Monday, March 21, 2016

What's New and Exciting at Seabourn? Thomas Keller, Mixology & a Champagne Spa Retreat

Seabourn continues to work to makes it's product better and, in typical Seabourn fashion, it has been doing this rather quietly and without hype.  And, of course, while everything cannot be identical with Seabourn having two classes of ships, it is working to assure a consistent product across the fleet; something unique to Seabourn.  

Details of the new Seabourn Encore which sets sail in December 2016 continue to trickle out.  (I will be onboard for her "Shakedown Cruise" December 1, 2016 as she leaves Venice for Athens - and her first public cruise - on December 4, 2016.)  But Seabourn's holistic approach means that subtle (and not so subtle) improvements will be made fleet-wide.  Here is a breakdown of what you can look forward to; some now and some in the very near future.

The Grill by Thomas Keller

For me, probably the most notable improvement is The Grill by Thomas Keller which will be a dinner-only Classic American Chop House alternative dining venue.   

The Grill by Thomas Keller
Left - Seabourn Odyssey, Sojourn and Quest                                                                                         Right - Seabourn Encore
On the Seabourn Encore it will be located on Deck 8, one deck below the Colonnade, with a separate bar area when you walk in, along with both indoor and al fresco dining seating 94 guests (with plenty of tables for two).  With dining times from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. approximately 150 guests should be able to dine there each evening.


On the Seabourn Odyssey, Sojourn and Quest it will be replacing Restaurant 2 after each one is drydocked. The Grill by Thomas Keller will make its first appearance on the Seabourn Quest this May, then the Seabourn Encore and, finally, the Odyssey and Sojourn in later 2017.  A smaller venue, with seating for 44 (all indoors), approximately 66 guests should be able to experience The Grill by Thomas Keller each evening.

As with Restaurant 2, Seabourn wants to assure every guest has the opportunity to enjoy this alternative dining, no additional cost, experience.  Each guest will be able to reserve one night.  If, during the cruise, a guest would like to dine a second time it will be made available (again at no cost).

A Thomas Keller Menu offered in The Restaurant
is decidedly different from that offered in
The Grill by Thomas Keller
Those that have recently sailed on Seabourn have had the chance to enjoy Thomas Keller's fare in The Restaurant, which will continue. In The Grill by Thomas Keller, however, the focus will be more on tableside preparations (from Caesar salads to ice cream sundaes) and expected steakhouse fare...though from artisan purveyors and with Chef Keller's unique culinary perspectives.

By the way, in the Colonnade on certain evenings (again, on all Seabourn's ships), a popular concept introduced in Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc, are Family Style dining experiences.  (The very popular themed dinners on other evenings will, of course, continue for those not enjoying this very American style of casual dining.) 

Additionally, some of Thomas Keller's preparations are also being introduced into The Patio Grill for those that enjoy dining al fresco pool side on occasion.  These offerings are closer to those presented at Keller's Bouchon where, as I often say, I just need to mention the restaurant and the flavors from the "simple" roasted chicken I ordered when in Napa, California flood my brain. 


Mixology at Its Highest Level

Continuing Seabourn's theme of consistently being consistent (and its Thomas Keller relationship), it has retained  Brian van Flandern to not only assure consistency from ship to ship, but bartender to bartender, while elevating the ingredients used in Seabourn's cocktails...and offering some of the most outrageous (and expensive) cocktails imaginable.

Brian van Flandern
has literally written the book on
the ultimate in luxury craft cocktails
Brian van Flandern, who has worked with the likes of Thomas Keller, Mario Batali, and Michel Richard at their restaurants (such as Per Se) and luxury properties such as The Plaza and The Carlyle in New York and The Mansion at Turtle Creek in Dallas, and many others, is considered one of the world's top mixologists.  As Mr. van Flandern wrote in one of his articles:
Today when I am asked the difference between the two, my short response is: A mixologist is to a bartender; as a chef is to a cook. Like a bartender, a mixologists keeps their money (and inventory) straight, maintains a clean bar, knows their basic recipes and cultivates a bar clientele by engaging with their guests. A good mixologist should be doing all these things and more… 
Like a chef, a mixologist sources out local farm-to-table ingredients, balances the acids and sugars, innovates new recipes, makes their own syrups/tonics/tinctures/infusions from scratch and pays great attention to presentation: from the ice, temperature, garnish, glassware, texture, color and flavor. Additionally, mixologist are delving into spirits education and fully understanding the histories, distillation techniques and flavor profiles of the products they’re working with.
So what does this mean to the Seabourn guest?  Essentially three things:
  • The quality of your drink, whether a gin and tonic, mojito or Pimm's Cup, is going to have the highest quality ingredients and will be prepared properly.
  • Your drink will be prepared consistently from ship to ship and bartender to bartender; essentially eliminating choosing a venue or bartender because that's where they make the best X.
  • There will be offerings of "Over the Top" cocktails made available to you with extraordinarily limited and expensive liquors (costing up to thousands of dollars a bottle) and ingredients.  van Flandern literally wrote the book when it comes to these extravagant cocktails, which will be available for extra-cost (ranging from $25 and up)...which is consistent in approach to Seabourn's always charging extra for truly ultra-premium spirits and wines.
The Seabourn Retreat

Seabourn Encore's The Retreat
Cabanas, Lounges, Whirlpool with Champagne
plus Full Bar and Dining Options 
Seabourn Encore is going to introduce a new and improved concept in relaxation experiences:  The Retreat.   It will be located on Deck 12 forward, essentially where the putting greens are located on the Seabourn Odyssey, Sojourn and Quest.  It will consist of a number of cabanas (available for an estimated $350 per day) and lounges set around a whirlpool with champagne, full bar and food service.

While this is a significant improvement over the previous Garden Villas that were never used (and where the Penthouse Spa Suites are now located) on the Odyssey-class ships, I am not sure how many guests will be willing to pay for this experience.  What is clear is that Seabourn is targeting a new, younger, demographic while fully supporting and honoring the present Seabourn guests' expected experience.

By the way, do not expect the Retreat (at least in this form) to be installed on the Odyssey-class ships as the same area is too small to accommodate it.


Interested in booking a Seabourn cruise? Give Goldring Travel a call at:

United States:         (877) 2GO-LUXURY
United Kingdom:   020 8133 3450
Australia:               (07) 3102 4685
Everywhere Else: +1 732 578 8585


Or email us at eric@goldringtravel.com.