So I was excited to hear about Seabourn Encore, the newest edition to Seabourn's modern fleet, from the man responsible for its design, Adam Tihany. Known for his work on restaurants and hotels, including the One&Only Cape Town and the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, he elegantly conveys a sense of place in his immersive designs.
He certainly looked the part on the day, immaculately dressed in a smart suit and wearing bright red square frame glasses as he talked us through his designs for the ship. I must confess that I'm convinced it's going to be something very special.
He started with a lesson in what good design looks like. Holding up an iPhone, Apple's triumph of form and function, Adam told a story about Stephen Fry, who protectively drew an iPad towards his chest when asked to return a prototype at Apple's HQ. So what is the secret behind design that evokes such a strong emotion? According to Adam, it's "a product with no sharp corners", but how does that translate to Seabourn Encore, and how can a designer known for conveying a sense of place do so on a ship that travels the world?
First you need to know where you've come from to know where you're going, and this meant going on his first cruise to the Mediterranean. Adam was joined by his wife and business partner Marnie Tihany, who was so worried she wouldn't enjoy it that she was promised a helicopter would be on hand at every port. Needless to say, it wasn't required. However, that wasn't enough for Seabourn, who insisted he travel on an ocean crossing when the ship becomes a home and fellow travellers become neighbours. It's clear that the time on board made an impact; listening to Adam speak about the plans it was clear that this was someone completely integrated within the Seabourn team.
So what can we expect? Well, every aspect of the ship has been examined and improved. Seabourn Square has been redesigned with a speciality coffee bar. The boxed centre section will be removed creating a more open piazza-style lounge. Careful attention has been paid to the dining venues, and The Colonnade's atmosphere will transform from day to night with innovative video art that adjusts to the time of day. Replacing Restaurant 2, there will be a dedicated sushi restaurant with a white-on-white theme open for lunch and dinner. The most exciting enhancement is the new speciality restaurant by Thomas Keller, perhaps the most respected chef in the US at the moment; he holds no less than seven Michelin stars, with two of his restaurants having three stars apiece. Located on the new deck 8 it will have a bar/lounge and accommodate 80 guests inside, plus another 80 outside.
The biggest challenge Adam has to overcome is one which sounds rather mundane. The low ceiling height is a particular problem, especially in large rooms which can become claustrophobic. However there are ways round this, and that can be seen in the Observation Lounge. Here, after months of talks between Adam, the structural engineers and the Seabourn management, a skylight has been agreed, with no expense spared.
No detail has been overlooked. There are 27 individually designed cushions in the Observations Bar (a bottle of Champagne to the first person to send us a picture of all of them!), the wine racks are on gyroscopes to prevent the engine vibration effecting the taste, and hours were spent on the look and feel of the hand rails, as miles of them will cover every wall. There will also be around 180 carefully considered pieces of art (some designed by Adam's son), each chosen with its exact placement in mind.
It's this attention to detail that Apple recognised as crucial to their design, and it's this idea that Adam has embraced to create a ship with no sharp corners. A space with its own personality and the feel of a luxury mega yacht.
But there are some developments yet to be announced, including a potential tie-up with a Champagne house to create a chic outdoor lounge area - watch this space!
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