Though I’ve cruised before on Seabourn‘s Odyssey and Sojourn — nearly identical sister ships to brand-new, 32,000-ton, 450-passenger Quest — what really strikes me, 24 hours into our stay onboard, is how massive this very small ship actually feels.
It reminds me in an ironic way of my first glimpse of Princess‘ mammoth Grand Princess back in 1998, when the ship debuted as the world’s largest. A representative from the line escorted me on a tour, extolling Grand Princess’ virtue as “a big ship that really feels quite cozy.” But she kept getting lost; we’d go up a couple of flights and then have to retrace our steps and so on. After two hours of that, I was physically exhausted, and the ship felt as enormous as indeed it really was.
The irony? We just spent 90 minutes touring a ship as small, relatively speaking, as Quest is, and it occurred to me that it feels as spacious, public room- and sun deck-wise, as the last big ship I cruised on (which, coincidentally, was Grand Princess, a few weeks ago).
Six out of nine public spaces have room for sunbathing, with particular favorites including a small pool just aft of the Club Lounge and a lovely spot way up on Deck 11 forward, with plenty of chaises, butler service for drinks, cool spritzes and even suntan lotion assistance, plus a view over the bow. There’s also quite a generously sized — especially for a luxury ship — main pool, flanked by large, covered whirlpools.
Fancy a quiet drink? The observation lounge on Deck 10, all the way forward, sometimes takes a back seat to the more buoyant Club Lounge, but it offers great views any time of day (afternoon tea is served there) and generally a low-key atmosphere. Another great hideaway is the open terrace behind Seabourn Square, perfect for an early-morning coffee or late-night digestif, and it’s often quite empty, despite cozy settees and table setups.
In Cruise Critic polls, when we ask readers how much time they spend in cabins, many say “not much.” But standard cabins on this trio of luxury ships are alluring; they’re large enough (at 300 square feet right in line with newer luxury vessels but a big step up from mass market ships, whose staterooms average about 200 square feet), with separate sleeping and living areas and state-of-art entertainment systems that offer everything from preloaded flicks, documentaries and music to iPod chargers. And the marble bathrooms are sumptuous, featuring full tubs and separate showers. You can order from dining room menus at meal times, another indulgence. And these are standard cabins. Bigger suites get even better.
We hear a lot from reluctant-to-cruise travelers who say that being confined onboard a cruise ship is the greatest barrier to trying out a sea voyage. Those who check out Seabourn’s Odyssey, Sojourn and Quest may want to (upwardly) adjust those expectations.