The Seabourn Quest, the third in Yachts of Seabourn’s Odyssey class, is set to launch at the end of May. Cruise International got an exclusive peek at the vessel in March as she got her finishing touches at the shipyard in Genoa.
Seabourn Quest is the third vessel in Seabourn’s Odyssey class of ships, and will also be the last. The 450-passenger vessel, which is being built in a shipyard in Genoa, is pretty well a carbon copy of its sister, Sojourn, and differs slightly from its other sibling, Odyssey.
For readers who are not familiar with Sojourn, the only noticeable difference between her and Odyssey is the spa area, which was altered following customer feedback, and this will be the same on Seabourn Quest.
In all other aspects, Seabourn Quest is effectively the same ship, and the build has been so smooth she will be delivered early, on 31 May.
Because of this, Seabourn is offering three pre-inaugural sailings in June from Monte Carlo and back again, or on to Barcelona, starting at £1,999 for the three-day cruise.
On an exclusive hard-hat tour around the vessel in March, Raoul Jack, head of new build at Carnival (Seabourn’s parent company), explained there were a few minor tweaks to Quest, but so minor that “passengers would not notice.”
Jack, and indeed Seabourn, are adopting the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it policy” – as well they might.
Back in 2007, many thought Seabourn was crazy to mess with its highly successful trio of 208-passenger ultra-luxury ships, Legend, Pride and Spirit. By building three new ships, each more than double the size of the previous three, surely they would affect the spirit of the brand? – ie the intimacy of small-ship cruising.
Seabourn green-lighted Odyssey on 31 January 2007, and gave the go-ahead for the other two ships at the end of October of the same year, pretty well at the height of the economic boom.
In September 2008, when the economic crisis hit and Seabourn was only part-way through the build for Odyssey with two more ships on the way, the original naysayers seemed to be right.
Jack explained: “People thought we’d bitten off more than we could chew. We would effectively be increasing capacity by 275 per cent. That’s a lot of beds to fill. Back in September 2008 and those early months of 2009 it did look like a tough call. However, looking back we definitely made the right decision.”
Indeed they did. The two bigger ships have been a runaway success, redefining standards of luxury and service, and Seabourn Quest is set to follow.
And also – cleverly, and no doubt intentionally – Seabourn has attracted a whole group of people who are new to cruising.
These big new ships have 225 suites, including the vast Wintergarden Suite, and each have a number of extra facilities their sisters do not. These include a large theatre, the largest spas afloat on an ultra-luxury vessel, a variety of entertainment options, four dining venues, two swimming pools and seven whirlpools. All facilities that will bring in families, a key sector all cruise lines are trying to attract.
In Seabourn’s case, it’s not young families they are aiming for, but families with grown up children, who no doubt welcome a free holiday with their parents. And because of the increased size of the ships, both groups can do their own thing.
Which begs the question: why will there be no more ships in this class? “Another ship might be overdoing it,” Jack says. “We do not want to get to the position where we have overcapacity. But you never know.”
The Odyssey class has kept the level of intimacy associated with the smaller ships, but moved it on in a bigger setting. For example, there’s the award-winning Seabourn Square, the heart of the ships, where you can enjoy the best coffee at sea.
The beauty of the square is that you have a large area with a lot going on in it – shore excursion desks, a boutique just off it, internet terminals, the library, seating areas and the café – but as it is designed with a number of small areas, you don’t feel its size.
It’s the same with the 11,400 square-foot Spa, which also manages to be intimate and welcoming. Its focal point is the Kneipp Walk pool (the same as Sojourn), with Finnish saunas, aromatic steam rooms, indoor and outdoor treatment rooms and a fitness studio.
Each of Seabourn Quest‘s five dining venues retains a small-ship feel. The Restaurant is the ship’s main dining room, with menus by celebrity chef Charlie Palmer. The Veranda Café is for indoor or outdoor informal dining and regional specialities; The Colonnade is for informal dining and has an kitchen open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and the Patio Grill is for poolside pizza and grills. Restaurant 2 is the real stand-out, with seating for 40 people and an exquisite and eclectic tasting menu.
There are six bars including the Sky Bar, which looks out over the pool area. At the Observation Bar you can enjoy cocktails in the evening, as well as live piano music; and the The Bar is where the post-show entertainment takes place.