With the advent of Seabourn Odyssey and her two sisters, the range of destinations Seabourn guests are exploring expands as well. And since the delivery of the destinations is such an important part of Seabourn yachting life, Helen Panagos, Seabourn’s VP of Shoreside Operations, came up with a plan to totally revamp the company’s destination services resources.
"We learned a lot from talking with our guests about what they really wanted to do during their cruises,” says Helen. “Some of them are still interested in the more general interest types of tours that we have been offering. But more and more of them wanted truly unique, customized arrangements for themselves and the small group of people they travel with-maybe family or friends. So we designed a whole new department to provide the sort of attention and expertise that can create very special experiences that aren’t off-the-shelf sightseeing tours, but rather unique, personalized arrangements that make for a perfect, memorable day in a port."
She cites a few examples, such as a culinary experience in Sicily, where guests have arranged to meet a renowned local cook—not a celebrity chef but a respected cook with deep knowledge of authentic Sicilian cuisine, for a cooking lesson in her private home. “She’s absolutely charming,” says Helen, “and they learn to make a few dishes and then they all move out to the terazza of her house, in the shade of the trees and eat lunch together. It’s just perfect.”
“I met with Francesca, our tour operator in Rome, and she took me to the Borghese museum which we have offered on sightseeing tours,” Helen continued. “And after we looked around the museum we went out into the garden, and there were couples and families having picnics in little nooks and corners of the garden, and it looked so lovely. So now we can arrange the same sort of tour in the museum with an expert guide, and then add a delicious picnic lunch in the gardens if the guests want it.”
“And then we went out of the garden into the park,” she went on, (Helen is like that!) “and I saw people riding around in the park on bicycles and it looked like fun, so I asked and they said ‘Sure, we can arrange bike rides, and there is a great little gelato place in the park where we can end up for a gelato!’ So that’s how we are doing things now.”
Helen’s Destinations department now numbers eight people, including professional destination specialists with expertise on various regions around the world, as well as logistical specialists with experience and knowledge of hotels, airports and transportation companies worldwide. We’ll hear from more of them in the future, with tips, insider information and suggestions for great things to do in ports of call. Or you can contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org about custom arrangements during a Seabourn voyage. The service is complimentary.
Note, there will be no post on Thursday, December 25—Happy Holidays!