Cruise vacations come in all shapes and sizes these days, representing a popular travel option that has strayed far from the one-size-fits-all experience of 10-15 years ago. We like that for a number of reasons. Travel agents have a new reason for living, matching consumers with a cruise line they will enjoy. Travelers interested specific parts of the cruise experience get more of what they like. Cruise lines get the opportunity to do more of what they do best. Everybody wins. We like when everybody wins. Still, when we talk about travel companies and get to bona fide luxury and ultra-luxury products, it’s a whole different ballgame. On the Seabourn Food And Wine cruise (SF&W), I am constantly reminded of what it takes to win in the world of cruise vacations, if not life itself.
Earlier in the voyage, an event titled “A Conversation With SAVEUR Editor in Chief Adam Sachs” was billed as having Sachs lead “an informal conversation about the differences and similarities of the many flavors that make up Mediterranean cuisine,” and indeed it did. The format was not new to Seabourn Guests, already familiar with the Seabourn Conversations programming that brings guest speakers aboard on a regular basis.
On this voyage, Captain Paul Escenfelder is on board and has spoken on topics ranging from ‘The David, The Sistine and St. Peter’s Basillica’ to ‘Vesuvius and Pompeii – Worlds Collide’. Those well-attended events had Seabourn Guests talking about the destination-specific enrichment events around the ship for days. Nicely timed to occur in advance of our arrival in ports specific to Captain Escenfelder’s content, those in-person stories very nicely complemented the pocket-sized destination guides we were provided on the first day of sailing.
Seabourn could have stopped right there and checked ‘enrichment’ off the list of anticipated elements in the overall choreography of the experience. Throw in a destination-specific entrée and wine on each night’s dinner menu and passenger expectations would have been exceeded. Simply having SAVEUR’s Sachs along for the ride would have given the Seabourn Food And Wine cruise a hefty dose of respectability too. Indeed, having someone on board for the first SF&W cruise from Food And Wine magazine accomplished just that. An existing relationship with Food and Wine magazine on sister-line Holland America in their Culinary Arts Center Sponsored By Food And Wine Magazine made sense.
But simply doing what makes sense is more often not what Seabourn does in a very big way. As far as I can tell, in all areas of operation, Seabourn is constantly examining everything they do, looking for ways to do it better. Food and Wine magazine is a popular and respected publication. SAVEUR covers food and wine with more of a focus on travel, making that publication a more appropriate choice to associate with the SF&W cruise. Putting Sachs, highly regarded in the culinary world and nicely pedigreed himself, on stage with celebrity chefs from this part of the world made Seabourn Sense.
I have been looking for a term that accurately describes what Seabourn does for quite some time, providing the definition in a number of ways but not finding just the right term that fit. ‘Seabourn Sense’, both words intentionally capitalized, fits very nicely, just as Seabourn Guests encapsulates the line’s genuine focus on passengers who quite quickly become part of the Seabourn family. XYZ Cruise Line has a focus on making sure XYZ guests have a good time too but we never, ever capitalize the g because, quite frankly, they have not earned it. Don’t get me wrong; we do bestow that honor to other cruise lines in areas they own. Carnival Cruise Line’s “Fun” element is an apt example and anyone who has sailed on a Carnival ship knows that ‘The Fun Ships’ is far more than a slogan.
On the first SF&W cruise, Seabourn Sense opened up the kitchen, allowing me unrestricted access to the daily menu briefing when Seabourn Sojourn’s Executive Chef personally tastes and critiques every item on the menu, before any Seabourn Guest is served. I watched as that same chef went into the dining room to run through the menu with crewmembers that would be working with it, just before opening. But Seabourn Sense demanded more.
This time, sommelier Sebastian paired wines with the evening’s dishes and provided further training to the dining room staff, adding an additional element of wonderful that made perfect Seabourn Sense. But even that expanded effort was not enough
It made Seabourn Sense to seat Sachs and I for dinner at a table in the middle of the galley, during the busy dinner rush. I can’t think of another cruise line so confident in their culinary operation that they would allow it.
The images above were captured during a visit off ship at the Italian port of Amalfi. This was not the Seabourn signature Shopping With The Chefs event; we will get to that later.
This was allowing Sachs and I to tag along as Seabourn chefs enjoyed an espresso at a local sidewalk café while the owners brought out pastry after pastry for them to try.
We stopped by a local restaurant, testing the menu to re-check Seabourn chef recommendations to Seabourn Guests that this was ‘the best place in town’.
Ruling a market segment in cruise travel could be very easy to define. Pick a documented quality. Add up the number of ships, berths, ports visited or packets of sugar used and whoever has the most could be declared king. Some cruise lines do that. Still, being the major airline with the fewest complaints does not mean everyone loves to fly their unfriendly skies. In that respect, Seabourn Sense is a quality no other cruise line has.
Coming up also, more on our Seabourn Food And Wine Cruise sailing as we make our way to Monte Carlo, Monaco on a Taste of the Mediterranean itinerary. Send your questions about the Seabourn experience and the Seabourn Food and Wine Cruise to ChrisCruises@gmail.com. We’ll have answers to all of them, either here or in a private reply.
Catch up with what we have experiences so far with these resources, already published during the event:
Here At ChrisCruises:
- Seabourn Sail Away Brings Unexpected Bonus Event
- Seabourn Brings Destination On Board
- We Visited A Little Fishing Village In Greece
- Seabourn Chef Event Goes Beyond Demonstration
Facebook Photo Albums:
Our Live Twitter Feed while in progress
Also coming up, after sailing:
- Our Pinterest Seabourn Food And Wine Cruise 2015 board
- A Seabourn Food And Wine Cruise @exposure Photo Storybook