The UK market remains a “critical one” for Seabourn, the line’s chief confirmed at the naming of its fifth ship, Seabourn Ovation, which was christended by British performer Elaine Paige.
UK customers are second only to the US for Seabourn, but while the brand is “very well established” here, Seabourn president Richard Meadows added it was still a core focus to get more trade professionals on the ships to see them for themselves.
“We do need to get more luxury agents on board who haven’t experienced Seabourn before,” he said. “We know they have the clients, it’s about helping them bridge the gap and really tell the story of Seabourn.”
Musical supremo Sir Tim Rice, ship’s designer Adam Tihany and Carnival Corporation chief executive Arnold Donald were also among those on-board for the ceremony, held in Valletta, Malta on Friday, where Paige sang her hit song from Chess, I Know Him So Well, before officially naming the ship.
“Elaine Paige is a great personality fit for the brand,” said Meadows. “She is so extraordinary in her accomplishments and so for that and many other reasons, we thought she would be a great match.”
Speaking exclusively to TTG on-board the ship, Paige said she could see why people become "addicted to cruise".
“I’ve always loved cruising, ever since I took my parents on our first cruise many years ago on Sea Goddess, which coincidentally, was part of the Seabourn fleet at one stage,” she said. “You can see why people do get addicted to cruise – it’s the most fantastic way to travel and see so much of the world.”
The line celebrates its 30th anniversary this year and alluding to its three decades during the naming ceremony of the 600-passenger ship, Meadows said: “Back then, we really changed the course of ultra-luxury cruising. The launch of Seabourn Ovation brings us to a new era, where we reinforce our position as the newest, most consistent fleet in the ultra-luxury cruise category.”
Seabourn is not considering any further ships “at this time”, but would continue to harmonise the on-board offering across the fleet, Meadows told TTG.
Ovation is the debut ship for a new dining on-deck concept called Earth & Ocean, which will go fleetwide by spring 2019; gelato bars are also rolling out across all ships.
“We’ve had tremendous fleet growth in a relatively short time, so consistency is now what’s so important,” said Meadows. “It’s not always about pointing out what’s different, but in making all of our ships seem comparable for the guest.”
More Ventures by Seabourn – the line’s range of more adventurous shore activities – will also be announced soon as guests continue to look at cruise through “an active lens”, Meadows added.
In the coming months agents will be able to visit Seabourn Quest when the ship is in Greenock on May 23, Belfast on July 10 and Dover on July 16.
Agents will also be able to visit Seabourn Ovation during some of its UK port calls this year, including Dover on September 15, Liverpool on September 19, Dublin on September 20, and Newcastle on September 29.