Seabourn Sells Three Ships
by Paul Motter
Seabourn will build a fourth larger ship and sell its three smaller, original ships to Windstar Cruises
Seabourn Pride will be the first
original Seabourn ship to go to Windstar
Seabourn Cruises, a luxury cruise brand within the Carnival Corp. family of cruise lines, announced on Tuesday that it will sell and slowly transfer the three original small ships that started the Seabourn fleet to Windstar Cruises, an independent cruise line with head offices in Seattle, Washington.
These three smaller Seabourn ships are each a mere 10,000-tons and only carry 208 passengers. The first of these ships to transfer to Windstar will be the Seabourn Pride (the oldest) in April 2014 after the end of its currently announced itineraries. The next ship to go will be Seabourn Spirit in April 2015 and finally the Seabourn Legend will join Windstar in May 2015.
The idea is to finish out the current itineraries already sold and scheduled by Seabourn on these smaller vessels before they are transferred. This is a convenience and a courtesy to somewhat notoriously demanding Seabourn loyalists - many of whom love these older and smaller ships.
To "fill the void" in its fleet, Seabourn also announced it will build a new ship commensurate in size and design with its three current newer and larger ships introduced to Seabourn starting with Odyssey in 2009, Quest in 2010 and Sojourn in 2011.
The new ship is planned to be completed in 2015 and will theoretically compensate for the berths to be lost when the smaller ships go to Windstar. In fact, it will most likely be a 450 passenger ship while the number of berths the line is losing is 624.
Now, while this announcement was a bit of a surprise to me, another cruise industry newsletter, CruiseWeek, wrote "It's no secret Seabourn has been shopping their three older ships since the launch of the three new vessels."
CruiseWeek further comments, "From a pricing perspective, it has been difficult having six luxury ships in one fleet, and this move seemingly enables Seabourn the ability to significantly improve pricing fleetwide in a manner commensurate with the quality of their fleet."
But the sale comes as a surprise to me because of my experience in sailing upon the newest Seabourn Sojourn in 2011. During my 12-night cruise I was told by almost every passenger I encountered that while they liked the bigger ships, they truly love the smaller ones and couldn't wait to get back on one."
But CruiseWeek is addressing the point that now Seabourn only has one style of ship to brand as the "Seabourn experience." After the sale there will be no more need to describe and compare the differences between the smaller and larger vessels to potential customers. It will also end one of the main, continuous topics of discussion across the fleet for loyal Seabourn passengers.
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