On board with Lynn Narraway
Tell us a little about yourself and how you got into cruising.
Following university, I spent three years as a travel agent, then joined American Airlines in Switzerland before working at ILG where I was instrumental in launching the first ever ‘cruise and stay’ programme. So I experienced quite a few areas within travel before joining the cruise industry. I feel very lucky to be part of such a successful sector.
You manage both Holland America line and Seabourn. What are the differences and similarities between the two brands?
Both are very successful brands in their own right, though they appeal to different people. Holland America Line (HAL) operates 15 midsized ships in the 5-star sector, with a focus on service and destinations. Seabourn I would compare to a boutique hotel rather than to any cruise line. It’s all-suite, all-inclusive ships carry no more than 600 guests and the experience is truly ultra-luxury.
Why choose to cruise with HAL or Seabourn rather than another luxury line?
Holland America Line has spent 145 years perfecting our “Classic Style and Enriching Journeys” which encompass dining, service, accommodation, enrichment and destinations. We compare the look of our ships to country house hotels, adorned with fine art, antiques and fresh flowers. Guests will get to connect in a deeper way with their destinations through long days and overnights in port plus our Explorations Central (EXC) programme, as well as enjoying spacious accommodation and attentive service.
Seabourn is perfect for guests who like to stay at boutique and luxury hotels, except of course you get to visit a number of diverse destinations in one holiday. Our staff are passionate about delivering the kind of perfect experience guests would normally only dream of. This usually comes down to thoughtful touches that guests weren’t expecting, like offering lens cleaning and sun tan lotion on deck, or the waiter who overhears a guest telling friends about her favourite dessert – then gets the chef to serve it the next day.
Veranda Suite on Seabourn
What types of guests join your cruises?
The typical HAL guest is a discerning traveller, looking for quality but still with an eye to value. HAL accommodation ranges from comfortable inside staterooms to luxurious suites, so there’s a price range to suit most pockets. Seabourn is designed especially for the luxury traveller used to the finer things in life. The all-inclusive element gives Seabourn ships a very sociable atmosphere, with wine and champagne flowing freely without anyone needing to worry about picking up the tab. Longer cruises will attract a more mature guest of course. But we're seeing the age profile on both brands lower, especially in the summer months when Holland America Line offers a very good Club HAL programme for children
How do you go about deciding new routes, or whether to make changes to popular itineraries?
For Holland America Line there are popular routes we won’t change. Every summer, for example, we have ships cruising in Alaska and in Europe. That said, we introduce new ports of call to our Europe programme each year, and we’re always thinking about new and exotic destinations around the world. We’ve recently added new EXC cruises to Asia, Australasia, the Pacific and Cuba featuring indispensable travel resources expert guidance and experiences that will connect guest with destinations through their own special interests, for instance through the lens of photography, cuisine or wildlife.
Seabourn’s intimate ships offer us the flexibility to introduce destinations that larger ships cannot access, for example Antarctica; while offering guests a very different and unique experience in better known regions such as Alaska, the Caribbean and Europe. Our “Ventures by Seabourn” programme features small group excursions by kayak with a team of specialist expedition leaders, while our exclusive partnership with UNESCO offers guests truly behind-the-scenes experiences at World Heritage sites.
How often do you get to go on cruises yourself?
- I have two teenage daughters, who love cruising. We recently cruised on Seabourn “en-famille” around the yacht harbours of the French and Italian Rivieras, which was incredible. Another favourite destination of mine has to be Alaska, with Holland America Line. Nothing compares to a day spent at Glacier Bay National Park, sitting quietly on deck as the ship glides slowly past ancient glaciers, ever watchful for seals, bears, bald eagles and whales.
Seabourn’s signature Caviar in the Surf
Do you have a favourite port of call or excursion to take?
It’s not an excursion, it’s more of an experience – Seabourn’s signature ‘Caviar in the Surf ’. During a Caribbean or Asia cruise, our ships will tender off a secluded cove. While our guests are ashore enjoying perfect white sand and turquoise seas, our uniformed staff plunge into the water and invite guests to wade in to enjoy champagne and caviar at a surfboard bar. The event also includes a lavish barbecue lunch, water sports and music.
What advice would you give to a firsttime cruiser?
There really is a cruise to suit every type of traveller. Look at the type of holidays you already enjoy – the hotels you like and restaurants you eat in – and you can find a cruise to match. An experienced travel agent can really help you in this process, advising you on the sort of cruise, ship and company that’s right for you.
What does the future hold for HAL and Seabourn, and for luxury cruising in general?
The future of ultra-luxury and premium cruise is bright, as more and more travellers recognise the flexibility and value of a cruise holiday. We are increasingly finding that travellers are prioritising “experiences” over material things and a cruise can easily include all those “big” destinations in one incredible holiday. The fact that both Holland America Line and Seabourn continue to add beautiful new ships over the next few years is testament to this success. We have HAL’s “Nieuw Statendam” joining the fleet in December 2018, while Seabourn added “Ovation” in spring this year and has just announced the addition of two specialist ultra-luxury Expedition Ships to arrive in 2021 & 2022