Choice is one of the greatest luxuries of cruising, and the sleek and beautiful new Seabourn Encore delivers once-in-a-lifetime opportunities like no other ship.
One day, you could be paddling a kayak along the deserted Pink Beach that fringes wild Komodo Island, looking for birdlife with an ornithologist. Drag your kayak up onto the sand and set out over the reef, snorkelling over rainbow-coloured corals in search of sea turtles, rays and giant clams in the company of a marine biologist.
The next, you could be chilling in your private cabana, a bottle of chilled Bollinger by your side, one attendant polishing your sunglasses while another prepares your grilled sea bass and Caprese salad.
Explore with an expert
Both these scenarios are relatively new to Seabourn. The first, Ventures by Seabourn, is a new, two-part experience blending lectures and Q&As on board by experts including ornithologists, archaeologists and marine biologists with soft adventures ashore, led by the same experts. These might be kayaking in small groups, or snorkelling, or hiking, but always with an element of surprise, like arriving at a gorgeous waterfall to find a uniformed waiter pouring the champagne.
As Robin West, Seabourn’s senior manager of expedition operations points out, you can have the most beautiful ship in the world but you have to create the memories to go with it. “It’s more about the lifestyle than what the suite looks like,” he says. “The experience far outweighs what the cost might be. People are looking for bucket list items.”
Close to nature
Seabourn Encore carries a fleet of six Zodiac inflatables for its Ventures excursions, taking guests along remote shorelines in search of wildlife. Sometimes, particularly in Alaska and the Norwegian fjords, guests paddle double kayaks, one of the best ways of getting close to nature, with the luxury of complete silence and utter solitude. When the ship is at sea, the team keeps a constant watch for wildlife on the deck outside Seabourn Square, and guests are welcome to grab a coffee, bring it outside and chat, while looking out for whales, dolphins and sea birds. It’s like having your own personal expert to hand, all the way through the cruise.
Let the Bollinger flow
Another kind of luxury entirely is up for grabs in The Retreat, a smart new enclave on Seabourn Encore’s top deck. For US$249 on a port day or $349 on a sea day, you can enter a whole new realm of lotus eating. Fifteen cabanas are arranged around a hot tub, shaded by giant creamy sails. Each one comes with squashy loungers, a massive TV with wireless headphones, a stocked minibar and a living area that can be curtained off if you fancy a doze.
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What’s most blissful about this is the service. The day begins with a bottle of Bolly (which can be replaced if you run out) and hand-crafted cocktails on demand, which sound weird but taste extraordinary, especially the avocado daiquiri. Staff come round all day with fresh, iced water, canapes and dips, fruit platters, cold towels if you’re in the tropics, ice cream, or in our case, when we could consume no more champagne, tea and cookies. The lunch menu is short but perfect; exquisitely presented shrimp cocktail, grilled fish, beautiful salads, steaks and burgers and after, chocolate sundae and cheesecake with fresh berries. There’s a massage cabana in one corner where you can summon a spa therapist – and claim $50 off a treatment.
The pinnacle of pampering
Granted, $249 for a cabana seems a lot but if you think about it, you would easily spend $125 each on a shore excursion, and The Retreat experience lasts an entire day. You’d think a ship like Seabourn Encore was so luxurious that it simply couldn’t be improved on but a day up in this little slice of heaven makes you feel just that little bit more pampered and special. Worth it? Most certainly.
Contact your local Travel Associates Consultant to find out more about cruising the world aboard the Seabourn Encore