Atle founded Seabourn in 1987, heading up the cruise lines as chairman and CEO for its first few years, and later served as chairman of Cunard before launching SeaDream in 2001. Our chat with Atle took place at the end of an unusual summer for SeaDream, with both yachts cruising the coast of Norway instead of their usual haunts in the Mediterranean...
Q: Describe your company in no more than 50 words...
A: SeaDream's whole ethos is totally based on our family's personal preferences. For every aspect of the cruise experience we think 'what do we like best?' and incorporate it into the onboard experience. Of course we all prefer different things, so the SeaDream secret is to be all things to each of our guests.
Q: What is your proudest moment as it relates to your company?
A: Back in 2002 we christened our two ships on the same day, in open sea off the coast of Corsica. The ships were anchored three feet apart, my wife was on the bow of SeaDream II and I was on SeaDream I, and at the exact same time we each smashed the bottle of Champagne to christen the ship. All the guests participated in the ceremony - it was an unforgettable experience.
Q: Tell me something about yourself that most people don't know...
A: I'm an organic farmer! It's a good contrast to the cruise industry. Our farm is totally sustainable and we use technology we developed ourselves - I have Physics PhD students working for me.
Q: Tell me what, in your opinion, is the one most significant thing that makes your cruise line different from its competitors?
A: It is our ability to discover exactly what will make each client happy. As our crew members are practically family, they understand what we are trying to achieve, they buy into our passion for service, our wish to align ourselves with each guest's needs.
Q: What is the next big thing to come from your company?
A: We're planning a new ship. Smaller than Innovation (the planned new ship that was cancelled last year), maybe 120 to 140 guests, and it will be as clean as possible.
Q: Why do you love Mundy Cruising and what do you think is the secret of their 50 years of success?
A: Like us, the Mundy team believe in serving their clients in the best possible way, with honesty, kindness and understanding. They know that listening is key.