Seabourn Cruise Line has sold the two sister ships, Seabourn Goddess I and Goddess II to the former Seabourn founder and owner Atle Brynestad for an undisclosed amount. Brynestad, who previously was chairman of Cunard Line and a board member of Carnival Corporation, will take delivery on September 1, 2001.
Brynestad said that he planned to continue to operate the two 4,260-ton, 116-passenger ships on their schedules as published by the previous owner, through spring of 2002, when both ships will undergo major refurbishment. They first entered service in 1984 and 1985, respectively, and were built for $32 million each.
It has previously been reported that Brynestad planned to launch a spa-ship concept, but when contacted late last year, a spokesperson for Brynestad said he had no plans to re-enter the cruise business.
According to a prepared statement, "Several former associates who originally started Seabourn are also expected to participate in the future of the two vessels."
New bookings and charter inquiries for the Sea Goddesses will be accepted by the new owner's general sales agent, North Star Tours, based in Fort Lauderdale.
Fight for Passengers
Seaboum is offering passengers and agents strong incentives to switch their bookings to one of its other ships. In 2001 and 2002, the Seaboum Goddess I and II had been deployed on itineraries of four to seven days in the Caribbean and the Mediterranean, with a few seasonal 10-day positioning cruises between those regions.
According to Seabourn, anyone holding reservations for 2001 departures on Seaboum Goddess can switch to another Seaboum ship in the same region for up to 14 days in 2001 at no additional fare(!). Guests booked in 2002 may also exchange their five or seven-day Seaboum Goddess cruises to any Seabourn cruise up to 14 days at no additional charge.
In addition, all guests who rebook with Seabourn will receive a $300 per suite shipboard credit. And agents who rebook their clients on an alternative Seabourn cruise will receive a bonus commission of $400 per suite. Guests who prefer to cancel will have their fares refunded. In addition, canceling guests will receive credits of $500 per person toward fares on future Seaboum cruises.
The new so-far unnamed company bas countered with what it called "unbelievably low rates," offering Mediterranean cruises at $325 per day and Caribbean cruises for $199 per day.
Brynestad once launched Seaboum but needed Carnival's resources to bail him out. How he is going to succeed with two smaller ships remains to be seen, especially in light of the battle that Seaboum seems to be gearing up for.
Industry sources speculate that the Seabourn Goddesses sale is the beginning of the unraveling of the Cunard/Seabourn fleet. Sources suggested that the Caronia is already on the block and that the Seabourn sister ships will follow. The Seaboum Sun will be joining Holland America Line's fleet next year as the Prinsendam. If that scenario plays out, only Cunard Line will survive with the QE2, whose future will be in doubt once the new QM2 enters service.
Meanwhile, the sale of the Seaboum Goddesses completes a distillation of the Seaboum fleet back to its original ships, according to Rick Meadows, vice president of sales and marketing, who said they will secure the company's place as the most exclusive vacation available at any price.