Monday, February 22, 2010

Seabourn President, Pamela Conover, Talks About Formal Nights and Children

I received an email this morning from a client who is presently on the Seabourn Odyssey World Cruise concerning the mini-revolt by some concerning Seabourn's foregoing formal nights on shorter cruises and its decision not to entertain, but also not ignore, a growing (albeit still quite small) segment of its guests:  children.
(I surmise the World Cruise guests are otherwise very happy as no other issue of any significance seems to be on the minds of some; quite a positive in my opinion.)  In any even, gently edited, here is the email:

Eric,


In my opinion, Ms. Conover hit the ball out of the park [during her talk on the Seabourn Odyssey today in Melbourne].

Her explanation of the formal night issue was, as you said, simply a response to passengers who don’t want to bother bringing formal wear on a short 7-day cruise. For cruises of 14 days there is one formal night and for cruises of 21 days or more there are two.

Ms. Conover likened the issue to that of smoking … no response satisfies everyone. Some passionately declare they will not book a short cruise if there is a formal night and other say they will not board unless one is included. In my opinion, it’s total nonsense. If that issue is the deal killer and these persons are willing to give up everything else the ship has to offer just to wear a fancy outfit on one evening of their short vacation, who cares if they come or not?

As to the “children’s programs,” Ms. Conover explained that the line is simply responding to complaints received from passengers about children they encountered last August and September on 7-day Odyssey cruises in the Mediterranean. Apparently, although Seabourn has never marketed the line as a venue for youngsters, a number of passengers included younger members of their families on short cruises in the Mediterranean last summer. The presence of the kids, apparently, disturbed some. Seabourn’s response is to devise things for the children to do to occupy them and keep them out of everyone else’s hair ... a proportionate and sensible solution.

It’s not enough for some however. They seem to want Seabourn to sell tickets only to old people...Happily, Ms. Conover emphatically said the line will not ban children but will deal with the fact that some passengers in its market niche will wish to travel with their children or grandchildren by doing something to help these customers keep them occupied.

Like the formal wear issue, I can’t believe that there have ever been sufficient numbers of children on board to warrant all this fuss. I’ll bet you a quarter there were only a few kids out of the 400 souls on board – not enough to make any real difference to reasonable people.

Seabourn’s marketing and price point - and informed travel agents like you who honestly advise clients about where they will have the best vacation - will ensure that a Seabourn experience will never be a Disney adventure.