‘Floating seven-star resort’: Ultra-luxury cruise ship makes Miami home

·3 min read

The Seabourn Ovation, part of Carnival Corporation’s ultra luxury cruise brand, has a new home in Miami for the winter cruise season.

It’s the first time the high-end cruise ship, where suites average at $1,000 a night, has sailed out of Miami. The ship was completed in May 2018 with the intention of being based out of Australia during the winter months. But the pandemic changed that.

“With Australia and most of Asia still closed, we decided to base the ship in Miami for this winter — this is, after all, the cruise capital of the world,” said Josh Leibowitz, the president of Seabourn.

The Seabourn Ovation travels to far corners like Patagonia, the Baltic states, the Arctic and up the Amazon River, but is opting for two routes in North America, as many international travel restrictions are still in place. The ship’s winter cruise routes include a one-way cruise to Los Angeles, going through the Panama Canal, and a Caribbean route starting and ending in Miami.

For a standard “veranda” suite, prices range from $4,929 for the 11-day Caribbean cruise to $17,000 for the Caribbean and Mexico cruise through the Panama Canal.

The 690-foot ship has just 300 suites for 600 passengers, making it one of the highest space-per-guest ratios in cruising. Each suite has a private veranda, with standard suites measuring at 251-square feet and penthouse suites up to 539 square feet, plus a veranda of up to 200 square feet with amenities like a bathtub and a walk-in closet. The largest suite onboard offers 1,306 square-feet of indoor space.

“This is a floating seven-star resort. We have almost one crew member per guest,” Leibowitz said, adding that Seabourn Ovation is the first ultra-luxury cruise brand to restart since the pandemic, drawing customers who sailed with other brands.

The ship brews its own coffee and has a homemade gelato parlor. There’s a grill with a menu from famed chef Thomas Keller, who is also behind the Surf Club in Surfside and several Michelin-starred restaurants across the U.S. And a sushi bar with ingredients sourced from Japan and top-shelf wine, champagne and liquor included.

The ship partnered with world-renowned lyricist Sir Tim Rice for entertainment and celebrity Dr. Andrew Weil for spa services. The 12th deck has a whirlpool hot tub surrounded by 15 semi-open private cabanas with a television, a refrigerator and a ceiling fan, with some cabanas offering spa services.

When in port, one of the lower decks of the ship opens up to become a “marina,” where guests can take out a range of boats and water toys like kayaks, paddle boats and Hobie catamarans. Zodiac boats offer guests the chance for sightseeing as well as water skiing, banana boating and tubing.

The Seabourn Ovation resumed sailing in July 2021 and requires all passengers be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, as well as proof of a negative COVID-19 test done within 48 hours of boarding.

“There is no such thing as COVID-zero,” Leibowitz said when asked about the safety of cruising. “But if you’re going to live your life now, the best you can do is follow all the CDC guidelines.”

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