Embarkation: We departed from Venice. There was really no difficulty whatsoever. We arrived at the ship about 330 so our room was already ready for us and we went straight there. My wife immediately noted a strong smell of smoke. It was clearly worse in some parts of the ship than others. It's also worth noting that the world cruise disembarked right before us. Our cabin steward immediately addressed the smell in and around our room, and I don't really think I noticed the remainder of the cruise (at least around our cabin).
The ship itself is elegant and understated. I really liked the style and design and thought the size was perfect. The gym was a little on the small side and poorly ventilated but had excellent equipment. Spa was very nice as were the staff there.
There was a fair amount of vibration. We were all the way forward on the port side so that may have had something to do with it. It did interfere with my sleep a little bit, but I was able to eventually get used to it. To quantify the amount, you could clearly see ripples in a glass of water sitting on a table almost constantly.
All in all, I think it's a pretty good sign that you're on an excellent ship when you cherish the days at sea.
We enjoyed a penthouse suite on deck 9 (category PH). This was easily the nicest, most spacious room of any cruise we have been on. It was very nice to have a partitioned area for the bedroom so if one had the TV on you could close the door and get some sleep. The closet space was abundant as were storage cabins. We never did fill them all. The bathroom was very large as well. We had a total of three sinks and had a large shower and separate jacuzzi bath tub. They gave us samples of several different soaps to try which we never completely used up.
The bed and linens are extraordinarily comfortable. The couch was fair but a little awkward if you wanted to try and lie down on it.
The entertainment system was outstanding. We had a large flat screen tv in the living area and a smaller one in the bedroom. Their list of free movies is vast and up to date. Their TV listings are a little skimpy. Only news channels were available for the most part - MSNBC, fox, BBC, etc. No CNN, no ESPN, no major american networks. The biggest complaint I have about the TV system is both TV's use the same remote frequency. If you turned one TV the other often came on as did any change in volume or channel. The only way to avoid this was to close the curtain to the bedroom so that the IR signal wouldn't be seen through the partition. This is an easy fix they should correct with a separate remote frequency for each TV.
The internet service was by and large pretty good for a ship. We bought the unlimited package. The downside was you could only have one device connected at a time so if you wanted your computer connected you had to disconnect your phone, ipad, etc. We did set up internet sharing via bluetooth on my macbook so that the computer and one mobile device could stay online at the same time. That being said, I can understand the reason for trying to limit the number of connected devices at any one time on the ship.
By and large I would describe the food as good to very good. This has to be taken into context of a cruise ship environment. There are certain things they simply cannot due to the lack of an immediately available selection of perishable food products. I think it would be hard to say the food was superior to our previous cruise experiences on Silversea or Crystal but it certainly didn't lack in comparison. Seabourn seemed to be particularly good at beef items and their Nigerian shrimp are certainly worth a second helping. The pizza was poor, but we were spoiled by our Italian ports. We did find the availability of the restaurants a little bit narrow as often times a restaurant would only be open for an hour and a half. We were very disappointed one evening when they ran out of beautiful appearing steaks on their chop house night at the grill. One of the assistant chefs did come out and apologize to us as I was clearly a spoiled, pouty passenger at that point. (You do get a little spoiled and entitled on these cruises, but I guess that's part of the fun).
Room service was good and timely but they did offer some resistance if even simple requests were not available on the main menu. I also felt their caviar and shrimp cocktail offerings were a little scant when compared to Crystal. It's also a little disappointing that they will only bring champagne by the glass.
We only ate in the dining room once for dinner and a couple of times for lunch. The lunches there were actually very nice with us having almost the entire dining room to ourselves. Food tastes just a little bit better when presented in the dining room. The one dinner we attended was formal night, and it was chaotic, but the food and service was still very good.
We ate in the colonnade several nights and most mornings for breakfast. The buffets were very good with a vast selection of fruit, cheeses, and both American and European breakfast options. Seabourn square was a nice place to quickly grab a cup of coffee and light pastry.
Our fellow passengers were for the most part a very pleasant, polite bunch. We were considerably younger than just about everyone on board. We are in our early 40's. The average age was probably early 70's. Most passengers were American with a large contingent of Australian and British passengers. There was only one child (an infant) that I saw the entire cruise. Because of our age, there were several humorous incidents where fellow passengers thought I was staff. I played along with it and complied with the requests that were handed to me.
I would say this is where Seabourn probably stands out over Crystal and Silversea. This was an amazing collection of intelligent, hard working, gifted individuals. However they are trained in customer service needs to be copied by many other companies. The only organization I have seen that comes close to this level is the Four Seasons. Our cabin steward was especially outstanding (Maria from Portugal). She always had a smile on her face and bent over backwards to make sure everything was to our liking. I only wish we could have taken her home with us. I also want to point out the outstanding staff at the grill where we ate regularly. They made a point to get to know us and our preferences from day one.
I didn't interact with the officers of the ship other than the fact that our cabin was right next door to the bridge. I did appreciate the paucity of their onboard announcements.
There wasn't much of it, but I really didn't care. I enjoyed the lectures by Michael Teitelbaum and ventured to the casino a few times, but I was there to relax and hopefully get bored (yes bored) before returning to the grind of daily work and life. We mostly enjoyed lounging in our room and catching up on movie or hanging out on our balcony.
I would almost uniformly recommend booking these be done on your own. Our virtuoso agent set up several for us that were outstanding and at about half the cost of what Seabourn offered. The port selections were very nice. I could have done without Crotone or Ancona, Italy but LeLavandou was a very pleasant surprise. It's very nice to dock at a port that is not accustomed to large throngs of cruise ship passengers. This place was so unfrequented by cruise ship passengers that almost no one knew how to swipe an American credit card.
In Corfu, I played golf and took a cab for a total of about 200 Euros. Seabourn had quoted me around 1000 E for them to make the arrangements.
This was a breeze. We used luggage forward (they did a very good job) so all we had to do was hang onto our carry on luggage and exit the ship from our room at 9AM. Our tour guide was waiting for us right off the ship and we left from there. Our bags actually arrived in the US only one day after we did (2 days after debarkation).
We will definitely be back. Would we choose this line over Crystal or Silversea? I would say the itinerary would probably be the biggest determining factor but if that was kept equal, I would opt for Seabourn over Silversea with Crystal coming in at third. We simply prefer the smaller, quieter ship experience and the outstanding level of service provided by Seabourn. Lastly, I believe the cost of these cruises is actually a bargain. When you consider all the add on costs in the mainstream lines, I'm not sure we didn't pay less for a superior experience on Seabourn. The value is tremendous.