Though Seabourn Odyssey will be the first luxury new-build to debut in six years, it's important to note that Seabourn's not going for a "wow factor" here with major changes and innovations. Instead, the focus is simply on expanding the fleet and, along the way, tweaking and upgrading facilities and options in a mostly subtle manner.
Seabourn President and CEO Pamela Conover, in remarks to attendees, mentioned that the new-builds are not necessarily meant to lure more cruisers to the luxury market but rather to meet the growing demand of their current passenger base. And indeed, some of the faithful plunked down $1,000 or more months ago just to get on wait lists for Seabourn Odyssey sailings -- from the maiden voyage to the world cruise in 2010, Seabourn's first ever -- without even knowing what the itineraries would be.
In fact, there's now a wait list to get on the wait list for the maiden voyage.
Here are some of the tantalizing new details revealed today:
So Where Is Odyssey Going, Anyway?
Mark your calendars: The ship's 14-day maiden voyage on June 24, 2009 will sail from Venice to Istanbul, visiting ports in Croatia, Turkey and Greece. After a season of Black Sea and Eastern Mediterranean cruises, Seabourn Odyssey will winter in the Caribbean before beginning the line's maiden world cruise (a 108-nighter) on January 5, 2010. Bookings for Seabourn Odyssey's inaugural season will be available to the public as of November 5, 2007 (the world cruise goes on sale in February of 2008).
What Can We Expect?
Check out a few new surprises! These include:
The two-story spa on tap will be the largest on a luxury ship, clocking in at 8,600 square ft., with indoor and outdoor treatment rooms offering everything from massages to facials. The most revolutionary feature, found in the fitness center, is a Kinesis wall. This is a pulley system mounted on the wall that allows for multi-dimensional movements. Because it combines three fitness components -- cardiovascular, strength and flexibility -- Kinesis provides shorter more efficient workouts.
The size of the ship (three times larger than its fleetmates and yet carrying only double the passengers) allows for roomier accommodations -- a feature Cruise Critic readers named "most exciting" in a poll we ran eons ago asking Seabourn aficionados for their take on the new ship. For instance, the 1,200-square-ft. Grand Suites will have 300-square-ft. verandahs (which one wag joked are "bigger than my New York apartment"). There are four of those....
Beyond that, 90 percent of all suites on the all-suite ship will have verandahs. Interestingly, the standard suites, at 277 square ft., are the same size as their counterparts on existing Seabourn ships; the big difference is that these have balconies that measure around 65 square ft.
The line's traditional in-suite dining from regular menus will be expanded to include course-by-course suppers on verandahs.
Charlie Palmer has created over 100 new dishes that will debut on Seabourn Odyssey menus -- some of which we hope to give you a sneak peek of in our Readers' Favorite Recipes feature (stay tuned). Judging by the spiked-up eggs benedict served this morning with green onions and paprika-laced hollandaise, foodies have a lot to look forward to.
Back in May, we reported on Seabourn Square, a new public area that will encompass a coffee bar, Internet cafe and concierge. The concierge outpost will blend services of both the purser's desk and shore tours; staffers there will handle private arrangements ashore and provide support with post-cruise details.
As we reported previously, the line will bring back certain Seabourn favorites, such as the marina -- a water sports platform aft where cruisers can kayak or snorkel right from the ship. The decor too, at least as depicted in these new renderings, remains classic, subdued Seabourn.
Seabourn Odyssey's christening has been scheduled for June 24, 2009, the same day as the maiden voyage. Construction is ongoing at Italy's T. Mariotti S.p.A. shipyard.
--by Melissa Baldwin, Managing Editor