We just returned from a 33 day two-leg cruise on the Seabourn Sojourn. We boarded the ship in Ft. Lauderdale and disembarked in Buenos Aires. My husband and I have cruised a lot on many different cruise lines; however, this was our fourth cruise with Seabourn and third on the Sojourn so we are very familiar with both the cruise line and this particular ship. Our first reaction after boarding the ship was disappointment that there were very few familiar faces among the crew. It seems Seabourn is no longer able to retain its staff as they had in the past. This should have been our first indication that things are changing at Seabourn, and not for the better. It would appear as though coming under the Holland America umbrella has caused Seabourn to become less flexible and a less desirable place to work. The good news is that the new staff is proof that the recruiters are doing a bang up job and the new staff is every bit as wonderful as the old. I wish I could say the same for the people in charge of provisioning. While I can understand running out of grapes and bananas when in isolated areas, I find running out of champagne, port, Macallum scotch, and Smirnoff vodka inexcusable. The food appears to have suffered too. While it is still good, it lacks the "wow" factor we had come to associate with Seabourn. On our cruise, we often found the dinners served in the Colonade to be more interesting and better seasoned. We also found the Colonade's chef, Roderick, to be accommodating and happy to cater to our wishes. But kudos go to the main restaurant service and especially to the Galley Kitchen lunch which we enjoyed twice.
Seabourn needs to do something about their smoking policy. Currently guests are allowed to smoke in their cabins, on their balconies,and on the starboard side of the Observation Lounge. The result is that the lounge becomes polluted by as little as one smoker and a balcony becomes unusable if the guest in the cabin in front of you is sitting on his balcony smoking. In 33 days, we were never able to use our balcony for more than a few minutes because "stinky" next door was forever lighting up. We feel very strongly that smoking must be relegated to the back of the ship and we do not intend to sail with Seabourn again until and unless this happens.
I also want to talk about the itinerary. Crossing the Panama Canal was a phenomenal experience. The on board expert who did a running narrative for us was brilliant. I wish I could have recorded his every word. Once through the canal, however, the itinerary became boring. Our stops in Panama, Ecuador, Peru, and northern Chile yielded little of interest. I cannot recommend this leg of our trip. There has to be a better itinerary involving the Panama Canal. The second leg from Valparaiso (port near Santiago), Chile proved more to our liking. The scenery through the fjords is breathtaking. The ports in southern Chile and Tierra del Fuego were amazing. We saw different species of penguins in Punta Arenas, Ushuaia, and the Falklands. We were blessed with calm seas, even around Cape Horn, but we often had fog and rain. Late November is still springtime here. Perhaps summer would be nicer. The snow capped mountains and the waterfalls made up for the weather.
We had a wonderful member of the cruise critic group who generously organized a number of excursions in the various ports. Pat kept us organized and somehow managed to find some of the best guides in town. We were even able to visit a volcano outside Puerto Montt. Thank you, Pat!
Additionally, thanks to another cruise critic traveler, Stephen, we were fortunate to book a trip through Pira Tours to the Hamberton Ranch outside Ushuaia. It was one of our highlights.
Lastly I want to say a word about the cruise critic bunch on board. You were terrific! We had agreed through the cc roll call to meet for drinks shortly after sailing. Phillip had name tags for us but we quickly got to know each other. Many memorable evenings were spent with cc friends as well as experiences on the excursions. We will miss our wonderful cc friends but hope to see them on future trips.