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.