Noticing the nuances at the Seabourn Pursuit handover

GENOA, Italy — What do you say about a new ship that is nearly identical to its predecessor?

You have to look for the nuances. 

That’s the idea with the Seabourn Pursuit, the second of Seabourn’s expedition ships, which was delivered to the line July 31 at the T. Mariotti shipyard here. The first is the Seabourn Venture, which rolled out of T. Mariotti last year with the same deck plan, design and expedition mission. As far as the cabins, the public spaces, the ice-class hull — the ships are the same. 

The Pursuit has that intimate feel that comes with a small ship of 264 passengers. There are several gathering places in which to eat, drink and chat over the day’s adventures, from the top deck Constellation Lounge on Deck 9 forward, above the bridge, to the cozy, wood-paneled Exploration Lounge on the main deck. The main Restaurant is big enough to seat all passengers at once.

When the weather is fine, guests may gravitate to outdoor spaces, such as the hot tubs and infinity-style pool on the ship’s aft that provide wake views; up above at the Sky Bar; or out front on the bow.

Artwork on display on the Seabourn Pursuit. Adam Tihany is the ship's designer.

The primary difference between the Pursuit and the Venture is the art, which Adam Tihany, the ship’s designer, said varies “significantly.” There are more than 700 pieces onboard the Pursuit, and Tihany said that for each ship, he and Seabourn worked with different art consultants with different sensibilities.

The ships will also differ in their sailing regions. Both will operate in Antarctica during the winter, but when the Venture heads back to the Arctic, the Pursuit will follow an easterly track to the South Pacific and the Kimberley region of Australia. Perhaps to reflect this, a giant panel that greets Pursuit guests at the entrance to the Explorers Lounge is a colorful, tropical-hued abstract depiction of a volcano, palm fronds and rolling hills.

The duplex Wintergarden suite on the Seabourn Pursuit.

Seabourn’s new president

A big difference at the handover ceremony was the new boss at Seabourn: Natalya Leahy took over as president in March from Josh Leibowitz, who had presided over the Venture delivery.

Walking the ship in a navy suit dress, Seabourn lapel pin and a broad smile, Leahy couldn’t help but telegraph excitement about her first delivery. At Holland America Line Group, which oversaw Seabourn at the time, Leahy was part of the team that dreamed up the expedition ships. One of her “proudest achievements” so far in her tenure, she said, was the Pursuit’s delivery.

“The vision was not to change Seabourn but to take Seabourn to the next level,” she said. “Bring it into the expedition space.” 

The infinity pool and aft sun deck on the day of the ship's delivery from the T. Mariotti yard.

Leahy pointed out later that Seabourn had been doing expedition-style cruising for several years before the Venture and Pursuit were sketched out and commissioned. Guests appreciate “life-enriching experiences and creating connection with the world,” she said. Inspired by that, it started looking for ships “that enable that capability to go even deeper, even closer, and get this experience for our guests.”

By “bringing ultraluxury into the expedition space,” she said, Seabourn has made expedition cruising accessible to that segment of travelers without asking them “to compromise anything in their way of travel.” 

In a brief twist, the Pursuit is doing a series of more traditional cruise itineraries in the Mediterranean before it begins its expedition program in the Caribbean, South America and Antarctica this fall.

But the ships are clearly designed for more extreme elements. The Pursuit has a raft of 24 Zodiacs lashed to the top deck; wispy, water-vapor fireplaces in some lounges; heated gear lockers in the cabins; and spaces given over to technical and educational, ahem, pursuits. One of those is the Bow Lounge, where passengers can view screens of nautical charts, ship position and video of scenery and wildlife as they make their way to and from the viewing deck on the bow.

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