Seabourn Legend - Central America/Panama Canal: Seabourn Legend Cruise Review by CruiserDan
Overall Member Rating
Seabourn Legend - Central America/Panama Canal
Destination: Panama Canal & Central America
Seabourn has always been my preferred Cruise Line since I sailed on Seabourn Goddess II, now Seadream II, the Seabourn Sun, formerly the Royal Viking Sun and now the Holland America Ship Princendam. This was my 5th Seabourn Legend cruise, and this ship is by far my favorite! I hope you enjoy my review, and take it from the cruisers that know me, CruiserDan always tells it like it is!
I disembarked my last Seabourn Legend cruise on December 5, 2002. The ship was scheduled for a 2-week dry dock then to resume its Caribbean and Panama Canal itineraries. We were told at the time that new CD players were to be installed in the suites, new carpeting throughout (in dire need) and several bars were going to have all new upholstery on the furniture. I was anticipating a fresh "new" Legend. Although the ship was sparkling clean, and maintained beautifully by the hard working staff, it lacked what was promised. No CD players, no new upholstery More (personally, I didn't think that was necessary) and the carpeting was not replaced. We were told the Pride beat the Legend on the carpeting delivery and installation. Hopefully next dry dock, these things will be completed.
At every port, the maintenance staff was hard at work painting the exterior, re-varnishing the teak rails, and polishing brass. The dining room was always in perfect condition. Although the ship was built a decade ago, it has the charm, elegance and sophistication that is timeless. I would rate the condition of the ship a 90% taken the fact that some regular maintenance and updating is still required.
I can't say enough good things about the hard working staff on the Legend. I enjoyed seeing familiar faces, and met some new friends. They immediately called me by name, offered assistance in any way possible, and anticipated every need. The Cruise Director, Dan Hodge, was pleasant, extremely passenger friendly and professional. I give him a near perfect score. The assistant Cruise Directors were Gina Pontone, and Helen Kitching. They both were a joy to sail with. Gina offered true "star" quality with her over-the-top performances and sparkling friendliness and energy. Helen offered the true "nice girl next door" type with a voice of an angel. They both are fairly new to Seabourn, and I hope to sail with them often in the future. Bruce Tilden the Club entertainer has always been a favorite of mine. He went out of his way several times to make sure each and every passenger was happy with the music selections. His beaming personality was apparent each and every night. This is truly a talented piano player and singer. I consider him a personal friend. Dan, Gina, Helen, and Bruce are a true team made in Seabourn heaven!
The Captain was Karlo Buer. I have never sailed with him, and found him to be a bit "stand-offish" for a Seabourn Captain. He rarely hosted a table, and was not visible to the passengers during the day. He did, however, get us to all the ports safely and in a timely manner.
The Hotel Manager was Guenter Steinbrunner. He was excellent interacting with the passengers and running a smooth ship. At the latter part of the cruise, he was training ex- Maitre D'Hotel Christopher for an upcoming promotion, working in Miami at the Seabourn headquarters.
My stewardess, Anna (or China, as I liked to call her) was beautiful and brilliant. She went out of her way throughout the full cruise to make my sailing as comfortable as possible. I can't say enough about her. She is a true 100%.
I don't normally comment on the Doctor on board, as I usually don't have the pleasure of his company, but having been very sick for 5 days of the cruise, I did have the opportunity to rate him. Dr. Michael Woch, ex-figure skater, Polish decent and living in Canada. I went to see him during his limited office hours (9 AM-10 AM). I was complaining of severe stomach pain, headache, nausea and tiredness. I won't go into specific details, to spare the reader. He prescribed Imodium. I had already taken 2 the night before. He told me to take 2 immediately, and then 1 after, well you know. By the next morning I had taken a total of 12 and had run out of pills. I visited him again, and to my surprise he gave me another 5. Later, after emailing home, my pharmacist explained that 4 a day are usually the max, and never more than 8 a day. He also didn't take into consideration that several crewmembers had the exact virus the week before and several more came down with it the latter part of the cruise. Enough of that. My rating of the Doctor is 50%, but because I don't usually include the Dr. in my cruise ratings, it will not affect the staff rating.
I rate the staff, as a whole at 95%.
