New cruise line Atlas Ocean Voyages is neither expedition nor luxury but a whole new category of its own, its senior director of communications, Harrison Liu, told me during a visit to its first ship.
The company’s president, Alberto Aliberti, defines the brand as ‘luxe-adventure’ – he wants passengers to feel comfortable and at home, to have a few drinks and share experiences, creating an ‘après sea’ atmosphere, Liu said over lunch on World Navigator, moored near Tower Bridge on the Thames in London.
He told me: ‘We don’t call ourselves an expedition line, we don’t call ourselves a regular cruise line. We call ourselves a luxe-adventure cruise line.
‘This is an expedition ship, this is a polar-class ship – double-hull, all of our wiring is insulated, it’s built for polar expeditions. But we can only do Antarctica and the Arctic during so many months of the year. The rest of the time we have to do traditional cruises but we want to deliver classic destinations in a new way, part of why we are skewing it towards cruisers who are a little bit younger.’
Sitting in the ship’s main Porto restaurant, Liu told me: ‘Ultra-luxury lines for the past 20 years have been trying to out-luxury each other, so much so that it has become a more sedentary experience. If you have finer tastes, you want this ambience, but you also want to go and experience destinations, you want to be more active, that is what we’re looking at, part of the casual luxury we’re trying to provide.
‘This is also part of the challenge. We’re inventing a new category, we feel. We’re trying to do something different that is not defined. We’re a mash of the finer aspects of luxury and the casual aspects that make you feel comfortable, we want our guests to feel at home, come as you are. So this is where we don’t fit into any particular category.
‘We call ourselves luxe-adventure because the word luxury has so many formalities and airs associated with it. This you have to see and touch to really understand. Yes, we have fine linens, we have great food, but it’s casual, we want you to be comfortable.
‘Our president, Alberto Aliberti, says he wants people to come along, sing along, get a little drunk.’
Liu continued: ‘We’ve also trademarked the phrase “après sea”, derived from après ski. We want to create that lodge experience where folks get out there, challenge themselves to do something new, something different and come back. We’ll have the drinks and canapés waiting.
‘Alberto wants to encourage them to have a few drinks and tell tall tales. Not everyone in the ski lodge has actually been down the slopes, but there are so many people who love to be around those people who went down those slopes, they want to absorb that energy, that’s what we’re trying to do, to create that après sea experience.’
The eight-deck World Navigator, which can carry 196 passengers and 127 crew, is the first of five planned ships. As well as the Porto restaurant, it has what’s claimed to be the first charcoal grill at sea – the 7AFT chophouse on the pool deck – and Paula’s Pantry Café serving coffee and pastries. Guests can also relax in the Atlas Lounge on deck 4 or in the Dome Lounge on deck 7.
The outside Water’s Edge observation area at the bow has heated seating for polar regions – though passengers might also like to warm up in the spa’s infrared sauna and two treatment rooms.
As for fun sports, World Navigator is equipped with Zodiac boats, jet skis, sea kayaks and paddle boards.
Accommodations range from solo suites to veranda cabins and top-level Navigator suites.
All-inclusive prices cover unlimited wines, spirits, beers and coffees as well as all food, tips, and insurance against both Covid interruption and emergency medical evacuation.
A five-night Edinburgh Military Tattoo To Belfast cruise on World Navigator, leaving Edinburgh on August 13, 2022, costs from £989pp for a verandah stateroom or £1,469 for a solo suite, excluding flights (atlasoceanvoyages.com)