Three’s A Charm: Seabourn Quest Debuts

Image courtesy Seabourn - Seabourn Quest, the third 450-guest ship to debut in three years for ultra-luxury small-ship operator Seabourn, completes the line’s ambitious expansion in the small-ship luxury segment.

By Michael Coleman

Ultra-luxury small-ship operator Seabourn unveiled its third new ship in three years when the 450-guest Seabourn Quest debuted this week.

“She is a beautiful vessel, and I have no doubt she will earn as much praise from the experts, and as much affection from our guests as her two sister-ships,’’ said Richard Meadows, Seabourn’s President. “Her officers, staff and crew are ready to welcome travelers on board to experience Seabourn-style cruising on our newest ship.”

Emmy and Tony Award-winning actress Blythe Danner will serve as godmother and name the ship during a sunset ceremony at the port of Barcelona on June 20. The ship will then depart on a 14-day maiden voyage to Athens, stopping at the charming seaside towns in France, Italy, Greece and Turkey that are a hallmark of the Seabourn cruise experience.

Seabourn Quest’s maiden season includes seven-day Eastern Mediterranean cruises, operating alternately between Athens and Istanbul, and Venice and Athens, as well as a seven-day Black Sea voyage. In the fall, the ship will cruise across the Atlantic Ocean from Malaga, Spain, to Fort Lauderdale from where it will sail on a series of round trip voyages in the Caribbean.

On January 5, 2012, the ship will begin a 109-day maiden world cruise from Ft. Lauderdale to Venice on a unique eastbound course via South America, South Africa, the Indian Ocean, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and the Mediterranean.

Among a host of onboard amenities, dining takes center stage. Under the guidance of celebrity chef Charlie Palmer, Quest offers a variety of dining options from the main dining venue, The Restaurant, serving multi-course breakfasts, luncheons and dinners in an open-seating style amid a refined setting of gleaming white linens, polished alabaster walls, flowing sheer draperies and crystal chandeliers, to the Colonnade, a more casual, indoor/outdoor option serving lavish station-style buffet breakfasts and lunches. Dinners in the Colonnade are regionally-themed menus prepared in the open kitchen and served at table.

Restaurant 2 is an intimate setting where guests can enjoy innovative small-plates tasting menus nightly by reservation. The Patio Grill is a casual alternative offering poolside dining for luncheons and dinners, as well as freshly baked pizzas from its on-site oven all afternoon.
Quest is the third iteration of the sleek and widely-admired design that first appeared as Seabourn Odyssey in June 2009. The second sister-ship, Seabourn Sojourn, entered service this time last year.

On the web: www.seabourn.com

Poll: Crystal, Regent, Seabourn deemed world’s best

Three ultra-luxury cruise lines — Crystal, Regent and Seabourn — have been voted as the world’s best. Regent Seven Seas Mariner is pictured here in St. Thomas, U.S.V.I.
Images courtesy Michael Coleman

By Michael Coleman

Luxury cruise ship operators Crystal, Regent and Seabourn have been voted as the world’s best cruise lines.

Crystal and Regent tied for number one in the “large-ship” category in the 2010 Condé Nast Traveler readers’ poll while Seabourn was named best in the “small ship’’ category.

Considered among the travel industry’s most coveted honors, the magazine’s Readers’ Choice Awards celebrate the best-of-the-best cruise lines, hotels, airlines, cities, rental car companies and islands.

Travelers evaluated cruise lines on their Itineraries and Shore Excursions, Accommodations, Food/Dining, Crew/Service, Design/Layout and Activities/Facilities to determine the overall score. Complete results appear in the magazine’s November edition.

Crystal, soon to celebrate its 20th Anniversary, shares the number one billing with a competitor for the first time in over a decade-and-a-half yet still holds the distinction of having won the award more than any other cruise line, hotel or resort in the magazine’s poll history. 

Renowned for their service, space, quality and choices Crystal’s two stylish ships, Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony, are recognized for innovative partnerships with Master Chef Nobu Matsuhisa and Piero Selvaggio, stimulating Creative Learning Institute and Computer [email protected], Feng Shui-designed spa, and a myriad of culinary, cultural and fitness-oriented enrichment. In 2011, Crystal will introduce Perfect Choice dining featuring flexible open dining times, by reservation, and two seating choices. Itineraries of seven to 100+ days are available throughout the world.

Regent, meanwhile, the world’s only cruise line to include airfare, all-suite accommodations, acclaimed cuisine, open bars, sightseeing excursions, gratuities and taxes as part of the overall cruise fare, features a three-ship, all-suite luxury fleet carrying 490 to 700 guests to ports in Australia, Europe, Asia, Alaska and the Caribbean. Facilities include several bars, a show lounge, intimate casino, library, Internet center, card room, outdoor pool, hot tubs and Canyon Ranch SpaClub. Depending on the ship, guests can choose from up to four, open-seating gourmet restaurants, including Prime 7, the line’s new steakhouse.

