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Seabourn Cruise Line - Redefining Luxury

Joanna Hall

We’re sitting in the famous jacuzzi tucked away in the bow of Seabourn Odyssey,  and a trademark of the luxury line’s ships down the years. We’d just spent the day exploring the exotic Indonesian island of Komodo and were in need of some relaxation; from two decks above, one of the bar staff spots us, and mimes the question: do you want champagne? We give the thumbs up, and minutes later he appears with two glasses of bubbly, and further promises return again to check on us later. This is nothing out of the ordinary, but a routine part of the silver service on board one of the world’s most luxurious cruise ships. 

The Fleet

Seabourn Cruise Line is one of only a handful of operators which can truly use the phrase “five-star luxury” to describe its ships and its indulgent high seas cruising experience. Celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2018, the line’s fleet is currently has undergone dramatic change in recent years, dropping from six intimate “yachts” to just three with the sale of the older siblings, Seabourn Pride, Spirit and Legend, to Windstar starting in early 2014. The three remaining ships formed the highly acclaimed Odyssey Class, Seabourn Odyssey, Sojourn and Quest, each boutique-sized ship carrying 450 guests. The company’s first 600 passenger ship, Seabourn Encore, was delivered in 2016, with a second, Seabourn Ovation, following in Spring 2018.


Seabourn Cruise Line started out in 1988 with a single ship, the 208-guest, all-suite ship Seabourn Pride, and was instantly dubbed by a cruise expert as in “a class by itself”. The company describes its high seas experience as luxurious yet relaxed, casual yet elegant, and sumptuous yet understated, each ship “like a private club, where members share expansive open decks, inviting social spaces, and the personalised attention of an exceptional crew”. Throughout its history, Seabourn’s ships have offered discerning guests an alluring combination of all-suite accommodations with ocean views, highly trained staff, gourmet cuisine, and more.  

Then in 2009 the company raised the bar even further with the debut of Seabourn Odyssey. The first of her class, she was larger than previous Seabourn ships with one of the highest space-to-guest ratio of any ship at sea, and came with a host of new features including the largest spa on a luxury ship, private verandas on 90 per cent of her suites, and four dining venues. While Odyssey was the first new ship for Seabourn in 15 years, with Seabourn Quest and Sojourn following, what really set her apart from even her older siblings was her contemporary and modern style; she’s more akin to a floating boutique hotel, with a décor which is subtle and tasteful marked by marble finishings, soft lighting, and understated colours which create a welcoming and sophisticated atmosphere. 

And there’s more. Another key giveaway that Odyssey had broken with its traditional ship design was the elimination of the reception area and a central atrium. Instead, inquiries to staff are made at Seabourn Square on deck seven towards the rear of the ship, an area of calm and tranquility where service desks are concealed for both aesthetics and privacy. This area is also home to a café serving specialty coffees and pastries, and a reading area with newspapers from around the world and some very comfy chairs. Odyssey’s suites also reflected a change to an overall more modern design. Even the lowest category of stateroom has separate living area and bedroom, a good sized granite bathroom with separate tub, shower and dual sinks, and interactive entertainment system programmed with hundreds of movies, television programs and music and a flat screen TV.

The Future

While the media was raving about the design changes with the Odyssey class, many loyal Seabourn fans worried about what else might be afoot, but their fears were unwarranted. The Odyssey class ships proved quickly they are all about casual elegance, with some of the best-trained crew at sea, and an all-inclusive experience which means there’s still French champagne on demand and the line’s famous caviar parties. Something else which hasn’t change is Seabourn’s commitment to transporting guests to little known places on the planet. The future is looking bright for the line with its new and larger ships, Seabourn Encore and Seabourn Ovation, which appear to have “redefined small ship ultra luxury - again”. Both ships were modelled on the award-wining Odyssey class, but larger carrying 604 guests in all suite-all balcony accommodation. The company also established a new partnership with the world-famous American chef and restaurateur, Thomas Keller, the genius behind a trio of Michelin-starred restaurants - The French Laundry, Per Se and Bouchon - and an award-winning style of French and American cuisine.

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