Legend cruise had a less than perfect start but all ended well.
My wife and I realize that there is no broadly accepted "6 star" standard but we do think it implies a better than average "5 star" experience and that is what we expect when paying "6 star" prices.
Last October we experienced 10 wonderful days aboard the Seabourn Spirit out of Venice and we posted a glowing review on this forum. The Spirit mostly met or exceeded our "6 Star" expectations and we soon booked our second cruise, this time with the Seabourn Legend out of St. Thomas on January 26th. During the initial part of our cruise the Legend easily met "4 star" standards but, in my opinion, numerous minor deficiencies resulted in a failure to meet average "5 star" standards.
Shortly after boarding we concluded that the ship was understaffed, some crew members were abrupt and surly, there were several minor maintenance issues and attention to detail was lacking. These initial negative impressions grew during the first two days of this 7 day cruise.
It is important to note that on day three I had a conversation with the Hotel Director (Rico Taubert) who, to his great credit, took my complaints very seriously and made every effort to ensure that the remainder of our cruise was as good as it could possibly be.
Here is a list of the initial shortcomings:
The suite was generally in immaculate condition except for the fact that our bathtub appeared to have been recently refinished and large areas of paint were peeling off. Also, the Bose clock-radio did not work as a clock.
The clock-radio problem was apparently due to electrical interference from the ship's PA system which made it randomly reset and start flashing. Our stewardess (who was very pleasant and attentive) pointed out the small wall clock, but this had no alarm and could not be read in the dark. She suggested that if the Bose flashing bothered us she could unplug it.
The guest laundry room was out of service due to electrical compatibility problems with newly installed washing machines. These things can happen but I felt that an explanatory notice should have been issued to guests rather than just placing an "Out of Service" notice on the laundry room door.
The do-it-yourself ironing facilities were also unavailable but they did press my shirts (free of charge) when I complained. I indicated that I needed one particular shirt pressed for that evening (two hours later) and was assured it would be done. Unfortunately it wasn't returned until late the following afternoon.
The electronic door lock needed multiple swipes of our cards before responding. Reprogramming of the worst card provided only a small improvement. Crew cards always worked on the first swipe so I conclude our guest cards were "magnetically exhausted".
The sail-away party appeared understaffed with waits of ten minutes or more for drinks service. Some cheerful staff did try hard to cope with a difficult situation, others appeared sullen and disengaged.
On the first night the main dining room also appeared to be understaffed and a bit below the high standards we had consistently experienced on the Spirit.
Our suite initially had no bathrobes and only one pair of slippers but this was promptly corrected by our very helpful stewardess.
Our "personalized stationary" had the previous guest's name on it.
On the second evening we were addressed by name for the first time. We think that occasionally being called by name is a pleasing marketing gimmick but it is unrealistic to expect it to occur frequently when a ship has 200 passengers. However, if staff in a 5 star hotel don't know your name they will routinely use "Sir" or "Madam". We do not consider this to be demeaning to staff, it is simply a common courtesy which sets the tone for a mutually polite and respectful encounter.
Aboard the Legend the apparently deliberate avoidance of any salutation was conspicuous and jarring in a supposedly "6 star" environment. One officer explained that outwardly surly attitudes were common amongst staff from some countries and it didn't necessarily mean they were angry or resentful, apparently some just "appear" to be cold, inattentive and uncaring. I can't say that explanation made me any happier, particularly as that same unsmiling culture seemed to have infected some of the staff from other countries.
I hasten to add that many of the staff were the opposite, they were wonderful and consistently displayed the same warmth and enthusiasm which seemed to be universal on the Spirit.
The malfunctioning alarm clock made daily wake-up calls necessary but one wake-up call never materialized. Unlike the service in good hotels the telephone operator never answered with our name, which may account for the lost wake-up call.
In summary, most of the deficiencies were quite minor but it was the frequency of them which mildly irritated us, primarily because of Seabourn's heavily promoted claims of "6 Star" service and because of our near flawless experience aboard the Spirit.
We were very impressed by the remedial actions of the Hotel Director, within hours we noticed that some of the colder staff suddenly appeared happier and more courteous. Our names started being used frequently and the whole atmosphere was much more in line with our admittedly high expectations. We discovered that some of those previously sullen staff members were actually very nice people, perhaps a bit more training is all that is needed.
Interestingly, the ship-wide aversion to the words "Sir" and "Madam" remained firmly in place but it no longer mattered because we had bonded with some great new friends, the food and entertainment were so enjoyable and most of the crew were now being very pleasant and accommodating.
Before leaving the ship we demonstrated our renewed satisfaction by placing a deposit for our next Seabourn cruise and by making a donation to the crew welfare fund.