Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Seabourn Odyssey - Maiden Voyage Update

It is interesting how the media is transfixed on taking any kind of news and putting a negative spin on it.  Well, actually it is not interesting, it is exhausting and unrealistic.

While it is true that the maiden voyage of the Seabourn Odyssey sold out (actually there was a waitlist to get on the waitlist) and then reported that 10% of the suites were unsold, it now appears that there are only seven (7) suites that remains available.  And this bad news because why?

First, and I hate to say this, with so many new-builds coming out in such a short period of time, there is some loss of the cache for being on an inaugural cruise.  Exacerbating that condition is the fact that the shipyards are getting better (with all their recent practice) in delivering the ships early, so many of the inaugurals really aren't inaugurals...which does dilute the product further.  However, the Seabourn Odyssey is not just another megaship, but rather the highest quality luxury cruise ship in the world.

Second, the 800 pound gorilla is the economy.  But, and please remember this:  Not everyone is in foreclosure and not everyone has savings that have been depleted to the point that going on vacation is not an option.  In fact, if you eliminate the Madoff victims (and, to be sure, quite a few were booked on Seabourn - though I do not know about the Maiden Voyage), a very significant number of past guests are still cruising on Seabourn based upon the cruise they desire; not because a particular cruise has a significant discount.

Third, there is a dilution of what the luxury product is in the cruise marketplace.  Regent has claimed to have raised the bar while lowering its quality in numerous areas and Silversea is throwing everything it can at the marketplace just to get people to book their ships, while it has cut back on crew quality and cuisine and while now charging for more of its specialty restaurants.  And if big players in this luxury sector of the cruise industry are doing such things, it hurts the entire sector....even those who insist on doing it "right", like Seabourn.

There are, of course, more factors, but these are certainly at the fore.

Now, let me put a positive light on the Seabourn Odyssey's Maiden Voyage:  With all of the foregoing on around her, this new luxury ship (the best in the industry) will sail full...and it will do it without giving away the suites just to get to that status.  Today, I think that is a very positive, and truthful, statement.

So with over 97% of the suites sold, maybe it is time to consider grabbing one of the last 3% of suites available on the Odyssey's Maiden Voyage.