The Luxury Sector: Can It Absorb The New Capacity? | TravelResearchOnline


The Luxury Sector: Can It Absorb The New Capacity?

There’s not been a new luxury ship launch in more than five years. Suddenly, however, within a 12-month span, three new luxury cruise vessels will have been launched by the time summer ends. The new ship launches began with Seabourn Odyssey this past June; was followed by Silver Spirit, which began service in December; and ends with Seabourn Sojourn, sister to Odyssey, to be launched this summer. 

Can the luxury segment absorb the growth? Or will there be continued pricing pressure? First, a look at the ships.

The 450-passenger Odyssey, and its sister Sojourn, are totally new concepts for Seabourn Cruise Line, which has operated three smaller vessels, in the 200-passenger range, that were more than two decades old. Seabourn’s new vessels bring quite a lot that will please long-time Seabourn cruisers as well as much to impress those new to luxury line. 

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In essence, Seabourn Odyssey is where South Beach meets Palm Beach. The Restaurant, for example, would not look out of place in South Beach’s trendy hotels while the Colonnade (restaurant) could pass the muster in any of those plush Palm Beach country clubs. Quite simply, Seabourn Odyssey marries the best of South Florida’s trendiest beach resorts with one of America’s poshest cities.

Competitor Silversea Cruises floated out its largest ship ever late last year. The 540-passenger Silver Spirit brought  a few things to the luxury cruise sector that no other ship of its size has brought before: stateroom televisions hidden behind mirrors and controlled by a single remote; six restaurants (luxury contender Crystal has more, but its ships are larger); service enhancements, including luggage cleaning, complimentary laundry and dry cleaning, and two free hours use of worldwide phone and internet.

Also new (drumroll, please): Silver Spirit has introduced butler service in every suite. The service is being expanded fleetwide. 

Meantime, luxury contenders Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Crystal Cruises have been sprucing up their fleets with multi-million-dollar upgrades. 

Luxury lines are working hard to create an even better experience on board, and their new ships provide the additional facilities to facilitate that. The new Seabourn ships, for example, each feature four dining venues. Silver Spirit features six. There are also more al fresco dining venues on the new luxury ships. Both the new Seabourn ships and the new Silversea ship offer a more casual and relaxed dining experience on the pool decks. 

Some have said that the new capacity, however, puts pressure on pricing, which in turn, puts pressure on the product delivery. What are your thoughts about the luxury sector? Can it absorb the new capacity without losing its luxury edge?

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