Friday, January 13, 2017

Seabourn Encore: The Inaugural Cruise - Part IV - Elegance; Not Opulence: Thomas Keller, Sir Tim Rice and Adam Tihany

The Seabourn Encore’s profile is familiar, but clearly is a larger ship; the significantly larger bridge viewed from the front and the significantly increased open spaces overlooking the ship’s wash.

Boarding the Seabourn Encore for the first time provides you both with the clear sense you are on a Seabourn cruise, but also that this ship is something special; richer, brighter, warmer and more spacious.  I find the glossy teak with steel or white highlights, played off against the creamy colored leather furnishings elegant, but also an homage to things nautical; something most cruise ships have unfortunately gotten away from. 

Seabourn is about providing a comfortable yet elegant luxury setting where the décor works to highlight the finest service and cuisine at sea.   Thus if you are looking for an over-the-top opulent décor the Seabourn Encore, as well as the other Seabourn ships, is not for you.

While most of the Seabourn guests (past, present and future) do not care that Adam Tihany – the preeminent designer of many of the top hotels and restaurants in the world -  reimagined and designed the spaces, what is important to them (and me) is that Seabourn’s investment in Mr. Tihany to deliver a truly spectacular product has paid off.  

Generally there is a resistance to change (even good change) when loyal guests of the Seabourn Odyssey, Sojourn or Quest view a new ship; just as when the loyal guest of the former Seabourn Pride, Spirit and Legend were initially resistent to the Seabourn Odyssey.   Over the past few days, as I speak with guests, the overall design and space have been the subject of rave reviews.  

Of course there are a few places that will need to be adjusted - more on that in other articles - but nothing that is catastrophic.  And there are some folks that perceive issues that others do not or are focused on finding issues rather than the improvements.

For me the finest example of elegance rather than opulence is The Grill by Thomas Keller.  From the bar to the lounge area to the dining room the layout, décor, colors, lighting, etc. they all come together into what I am confident will be (and appears to already is) one of the most popular venues on the Seabourn Encore.  

There is a richness to the The TK Grill (The Grill by Thomas Keller)
that is difficult to photograph.  Added is a fantastic pianist and a
bartender that is "The Man" and it is a true Seabourn Experience
The (sort of) subtle complexity of thought and detail that Seabourn put in the physical aspects of Seabourn Encore shows itself when the Tihany designed space is then placed into the hands of Thomas Keller, the Three Michelin Star chef; resulting in the ultimate in a grill dining experience. 

There is no question that, while the Seabourn Encore also has Sushi (an obvious Japanese dining experience)

Sushi - The Seabourn Encore's newest restaurant is pretty amazing
The Grill by Thomas Keller is unmistakably American.  Starters such as Gulf Prawn Cocktail, Maryland Crab Cakes and New England Clam Chowder and Mains such as Rib-Eye, Veal T-Bone, Lobster Thermidor and Roasted Free-Range Chicken along with sides of Mac and Cheese, Creamed Spinach, Steak Fries, etc., fine dining and comfort food come together.

After dinner, Seabourn’s melding of world-class talent continues with a vastly improved entertainment team. Again, talent over opulence is the focus.  There are no fancy shows, but Seabourn has most certainly upped its budget and, therefore, talent for its cast.  These folks can truly sing and dance; with persona.  Sir Timothy Rice has been onboard the Seabourn Encore and I enjoyed a fantastic evening of his chatting about his musical career combining with the truly talented cast (something I am pleased to finally be able to say) to deliver his music from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat to Evita to Lion King and so many more.  With lesser talent the evening could have been a disaster, but it was well and truly special.

The magnificent Seabourn Encore,  Thomas Keller, Adam Tihany, and Sir Tim Rice.  This is, to me, the best and most successful approach to delivering the most luxurious cruise experience at sea…and Seabourn had done it as I continue my sailing on the Inaugural Cruise of the Seabourn Encore.

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