The cruise: 15 nights on the Quest from Istanbul to Athens passing through Turkey, Israel, Egypt and Greece. Our background, second time on Seabourn, last time was on one of the smaller ships, about 5 cruises on Silversea, we usually cruise in Asia as we're based there, this time we really wanted to go a little further.
Overall this was probably our best cruise ever, we had a load of luck, the weather was great, we met some incredible people, but we felt Seabourn on this cruise was a match, or the better of, of any experience we've had.
First the ship. The Quest, and so I assume the other two new big sisters, is incredibly well-designed. It feels empty even when it's full, there were places we barely even got to. The main dining room is quite lovely, the Colonnade is friendly and very easy to spend time in, restaurant 2 is a lovely intimate space. We felt that Seabourn had scaled up their original small ships without losing the essence of space and personal touch, but improved just a little bit on every aspect.
Seabourn Square is a great example of that, super area at the stern, fresh cappuccino, reception buried quietly in the middle instead of being an impersonal desk on deck X. We spent a lot of time there, a lot of people spent a lot of time there.
Food on cruises is always important. The food on this cruise was very, very good. The main restaurant menus were fairly normal, but always with a local special to try and I had several of the vegetarian dishes and they were very good. The ship ran daily themes at each restaurant, it was honestly hard most days to choose where you really wanted to go because everything was great, this is a good problem to have. Restaurant 2, the theme restaurant, serves up a tasting menu, changing every two days, we went three times, it was very good indeed. The ship has a patio grill at night, it's pretty casual, we didn't try it, a lot of people liked it. The only thing I gave up on during the week was beef, tried 2 times, all ok but none stellar.
Compared to previous Silversea and Seabourn cruises we've done, the dress code was definitely more relaxed and a lot of people seemed to quite like it that way. I rather like a little more formality myself, so we tended to dine in the dining room more than other places. I was a little sad that there were just 2 formal nights (formal optional) in a 15 night cruise and that probably only 15-20% of people did actually dress up, but if that's where cruising is going and that's what it takes to get people on ships, ok. It would have been nice if Seabourn had given a breakdown of nights before we left, we'd have packed a little differently than we did as we didn't expect quite as many Resort Casual nights as there were .. but we dressed up anyway ...
The crew make a cruise, Seabourn completely delivered here, they were superb. They learned your name, preferences, habits etc in a few days and went out of their way to help you. If there was something they couldn't do, they were very nice about it and suggested an alternative.
The only thing which annoyed me the whole week was probably the godawful musak blasting out on the pool deck. I didn't get why they did it, lovely scenery, incredible view, total peace and quiet, a nearly-deserted deck and the world's cheapest covers of the world's worst songs cranking out on deck. We never saw anyone complain when we asked for it to be turned down, which they normally did, but why they did it in the first place was a bit beyond us.
Super cruise, perfect sized, perfect designed ship, top-notch crew as always on lines of this quality. We'll be back.