Written by 3:08 pm Seabourn

Cruise Guide: Ultra-luxury cruises in vogue on high seas

By Michael Coleman 

Bigger is not necessarily better according to a pair of expanding, high-end cruise brands. The Yachts of Seabourn and Silversea Cruises are banking that when it comes to ultra-luxurious high seas travel in the near future, less is also more.

Both lines are in the process of adding new ships to their respective fleets but each is bucking the industry trend. Instead of unveiling their own behemoth vessels, smaller, more intimate ships are on the drawing boards.

First up will be the Seabourn Odyssey in June, 2009. It, like two other new vessels on order, will carry just 450 guests.

I think there is a line between a small-ship and a large-ship experience,” said Pamela Conover, Seabourns president and CEO. “We choose not to cross that line because we are committed to providing the sort of individualized experience that is the reason Seabourn guests choose to travel with us. We are building for a particular sort of very discerning traveler who understands the equation between intimacy and luxury.” 

Seabourns new fleet will provide among the highest ratios of space per guest in the industry. As such, look for an expansive 11,500-square foot indoor/outdoor spa, spread over two decks. Ninety percent of the ship’s guest accommodations will have private verandas, and each will feature four alternative dining venues.

But for all their spaciousness, said Conover, the new yachts will be designed to engender the relaxed, sociable lifestyle that characterizes life aboard their existing, smaller ships: Legend, Pride and Spirit. 

Silversea, meanwhile, is building a 540-guest ship. The ultra-luxurious Silver Spirit is due in late 2009.

“Silver Spirit’s design will mirror the distinctive silhouette of our existing ships (Silver Cloud, Silver Wind, Silver Shadow, Silver Whisper) and will offer the same standards of luxury that our guests have come to expect,” said Manfredi Lefebvre, Silversea’s chairman. 

With a total of 270 all ocean-view suites, the new ship will maintain the line’s reputation for intimate yet spacious vessels.  Plans also call for a new gourmet supper club and a new Asian restaurant. Look also for a new spa where guests can enjoy an aesthetically pleasing sanctuary to relax, de-stress and detox with an expanded menu of treatment options.

Silver Spirit will also feature many of the same public spaces found on the line’s existing ships, including an Observation Lounge, Vista Lounge (similar to Panorama Lounge on current fleet), Show Lounge, Humidor and Pool Bar, plus a new Lobby Bar styled along the lines of a European hotel, featuring Italian coffees complemented by champagne, wine and spirits – all served at no charge.

In June, Silversea will launch its own 132-guest, 6,000-ton regal expedition ship: Prince Albert II, complete with spacious library and Internet cafe, boutique shopping, full-service spa, beauty salon, fitness centre, sauna and two top-deck whirlpools. 

The ship will even feature live evening entertainment and The Humidor, where connoisseurs will enjoy the finest cigars and cognacs.

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