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Archive for June, 2009

Seabourn Odyssey takes luxury cruising to a new level

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On June - 30 - 2009

Launching a luxury cruise vessel in this day and age is a risky venture, but the Yachts of Seabourn seem to know something about their upscale clientele. Despite the global recession and fares that start at $16,000, the inaugural 14-day sailing onboard the new Seabourn Odyssey was sold out.

The 32,000-ton, 450-passenger is the first new yacht in 15 years for Seabourn and the first luxury ship launched in 6 years. It’s also the first of three new vessels Seabourn is building, a 216 percent increase in capacity for the line, with Seabourn Sojourn launching in June 2010 and a third new-build in 2011. All three new ships are twice the size of Seabourn’s other yachts. “The launch of Odyssey allows us to serve more travelers but still offer the intimate and exclusive experience which has made us a leader in the luxury cruising market,” said Seabourn CEO Pamela Conover.

Modern luxury
Seabourn calls all its vessels yachts because of the high service and amenities guests experience onboard. The line boasts the highest passenger to crew ratio in the luxury cruise market and the Odyssey has one the highest ratios of space per guest in the industry.

Odyssey’s design is modern and encompasses an elegant, sophisticated, yet understated ambiance. “The ship has been designed to provide options. That’s really what today’s customer wants,” says Conover. Like its sister ships, the Odyssey offers fine dining, relaxation, and fun. It has four restaurants, two outdoor swimming pools and six whirlpools, a water sports from the vessel’s marina and a diamond showroom.

What’s new? The Spa at Seabourn Odyssey is the largest spa on any luxury vessel covering a massive 11,400 square feet that spans two decks. There’s a waterfall at the entrance and facilities include seven treatment rooms, a gym with Kinesis equipment, a hydro pool, heated loungers, and a patio. The spa also features two 750-square-foot private retreat “Spa Villas” with seating and dining areas, indoor double bed lounger, two treatment beds, whirlpool and separate shower, and wraparound terrace with sun loungers for half-day use including preferred combination of treatments.

New are the Sun Terraces, all the way forward at the very top of the ship on Deck 11. These offer 17 double sun beds, full bar service and stocked iPods. Just aft of the Sun Terrace is the Retreat, a multi-activity piazza that features all kinds of deck sports for those who want a little more activity. There are two shuffleboard courts, a nine-hole golf putting course, and giant chess board for amusement. The area will also offer open air fitness classes and on evenings when the skies are clear, stargazing sessions under the guidance of an onboard trained celestial navigator.

One very unique addition is Seabourn Square, an idea conceived by Micky Arison, chairman of Carnival Corporation, Seabourn’s parent company. Seabourn Square has replaced the typical lobby style reception area found on most ships. The idea is to have a comfortable lounge area where guests can go for all their needs. The area is offers a coffee bar with pastries and gelato, Internet area, library, and in the center desks with the line’s Guest Services Specialists. Part purser, part destination services manager, part concierge and part future cruise expert, these multi-tasking staff are able to assist guests with virtually any inquiry or request on the spot.

Compared to Seabourn’s other yachts, the Odyssey offers more entertainment options. The Grand Salon main show lounge has a show stage with moveable seating and the pool patio area has more space for entertainers. The Observation Bar, high atop the bridge, offers live music and The Club will offer nightly dancing. There’s also a small casino for those that want to roll the dice.

Suite life
With just 225 suites, ninety percent with private verandas, guests can almost convince themselves it’s a superyacht. All suites have a modern look with earthy tones and décor. There are 13 suite categories, including Seabourn’s first penthouses, 23 of them. Each is 450 square feet with a 100-square-foot veranda. But they’re not the largest accommodations on board; those stretch more than 1,300 square feet.

All suite verandas are roomy enough for dining – you can order anything off the menu and be served course by course. And the all bathrooms have separate tub and shower compartments. Guests will feel special and cared for by everything from scented Pure Pampering baths drawn by the stewardess to a bar stocked with preferred beverages and spirits.

Gourmet dining
On Odyssey, the main dining venue is The Restaurant — a white and airy venue that is open seating and features fine dining for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The small Restaurant 2 offers an innovative small plate tasting menus served in a whimsical style. Both restaurants offer recipes inspired by Chef Charlie Palmer.

