Here in Fort Lauderdale, Florida there is reason to be excited – and it goes beyond the warm temperatures and soothing ocean breeze. The Seatrade Cruise Global 2017 conference kicked off yesterday at the Fort Lauderdale Convention Centre, and the results are in: it’s a great time to be a cruiser.

Seabourn Sojourn will sail Seabourn’s first voyages to Alaska in 15 years – and the luxury line is pulling out all the stops. Photo courtesy of Seabourn.

CLIA estimates that over 25 million of us will take a cruise this year. What’s really remarkable about that figure is that it has increased over 60 percent since 2007. I don’t know about you, but I remember cruising in 2007 and thinking that it was pretty darn popular back then. That cruises, as vacation choice, have seen such a massive increase in popularity over the last decade is nothing short of extraordinary. But it’s not just big ships bringing cruisers in: luxury, expedition and river cruising are playing a huge role in attracting first-time passengers.

Take, for instance, luxury line Seabourn. The line just took delivery of the striking new Seabourn Encore at the start of this year, and the ship is booked nearly to capacity for much of the 2017 cruise season. Designed by Adam D. Tihany, she is the ideal evolution of Seabourn’s existing fleet, with graceful lines, no more than 300 suites, and masterful interior décor that is at once traditional and modern in the same breath. Essentially, Seabourn is making small-ship luxury cruising sexy again.

Seabourn Square reflects Seabourn Sojourn’s classic yet modern styling. Photo courtesy of Seabourn.

But it goes beyond that: Seabourn is also returning to Alaska for the first time this year. Leading the way: the sleek, 450-guest Seabourn Sojourn, which will operate cruises spanning 11 to 25 days in length that depart from Vancouver, Canada or Seward, Alaska. These aren’t your average cruise itineraries: guests can visit Wrangell, Alaska, with its incredible Petroglyph Beach; or step ashore in Alert Bay, British Columbia, known for its impressive collection of First Nations totem poles.

That would have been enough to attract cruisers back to the region with Seabourn, but the line took things one step further. And then another. And then another still.

In Alaska, Seabourn is offering Ventures by Seabourn – sea kayak or Zodiac raft tours that allows guests to explore the wilderness of Alaska up-close, led by Seabourn Encore’s top-notch Expedition Team.

Thoughtful and unexpected public rooms, like The Restaurant, underscore Adam D. Tihany’s overall interior design. Photo courtesy of Seabourn.

Guests are provided with a complimentary all-weather jacket (no need to fish out the old parka from storage), and will be able to attend special events like Seabourn’s new Caviar on the Ice party, as well as Seabourn Conversations – intimate dialogues with special guests speakers that include naturalists, marine mammal experts, bear experts, ornithologists, and more, all of whom will be talking about the unique region that is Alaska and Canada’s British Columbia coast.

But it is impossible to visit B.C. or Alaska without touching on the rich First Nations history present there, from the Haida Peoples of Haida Gwaii to Southeast Alaska’s Tlingit. Because of that, Seabourn has designed a special Klemtu Cultural Experience to enrich guests knowledge and appreciation of the First Nations peoples that have called this region home for hundreds of years.

While Seabourn Sojourn will call on Alaska’s “big three ports” of Skagway (pictured), Juneau and Ketchikan, she will also offer calls on smaller, more out-of-the-way locales. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Taking place in Klemtu, British Columbia, this exclusive event is available to each of the 450 guests aboard Seabourn Sojourn – but of course, like everything Seabourn, there is no pressure to participate. Those that do, however, will find much to love about this special event, hosted by the First Nations community that includes a meal off-ship and a one-of-a-kind welcome to this small community of just over 500 that is located on Swindle Island, south of Prince Rupert near the town of Bella Bella.

Because of their in-depth nature, these itineraries are perfect for new and past-guests alike. Past cruisers to Alaska will find much to love about Seabourn’s new Alaska voyages, which visit ports and out-of-the-way fjords that are normally off-limits to larger ships, and are rarely visited even by midsize vessels. It’s Unexpected Alaska, and Seabourn is showcasing it this year beginning in June.

Seabourn Sojourn’s maiden Alaska season runs from June to September this year, and the line already has its 2018 itineraries online and available for booking. I’ve cruised to Alaska nine times now on ships of all shapes and sizes, and I can tell you this: you don’t want to miss out on these very cool voyages.

Glacier Bay, Alaska. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

More information about Seabourn and its ships and itineraries can be found by visiting the Seabourn website. Stay tuned – more news from Seatrade Cruise Global is coming this week!

 

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