Travel advisors, travel industry executives, VIP guests and media including Luxury Travel Advisor toured Seabourn’s newest expedition ship, Seabourn Pursuit, at PortMiami on Friday. During a briefing in the ship’s Discovery Center, we heard about the ultra-luxury ship’s capabilities, design and guest experiences from Natalya Leahy, Seabourn’s president, famed designer Adam Tihany and his Tihany Design team, Steve Smotrys, Seabourn's vice president of global sales, and other executives.
“Seabourn Pursuit is an embodiment of elegance and luxury, the perfect fusion of signature Seabourn experience and the awe-inspiring world of expedition,” Leahy told the audience. “From the moment you step on board, you will be transported to a world where luxury meets adventure.” In the audience during Leahy's briefing were Micky Arison, chairman, Carnival Corporation; Josh Weinstein, CEO, Carnival Corporation; and Gus Antorcha, president of Holland America Line.
After ship tours, the entire group rejoined Leahy later in the day back at the Discovery Center for a champagne “Toast On Both Coasts.” A Zoom-type call and video projected on the center’s big screen virtually connected the Miami participants with guests similarly gathered in that same center aboard sister vessel, Seabourn Venture, in Seattle. It was the first time that both ultra-luxury expedition ships had called at any continental U.S. port.
“The same-day arrival of our two ultra-luxury, purpose-built expedition ships in the U.S. is a very symbolic celebration of the dream and vision we have coming to life,” said Leahy. The first steel was cut for Seabourn Pursuit in 2020, with more than 1,000 people involved for three years in creating the vessel. More than 7,000 guests will sail on Seabourn Pursuit in the next 12 months. Repeating a thought from one of the line’s expedition team members, Leahy added that an expedition ship has the opportunity "to make the world a little smaller, a little closer, a little kinder.”
Luxury Advisors On Board
Eighty-eight advisors had registered for the PortMiami program, some visiting for the day, others overnighting on the ship. Michael Consoli, a Cruise Planners independent franchise owner from Roswell, GA, told Luxury Travel Advisor that Seabourn Pursuit is “a stunning small expedition ship that encompasses all the things Seabourn's guests have come to love about traveling on an intimate yacht.”
Consoli enjoyed hanging out in Seabourn Square, which he described as “the heart of the ship.” Luxury Travel Advisor noticed one change in that venue from the sister ship. The guest services area was slightly reconfigured; it appeared more open than on the sister vessel.
Another change is in the Discovery Center itself, where high top tables and stools (see photo above) now line the back of the center. That provides more seating and at a bit higher level. But, otherwise, the two expedition ships are almost identical, so we'd suggest readers check out our recent, robust two-part series on Seabourn Venture; the first is about the Arctic expedition experience, the second about public spaces and dining.
According to Seabourn officials, the biggest change between the two sister ships is the artwork. Seabourn Pursuit has different tones, colors and design approach. We noticed those differences in the panels that greet guests coming into the Expedition Lounge, the atrium sculpture centerpiece and wall art throughout the ship.
As for accommodations, “the cabins on board are modern, yet warm, and have the feel of a Four Seasons hotel,” Consoli told us. “I think my clients will love the luxurious feel of the premium suites like the beautiful, two-story Wintergarden Suite with its amazing views or the Owner’s Suite with a large hot tub on the panoramic deck.”
In his presentation to advisors and other guests, Smotrys described the ship as an “ultra-luxury base camp." He explained that guests have a great wildlife viewing platform, can head out to have great adventures ashore, and “after an incredible day, step back aboard and have all the luxuries.”
During the briefing, Tihany explained that Tihany Design's process is deeply rooted in research, “and when you research expeditions, it confirms the fact that the human race is slightly crazy.” That's a reference about people heading out on an expedition, not knowing exactly where they’re going or what they’re going to see. What is certain, however, is that Seabourn Pursuit provides an ultra-luxury experience. So, Tihany stressed that the interior design is “completely bespoke, whether that be stitching on the sofa or chair or the fabric. Whatever you see on this ship was purpose-built and it’s a pretty complicated process.”
Because Seabourn is a luxury brand, “I said, ‘no, enough with Birkenstock;' this is Loro Piana,” he said. “Our customers are used to cashmere.” He encouraged the advisors to look at every detail, to turn the pillows upside down or see how convenient and easy it is to use a toggle switch beside the bed to turn off suite lights, not something electronic that’s confusing.
In addition, “expedition is about discovery,” he said, “so, here comes the story of the art.” Guests will find 700 art works throughout the ship, including this wall art piece (see photo below) in Seabourn Square.
Tihany also said vast amounts of onboard space and how the ship is planned provide guests with the freedom to feel they’re discovering new things aboard. And they can do so without the crowds, he added: “You can find your own little corner, you can find your cushion, you can read a book and enjoy yourself."
Touring the ship on Friday, Drew Daly, general manager and senior vice president, Dream Vacations, described it as "a beautifully designed exhibition ship with all of the luxury one would expect and more from Seabourn."
He added: "I loved the layout and flow of the ship. It was very easy to walk around. I felt that all the common areas/lounges were quite comfortable and cozy—like your own living space at home."
Seabourn Pursuit departed Miami on Saturday for a 10-day voyage to Barbados. Expeditions will begin October 10, 2023. The PC6-class ship will then sail to coastal South America, the Amazon River and on to Antarctica for winter 2023-2024. Then the ship will head across the South Pacific, visiting many remote isles.
In summer 2024, the expedition ship will operate the line’s first exploration of The Kimberley, a remote region in northwestern Australia. "The submarine, kayaks and Zodiacs are going to provide for a lot of exploration for every adventurer," believes Daly.
From Leahy's perspective, the line's two new expedition ships represent “the culmination of our dream that started over six years ago.” She added that “it is not a walk in the park to launch a new ship…Our dream was to bring our well-known Seabourn signature luxury to the world of exploration and adventure, and we did it.”