Saturday, February 28, 2009

A Visit To Seabourn's Offices...and Some News

Earlier this week I had the opportunity, and pleasure, to visit Seabourn's offices in Miami.  I had the opportunity to visit with everyone:  reservations, marketing, sales, tours and hotels, guest relations, the Seabourn Odyssey "command center", etc. and, of course, the President, Pamela Conover.

It was great putting faces to those voices in Reservations who have so wonderfully assisted me over the years.  As many of you know from when you speak with them, we have a great relationship.  What I truly enjoyed was seeing that they not only sound like nice people, they are nice people.  And they seem to really enjoy each other.  Great photos of their fun moments are proudly posted by many desks.  So, if you call Seabourn, I can assure you that the pleasant voice you are hearing is not fake.  They really do smile...a lot.  (In fact, the only complaining I heard at all was about a certain someone - who will deny it - hoarding the brownies I had sent over earlier in the day!)

I was able to get a quick peak at some new things...Seabourn is always looking at ways to improve.  So for those few misinformed complainers and doomsayers (and you know who you are posting away on Cruise Critic), I can assure you that you are very wrong.  I never heard or saw anything about cutting back or modifying anything.  All I heard about, and saw, were improvements.  Sometimes improvements require change, but change can be good.

An example:  I was, with some arm-twisting, able to see the new Pre-Cruise Documents that are going to be used shortly.  They are so well designed and good looking.  While they will not be leather-bound editions, I can assure you that many people will consider then keepsakes of their cruise before they even board.  They have great style and, more importantly, much more useful information then the present ones, in an easy to read and use format.

Another example:  Being nosy, I asked to see the new place settings for the Seabourn Odyssey.  Each venue has its own style and, though I was not able to see the exact colors of the final pieces, the samples clearly reflect Seabourn's concern with the details right down to the differences in presentation of the cuisine in each restaurant.  (Restaurant 2's menus have a far different need than the Main Restaurant, for example.)

I caught wind of some other things to come, but suffice it to say, if I tell you I won't ever be told anything again!  Trust me, it is all good.

Barry Hopkins, the Seabourn Odyssey's Cruise Director, was hard at work with Hotel Manger, Guenter Steinbrunner.  They were so intense I felt like I was intruding...but, of course, I was.  In typical Seabourn style, they stopped what they were doing (with a smile) and enthusiastically answered my questions.  They are feeling the pressure of the new ship, but they are very excited.

One place where there is what I will call "New York intensity" is on the hotel/tour/private excursion front.  If you ever thought Seabourn was sitting back or placing less emphasis on these items you are well mistaken.  Seabourn is really working hard to not only assure truly excellent experiences, but is pushing its vendors and hotel partners to provide better pricing.  I should point out something that many probably do not consider when comparing Seabourn's hotel pricing versus doing it privately.  Seabourn's pricing includes all taxes (which can be very significant) and gratuities plus private sedan transfers.  So, while Seabourn works on getting the prices down, be sure you do the math correctly when choosing your pre- or post- cruise hotel.  (Also, many hotel packages include tours...so keep that in mind too.)

My day was completed with a wonderful private dinner with Pamela Conover.  The best part of it was that it was really just friends having dinner.  Of course we talked about Seabourn, its plans, my goals, etc., but it also was just a nice evening spent in a little, local, Italian restaurant.  It was, as Seabourn is really all about, the people.