Although he is only three months into the job, this was not the first time I've met him. That was on board Seabourn Encore in Singapore, and he was on day two - what a great start!
Chris brings an interesting perspective to the role, as he does not have a cruise background. What he does have is an extraordinary knowledge of luxury hospitality, coming as he does from a 29 year stint at Starwood Hotels and Resorts. And as he said, what is a cruise ship if not the best of the best luxury resorts, with the added bonus of changing the scenery every day?
It was wonderful to revisit with Chris, with the perspective of a fresh pair of eyes, all the exciting aspects of the Seabourn product.
Chris said that what had struck him most forcefully on stepping aboard was the quality of the intuitive personal service, as borne out by story after story of extraordinary Seabourn moments shared with him by regular guests.
We talked about the link-up with three Michelin starred chef Thomas Keller - exciting for the American market but less significant on this side of the Atlantic, except for serious foodies. Chris highlights the fact that beyond the name, more important is Seabourn's focus on wonderful food options, and hinted at more exciting things to come.
We discussed Seabourn's partnership with UNESCO to promote sustainable tourism at World Heritage properties, helping to engender a wider understanding and commitment for the UNESCO World Heritage Convention's mission to identify, safeguard, and promote unique cultural and natural heritage around the world. For Seabourn guests, this means exclusive tour options and extra insights.
We spoke about master designer Adam Tihany, world renowned for his work with the finest hotels and restaurants, and the discreet and understated decor he has created for Seabourn Encore, so that Seabourn's latest ship is an evolution of the existing ships, rather than something else entirely.
We spoke about Seabourn Ovation, currently under construction, and due to enter service in 2018 as the fifth in Seabourn's fleet of consistent modern vessels, bringing additional itinerary options and even more variety.
And we discussed the exciting Ventures by Seabourn programme which we have visited in depth in previous articles on this website, first introduced with the unique Antarctica programme which has been so very successful on Seabourn Quest, and subsequently rolled out to enhance a variety of northern itineraries to destinations such as Norway, Iceland and Greenland. This summer, we see something new as Seabourn enter the highly competitive Alaska market with a key competitive difference in the luxury sector, an exciting Ventures by Seabourn programme which will enhance the experience and be particularly appealing to the family market.
As we reached the end of our discussion, I asked Chris what his ideal cruise would be, expecting him to identify one of the exotic longer itineraries in which Seabourn specialise. But no - he immediately focussed on a port intensive journey through the Greek Islands in early summer. Well chosen Chris - I couldn't agree more!
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