Seabourn is to enter the expedition market after signing a letter of intent with shipbuilders T.Mariotti and Damen.

The line has announced it will launch two luxury expedition ships, with the first delivery coming in June 2021.

The second is ship is expected to launch in May 2022.

Both 264-passenger capacity ships will have two submarines on board and will be designed to carry a complement of kayaks and 24 Zodiac inflatable boats.

The 170 metre, 23,000 gross ton vessels will add new capacity for Seabourn in Antarctica, the Arctic and other destinations around the world.

Richard Meadows, Seabourn’s president, said called the announcement “groundbreaking” for both the line and luxury travellers.

He said: “The combination of immersive experience, fine accommodations and sumptuous amenities offered by these new ships builds on the success of our current product and further demonstrates our leadership as innovator.”

Robin West, vice president of expedition operations and planning for Seabourn, said the line decided to develop its expedition concept a year ago.

Lynn Narraway, Seabourn’s UK and Ireland managing director, said: “I think for luxury brands it is important that we are always looking for something new.”

Seabourn’s trade strategy was not going to change now the line was launching two purpose-built expedition ships, Narraway added.

She said: “The strategy is already in place. We are not looking to move one customer from one line to another. We are looking to find guests that has never tried this kind of holiday before.

“[They would be] absolutely new-to-cruise. The luxury traveller is always looking for this holiday but might not know it exists.”

She also said that the line was always keen to work with more luxury travel agents, adding: “Our door is always open.”

Seabourn will announce design and service details for the new ships later this year.

Itinerary details and booking availability will be released early next year.

The first ship will sail in the Arctic in late summer 2021 before sailing itineraries in Antarctica during the following winter.

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