For a long time now cruise holidays have had a somewhat 'stuffy' reputation. The very mention of such a voyage can conjure up visions of cavernous cruise-liners packed to the rim with passengers, where pokey cabins and set menus are the norm. Yet in the past decades sleek, innovative, luxury small-ship fleets have been attracting more and more adventurous travellers aboard.
What's more, the smaller capacities of these ships mean they can do things differently from larger liners. The high standards at à la carte restaurants sees dining elevated to levels you'd expect in any luxury hospitality setting. With generous staff-to-guest ratios aboard (almost one to one on many ships), your own interests and tastes can be catered to as well; whether it’s something special in the restaurant or a specific guided tour of a town on your itinerary.
So, that's the attraction of small ship cruising, but what does a 'small ship' actually look like? We thought we'd take a sneak peak at the Seabourn Encore, due to launch her maiden season in December this year.
Lauded as the pinnacle of Seabourn's innovation so far, a luxurious atmosphere and unprecedented choice is promised aboard the Seabourn Encore. Some 300 suites will provide accommodation that would be at home in any top hotel. Each will boast a private verandah too, for taking in views of incredible destinations such as Athens, Dubai and Mumbai.
Plans for the superlative Seabourn Suites onboard have recently been unveiled, and we're sure that these ultra-luxe dwellings won't disappoint even the most discerning of travellers. With entry level Veranda Suites set to offer ocean views, in-room entertainment and luxurious bathrooms featuring double-vanity sinks, there's no doubt that the ship's premium accommodation will be something very special indeed! The pinnacle of this will be the Wintergarden Suite, which boasts two en suite bedrooms, incredibly spacious living areas and even a glass-enclosed solarium with tub! All this and the services of a personal suite stewardess who will be happy to do anything from making dinner reservations to drawing you a bath.
There are many more impressive touches too. Four dining options have already been announced, with two more speciality venues still to be revealed. Seabourn has recently teamed up with Thomas Keller, the internationally acclaimed chef behind three Michelin-starred restaurants (The French Laundry, Per Se and Bouchon), to create a host of new dishes for the fleet's onboard menus as well as The Grill by Thomas Keller, an American chop house inspired à la carte dining venue. Surely this will make for a very special culinary experience!
With Seabourn clearly going from strength to strength, an additional sister ship, Seabourn Ovation, is also planned and scheduled to set sail in 2018. We can't wait to
Seabourn encore vital statistics:
Capacity: 300 suites
Number of decks: 12
Dining venues: 6
Sets sail: December 2016