With MSC Cruises entering the luxury market with dedicated 1,000-guest ships, the family-owned company will be the third biggest luxury operator by 2027, according to Cruise Industry News estimates.
Viking Ocean will control most of the market pie, with 18 ships and an estimated market share of 35.7 per cent based on passenger capacity.
Silversea, with an aggressive newbuilding program and a new owner in Royal Caribbean Cruises, will be the second largest luxury line, with 12 ships and 13 per cent of the market come 2027, based on the existing cruise ship orderbook.
MSC Cruises is next, as the Italian brand will have four 64,000-ton luxury ships, 4,000 berths and just under 10 per cent of the luxury market, not including the company’s Yacht Club berths on its quickly-expanding fleet of megaships.
Crystal and Seabourn round out the top five, as both are expanding into the expedition market with new ships and Crystal has also committed to a new class of larger ocean-going vessels.
On the dais during the Seabourn Encore’s christening were (from left) godmother Sarah Brightman, ship captain Mark Dexter and Seabourn president Rick Meadows.
SINGAPORE — With bright yellow two-person Chinese lion dancers prowling the audience, along with illuminated stilt walkers, a troupe of drummers and a long pink paper dragon carried on poles by a half-dozen bearers, Seabourn christened its newest vessel in this hub of Asian shipping.
The 600-passenger Seabourn Encore becomes Seabourn’s fourth ship, in one swoop returning the line to the capacity it had prior to selling three 200-passenger ships to Windstar Cruises in 2013.
“Encore marks a major step forward in the growth of our company,” Seabourn president Rick Meadows said before introducing godmother Sarah Brightman to the audience, which included 1,050 passengers from the Encore and the Seabourn Sojourn, also docked at the modernistic Marina Bay Cruise Center.
Inside the terminal, they watched projection screens showing the ship’s hull as Brightman pushed a button that sent the traditional champagne bottle careening into the side of the ship.
It smashed, triggering a blizzard of gold and black confetti inside the hall. Brightman, a classical crossover vocalist who has sold more than 30 million albums worldwide, did not sing for the event.
The Encore departed later in the evening on its 10-day inaugural cruise that will end in Bali.
On hand for the event were Micky Arison and Arnold Donald, chairman and CEO, respectively, of Carnival Corp., which owns the Seabourn luxury brand.
Donald flew in by private jet fresh off an appearance at the Las Vegas consumer electronics show, where he unveiled Carnival’s new Ocean Medallion technology.
In his remarks, Donald reprised a favorite theme that this is “the golden age of cruising” and that the audience should feel fortunate it is living in an age when beautiful ships like the Encore are built.
Singapore’s minister for trade and industry, S. Iswaran, said that Carnival Corp. ships represent about 20% of the annual cruise calls in Singapore.
He said the island city-state has a “rising appeal to sophisticated travelers” and that it is “the home port of choice in southeast Asia.”
He noted that the World Bank for a decade put Singapore atop its list of easiest places to do business. It fell last year to number two behind New Zealand when the bank revised its ranking formula.
The Encore represents a refinement of Seabourn’s Odyssey-class vessels delivered from 2009-2011. It has an extra deck that provides space for a small sushi restaurant and a larger chop house created by celebrity chef Thomas Keller.
Designer Adam Tihany reimagined the interiors in a softer, more curvaceous mode. He has also designed the second ship in the class, Seabourn Ovation, which is currently under construction and is scheduled to launch in spring 2018.
Seabourn said it will cruise in Alaska in the summer of 2017, its first time in that market in 15 years.
The Seabourn Sojourn will offer 11-, 12- and 14-day itineraries sailing from Vancouver and Seward, Alaska.
In addition to popular stops, Seabourn said ships will visit hidden gems of the Inside Passage that larger ships can’t access.
While there, guests can take advantage of Ventures by Seabourn, an optional program of Zodiac and kayak excursions led by the Seabourn Sojourn’s expedition team of naturalists, science, wildlife and historical experts.
Alaska prices start at $7,999 per person, Seabourn said.