Seabourn Odyssey docked on Grand Turk Island, Turks & Caicos.
The 2010 Readers’ Choice award comes as Seabourn is in the midst of a three-year, three-yacht expansion of its small ship fleet, which has included the launch of Seabourn Odyssey in June 2009 and Seabourn Sojourn in June 2010. The new Seabourn Quest is scheduled to depart on its maiden voyage from Barcelona, Spain, on June 20, 2011. The expanded fleet has enabled Seabourn to increase its capacity in the most popular destinations, such as the Mediterranean and Northern Europe, while adding new, exotic ports of call around the world, including Indonesia and the South Pacific. 

More than 26,000 subscribers voted in the 2010 survey. 

On the web: www.crystalcruises.com, www.rssc.com, www.seabourn.com

Crystal Serenity pictured off the coast of Taormina, Sicily.

Cruise Guide: Downs to speak aboard Seabourn Spirit

By Mike Coleman

Legendary broadcaster Hugh Downs, one of television’s most familiar and highly-regarded personalities, will be a special guest speaker onboard the luxurious 208-guest Seabourn Spirit during a 14-day Southeast Asia voyage later this year. 

Downs will join guests Dec. 6 on a Singapore-to-Hong Kong journey. Highlights include calls at Bangkok and Ko Kood, Thailand; and Ho Chi Minh City, Danang, Halong Bay and Cai Lan (for Hanoi), Vietnam.

In 1985, the Guinness Book of World Records certified Downs as the person with the most exposure on network television, with a total of over 15,000 hours. Downs has received six Emmy Awards and has broadcast from every continent and both poles. He was anchor of ABC’s prime time newsmagazine 20/20 for 21 years and host of PBS’ Live from Lincoln Center for a decade.

Downs, who anchored Today and hosted NBC specials and documentaries from 1962 to 1971, earlier served as host of the game show, Concentration, and helped launch the Tonight Show, where he remained for five years. When he left regular broadcasting in 1999, he began to pursue other activities, including travel, flying, riding, sailing, composing, lecturing and writing.

Among Downs’ dozen books are Letter to a Great Grandson and My America: What America Means to Me, an anthology of essays from prominent Americans following the 2001 terrorist attacks. He and his wife co-authored Pure Gold, on marital longevity and he has written several books on aging, including Fifty to Forever. A Shoal of Stars is his account of sailing a 65-foot ketch across the Pacific and Rings Around Tomorrow is a collection of his science articles.

While cruising Asia, guests will be pampered as only Seabourn can. Look for thoughtful enhancements, both onboard and ashore, as part of the line’s Signature Delights program, including complimentary spirits, wines and French champagne throughout the cruise; gourmet cuisine created by celebrity chef, Charlie Palmer; complimentary massage moments on deck; therapeutic bathing selections from Molton Brown and a complimentary shoreside experience.

Guests will also enjoy special Seabourn services. Among them are Vintage Seabourn, a premium wines pre-purchase package; Seabourn to a Tea, an upgraded menu of rare estate teas; and Seabourn’s Personal Shopper, a program which provides luxury cars and specialized shopping guides in various ports.

Additionally, an insider tip program created exclusively for Seabourn from the pages of Conde Nast Traveler magazine features the latest information about attractions, suggested lunch spots, popular bars, unique experiences, shopping tips and more, for guests who wish to customize their own port activities through the ship’s onboard concierge.

Cruise Guide: Seabourn offers small-plate culinary experience

By Michael Coleman

Smaller portioned cuisine options await guests aboard the yacht-like ships of Seabourn, a cruise line big on luxury. 

The company, operators of three elegant vessels – the 208-guest Pride, Spirit and Legend – has also unveiled a series of exotic global itineraries through 2008 punctuated by indulgences that cruise savvy travelers have come to expect from Seabourn.

The line is the first, however, to feature this multi-course, small-plate dining experience at sea but it shouldn’t surprise anyone if the concept becomes mainstream especially in the competitive luxury cruise market.

“Seabourn’s guests are very sophisticated diners,” said Seabourn’s president, Deborah Natansohn. “They have experienced the way many of today’s chefs are fusing ideas from Spanish tapas and French menus degustation and Asian multi-course traditions to create diverse, interesting meals, and they expect to find the same sort of inventive cuisine on our ships.” 

Dubbed “Tastings @ 2” – “2” is Seabourn’s casual, alternative onboard dining venue – the line actually expanded its galleys to accommodate two chefs working simultaneously to prepare and plate the dozens of dishes that will make up each meal.

“It’s a culinary symphony,” said menu designer, Anton “Tony” Egger, Seabourn’s corporate executive chef. “Like a complex musical composition of tastes and textures, I am able to mix and match, highlight one dish or serve an assortment of flavors to be tasted together. By serving more than one dish per course, I create a multitude of flavors and sensations in a single meal of five or six courses.”

The dining venue “2”, located atop each vessel in the casual indoor/outdoor Veranda Cafe, accommodates about 50 guests each night, by reservation. Guests can also enjoy the award-winning onboard cuisine designed by celebrity chef Charlie Palmer and served in each ship’s main, open-seating dining venue: The Restaurant.

