Seabourn wins high accolades from its passengers, and we can understand why after taking our first trip aboard the Spirit.
We boarded in Venice on Aug. 23, a process that took only minutes. We sailed to Kotor, Corfu, Brindisi, Dubrovnik, Triluke Bay and Rovinj, returning to Venice on Sept. 2. Every stop had some mixture of scenery, history and culture to offer, either in the port town or outside the port, Overall, it was a great
The Spirit looks like a ship. It's very pretty, hallways airy, decor pleasant, the maintenance good. The crew is friendly and hardworking. The staterooms, all suites, are large. We had No. 124. The balconies are not really balconies, they are ways to look outside the ship. We did not have one or need one. The bathroom and the surprisingly big tub are great.
Air conditioning worked very well. Food ranged from very good to excellent, sometimes superb. The chef did go over the edge on a few dinner dishes. But menu selection was good, as was restaurant service. Breakfast was a small buffet that got monotonous, but you could also order breakfast items off a menu, or do both. Occasionally at lunch a grill was set up on the top deck bar and produced very good burgers and other meats. One evening there was a buffet extravaganza on deck, which was fabulous. Alcoholic and other beverages are included in your fare. Drinks are constantly available.
We did experience downsides. The ship is old. The top of the table in our suite was loose and the sofa was uncomfortable, stained and threadbare. The swimming pool is not big enough to be called that, and is oddly located. There were two whirlpools in the pool area, but frequently they and the pool were closed too early in the afternoon. The crew started stacking deck lounge furniture before 6 p.m., to the annoyance of those still using the furniture.
There are two main restaurants. The secondary restaurant should offer a buffet and be informal in the evening. Instead, it has a daily series of somewhat odd menus and requires reservations, which we could not get several nights. So we lacked a real alternative to the main dining room, which is modest, dark and claustrophobic. Opening the curtains would help, but for some some reason they do not do that. There is no extra charge for any of the eating places. There are few ship announcements, which is generally a good idea. But passengers ought to get a daily report from the captain about what is ahead. We usually did not get that. We could have gotten a lot of information off the television "bridge report," but it was sadly lacking. The TV was good, but it had Fox News, the Republican Party channel. We could have used CNN instead. The entertainment we saw, including concerts by a flute player and a classical guitarist, was enjoyable. The port lecturer was good, but he was not allowed to lecture enough, or at convenient times. Disembarkation was unnecessarily tangled. Ship staffers claimed that regulations required us to leave only at the scheduled time about 8, or at 6:30 a.m. We were warned cabs might not be available at the early time. We wanted to leave about 7 a.m, in order to avoid airport problems. We walked off at 6:30 and got a cab immediately. There would have been no problem leaving any other time. I cannot explain the confusion.
The biggest issue with Seabourn is its future. Some Seabourn fans believe Carnival is cutting back service to save money. We noticed a lack of a few food items, such as blueberries, blackberries and shrimp. Still, it is hard to criticize a menu that offers an excellent fillet mignon every night and lots of lamb. The drinks we had were not thin, and the wine we drank was good. Passengers commonly believe all the small ships are for sale and will not sail with Seabourn much longer. If so, that raises serious questions for long-range bookings. Would Seabourn operate with only its newer bigger ships? We do not know.