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CRUISE


NOTHING VENTURED


SEABOURN HEADS TO ALASKA IN 2017 FOR THE FIRST TIME IN 15 YEARS. EXPEDITION EXPERT ROBIN WEST TOLD ASPIRE WHAT GUESTS HAVE TO LOOK FORWARD TO AND HOW THE LINE’S ‘VENTURES’ PROGRAMME IS EXPANDING ACROSS CONTINENTS


here’s no doubting that Robin West is an expert in expedition cruising. After all, he’s been to Antarctica more than 50 times and has been in the industry for almost 15 years.


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The South African joined Seabourn in 2014. Since then, he’s been honing the luxury brand’s expedition offering and has developed the Ventures by Seabourn excursion offering.


The senior manager of expedition planning and operations claims Seabourn’s entry into expedition cruising changed the sector, as it was among the first luxury operators to offer more immersive and exploratory sailings.


“In the past, expedition cruise


guests were always willing to sacrifice the onboard experience because they knew there was an incredible off-ship experience waiting for them,” he says. “With the introduction of Seabourn in Antarctica, a new relationship between luxury and expedition formed, and guests no longer had to compromise on the onboard experience. “We wanted to use this expedition style in other areas of the world, and that’s where Ventures started.” Ventures was introduced in 2015 as an immersive shore-tours programme using Zodiac inflatable boats and sea kayaks to give customers different experiences in destinations such as the Norwegian fjords, Iceland, Greenland, Antarctica and the Arctic. Ventures runs alongside the line’s standard shore excursions.


“We’re very excited to launch Ventures on the Alaska itineraries,” added West. “These itineraries have been created with Ventures in mind, whereas when we launched it in other destinations, it had to fit into existing itineraries because the destinations were already set.” West is investigating whether a similar programme would work in the Caribbean.


POLE POSITION


Seabourn has added a pre-cruise trip to the South Pole on select Antarctica and Patagonia itineraries for this winter. Guests travelling on Seabourn


Next year that programme, which also includes hiking experiences, will be expanded into Alaska, when Seabourn Sojourn embarks on a series of 11, 12 and 14-day itineraries from Vancouver and Anchorage. The Ventures excursions are coupled with onboard lectures from experts in history, glaciers, culture and wildlife. In Alaska, guests will head out in Zodiacs and kayaks to get up close to waterfalls, and travel along picturesque waterways. Each day, the line will be able to host up to 400 guests on the inflatable boats and up to 70 on kayaks.


Quest can now bolt on a trip to Union Glacier Camp in the Ellsworth Mountains. Robin West says: “Seabourn has made its reputation for offering guests astonishing experiences in places that are beyond the ordinary, and there are few travel opportunities less expected or more out of the ordinary than a visit to the South Pole.” The line offers two options: a


15-day Polar Quest & Patagonia itinerary that leads in at $50,999, and a 17-day Polar Quest, Tierra del Fuego and Iguaçu Falls itinerary, which starts at $53,999.


aspire december 2016 — 43


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