The small-plate dining option is just one of many onboard perks awaiting guests as part of the line’s Signature Delights program which includes complimentary spirits, wines and French champagne throughout each cruise; free massage moments for guests on deck; therapeutic bathing selections from Molton Brown, and a complimentary shoreside experience on every cruise.

Guests will also enjoy special Seabourn services, among them: Vintage Seabourn, a premium wines pre-purchase package; Seabourn to a Tea, an upgraded menu of rare estate teas; and Seabourn’s Personal Shopper, a program which provides luxury cars and specialized shopping guides in various ports. Additionally, an insider tip program created exclusively for Seabourn from the pages of Conde Nast Traveler magazine features the latest information about attractions, suggested lunch spots, popular bars, unique experiences, shopping tips and more for guests who wish to customize their own port activities through the ships’ onboard concierge.

Nice touches when you consider that the fleet will soon embark on a 15-month, 125-cruise schedule, calling on some 225 ports in 64 countries between January 2007 and April 2008.

New for 2007 are several “Sail & Stay” packages combining cruises with luxurious pre- and post-cruise extensions in Hong Kong, Singapore, Istanbul and Athens. In the first quarter of 2007, look for Spirit to return to China after an extended absence, with a nine-day voyage round trip from Hong Kong including a three-day stay in Shanghai. Legend, meanwhile, will cruise northward from Caldera, Costa Rica to Los Angeles on a pair of 10-day voyages exploring Guatemala and the Mexican Riviera. Pride will repeat her popular circuit of South America featuring a 72-day odyssey that is available in segments from seven to 18 days.

Mediterranean voyages aboard Spirit and Legend in 2007 will feature calls along the Dalmatian coast of the Adriatic, such as Split and Zadar in Croatia and Kotor Fjord in Montenegro. Monopoli, in Italy’s southern Puglia region, and the volcanic Aeolian island of Lipari are new port calls in 2007, as is Tarragona in Spain. Also new in 2007 is a European visit to Belle-Ile-en-Mer off the coast of Brittany.

Seabourn Pride’s fall foliage cruises sail 10 days between Gloucester, Massachusetts and Montreal, Quebec, in 2007, and include Summerside, Prince Edward Island, St. Pierre & Miquelon and St. John, New Brunswick.

Cruise Guide: Silversea, Seabourn unveil golf, insider tip programs

By Michael Coleman

Two of the world’s leading ultra-luxury cruise lines – Silversea and Seabourn – are rolling out exclusive programs that will make the golf lover smile and the adventurer in all of us beam with contentment. 

Golf enthusiasts sailing on the 382-guest Silver Shadow and Silver Whisper can live and breathe the game every day of every voyage in 2006, thanks to the line’s onboard PGA-class golf professionals. In addition to organized shipboard activities, the line’s Silver Links 365 program offers optional golfing excursions, arranged and escorted by the ships’ golf pros, to some of the world’s most challenging and revered courses in all four corners of the globe. 

Seabourn, meanwhile, has teamed up with Conde Nast Traveler to provide the line’s guests with up-to-date information about what’s new, what’s hot and what’s hip in various ports of call, gathered exclusively from the pages of the magazine. 

  

Teeing it up 

Silversea’s escorted, optional golfing excursions vary in price from course to course but include transfers to and from the select golf courses, pull or power-drive carts, green and any applicable caddy fees. Should guests choose to leave their clubs at home, Nike clubs, shoes and golf essentials are available for rental, demo or purchase onboard each vessel. 

The onboard pros will offer a variety of activities both on and off each vessel. During days at sea, look for private instruction in 22′ x 10′ custom-built golf cages, complimentary clinics, demonstrations and putting contests suitable for all ranges, levels and abilities. 

Golfers also have the option to further improve their game by experiencing the latest V1 video-teaching technology. The digital component allows guests the opportunity to compare their swings to some of golf’s greatest legends and the hottest names on tour. 

The lessons also include a VHS video of the session with custom voice-over by the ship’s golf pro. 

  

Hot tips anyone? 

Seabourn’s innovative, complimentary service will be introduced in April, 2006, when the line’s three all-suite ships  Legend, Pride and Spirit  begin their European cruising season. 

Dubbed “Conde Nast Traveler’s Seabourn Insider Tips,” the service will provide what officials are calling “reliable intelligence” about attractions, suggested lunch spots, popular bars, unique experiences, shopping tips and more for those who wish to customize their own port activities through the ships’ onboard concierge. 

The initial editions will include information about 28 European ports of call including Barcelona, Spain; Istanbul, Turkey; The French Riviera; Capri, Rome and Venice, Italy; the Greek Isles of Mykonos, Santorini and Corfu; Stockholm, Sweden; Oslo, Norway; St. Petersburg, Russia and Copenhagen, Denmark. 

The program augments an impressive line-up of services already in place for guests, including Vintage Seabourn, a premium wines pre-purchase package; Seabourn to a Tea, an upgraded menu of rare estate teas; Seabourn’s Personal Shopper, a program which provides luxury cars and specialized shopping guides in various ports; global cell and satellite telephone rental services and the line’s personal valet luggage shipping service.