Thursday, January 20, 2011

Some Assurance from Seabourn's New President - Seabourn Will Remain Seabourn

While my conversations with cruise line executives are confidential I feel it is worthwhile to pass along my impressions from a very frank discussion I just had with Seabourn's new president, Rick Meadows.

First of all, I - like many - have some concerns about what is happening at Seabourn and, to be sure, some of the things that had previously been happening at Seabourn.  These are not issues with what happens on the ships, but issues that more affect operational and back-office issues that you probably will never know exist.  (That, by the way, is as it should be.) Despite all of the things going on, Rick Meadows got back to me in a matter of a day...with an apology for the delay...and then we had a real conversation.

Second, I truly believe Rick Meadows cares about the Seabourn product...and maintaining it as an independent Seabourn product; not an offshoot of Holland America.  Unfortunately, the transition from Miami to Seattle and the transition from a small, standalone, operation to one which can productively exploit the increased scale of Holland America's infrastructure can seem like making sausage (it it ugly, but the end result tastes really good).

Third, Rick is emphatic...I mean really emphatic...that Seabourn is not going to change AND that it is going to be, from the guest-side of things, run separate and apart from Holland America.  Am I repeating myself? Seabourn will continue to have the same officers and crew, the same intuitive service and outstanding cuisine with all six ships (YES, ALL SIX SHIPS) and, listen to this, there will be improvements.

Now, those that know me know that I am skeptical of...well, everything...so I do not say that there will not be some things happening that are not disappointing to some. (And I am not so sure I will not be blindsided by some announcements down the road.) But, I also believe that if half of what I have heard has been in the works comes to fruition in the next months, those disappointments will be overcome by the excitement over some of the improvements.

To be sure, I am certain...I mean really certain...that there are some at Holland America that think they can just jump in and do it better and, in reality, they don't have a clue what Seabourn... and the Seabourn guest..are really all about.  But, as you know, I will be making sure that they learn or get out of the way because I view each of my clients and "MY clients" first and Seabourn guests second.  In other words, and said positively, I will work to make sure Seabourn is Seabourn. 

Now, before you think I am full of myself, the important thing relative to the last statement is that there is someone (or more) at Seabourn that understands what Seabourn is about and is willing to take the steps necessary to make sure that those  people that don't get it, get it...once he knows about it.  I believe Rick Meadows is that person...and that there are and will be others.

And you know that if I didn't believe it I wouldn't write it.