UP CLOSE WITH HISTORY
Earlier this month, luxury cruise line Seabourn celebrated a milestone in the construction of new Seabourn Encore as the ship touched water for the first time. Following a traditional ceremony to commemorate the occasion, Seabourn Encore was “floated out” from her dry dock to enter the next step in the construction process, moving to the outfitting dock at Fincantieri’s Marghera shipyard in Italy. There, the 40,000 ton ship will undergo final construction until delivered at the end of the year. It’s part of the process that every cruise ship goes through on the way to welcoming the first crewmembers and guests onboard and one that reminds us of what’s really important.
It’s an interesting process, the building of ships, and something we take for granted when sailing on them, focused on the side of the ship that passengers see. We know that in restricted ‘crew only’ areas there are things going on to make all the magic happen, but don’t usually think all that much of it, and rightfully so. When everything is ‘ship shape’ and running well, there is nothing quite like a cruise vacation to bring a quality travel experience. We can’t get that on land and the further home is from the sea, the more we appreciate the experience as unique. Growing up in Kansas, we had nothing like it. Not even close. We had lakes and boats but other states had bigger lakes and bigger boats.
We can’t get that feeling in the air, although many travelers enjoy flying with a good airline that treats us well. Learning to fly as a kid in my Dad’s little Cessna plane was fun, but took a lot of work and concentration. It was an enjoyable experience but required active participation to get into the air and stay there. Cruising is a totally different animal, something that should come as no surprise to regular readers here. Pick the right cruise line, ship and itinerary and we’re halfway there to a wonderful vacation. Further define that experience by choosing the right stateroom location and get really lucky on the mix of other passengers on board, some that share a similar background and there you have it: a travel experience that can make a difference in our lives.
As we continue through life, our definition of a good time on a cruise ship has surely changed. Kids grown, races run and settling in on a bit different track, priorities change as they naturally should. During our lifetime, Lisa and I have experienced different cruise lines that were a perfect match and some not so perfect. Each had their own qualities. Some were an easy fit, others we had to work at a bit, but all have value when matched with the right traveler. Now past the “how did I get so old so fast?” moment, we look for something that is a good fit for one of the least respected minority groups in the world: older people.
Seabourn gets that. Perhaps inadvertently but they do. On board Seabourn, like competitors Azamara Club Cruises and new Viking Ocean Cruises, they get that. When the last batch of Seabourn ships were built, ending with 2011’s Seabourn Quest, cruise lines were just getting started on differentiating themselves from one another, even in the luxury segment. It’s been a tough road for many, trying this and that; experimenting, innovating with all aimed to get a firm lock on their target traveler. Seabourn has arrived, transforming the Seabourn Whitney and I sailed in 2011 that was luxuriously wonderful but sort of stuck doing what they had done for quite some time into what they are today; clearly different than any other line. The same can be said of Azamara and Viking; both also unique travel products one might simply fall in love with and never want to sail another line ever again. They are just that good.
We talk a lot here about the value of the people that work aboard those ships and how they can make or break the experience. Today we’re talking about Seabourn and thanking them for what they do onboard their lovely ships. That this year’s Seabourn Encore and the future’s Seabourn Ovation look to be the right stage for those thoughtful crewmembers to work their magic confirms the line’s commitment those who sail with them. All of the above translates to a wonderful travel experience when they get the right crewmembers and the right passengers on board. And that’s the critical trick. A brand new shiny ship mismatched with the wrong crewmembers or passengers loses its luster rather quickly. That’s not going to happen with Seabourn Encore.
On The Horizon
Coming up- we continue to examine the world of cruise vacations, partnering with some great journalists I’m really excited about, each experts in their respective fields for even better information, all aimed at matching the right cruise line with the right traveler.
Cover Image- Seabourn Cruises