Tuesday, December 7, 2010

It The End For "The Yachts of Seabourn"?

"The Yachts of Seabourn", "This Is My Yacht", "Yachting Lifestyle".  Is it gone?  Is the party over?

Not to worry.  Seabourn is discussing eliminating the phrase "The Yachts of..." and referring to itself - again - as "Seabourn Cruise Line."  (Seriously, how many times have I or yourselves every called it "The Yachts of Seabourn"?) While the final decision actually has not yet been made, someone leaked this to the press and now it is out there as purportedly being the final decision.

Personally, it doesn't make a bit of difference to me...or, I am sure, to you.

Why the possible change?  The reason, at least to me is simple.  Back when the Big Sisters (Seabourn Odyssey, Sojourn and Quest) were announced and the "This Is My Yacht" concept was floated, I said to Pamela Conover, Seabourn's President, that Seabourn had better make sure it was going to be delivering a "yachtlike experience" rather than a luxury cruise experience...for they are, to be sure, different experiences. 

Well, guess what?  Seabourn has been providing, and will continue to provide, probably the best luxury cruise experience out there...but it isn't (and never really has been) a yacht experience. The reality is that the "yachting" concept was more directed to the Seabourn triplets (Seabourn Pride, Spirit and Legend) as they were (and remain) three of the smallest cruise ships in the industry; both in size and passenger count.  There really is no way to call the big sisters "yachts".  The triplets are  440 feet long/10,000 gross tons and  big sisters are 650 feet long/32,000 gross tons.  By comparison, one of the worlds largest yachts, owned by Paul Allen of Microsoft is 416 feet and Larry Ellison's Rising Sun is 452 feet long...and technically sleep only 12 guests....not 208 to 450 guests.

Does this mean there is going to be a change in the Seabourn Experience?  It is an unqualified, "No!"  The fact is that the experience hasn't changed and is not planned on being changed...except to make it better.  By way of example, Seabourn is in the midst of an extensive revision of its Past Passenger Program.  While the details are still being finalized, I have been assured that the amenities and benefits will be in addition to the current ones.

Again, personally, I look at it as Seabourn being more accurate in the experience it provides.  While the "yachts" concept is (was?), in reality, what in the legal business we call "mere puffery", it is refreshing that Seabourn is looking at the accuracy of its name vis-a-vis product.  (Compare, for example, cruise lines that claim that are providing "free air", "free tours", etc. when you, obviously, are paying for those things.  In fact, just this morning one client tried to use a luxury cruise line's "free air" and, frustratingly wrote back to me, "
Yes – we would like cruise only.  As you say – there is no such thing are free air.")

So whether this happens or not, the point is that it really is a distinction without a substantive difference.  That is, of course, unless you are looking at marketing.  And by making the change, possibly you may see something like:

"Seabourn Cruise Line - The Most Luxurious Cruise Line at Sea"

Just a thought.