This New Luxury Expedition Ship Has 2 Submarines, a World-class Crew, and an Amazing Spa

Seabourn launched its 264-passenger expedition ship, Venture, today. It's bringing a new era of "chill luxury" to the world's most remote destinations — and heading to Antarctica soon.

Seabourn Venture expedition ship
Photo: Eric Laignel

The world's newest expedition cruise ship launches today, promising a luxurious new era in some of the world's most remote destinations. The 264-passenger Seabourn Venture just embarked on its first official voyage from Tromsö, Norway, marking the first time the Carnival Corporation–owned luxury cruise line will offer adventurous sailings on an expedition ship built for extreme environments.

Seabourn, a favorite cruise line of Travel + Leisure readers, is known for its on-board service and over-the-top food including complimentary caviar and Thomas Keller steakhouses on ships such as the Seabourn Ovation. Now, with the 132-suite Venture, the all-inclusive brand will offer a different sort of luxury: Zodiac trips, wildlife-watching expeditions, and off-the-grid explorations previously available to only the most hardcore of adventurers.

"This ship is really catering to a guest that wants the best, and that wants to live each moment to its fullest," says Josh Leibowitz, president of Seabourn, in an exclusive interview with T+L.

The Venture will be sailing the next few months in the Arctic to places such as Longyearbyen, Norway; Greenland; and the far north of Canada. Later in 2022, the ship will sail south before transiting the Panama Canal; navigating the coasts of Peru and Chile; then heading for Antarctica, where it'll spend the upcoming Southern Hemisphere summer.

Seabourn Venture ship interiors
Eric Laignel

One of the Venture's key features will be its stacked collection of water toys, including two submarines for underwater exploration, a fleet of 24 Zodiacs, kayaks, and scuba gear. But it's the 26-person expedition team on board that will really make the guest experience special, says Robin West, Seabourn's vice president and general manager, expeditions.

"The on-board expedition team is what brings destinations to life," West tells T+L in a one-on-one interview. "It's one of the larger teams in the industry, with a huge diversity of skills, resources, and academic backgrounds: submarine pilots, surface supervisor officers, lead kayakers, kayak guides, bear guides, ornithologists, marine biologists, geologists, climatologists, dive masters — you know, there's an array of team members!"

Seabourn Venture ship interiors
Eric Laignel

Some of the more notable experts include Robert Egelstaff, a kayaker, and Trevor Potts, a lecturer, who together recreated Ernest Shackleton's 800-mile journey from Elephant Island to South Georgia Island. "They've lived the experience, and that's the kind of caliber of person that's sitting at your dinner table," says West. Other pros that will spend time on Venture include university-affiliated researchers and professional paddlers, plus experts in history, anthropology, volcanology, and other in-demand disciplines.

The arrival of Venture comes at a time when numerous cruise lines are launching expedition ships to capitalize on consumers' seemingly unlimited interest in getting the heck out of dodge.

"We've decided to create the world's preeminent way of visiting locations that can only be reached by ship," Leibowitz says, while noting that "we're still extremely small as an industry."

"When you add up all the ships that explore these different regions of the world," he observes, "it's still tiny compared to the number of people that go on a safari each year or that go to the national parks."

Seabourn Venture ship interiors
Eric Laignel

While super-exclusive, off-the-ship adventures are a key selling point of both Seabourn Venture and a forthcoming sister ship, Seabourn Pursuit, expected to launch in 2023, the cruise line isn't skimping on the interiors. Both ships will have eight different on-board dining options — that's a ton for such a small vessel — and suites will start at a large-for-cruising 335 square feet. Every room gets a private veranda, and a small number of spa suites add stepped up bath amenities and special access to the on-board spa.

Seabourn Venture ship interiors
Eric Laignel
Seabourn Venture ship interiors
Eric Laignel

Seabourn Venture will also have some next-level design features from Tihany Design, as T+L recently reported. "Striking wood-paneled staterooms, tactile details like cashmere throws, and floor-to-ceiling windows [will] frame ever-changing vistas," per the article. "The ship's two-story Wintergarden suites are among the most elaborate accommodations at sea, with Duxiana Axion beds and hideaway TVs in the bedrooms and, in the living areas, Bang & Olufsen audio technology and well-stocked wet bars."

Seabourn Venture ship interiors
Eric Laignel

While Venture is the line's newest ship, every one of Seabourn's vessels has come out of the pandemic with a refresh, Leibowitz says. "Our ships were completely reimagined during the pause," he notes. "We have hundreds of new and healthy recipes, new entertainment, new music, new shows. We're aiming to come back with an entirely new experience — a new vibe — that you might describe as 'active luxury.'"

Which isn't to say there aren't moments to relax, even during a once-in-a-lifetime adventure to Antarctica, Greenland, or off the coast of South America, Leibowitz adds. "As much active luxury as there is, there's also some wonderful chill luxury where you can feel relaxed and at home," he says of Seabourn ships, including Venture.

"If you come up and say, 'I'd like gin and tonic,' we'll make the tonic for you right there on board," he continues. "And while you're drinking that, sitting up in the observation bar, looking out over the beautiful, vast ocean — maybe the sun is setting — we have someone just casually playing the piano, and you're probably hearing something you listened to in high school — and you're probably wanting to sing along. That's chill luxury."

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