Sunday, July 20, 2008

Seabourn Odyssey Is NOT a Silversea Ship - Updated

There is a rumor being spread on Cruise Critic that the Seabourn Odyssey is a Silversea ship that Seabourn sort of took away from Silversea. That is simply untrue...as are some of the other conjectures. It amazes me how this stuff gets started.

Now, let's just take a moment and think about it. Would Silversea let Seabourn "take" its ship? Use its design? Steal its place in a production schedule? Would Seabourn want that sort of albatross?

Here are the facts: Silversea was in no position financially to build any new ships when Seabourn decided to build the Odyssey and 2 other sisterships. Further T. Mariotti was not negotiating with Silversea to design something that wasn't going to be built. Yes, there are some similarities in overall design with the newest Silversea ship, but that is a function of T. Mariotti; not Silversea.

One of the most time consuming and costly aspects of designing a new ship is its hull. Not only is there a huge investment into "What is it we want to fit on this ship, but how much ship do we need to fit it all in?" Once you have the "above the waterline" design info you need to design the "wet" or "below the waterline" ship...and that can be time-consuming and costly. You need to deal with hydrodynamics, or how the ship will move through the water. You need to deal with stability issues (how she will handle seas, if she will be top-heavy, if she will roll too much for a passenger vessel, etc.) After computer generated analysis there must be models built and the hull tank tested. (There are special tanks which can test various hull models with to-scale waves, currents, etc. It is pretty cool stuff - though the photos of the process do not make it look very exciting; it is, after all, "dry" engineering. Sorry for the pun; I couldn't resist!)

So, how does one accellerate a process? Do not reinvent the wheel. If there is a basic wheel out there that works, there is a huge economy in time and money if you can exploit prior work. Seabourn apparently did just that. (An example you may be familiar with: The Jaguar X-Type has the same basic platform as the Ford Contour. Does anyone what to claim that the quick, all-wheel drive, automatic everything, leather and burl wood clad, etc. luxury care is the same car as a Contour? Obviously there will be someone who will, but your personal experience says that they may be similar, but very different.)

As far as what is being offered on the Odyssey that Silversea never had or contemplated: a Marina platform; a two deck, indoor/outdoor spa; a profile that compliments the present triplets...and there is more, but that is for a post later this week. That is why you will see some similarities, but there will be many, many differences.

An please keep this in mind: How many actually cruise Seabourn for its hardware? That's right: Very Few. What Seabourn is bringing to the Odyssey is its software: Its people. Its service. Its style. And that is, of course, why most people cruise Seabourn.