Fond memories of the Spirit - Venice to Venice along the Adriatic and Ionian Seas
This was our first cruise with Seabourn. It was on the July 13 sailing on the Spirit for their 10 Day Venice and Adriatic Treasures. My wife and have sailed on many cruises, to many widely diverse destinations via a wide range of river and ocean based cruise lines. However, the Seabourn Spirit was the most impressive cruise operation that we have experienced to date.
The dining and service aspects met all expectations (which are quite high on cruise critic). Staff greeted us by name within three days or less. Staff commitments were made and honored routinely. Professionalism was consistently exhibited to very high standards. Friendliness and proactive assistance was abundant. The reception/purser staff members were extremely accommodating and excelled at delivering on special requests. Dining room hosted table invitations were abundant (3). Ships officers frequently socialized with the passengers outside of usual dining environments and acted as ad hoc social group magnets. The ship was well maintained, clean and fully operational (except for one slot machine in the tiny casino that was out of order for the entire sailing; which did not matter to me since I do not gamble). The cabin was spacious, luxurious, clean, well maintained and conveniently located. The entertainment was very good (in spite of the limited space). The lecture series was appropriate, interesting and insightful. The spa staff/services were excellent and even the small gym was quite acceptable. The ship felt and looked like a stylish and romantic mega-yacht (not a floating city). The sailing was very smooth (thanks to the professionalism of the crew and good luck on weather/sea conditions).Port calls adhered firmly to the port call schedules; except for Rovinj (where a late change shifted the hours one hour earlier for unknown reasons). The bartenders and the drinks (plus caviar setups) were great. There was an excellent depth and breadth to the liquor offerings. Italian and Greek beer was often available. The wine quality was good, freely/frequently poured and varied sufficiently for me (a relatively average wine novice). In general, the ports itinerary was excellent (and I am extremely port itinerary driven). The ship maintained a classy ambiance and passengers were highly compliant with the dress code. I did not see anyone smoke (not even in the observation lounge or the Skybar). The bed was very comfortable and the cabin bathroom was very well appointed. Ship hosted events were fun, unique and stylish. There were many subtle little touches that enhanced the experience, like coolers (with soda, water & other drinks) near the hot tubs, water & umbrellas near the gangway at each port, super chilled wash cloth size towels at the Skybar, scones in the observation lounge, ginger & mints outside the dining venues and CDs & DVDs conveniently available. The food in all dining venues was excellent. Thai and Indian cooking influences were abundant. The fantastic bread sticks and tempura textured french fries were an unusual surprising indulgence. I ate very well but actually gained less weight than usual for a cruise. I did not take any ship sponsored shore excursions, since I made my own private arrangements. The extra ship based overnight in Venice at the end of the trip was useful (for evening events) and fun. The disembarkation procedure was simple, fast and efficient. We were allowed to carry our own luggage off, as requested, as a convenience to us.
There were generally none. However, there were some minor disappointments. The Marina Day events (at Fiskardo) were cancelled at the last minute due to current conditions (that did not appear rough but I suppose some elderly passengers may be more likely to fall over in less than ideal conditions). I got the feeling that Marina Days are easily and often cancelled, even though the designated ports are suited to little else. Engine room tours are prohibited per Carnival corporate policy. Flaming dishes prepared or presented tableside are now prohibited, per a relatively new Carnival corporate policy (and generally mis-blamed on the Costa Concordia navigation mishap and the other Carnival brand engine failures/fires). The boarding process was relatively quick but understaffed. While we were among the last to board, by arriving at the official embarkation boarding start time, greeters were generally scarce and drink service was elusive. We arrived in our cabin but the steward did not come by for about a half hour (but then all the really good aspects of the sailing began). The only bridge tour visit was not well scheduled or announced. The pool area was actually better than expected/forewarned, due to both pool side (wet risk) and pool adjacent (safely dry) seating options that were available. The ship store was rarely open but it did not really matter to me.
Suggestions for Improvement:
Improve or at least enforce the embarkation meet and greet welcome aboard experience.
Consider offering room service from the dining room dinner menu earlier (6:00 PM or 6:30 PM)
Rethink destinations and alternative options for the Marina Day to manage passenger expectations.
Increase the temperature of the hot tubs a little over the existing 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
Consider offering some more creative/unusual shore excursions (possibly event oriented)
Consider offering currency exchange for all ports visited (especially multi-day country visits).
Consider avoiding cookie snack offerings, where all the cookies have nuts.
Shorten the lifeboat drill on-deck lecture or make it more practical with truly useful information.