A mystery British cruise passenger has paid one million dollars to charter a luxury ship for an extra special party. The woman, who is approaching a significant birthday, will be flying 200 friends to Venice for a week-long cruise on board Seabourn Spirit.
Paying that sort of money – about £600,000 – she also gets to choose the restaurant menus and the entertainment throughout the cruise, which will begin on August 12.
Travel Trade Gazette reports this week that the charter, made through luxury cruise specialists Sovereign Cruise Club, is thought to be the UK’s largest-ever private cruise booking.
Sovereign’s managing director Stefan Shillito confirmed it was the biggest deal he has pulled off in the company’s 12 years of operation, and he confessed to opening a bottle of Champagne in the office as a modest celebration when the booking was confirmed.
Although he would not name the passenger, he told me she has travelled frequently with Cunard and Seabourn and had been a regular client for about seven years.
“She said she wanted to do something different for a big birthday and as a joke, we said ‘Why don’t you charter a ship?'”
It then took several months of organisation to make sure the ship was available, and to sort out everything to her satisfaction.
“The client has been very hands-on with everything; she has a great attention to detail. She got to choose the entertainment and the itinerary, and we have organised a special birthday onboard for her.”
Sovereign have also chartered a 757 jet to fly all 208 passengers to and from Venice.
So what will the mystery client be getting for her million dollars?
Seabourn Spirit is a small cruise ship by today’s standards, just under 10,000 tons and 440-ft long. One of three almost identical vessels – the others are the Pride and the Legend – it cost $50 million to build in 1989. The ship carries 208 passengers – all in suites with a sea view; there’s nothing so basic as an inside cabin – attended by about 160 crew.
In addition to the usual restaurants, bars, casino and spa, the ship has its own marina at the stern, carrying windsurfers, dinghies, kayaks and water skis. Drinks, gratuities and shore excursions are included in the fare for normal cruises – you could expect to pay about £2,200 for a seven-day cruise from Venice in August.
Sovereign Cruise Club’s description of the ship concludes:
“Sailing aboard one of Seabourn’s yachts is an adventure in elegance and sophistication. Seabourn Signature Delights are designed with this in mind.
“If there’s anything you need, just ask one of Seabourn’s attentive staff, if they don’t ask you first. Whether it’s a frozen towel to cool off with on deck, another glass of chilled champagne or some extra sun block to ward off the sun’s rays, our professional staff will happily indulge your slightest whim.
“Rest assured that you will fall in love with Seabourn yachting life over and over again.”
It certainly did the trick for our birthday girl.
- Do you know the mystery passenger with a million dollars to spare? Have you been invited on the birthday cruise? I’d love to hear from you.