Where next for Cruise? Lynn Narraway, Seabourn, on luxury
Luxury is one of the fastest- growing sectors in travel, with affluent consumers increasingly seeking authentic and meaningful experiences. In 2019, cruise lines will be looking to capitalise on this market, taking on experience from recent years and learning what luxury now means to consumers and guests and how they can curate their offering accordingly.
First and foremost, luxury cruise lines have seen the importance of enabling guests to have authentic experiences, as today’s luxury traveller is seeking out experiences that reflect their destination on a deeper level, rather than being content with the traditional five-star options. Cruising gives travellers the ability and access to do this in a way unlike traditional travelling, so it is important that companies make the most of this by offering unforgettable and exclusive experiences and adventures in some of the hardest-to-reach locations in the world. That’s what luxury means to the modern-day traveller.
Our guests have an adventurous spirit with a willingness to get out and see destinations up close, so with this in mind we have developed a number of programmes, such as Ventures by Seabourn, in which expedition-style, expert-led excursions in kayaks and zodiac boats take place in destinations such as Alaska and Antarctica. Ventures has been so successful that Seabourn will also be entering the expedition cruise category with two dedicated purpose-built ultra-luxury expedition ships, set to be delivered in 2021 and 2022 respectively. Additionally, offerings such as Seabourn Journeys (on-shore extended explorations) and our official partnership with Unesco (for in-depth curated tours) are all designed to enable our clients to immerse themselves in these destinations.
Sustainability is increasingly becoming more important within all forms of travel and in particular luxury. The idea of sustainable luxury is growing, and the number of travellers wanting to “give back” to communities and the environment is only going to grow in 2019. The demand for responsible tourism is rife and cruise lines need to take this on board by implementing changes such as using advanced wastewater treatment systems, utilising environmentally friendly cleaning supplies, recycling, and donating items for reuse to reduce their negative footprint on the environment.
Key to luxury cruising is the brand alliances that can be found on board or onshore – partnerships come in the forms of travel, culinary, experiential and retail brands that affluent travellers recognise and feel comfortable with, especially on longer trips. Seabourn Encore and Seabourn Ovation were created entirely by Adam D Tihany, one of the world’s foremost high-end hotel designers, meaning that our ships reflect luxury travel holistically, rather than simply luxury cruise liners. Our other partnerships include Michelin-starred chef Thomas Keller who now has his own restaurant, The Grill by Thomas Keller, across the fleet, and our exclusive Molton Brown of London “Signature Scents” created specially for us. Finally, we have collaborated with wellness guru Dr Andrew Weil so that every ship has a Dr Weil Wellness Guide, who will create a personalised wellness programme for guests on board, as well as talks and lectures. We are also very proud to work with lyricist Sir Tim Rice, who has written a show especially for Seabourn about his life, which is performed on board all five ships – and Sir Tim sails with us at least twice a year to present the show live.
To bring all of this together, agent partners should be selling cruises as an ultra-luxury lifestyle experience, featuring incredible destinations, accommodation, dining and service, all rolled into one fabulous trip. Make sure you are knowledgeable, passionate and have completed all the cruise lines’ excellent training modules in order to engage these luxury clients.