?
Today’s luxury traveler is seeking out experiences in many places around the world. Some are old favorites, well-traveled with reason to return, and others are new or emerging. Even the savviest traveler has places they have yet to visit and we continuously try to seek out new and notable destinations in all corners of the world. For example, in 2018 we were the first line to have a scheduled port call to the island of Lanai in Hawaii, with its volcanic terrain and lush green tropical surroundings. Our guests also have an adventurous spirit with a willingness to get out and see destinations up close through programs such as our Ventures by Seabourn optional for-charge expedition style excursions. That program has been so successful that Seabourn will also be entering the expedition cruise category with two dedicated purpose-built ultra-luxury expedition ships set to be delivered in 2021 and 2022 respectively.
More from LEADERS
In conversation with Philipp Weghmann, EVP of Europe for Preferred Hotels & Resorts (Exclusive interview)
1. How has your company performed in 2018 and what are your expectations for 2018? 2018 proved to be an excellent …
The Cheval Blanc Hotel Collection is defined as an “experiential luxury” under the dedicated LVMH Hotel Management division. Tell us …
In conversation with Martin Rinck, EVP and global head of Hilton’s Luxury & Lifestyle Group (Exclusive Interview)
How is the luxury portfolio of Hilton structured? In my role as executive vice president and global head of Hilton’s Luxury …