Seabourn’s latest ship Seabourn Encore was christened at a ceremony in Singapore last week. Here Gary Buchanan who was on board gives his verdict on the new luxury vessel

Seabourn is renowned for its classy ships and last week unveiled its biggest vessel in the fleet Seabourn Encore in Singapore. The 600-passenger ship takes the total number in Seabourn’s fleet to four. It has an additional deck and is a progression of the Odyssey-class ships rather than a transformation – yet it has small-ship attitude in spades.

The design of this Italian-built ship was undertaken by Adam D. Tihany, a noted New York-based designer who has created a clutch of the world’s most celebrated contemporary restaurants and hotels. However this was the first time the doyen had been commissioned to create the entire interiors of an ultra-deluxe cruise ship. Tihany boasts that he envisaged something “a bit sexier” than the Odyssey-class ships. The results are without doubt impressive and encapsulate the artistry of fine living.

Having worked for four years on the design concept, Tihany sought to bring his hallmark of intimacy and detail to Seabourn Encore. With typical chutzpah he told Cruise International: “I watched how guests and crew interacted with the Odyssey-class ships. I was adamant that my vision of a Seabourn ship would be more fluid and sleek. To achieve this I swapped the angular, Nordic-style elements for a more curvaceous and sinuous realisation of a luxurious Italian yacht.”

There’s also a different colour palette across all 10 passenger decks. Out are the cool ash wood and honey-coloured tones, replaced with darker hues of blues, browns and whites as well as mahogany accents that enhance the nautical feel. The concept is not a radical departure from that which made the Odyssey-class ships so successful, rather an augmentation of the winsome, bling-free vibe that oozes from every bulkhead.

Suite delight

The 300 spacious suites all have private verandas spacious enough for private dining. There are 12 categories ranging in size from 251 to 1,306sq ft and include Penthouse Spa Suites, Signature Suites and Wintergarden Suites. Beds can be configured as queen-size or two twins; there’s a walk-in wardrobe and in-suite entertainment with a wide selection of films, music and television. A personal bar and refrigerator are stocked according to guest preferences, coordinated before arrival. The granite bathrooms have separate bath and shower as well as luxury amenities which include exclusive Seabourn Signature Scents by Molton Brown.

The Restaurant is where Tihany played his ace. By remodelling the successful rendition of this delightful room on the three smaller siblings, the ambience has a more intimate feel. There are dramatic columns that recreate tree branches while blue-droplet chandeliers are focal points of the increased height ceiling in the central section. While the dining chairs are extremely comfortable, they are heavy and cumbersome.

First opened on Seabourn Quest last year and inspired by classic American chophouses, The Grill by Thomas Keller with a novel wine tower is opulent and sassy and showcases the culinary prowess of the Michelin-starred chef. There’s also the on trend, minimalist Sushi – a first for Seabourn.

Early observers agree that Tihany’s new design of the Colonnade is a masterstroke. This buffet-style restaurant now has the panache of an upscale eatery in a faultlessly designed space. Passengers are greeted by counters displaying an array of freshly-prepared dishes flanking the open kitchen. There are indoor and outdoor tables on Deck 9 and, to cope with the increase in passengers, there’s a delightful al fresco terrace on Deck 8.

Raise a glass

Seabourn’s signature bar – The Club – comes into its own after dinner. On the new vessel it is more intimate than had been expected, which is surprising given the additional capacity. Early cruises have borne this out and the dedicated bar for The Grill has become a popular spot for cocktails. The other delightful watering hole that is lauded on Seabourn ships is the Observation Bar which, in this incarnation with its glass roof above the bar, has oodles of wow-factor.

Industry pundits agree that Seabourn Square – the social hub of every Seabourn ship – has been perfectly reimagined by Tihany. With its living-room ambience, this concierge lounge also has a library and boutiques, plus a coffee bar with tasty pastries and snacks, and an outdoor terrace.

Another new facet brought to Seabourn Encore is The Retreat. Located on Deck 12, this eyrie is ringed with private cabanas complete with television and refrigerator stocked with a personalised selection of beverages. There’s been early criticism of the high per-suite, per-day charges for this outdoor sanctuary. There’s also a large pool on Deck 9 with two whirlpools, smaller pool and whirlpools aft of The Club on Deck 5 and a watersports Marina. The Patio Grill offers casual dining under the stars.

Wellbeing wonders

The Spa at Seabourn has six treatment rooms, thermal enclave, fitness centre with Technogym equipment and a motion studio. A new programme by Dr Andrew Weil offers a ‘mindful living’ programme that integrates physical, social, environmental and spiritual wellbeing.

On the entertainment front a new production show An Evening with Tim Rice tops the bill in the Grand Salon, which is the venue for revue-style shows, cabaret performances and virtuoso singers. Other entertainment includes a pianist in various locations throughout the ship, local entertainers in selected ports, casino and ondeck movie screenings. There’s also the Seabourn Conversations enrichment programme from renowned experts from every arena of the arts, sciences, politics and the humanities. There are also memorable Caviar in the Surf parties in Thailand and the Caribbean.

Highly personalised service is inherent in Seabourn’s DNA and on board Seabourn Encore the 450 crew tread a perfect line between attentive and deferential. This new ship undoubtedly augments this ultra-luxury, all-inclusive fleet of ships where panache and verve are writ large.

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