Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Can USA Today's Gene Sloan Do Something Other Than Stir Things About the Seabourn Odyssey to Boost Readership?

I have been working very hard to bring you the "news" from the Seabourn Odyssey.  That means information...good and bad.  Gene Sloan seems to be working a different angle, though he publishes his work for a "newspaper".  Yes, playing off people's fears sells more than good news, but please:  Give it a rest.

Oh, the Seabourn Odyssey has engine problems.  No, it had an issue with a boiler that was identified and corrected.  Oh, the Garden Villas are but a shell.  No, they are pretty close to completed...and you aren't going to put out the soft goods when the hardware isn't complete.  Oh, the signs aren't up and lounges are stacked up.  Folks I walked the ship from stem to stern and pretty much every sign was up (and who cares anyway) and, yes, there were "some" lounge chairs not out just yet, but as I will show you later, the lounge chairs are out and about in abundance.

So, not being done, Mr. Sloan asks, "Can a vessel that holds 450 passengers be called a yacht?"  Trust me on this, I know a heck of a lot more about yachts and what type of service and amenities are provided than Mr. Sloan does.  What the question shows me is two things:  (1) It is a stupid question (sorry, but it is); and, (2) It is an irrelevant question.

Let's get into it now.  How is Mr. Sloan defining a yacht?  Is he speaking of a 40 foot Sea Ray or a 120 foot Hatteras or how about a 192 foot superyacht or what about a gigayacht?  (You don't know what a gigayacht is?!)  Is the yacht a private yacht or a charter yacht.  Is it one where you charter the entire vessel (and don't get me started on the types of charters) or one where you book a cabin?

Pam Conover, Seabourn's President quite nicely responded to this absurdity.  As Mr. Sloan quoted her, "The Odyssey 'is in fact not even the largest yacht today,' she said. 'Not only is it a yacht in terms of size, it's a yacht in terms of the experience that you get on board. We believe that (the yachting experience) is really a differentiating feature for us.'"


Mr. Sloan, if you were being honest and fair, you would have possibly defined what the expectation is...not ask "What is a yacht?". 

Would you like to comment on the service levels being far superior to those on Regent Seven Seas or Silversea...and on a ship which was at least a month late coming out of a shipyard with crew boarding only days ago?

Would you like to comment on the elegance in taste and presentation of the cuisine?  Tell me on what yacht you have been on where the dinner service was as flawless...and it was the first meal ever coming out of that galley.

Would you tell me what amenities you received on the yacht that was superior to Seabourn's exclusive Molton Brown products, Hermes and L'Occitane soaps.

Or what of the free flowing caviar and champagne?

BTW, did you take a picture of the superyacht docked about 200 yards from the Seabourn Odyssey's first location or the other superyacht docked slightly closer to the second one?

Folks, when the Seabourn Odyssey was first announced I was in a fairly exclusive meeting where I said to Pam Conover, "We need to be sure Seabourn provides provide the service and cuisine.  It would be disastrous for Seabourn to say it was providing a "This is My Yacht" experience and fail."

Mr. Sloan, admit it.  Seabourn has provided you - and everyone else on the Seabourn Odyssey - with an extraordinary level of service, cuisine and amenities...and it did it with virtually everything pointing to it being unable to do so due to the failures of T. Mariotti Shipyard.

Or would you like to crack open a cold one on a 40 footer?