March 6, 2001
Last week Seabourn Cruise Line announced "Seabourn Refined." The program, which launches this spring when the fleet begins its European itineraries, is clearly designed to allow its fleet to offer stronger competition to other luxury lines. Still a work-in-progress, it has a couple of funky features. Such as? Well, it's hard not to find "random massage moments" -- complimentary mini-massages -- on the pool deck an appealing incentive. It also plans to offer, a la Silversea, one free shore excursion per cruise. But the press release comment by Richard Meadows, Seabourn's sales and marketing chief, positioning "Seabourn Refined" as a ``a giant step in our continuing mission to provide discerning travelers with the ultimate cruise experience" otherwise rings hollow. The line's plan to offer "complimentary" beverages, including wine and liquor, is simply a policy reversal -- Seabourn, prior to its purchase by Carnival, had an open-bar policy (according to one Sea Goddess staffer, past passengers complained so bitterly about the change in policy that the percentage of repeat guests on its ships dropped precipitously). Seabourn's approach to adapting to the industry's current craze for verandas is its addition of "French balconies" -- floor-to-ceiling glass doors that actually open -- which have replaced standard windows on Seabourn's Pride, Spirit and Legend. However, the so-called balconies are only as wide as a footstep and available in just 36 (of its just over100) suite-cabins (along with six premium category cabins). This still seems a tad dated, particularly at a time when cruise lines with new builds -- like Radisson Seven Seas' Mariner, launched this month, will feature balconies in every suite-cabin.