As I mentioned in the last segment, Dan, Gina, Helen and Bruce are true professionals. They provide fantastic entertainment that go far and beyond most cruise ships. They don't do the glitzy showy stuff that you might experience on a large ship, just the basic good music and showmanship. The guest entertainers consisted of Graham Scott, a brilliant concert pianist, and Joe Monti a magician/comedian. I preferred the former to the latter. Of course, during the day the staff provided entertainment in the form of trivia challenge (a personal favorite), putting tournaments, spa lectures, and wine and spirit tasting. For a small ship, the entertainment and staff is first class. 98% rating.
Our itinerary started in Caldera Costa Rica and ended in Ft. Lauderdale Florida. We stopped in 3 ports in Costa Rica, Playa Flamingo and Puerto Quepos on the Pacific side, and Puerto Moen on the Atlantic side. We sailed through the Panama Canal with a stop in Fuerto Amador near Panama City. One stop in Roatan Honduras, and 2 stops in Belize, Hunting Cay and Belize City. Very interesting ports that I had not experienced, and 5 relaxing sea days. I would rate the itinerary at 95%.
The Shore Excursions:
I experienced 4 exciting shore excursions, and will only comment on these. At the first port I experienced "Tree Canopy Jumping". I am fearful of heights, but felt I would never have the opportunity to do it again, I participated! This excursion had the participant up to 150 feet in the air, sliding from one taught steel cable through the trees to platforms. It was very exciting, and safe, as you were harnessed with mountain climbing gear. This is an excursion NOT to be missed! A lot of fun!
The next excursion was the complimentary Seabourn Experience at the Gamboa Rain Forest Resort in Panama. We were treated to a cable car ride through the forest treetops, a festive show with buffet lunch, and swimming at the resort. A very nice experience for all of the guests.
In Roatan Honduras, I experienced a "Dolphin Encounter". I met my trainer at beach side, and was able to touch and interact with "Gracie" the dolphin! The dolphins put on quite a show for us, and interacted with each and every passenger. The photo opportunities were awesome. The trip was overbooked, so half the participants left for the excursion an hour later, and missed some valuable time at the beach that was available. The dolphin encounter is one not to be missed.
The last excursion I participated in was "Cave Tubing" in Belize. After a 2-hour bumpy ride to the Jaguar Paw resort, we set off on our adventure. Only 13 guests participated in the excursion, so a comfortable van was provided. To our shock, when we arrived, we learned of 3 mega ships docked nearby and droves of tourists. Our guide suggested we take an alternative route to the river, hiking up and over mountainous terrain. We were in for a surprise! The path consisted of very steep upward and downward climbs and slippery surfaces. As our group had fitness in our favor, no one was injured and we all arrived at the river in one piece. We boarded our inner tubes, and set off through 3 caves. Because it was so dark inside each cave, they provided us all miner lanterns to wear on our heads. I think tour operators come up with these gadgets to make us all look silly! After 2 hours of tubing, a nice lunch was provided, and we made it back to the ship. This excursion was another success.
Ellie Szollosy does a great job as Travel Manager, and I give her excursion adventures a 99%.
The average age of the passengers was about 45 to 50 years of age. They consisted of well-heeled cruisers to first time passengers. This particular crowd seemed a bit more quiet and reserved than the usual Seabourn passenger. Usually there are several "characters" on board, and a very lively late night crowd. This was not the case. The casino only enjoyed a few busy evenings, and typically the Club closed between midnight and 1 AM. Everyone seemed to have a great time. I don't rate passengers.
The Food and Drink:
Hands down, Seabourn provides the best food afloat. I was not disappointed. Chef Pascal DePortemont prepares innovative dishes and special requests. Seabourn has retained Chef Charlie Palmer as the inspiration on board, but Chef Pascal's interpretations of the recipes are truly divine. The soups are the best I've ever tasted, and the French fries and wine for lunch is truly Nirvana.
The bar service is wonderful. A personal favorite, Christian, manned the Sky bar. Another pro, Michael, manned the Observation bar. A newcomer, Jacques, manned the Club. Jacques was the only "weak link" and his inexperience showed. Hopefully he will improve, or be assigned another position on board. Seabourn excels in the food and beverage department. My rating is 98%.
Seabourn did it again. They provided excellent service, accompanied with a smile. From the initial glass of Champagne after embarkation to final good-byes. New friends and memories were made, in a first class style. Although I lost 5 days because of illness, I still rate this trip at 95%. Thanks again Seabourn, the cruise line whose motto is "What is it about Yes you don't understand?"
May 2003 Less