Cynthia Landry, Rory Martin, Lori Patterson and Mary Goldsmith.
Agents gather to get the latest from ultra-luxury cruise line Seabourn.
In the jargon of travel marketing, ‘learning’ is not a sexy word. And yet, isn’t that the raison d’etre of travel? Do we not go to savour new experiences, meet people culturally different from ourselves, taste novel flavours and marvel to sights of glory, natural and man-made?
Rory Martin, Deputy Director, Expedition Operations for ultra-luxury cruise line Seabourn, had no qualms about using the word “learning’ when he spoke to a large group of travel agents at Toronto’s Boulevard Club as part of the line’s Travel Partner Appreciation Event.
“What is an expedition? It’s learning-based travel that is alive, engaged and creates incredible energy. It completely changes the way you look at things,” Martin said.
Seabourn currently operates a fleet of five ships, the oldest just turning 10. Three of them offer just 229 suites, the newest two feature 300. Together, these vessels visit all seven continents, and some of the most popular itineraries are to far-flung locales including Antarctica. They’re not expedition ships per se, but the itineraries, excursions and Seabourn’s enriching overall approach to cruising definitely take an expedition-style approach.
But luxury expedition cruising Seabourn-style is about to take a quantum leap – or as Martin says, “a beautiful step forward.” The line is in the process of developing two purpose-built, ice-strengthened expedition ships, with just 132 all-veranda suites on each. When the vessels arrive in 2021 and 2022 – the first was recently given the name Seabourn Venture-- the fewer than 250 guests will enjoy fine dining, high-touch service and luxurious surroundings.
That’s just the beginning. On each vessel a team of 26 experts will be aboard, sharing their diverse knowledge with a target audience Seabourn describes as “globetrotting learners” and “adventurous explorers.” There will be zodiacs and kayaks to carry cruisers up close to extraordinary settings in some of the world’s least-visited locations, and each ship will feature two six-person submarines to offer rare experiences under the water -- even under polar ice.
“Time is precious,” says Lori Patterson, Business Development Manager for Eastern and Northern Ontario for Seabourn and sister line Holland America. “For travel advisors seeking to identify new Seabourn clients, look for those who express their desire for rare experiences over luxury goods. Converting luxury land-lovers to the Seabourn experience, with its additional focus on wellness and gourmet food, is another successful approach.”
A special guest at the travel partner event was Cynthia Landry, Sales Training Specialist for Rocky Mountaineer Railtours. A partnership between Seabourn and RMR has resulted in a bucket-list trip named UNESCO Banff National Parks & The Rocky Mountaineer.
It’s a journey that features a 7-day pre-cruise land excursion featuring a night in Calgary, three nights in Banff, Gold Leaf travel on The Rocky Mountaineer, a night in Vancouver and an 11- or 12-night Alaska cruise aboard Seabourn Sojourn. It’s a fabulous trip – with the land portion commissionable at 14% -- and just one of several itineraries Seabourn has created as the official cruise partner of UNESCO.
“After a wonderful time exploring the Rockies, guests end up at the Pan Pacific Hotel in Vancouver where they can walk right up to the ship,” Landry told agents.
Ontario BDM Mary Goldsmith says Seabourn’s ‘ultra-luxury’ description doesn’t mean a strict dress code or fussy atmosphere. “These are intimate ships with a private club atmosphere. Even at dinner, dress is country club casual. That being said, there’s no charge for caviar and champagne is available morning, noon and night.”
Learning and luxury may seem like strange bedfellows at first blush, but when Seabourn spells it out, learning in luxury sounds like a highly desirable experience.
Bruce Parkinson Editor-in-Chief
An observer and analyst of the Canadian and international travel industries for over 25 years, Bruce uses the pre-dawn hours to prepare a daily news and information package to keep industry members up to date.