The 7 day cruise of the Baltic Sea in June/July 2013 had been our third cruise with Seabourn within the last 10 month (41 sea days). Why? My wife and I we simply feel at home aboard Seabourn. We are in our late 40ties and until 1 ½ years ago we didn´t thought a cruise will suite us. We liked and still like being on our own exploring. We prefer top class hotels, but hardly use all the facilities they offer. Usually we stay at one site between 2-5 days. Then we travel on our own to the next destinations.
Why do we like Seabourn? Maybe we better have to start to write about what the 3 larger Seabourn ships according to our opinion aren´t. They are not a place where you marvel about fancy details or the sheer size and quantity of facilities. The offered standard of the ships is high class. References to a huge yacht can be done.
The suites. The regular suites (we had been in categories V3 and V6) have a satisfactory size. The furnishing is very well thought-out and utilizable. The small walk-in wardrobe is an absolute plus. The bathroom is nice as well and has all the necessities needed, but for 2 persons at once drying hair it´s too small. The shower could be larger. The interior design of the suite has to address to the taste of huge number of guest. It does so. The HDTV is working well, but, like in brand new cars or airplanes, their entertainment and computer equipment is already outdated when they hit the market. We don´t want to miss our veranda. It is nice to have the possibility to go outside from your own cabin (suite). Yes, the veranda furniture could be improved. A short while after embarkation all our luggage has found its spot and we consider it as "our” suite. In many top notch hotels rooms this feeling never developed.
Food. We read in some reviews that the food on Seabourn is not always living up to the expectations. On our cruises with the Odyssey and the Sojourn we had 3 different chefs. We were told that the menus are set by Seattle headquarters. Therefore the food is mainly not purchased locally. Fish for example is delivered mostly frozen in containers to the ship. But even then can you feel the influences of the different chefs. Seasoning differs. Seabourn is trying not to make something wrong. Health risks are linked with undercooked food. So they overcook. Fish and seafood is here mostly at risk. I never tried to order a "bleu” beef dish. I stick to "rare”. In total the food meets our expectations. We consider it very good. 3-star Michelin restaurants with the restriction to 15-20 tables and a few dishes and 2 degustation menus can´t be compared. In the main restaurant you cater up to 450 passengers in about 2-3 hours at a very high level. At the Colonade we always had our breakfast. It is a mix of being served and self-service. We as Germans love our bread. Choice could and should be improved. Same with cheeses. I love to have goat, sheep and blue cheeses for breakfast. But again, we sorrow at a very, very high level. In addition you can ask. The service staff is trying to accomplish what you have asked for. Perrier mineral water for example might not available at once. San Pellegrino mineral water instead. So you have to wait a little to get your preferred one. Double shot Cappucino and Espresso you better get at the Square (take out) before you go for breakfast. The regular coffee within The Colonade is so so. Restaurant 2. We had dinner there 5 times so fare. It differs from the main restaurant as there are only around 30 guest each evening. A set 6-7 course menu is offered. The food differs. They try to present a more seasoned cooking style. As long as they don´t hype at the presentation of the dinner it is a very joyful evening. The Pool Bar. For us exactly what it should be. Great burgers, pizza, salad and so on.
Wines and spirits. The offered wines for dinner are good middle class. That is ok with us. We never opted for the silver or gold wine package. You can always have the Feuillatte Champagne which is very decent French Champagne. Spirits and cocktails. You cannot ask for more. Our favorite place for cocktails and drinks is the Observation Lounge.
Staff and Crew. As soon as you enter the ship, they make you feel welcome and at home. Security measures and procedures can be annoying, but in this times? We always felt that the staff is willing to interact with guest. But the guests have to make the first moves. If you don´t, they furthermost act highly professional. As always in life some do excel from the rest. But on Seabourn not because you tipped them. They excel because they love what they do. High ranking officers were always available.
Room for improvement. Yes. The use of internet (wifi) should be included in the cruise fare. The excursions are overpriced. Offering more options for sleeping pillows. Sometimes a little more attention even to the smallest detail is needed. More "harbor” information by the service crew on Seabourn Square. Onsite self drive car rental information. How to get in and out of the port. How far from some highlights by taxi. Those details we don´t have in our guide books and internet information. The concept of the ships boutique.
On our Baltic Sea cruise. In our travel documents the wrong embarkation site in Stockholm was stated. No information about changes. When we arrived we found out. It took 1 hour and 50 Euros additional taxi rides. Just an apology. No refund. Staff friendly as ever. We had the best stewardess for our suite so far. In Talinn and in Helsinki we walked the city on our own. The 3 days in St. Petersburg we arranged a private tour for us. Guide, driver and Minivan. We would do so again. For us the one week cruise was too short. We would have loved at least 3 more sea days.
In January 2014 we are crusing Antarctica. Seabourn of course. If Seabourn will remain or even improving its service level and food and drink quality we have found our cruise line. They also should stick to their upscale all-inclusive concept. The size of the Odyssey, Sojourn and Quest are in our opinion a good balance between choices offered and intimacy. On our first cruise ever in December 2011 we had been on a 4-star plus ship. The suite was good, as was the executive lounge, but with 2.000 passengers on board, we never really felt home like we do on Seabourn. We are looking forward to go back to "our” Seabourn ships.