Seabourn Sojourn Cruise Review by tv24: World Cruise, First Time on Seabourn
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World Cruise, First Time on Seabourn
Destination: South Pacific
Embarkation: Los Angeles
After 12 other cruises on 9 other lines, this was our first time on Seabourn. We completed 2 segments on the 2014 World Cruise, from Los Angeles to Hong Kong. Some things on the Sojourn were wonderful; some not so much...
The Ship: Beautiful and well-maintained. The design is sleek, modern with a flavor of mid-century. One of the things you pay for in the luxury pricing is the space. Imagine an Azamara ship with 150 fewer passengers. As a result you get more public spaces and larger verandah suites. The biggest success is Seabourn Square where one can find coffee, excursion info, newspapers, computers, assistance from phenomenal staff and a community of passengers lounging on comfy chairs. The one public area we didn't like was the Restaurant (main dining room) due to the harsh lighting and faux-luxury furniture; it was not inviting.
Fellow Passengers: Almost no one under the age of 60. Retired and accomplished. Mostly from North America, UK, and Australia, with a More small number from other EU countries, etc. I can remember only 2 passengers from Asia. No children.
Stateroom: We were in a V6, which is brilliantly-designed with lots of room to store all of ones stuff, and believe me, we had a lot of stuff! Also plenty of room for lounging on a couch, or dining in the suite. Minor issues: It was impossible to fully recline on the clunky verandah furniture, and the fluff has completely disappeared from all bathroom towels.
Service: Another thing one pays for is the exceptional service. With a very high staff to passenger ratio, there are many well-trained staff at your call. Our stewardess was excellent. The guest relations staff in Seabourn Sq. can be requested to solve problems that you would struggle with on other lines. Restaurant waiters are good, room service is fantastic, but the beverage service is a stand-out. We almost never had to wait for another cold or hot beverage all day and evening.
Entertainment: Very cruise ship, not different that what one finds on the mass market lines. In fact, some acts are booked by the Belinda King agency that works with other lines such as Cunard, so many of the headline entertainers are rotated among ships around the world. We loved going to the showroom just because it is there and casual, and we usually stayed even if the content of the show was not appealing. We enjoyed all of the continuing performers: Mojo Duo, the pianist in the Observation Bar, and the back-up band. The stand-outs, however, were the cruise ship staff, David E, Heather Clancy, and especially Sophie Tehrani, all very talented. We adored the ethnic performers brought on in ports, especially the Native Hawaiian group in Honolulu.
Enrichment and Activities: Sort of the same as one would find on most other lines. Lots of trivia and bridge. Some of the speakers were interesting and well-prepared; others not so. The cooking demos were lame. The art teachers were inspiring, especially Julie Conn.
Excursions and Ports: Disembarkation was almost always flawless, one of the pleasures of traveling on a small ship. We took 6 excursions sponsored by Seabourn; all were just OK, no "wow" factor. Our best times on shore were arranged by ourselves, such as hiring a car in Bali, and riding a pedi-cab in Ambon. I recommend that clever travelers use the Internet (such as Trip Advisor) to find more economical and clever excursions than those offered by Seabourn. Some fellow passengers complained of a few Seabourn excursions that were total disasters, and there were periodic migrations of passengers to the Square to demand their money back. Many of the ports were incredible, but several in Australia (Geelong, Exmouth, and Geraldton, etc.) should have been skipped since there was nothing to do there, not even a decent place to eat. Many of us wondered is Seabourn chose them in order to save money on port fees.
Fitness Center: I am an exercise addict and I found the small center adequate to meet my needs, mainly because it was generally under-utilized. No waiting for machines.
Drinks: Fantastic. Loved the fresh OJ, the specialty coffees, and the champagne. The selection of house wines was always adequate for our needs. Remember you can request a house wine that was featured on a previous night even though it is not specifically mentioned by your server. The wine list for purchase is extensive and expensive. We seldom drink other alcohol, but there is a lot of variety.
Food: The successes: The breakfast and lunch buffets in the Colonnade featured lots of tasty alternatives, were well-organized and clean. The buffets lacked the chaos that one finds in other ships.
Otherwise we were disappointed. I fear that I was misled by the Seabourn pitch of luxury, luxury, and some glowing reviews on CC. We found that the quality at dinner did not match that of independent bistro food in major US cities. While some dishes were just fine, there were too many instances of blah ordinary, overcooked fish, use of too much salt, and even faulty presentation. The ethnic dinners in the Colonnade were almost always inauthentic and borderline disasters. We were told by a manager that the recipes are devised by Holland America management in Seattle and that the cooks must follow the recipe cards. That explains why the cooks were not able to replicate authentic food from their native lands. The Executive Chef encouraged us to order a special dinner, so we chose comfort food, Southern fried chicken with country cream gravy, mashed potatoes and green beans. The result, which I wrote about in a CC thread, was almost inedible, shocking. Finally, while we love the concept of the small plates in R2, the executions was often disappointing due to the fact that so many ingredients were combined in each dish that the flavors got lost.
Who We Are: Two retired gents from the San Francisco Bay Area, well-traveled, over-educated. We love good food, good wine, and discovering the world. Our favorite ship experiences have been crossings, but we are open to port cruises if the itinerary is right. Less
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