My wife and I are back from our first Seabourn cruise, boarding the ship in Istanbul on August 31, 2013, and concluding on September 14, 2013 in Athens.
First the positives:
The ship is beautiful and is cosmetically well maintained. Food, the various restaurants and food services aboard the Odyssey were outstanding. The variety of wines and caviar and champagne were impressive. Entertainment was very good and the itinerary was quite nice. The cruise included several Black Sea ports followed by ports in the Aegean Sea.
Now the issues:
1. Our housekeeping stewardess entered our suite on at least two occasions early in the cruise, unannounced. There was no phone call, knock, or doorbell. She came in the door and then apologized when she saw us.
2. Our favorite 'hang-out' was aft on deck five. There is a small pool, two jacuzzis, lounges and shade, for those who wish to be out of the sun. Drink service at this pool was almost non-existent. Soft drink self-service was available in this area, but nothing alcoholic. On many occasions I would go to the main pool (deck 8) to get drinks. Also, the staff closed the pool and jacuzzi at 7:00 pm each day for unknown reasons. When cruising on vacation, we like to watch the sun set. This can be quite nice while enjoying the jacuzzi. Doesn't work well if the jacuzzi closes at 7:00 and sunset is at 7:30. Not a great policy!
3. At several of the small ports we visited we anchored and used tenders to get ashore. One morning we waited well over half an hour for the ten minute ride ashore. The Cruise Director came by just before the tender arrived and said, "I had no idea this was happening." Isn't that her job? Another day we arrived at anchor at about 8:00 am and were cleared by immigration about 8:15. However, we were not allowed to go ashore until 10:30.
4. Smoking. Throughout the world, most hotels, restaurants, and public buildings no longer allow smoking inside. This however does not include Seabourn. This line allows smoking in staterooms (non-smoking staterooms are not available). Smoking is also allowed in the Observation Lounge (deck 10, forward). There was always strong cigarette smoke amid-ships on deck 5. If you are sensitive to smoke, this policy will make the Observation Lounge off limits for you. Yes, we know the smoking policy is going to change in 2014, but we do not know what those changes entail or when they will be enacted on the individual ships.
5. On day three, at about 11:30 pm, our toilet would not flush. A call to 'Guest Services' identified the issue. Technical services had turned off the toilets to remove a clog from the system. I know this sort of thing does happen. I would expect however, some warning from the crew, which never happened. After several (late-night) hours of noise from a sewer 'snake', the problem was resolved.
6. Before the cruise, I requested a bottle of champagne and decorations in our stateroom on September 5th, to celebrate my wife's birthday. A bottle of wine (although nice but not champagne) with decorations were delivered on September 1st. Not the best nor desired time since we had just spent a very long day ashore, and were a bit worn.
7. On September 11th at about 4 in the afternoon, we noticed a strange noise in our closet, which is next to the bed. The noise sounded like air gurgling in a water pipe. Sometimes soft and sometimes louder and even stopping for several seconds from time-to-time. We reported this to 'Guest Services' and were told they would get the issue resolved. One sleepless night followed. We reported the problem again in the afternoon of September 12th, after our trip ashore, and were assured the problem would be resolved. The service people they sent however, were not aware that the issue had been reported the day before, so the troubleshooting started over again. After dinner and the show, we discovered the issues had not changed. When I called 'Guest Services' I was told that the staff was off duty and the issue would be addressed the following morning. The second sleepless night followed. After our shore excursion, on September 13th, in the afternoon, I once again called 'Guest Services'. They sent a housekeeper, who knew nothing of the ongoing problem, to determine the source of the noise. Needless to say, this did not sit well. I found a senior officer in the passageway and explained my displeasure. Within half an hour several people were at our suite, including the Director of Hotel Services, one of the Senior Engineers along with two technicians. They assured us that they would resolve the issue. When we returned from dinner and the show, the Director of Hotel Services came to the suite to explain that the problem was in the primary air conditioning system, so they shut off the primary A/C and turned on the secondary. The noise however was still there! The Director of Hotel Services then brought us ear plugs, explaining that the ship was full and another suite was not available. He also said he would bring us coffee and danish the following morning, and he did, in his dress uniform at 7:00 sharp. Great coffee service. Another sleepless night! They did refund $400 because of the recurring issues; rather weak considering the on-going problem. Seabourn handled this issue very poorly. It seemed that the different departments were not talking to each other. Guest Services, as the point of contact, was terrible in monitoring the problem. No one took responsibility for identifying the problem and fixing it.
8. On our departure day, after a nice shower, the toilet once again stopped working. Bon voyage to us.
Summary: Our experiences on other cruise lines have been very good and we looked forward to moving up, expecting this cruise to be even better. It seems that most of our fellow passengers were also first time Seabourn cruisers. Perhaps we now know why. If our experiences aboard this ship are typical, then Seabourn certainly does not deserve its 'six star' rating.
Cruise Critic reviewers, our travel agent and Odyssey crew members told us to prepare to be spoiled; that did not happen. We are very disappointed with the Seabourn cruise line.