We took this cruise principally because of the itinerary,and for the curiosity of trying a line other than Silversea. In my past reviews of Silversea cruises I approached my views as a hotel owner ( Relais& Chateau)which resulted in pointed comments over food and wine, but never of their service and the experience of cruising with them. As for Seabourn, they failed on many fronts,and more importantly, they left no lasting impression.
Seabourn believes that it is a very efficiently run operation. They strive to board, communicate and feed people with military precision. The problem is that nothing they do stands out, and as a result they offer a very generic product.Some examples follow:
1) Seabourn is staffed primarily with recent graduates from hospitality schools in South Africa and Eastern Europe. Although these young men and women ( kids) are eager to please, Seabourn is not a career for them.It is a ticket to see the world. Contrast this with a professional service staff whose livelihood depends on renewing contract after contract with the same employer, and the difference in attention to detail becomes palpable. Two days into the cruise while having lunch on the pool deck, a waiter inadvertently spilled a lot of salad dressing ( ie oily and slippery) onto the deck. When alerted to the spill, he dismissively said not to worry because the decks were swabbed at the end of the day. This was code for it's not my problem because I happen to very busy, and some underlings will take care of it. A professional, regardless of "rank", would have cleaned it up immediately.
As it turns out Seabourn has a hierarchical service protocol which defies logic. Instead of relying on one professional waiter to supervise everything which is needed at any given table ( their station), the orders, the drinks and the table service are handled separately. The results were chaotic, and eventually became the butt of jokes because we never knew which dish or drink would appear in front of us, leading to frantic shuffling of plates and glasses. Many readers may consider this picayune, but the next example will drive my argument that Seabourn does not understand, or support superior service.
After six days, our chambermaid ( excellent, by the way) alerted us that she was headed home to Namibia and that her replacement was boarding in Athens.This young lady had flown from New Zealand, and boarded the ship jet-lagged beyond recognition. Worse, she had never worked for Seabourn before and therefore was not familiar with their protocols.Once again, the result was chaotic. Between crash courses in safety procedures, she tried her mightiest to keep up with her cabins, but exhaustion won. Our cabin was barely made up at the end of the day, and I can only blame Seabourn for their work scheduling and hiring criteria. A professional employee ( ie familiar with the company after many contracts) would never let this happen.
2) The food on the ship was all over the map, from excellent to inedible. As a rule of thumb, the meals in the Restaurant were good, and became excellent with the Chef's menu ( once a week). The Collonade was good for lunch and marginal for dinner, while the Restaurant 2 was a nightmare. The latter was an experiment in tapas/ cuisine minceur run amok. The pool deck food was one giant salad bar, with soggy pizza.
My main objection to Seabourn is its total lack of personality. The cruise director did not "direct" anything. Their were no activities such as trivia, bridge, golf etc. supported or promoted by the ship. Instead the director spent his time over the sound system constantly warning us about something:" If you don't show up at the safety muster we will throw you off; the seas are rough so be sure you are willing and capable of boarding a tender;if you don't board by 5pm, we will sail without you etc". Perhaps the Costa disaster has infected their behavior, but it is certainly not welcoming.And welcoming is the feeling that you should have on a premier line, but alas Seabourn is driven by a belief that they are good when in fact they are not. They get this belief by a relentless effort ( over the intercom by the Captain, no less) to get passengers to fill out feedback forms. In my hotel experience this is a false exercise because most people will rate anything highly just to get it over with. The fact are that when you drill down, and ask yourself if you had an exceptional experience, the answer will be no.