Launched in 2022, the 264-passenger Seabourn Venture marks the luxury cruise line’s first expedition ship, with a sister ship, Seabourn Pursuit, coming in 2023. But the line isn’t exactly a neophyte when it comes to expedition cruising. Seabourn has been running cruises to Antarctica for years on Seabourn Quest and the line developed its Ventures by Seabourn program that offers expedition options in various locales across its fleet in 2015.
With this experience to draw on, Seabourn Venture comes out the gate with an advantage over some lines that are new to polar adventure. That shows in Seabourn's excellent expedition staff, who are passionate about their specialties, be it birding, geology, biology or marine mammals. On Seabourn Venture, you’ll get to know these guides, as they mingle with guests around the ship, hanging out in the Bow Lounge or Seabourn Square’s outer deck with binoculars to spot wildlife, or hosting tables at dinner. Be prepared to meet people who go the extra mile; one guide, Dan, got up at 6 a.m. with us to help spot the Southern Cross.
The ship is also firmly Seabourn, with all the luxury touches required by its discerning clientele. Designed in luxe lodge style by noted designer Adam Tihany, Seabourn Venture is gorgeous, with faux fireplaces, fur pillows and green velveteen banquettes and chairs. The line’s signature caviar service is offered onboard Seabourn Venture, and the cruise is virtually all-inclusive, save some special excursions and events, as well as kayaking and submarine rides. Service is intuitive and fantastic.
That’s not to say the ship is perfect. We’re puzzled at Seabourn’s decision to store the Zodiacs on the ship's top deck, as opposed to water level, as it slows down deployment. On our cruise -- a repositioning sailing between Lima and Santiago -- the ship made some odd programming choices that left even long-time Seabourn loyalists feeling bored. And some expedition competitors include kayak use in their fares, which could leave people feeling nickel and dimed aboard Seabourn Venture (you do receive a Seabourn expedition jacket, and boot use is included).
Still, for people who want a true luxury cruise experience at the ends of the earth, Seabourn Venture will check all the boxes, and then some.
The Seabourn Venture deck plan has many familiar venues to those who have sailed the line before. With only nine decks, the ship is easy to figure out and navigate.
The heart of the ship remains Seabourn Square, at the back of the ship on Deck 6. This multi-use space has guest services, a library, a coffee and snack bar and an outdoor area – all with plenty of comfy seating. The Club has been reborn on Seabourn Venture as a chic lounge that serves sushi before and during the dinner hour.
New lounges that have a decided expedition focus include the underutilized (by guests; the expedition staff loved this area) Bow Lounge at the front of the ship on Deck 6. Here, navigation instruments that mimic the bridge give maritime geeks all kinds of stats about the ship's position and progress, and you can also find sodas and snacks. We also loved pre-dinner cocktails in the cozy Expedition Lounge on Deck 4, squarely between the Discovery Center (which has multiple uses as theater and briefing room) and the Restaurant.
There is no pool deck, per se aboard Seabourn Venture, at least in the traditional cruise ship sense. Instead, there’s an infinity pool and hot tubs at the back of the ship on Deck 5, outside the Patio/Colonnade. Hot tubs are also located on Deck 9 outside The Club.
All rooms on Seabourn Venture are attractive and spacious, all of which come with balconies. They range from the entry-level 355 square foot veranda cabins to the two-story Wintergarden Suites that top 1,000 square feet (you can also combine rooms to make a Grand Wintergarden Suite that comes in at nearly 1,400 square feet).
But the best rooms onboard are not those in highest category. For the money, the Panorama Veranda suites -- a category that is brand new to Seabourn -- is our favorite cabin that we’ve ever seen on an expedition ship, and well worth an upgrade. The star of these suites are full floor-to-ceiling windows that pop out from the ship, allowing wide-ranging views from not only the seating area, but your bed. These cabins are also the only ones that have a bathtub that abuts a full outside window, and they are the only ones with heated tile floors, as opposed to carpeting. These rooms are going to be amazing when Seabourn Venture is in the iceberg-rich waters of Antarctica or Greenland.
All rooms on Seabourn Venture have a full walk-in closet and also a small closet with a drying rack for wet clothes.
Seabourn Venture is a small ship and prone to motion in rough seas. If you tend toward seasickness, choose a cabin that is in the middle of the ship, as opposed to either end. All rooms are quiet in the evening. If you enjoy spa services, the Penthouse Spa Suites are in a special corridor outside the spa and fitness area for easy access.
The food on Seabourn Venture has all the trappings that you expect from the luxury line, with expert presentation and high-end ingredients. The Restaurant has a dress code and serves delicious three-course meals nightly, along with included wine (if you don’t like the wine on offer, you can order from the included list or buy from a well-curated selection).
Beyond the Restaurant, the Colonnade is the ship’s buffet for breakfast and lunch, switching to served meals at dinner. Several times per cruise, the Colonnade switches things up to serve Earth & Ocean, menus from the same restaurant on Seabourn’s larger ships.
Sushi lovers won’t want to miss the snacks served nightly in The Club, even though it’s a limited menu. And finally, Seabourn’s room service allows you to order anything from the Restaurant to your suite during the dining hours -- a boon if you’ve been out all day exploring and don’t want to get dressed up.
Seabourn Venture has two submarines onboard -- 71.1 and 71.2, so named because the earth is 71 percent water. The subs each seat six passengers and go down 984 feet (300 meters). A few things to know before you book, however:
First, the subs can only be used in a handful of destinations. Antarctica is one, luckily, but Svalbard and many other countries where expedition ships go do not allow their use. Second, the conditions have to be perfect for them to be in use. If the wind gets over 15 knots, a sub will not go out. That’s mostly because you have to board the subs via Zodiac in the open water.
And finally, sub rides are not included in the Seabourn Venture fare -- and prices can be steep. The amount depends on the itinerary but expect to pay between $500 to $900 a person for a 45-minute dive.
* All restaurants and dining
Caviar service on demand
All alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks
Entertainment and lectures
At least one shore excursion in each port
Landings and Zodiac excursions
Polar jacket (to bring home) and boots (leave on the ship) on polar cruises
Most fitness classes
* Submarine and kayaking excursions
Wine or spirits tastings
Visas (if needed)
Transfers to the ship
Seabourn Venture attracts the same wealthy clientele that you find on the line’s larger ships. On our sailing, about 80 percent of the passengers were previous Seabourn cruisers. It’s an international mix, with people coming from all over the world.
Solo travelers are particularly welcome on Seabourn, which goes out of its way to seat those cruising by themselves at hosted tables for dinner. While there are no specific LGBTQ meet-ups, passengers on Seabourn are sophisticated and urbane as a rule; same-sex travelers will feel right at home.
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Venture itself is great but tendering even in regular ports is only by Zodica which can mean a lengthy wet ride to get to and from the tour buses.