On Deck 8 aft is The Colonnade a more casual, indoor/outdoor option. For breakfast and lunch, Colonnade offers Seabourn’s signature array of prepared hot and cold specialties, but they have done away with the classic buffet line and instead are offer different sorts of dishes from several positions around the room. Cooked-to-order items are available as well. In the evening Colonnade will feature influences of the cuisines of different countries or regions, i.e. Thai, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean or Chinese, plus a selection of classic fare such as steaks, fish and roast chicken.

Brand new on Odyssey is the Patio Grill. Situated poolside on Deck 8 it offers freshly baked pastries and coffee in the morning. At lunch time pizzas and grilled specialties are offered.

For those that can afford it, Seabourn Odyssey offers amazing personalized service in an atmosphere of intimate socialization and innovative sophistication – it truly has taken luxury cruising to a whole new level.

If you go:
Seabourn Odyssey will spend its maiden season in the Mediterranean before relocating to the Caribbean. Seabourn’s first world cruise, a 108-day trip, will depart January 5, 2010. Fares start at $1,000 per person per day, but discounts from 15 to 40 percent are offered on various cruise itineraries. Visit the Yachts of Seabourn’s Web site for more details.

Ah Venice…onboard the Seabourn Odyssey

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On June - 23 - 2009

Here’s a short video clip of the brand new Seabourn Odyssey cruising into Venice. Enjoy!

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During today’s press conference aboard the new Seabourn Odyssey, Carnival Corporation’s Micky Arison was asked whether the company intended to sue the state of Alaska over the controversial cruise ship passenger head tax. Indeed, it looks like a go for a class action suit on behalf of the cruise industry. The potential suit has more substance in light of the recent Supreme Court ruling that slapped down the city of Valdez’s tax on oil tankers.

“The cruise industry has maintained the referendum (head tax) is unconstitutional all along,” Arison stated. He added that cruise lines had tried other avenues without taking legal action to convince Alaska’s legislators against the tax, but to no avail. Even prior to the Valdez decision, the cruise industry was looking at alternatives. “Our intention is to file litigation pretty soon. We’ve pretty much exhausted all outlets,” said Arison. He then added, “The governor (Sarah Palin) needs to concentrate on Alaska and stop running for president.”

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Odyssey’s super crew

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On June - 23 - 2009

Nobody ever said launching a new cruise ship was an easy job, but the crew of the Seabourn Odyssey have been put in a tough position — trying to launch a ship that was way behind schedule. Seabourn was supposed to take delivery of the vessel from Mariotti shipyard in Genoa, Italy on June 15; however, it ended up being three days later on June 18th. Add the fact that the press and travel agent preview cruise from Venice was set on June 22 and the crew had half the time to prepare. Several days ago, Seabourn CEO Pam Conover sent out an e-mail to guests on the preview cruise stating they almost canceled the voyage, but decided not to do so so they wouldn’t “disappoint” us.

When we arrived in our staterooms we received another ‘pardon our dust’ type of letter stating that they are doing “everything humanly possible” to get the Odyssey shipshape. The one area that remains a big problem is the spa — it is simply not finished. Contact workers are busy installing the Hydro Pool and the two Villa Spa Suites have nothing in them. Additionally, only four of the seven treatment rooms are operational. While I think the hydro area will be ready for the first revenue sailing it looks like the villas will not be ready. Spa staff tell me they are hopeful one will be ready in a few days.

I’ve been talking with a number of crew members and the more I learn about what they have accomplished in only three days time is nothing short of extrodinary. One crewmember told me the ceiling was hanging down and boxes were piled high in their department of the ship. Looking into their eyes you can see they are weary from all the work. Still, despite all the stress, the crew remains amazingly optimitistic and very accomodating. They are proud of the new ship and I am sure seasoned Seabourn guests will find the Odyssey an amazing addition to the fleet.

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Oprah takes staff on a cruise – again

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On June - 22 - 2009

The Chicago Sun-Times is reporting that Oprah Winfrey is the world’s greatest boss. Why? Well, good old Oprah has decided to go “Freestyle Cruising” by chartering a Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) vessel for her entire staff and their families. Cool!

The all-expenses-paid Mediterranean cruise onboard the Norwegian Gem began Saturday in Barcelona. The 10-day ‘O-Gem cruise’ will stop in Spain, Italy, Turkey, Greece and Malta. According to a Chicago travel agency quoted in the Sun-Times the trip is valued around $5400 per person — ExpertCruiser thinks that’s a bit on the low side. This is the second time in four years that Oprah has gifted her staff with a cruise. The last time everyone cruised on luxury line Seabourn.

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Postcards from the Seabourn Odyssey in Venice

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On June - 22 - 2009

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