Finansavisen, a daily business newspaper in Norway, is reporting that SeaDream Yacht Club, the two-ship luxury line that's consistently garnered best-of-the-best awards, has a new ship in its sights. According to the report, the new design would accommodate 200 passengers -- which is about double that of the existing 110-passenger SeaDream I and SeaDream II (but still pretty small).
The story in Finansavisen quotes Atle Brynestad, one of SeaDream's owners, as saying that an order placed this year would result in a new ship debut three years hence. However, the line has not yet committed to a shipyard.
SeaDream spokesman Ernest Beyl told Cruise Critic that he "can't confirm; can't deny" the rumor.
SeaDream Yacht Club set up shop in 2001 after acquiring Cunard's former Sea Goddess I and Sea Goddess II. The focus was a luxury cruise on a mega-yacht, and it was born with quite a pedigree -- Brynestad, a Norwegian industrialist, was involved with Royal Viking Line and founded Seabourn in 1987. Cruise line President Larry Pimentel previously ran Seabourn.
"We are not a cruise line" is the mantra repeated by top executives who also tout the hallmarks of the vessels: "unstructured and free-form." That means itineraries are somewhat flexible, allowing the captain to linger in a port if passengers wish, or to depart early if rain spoils plans. Beverages, shore excursions and tips are included in the cruise fare. Seating is open for meals, and caviar and champagne are always available -- even in the surf during beach visits.
SeaDream's ships -- built in Finland in the mid-1980's -- are some of the oldest vessels in cruising's luxury niche, though you'd never know it -- both SeaDream I and SeaDream II underwent significant transformations when they were acquired and have been upgraded since. (Though because of the yacht-like design, neither is able to offer private balconies, one of today's more important contemporary amenities.)
Luxury cruising is enjoying a well-earned renaissance after years of new-build drought; Seabourn itself is building two ships, and Silversea recently finalized a contract for its own new vessel.
We'll keep you posted.
--by Carolyn Spencer Brown, Editor
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SeaDream to Build New Ship?
June 27, 2007