We boarded the Seabourn Quest in Barcelona on October 26. This was our 1st Seabourn cruise. We had previously sailed on many cruises on the "mass market” lines and had one Regent voyage about 3 years ago. We spent 18 days on the Quest ending our cruise in Rio. The following are my impressions of the voyage and ship.
From the moment we checked in we felt this cruise would be an exceptional one and we weren’t disappointed. We had booked a Wintergarden Suite and knew it would be large. It exceeded our expectations! The suite is well-laid out with plenty of storage space, pleasing décor, an extremely comfortable bed and great living space. We had a couple of parties in our suite and there was plenty of room for entertaining. At the second party we had 26 guests and weren’t crowded. Our cabin stewardess Natalie did a fantastic job and was the best attendant we’ve ever had.
I had been reading the Seabourn forum and did have some misgivings about the issue of smoking. Perhaps we didn’t have many smokers on our cruise, but the only time that I really smelled it was in the Observation Bar in the evening when we would go there for a drink before dinner. I didn’t find it to be overwhelming or enough to put us off going there. The other thing that seemed to be endlessly discussed on the forum was the quality of the included wines and champagne. We enjoy wine with meals but are not by any means oenophiles. We found what was offered to be quite good with a nice variety available. Based on the consumption we saw around us at lunch and dinner our shipmates must have felt similarly. We can’t remember ever seeing as much champagne being consumed as we did on this cruise.
We ate most of our breakfasts and lunches in The Colonnade and enjoyed both the venue and the food. We liked that there were tables outside so we could dine al fresco if we liked. The buffet available was always tasty with lots of options and we liked the specials that would be cooked to order and served at your table if we chose them. We had lunch with our trivia team in the dining room one day and I had a ladies’ lunch there as well. They were both very enjoyable.
One of the highlights on the last sea day was the Galley Market Lunch. For those who don’t know what that is, in the dining room at one end a buffet of salads, cold meats and breads is set up. In the middle of the dining room are tables with a large variety of desserts. For everything else you must go into the galley which has been set up with stations offering all sorts of foods. As we entered the galley we were offered a shot of ice cold vodka. The things available included fondue, crab legs and claws, large prawns, mussels, sushi, roast suckling pig, beef, lamb, veal, gratins of vegetables and seafood, sausages and sauerkraut, pastas, etc, etc. Everything we selected was prepared very well.
We ate most dinners in the main restaurant and never had to wait more than a moment or two for a table. The room was in our opinion a very nicely decorated and lighted venue. On two evenings we were invited to sit at an officer’s table and we found the company very enjoyable. One evening we ate at Restaurant 2, the only place for which you must make a reservation. The menu there is a tasting menu which changes a few times during the cruise. We found the food to be very tasty and extremely imaginative and creative. The room is small and intimate and it was a nice experience. On the last two nights we ate outside at the Colonnade with a group of friends and we enjoyed those meals as well. Sitting with the sound of the wake and watching a far off lightning storm was quite magical.
It had been many years since we’d been on a ship as small as the Quest and never on one with so few passengers. We wondered how we would like making a transatlantic crossing on a ship of her size. Well, we decided she is just about perfect. With 450 passengers and 330 crew members the ship never felt crowded and our every need was taken care of almost instantly. The crew was always smiling, friendly and eager to help with anything they could. It was amazing to us that after only one encounter with a staff member they would remember our names and greet us with them when we walked past. The future cruise consultant Sara was a delight. The Destination Services manager (shore excursions) Claudio was also amazing. I asked him a question about a tour in Cape Verde. He wasn’t sure of the answer but said he would find out for me (we were at sea for a couple of days). The next day he contacted me to give me the answer after calling the tour operator in Cape Verde. I was impressed. This was also the first time in many cruises that we knew who the Cruise Director was. Usually we have no idea and don’t really care. On the Seabourn Quest our cruise director Handre was always visible and very competent and engaging.
The facilities on the ship were also very nice and more than adequate for the number of people onboard (we did have a full ship). We didn’t have a problem getting a seat in the theater or lounges for any event. There were always deck chairs available. We went to a couple of the lectures and found them interesting and educational. We only saw a couple of shows but enjoyed them as well. On sea days we played trivia and liked the format Seabourn uses. We met some wonderful people as a result of playing.
In every port except one we took Seabourn shore excursions. We found them all to be enjoyable. I think the largest number of people we had was one with 34 people. The guides were all very knowledgeable and did a good job. The longest one we took was from Casablanca to Marrakech. It was a long day but well worth the trip. Our guide Mo did a great job of making sure we were all secure as we wandered the souks in the old city. A couple of our tours included lunches (including the one in Marrakech) and the food was all very tasty. We thought the tours were well-priced for what we received.
In conclusion, we agreed that this was our best cruise to date. Seabourn’s attention to detail makes the cruise experience truly exceptional. We liked it enough that we have booked another cruise for next year.