I will simply try to do a comprehensive review with those who are new to Seabourn or the Odyssey in mind.
This was our first Seabourn cruise, it was also the smallest ship we have been on. We are both in our 40’s and have only been cruising for a few short years, starting with HAL, through Disney, Carnival, Cunard, and culminating with Crystal last November.
To summarize our experience with Seabourn, suffice it to say that it fully met our expectations and although we had not considered sailing on the triplets before, we are now ready to try them as well given what we learned on the Odyssey.
Beautiful, elegant in a contemporary style and well laid out. We found our suite (a V3 on deck 6) to be spacious and with plenty of storage. The bathroom with its separate tub and shower and double sinks is great as there never is any need to juggle for space. As pathetic as it may sound, I loved the walk-in closet with its easy to open/close drawers, lots of hangers and plenty of space for shoes. It makes packing/unpacking, dressing and keeping everything organized a breeze. The Frechette robes are a nice touch and they came in handy when going out to the whirlpool area a mere steps from our cabin. Our stewardess was a gem who made our cruise that much more enjoyable.
Our best daytime hideaway spot was, as mentioned above, just steps from our cabin - the whirlpool area forward on deck 6 is the best-kept secret on the Odyssey. There are quite a few loungers and there is always some shade. Fresh towels are available and a crew member is always there to bring you a nice cold drink. Being where it is, there is always a breeze (hard to find on any other areas) and I could not find a better thing to do at the end of the day than to sit in the Jacuzzi sipping champagne watching the sunset.
We tried sunbathing on The Retreat (deck 11) but there isn’t any shade at all which makes it very difficult for anyone to stay there for any period of time. It is a lovely spot and I think that the addition of a few big umbrellas would greatly improve its usability.
We loved the Observation Bar and would often go there to listen to Nick the piano player and steal a dance or two (no dance floor). Unlike The Club, the furniture does not crowd the space. The Club is the place to go for some serious dancing (but the dance floor is rather small) and it’s very well attended before dinner and between dinner and show times.
Seabourn Square is the main hub of the ship and a great place to grab a latte and a cookie and catch up on your email or reading. Great reclining chairs at the back for an afternoon nap (there is noticeable vibration there but it just lulls you to sleep!).
The Grand Salon suffers from a few ill-placed columns and pretty crowded seating but it is a good venue for the entertainment.
The Restaurant is really beautiful day and night. On our first night on board we dined in one of the main areas (double height) of the Restaurant and found it was strangely lit with unflattering purplish lights. This made people look rather ghostly. Those areas were also the noisiest. It was only toward the end of the cruise that we noticed that the purple lights were gone.
The décor of Restaurant 2 is striking but not to everyone’s taste as we discovered through conversations with our tablemates on the two occasions we dined there. Particularly those Seabourn cruisers who are more at home in the more traditional triplets. Design-wise, we thought that the servers had a hard time reaching people seated at the back end of the round booth-like seats. We personally liked it, including the lit-up menus which were different and a fun touch.
The Colonnade, particularly the outdoor portion, was perhaps our favourite venue for casual dining, both for lunch and for dinner. Its décor is relaxed and inviting. There is one issue with the design - one night a woman fell (she was not hurt) when she failed to notice a small step dividing the main seating area from the hallway. There are ropes to prevent this but she leaned on the rope a bit it and it gave. This could prove very dangerous and should be addressed in a better way.
My general sense is that the ship has been beautifully designed but that aesthetics takes precedence over function in some instances. There is also an abnormal amount of noise in the cabins (at least in ours but we heard the same from several fellow passengers). This noise (rattling, vibration, creaking, groaning, you name it) was much more pronounced when the seas were on the rougher side and the ship was going at a faster cruise speed (first and last nights). Having said that, neither the seas nor the speed were in any way extreme so the real answer must lie elsewhere.
The few negatives all have to do with signs that the finishing was done in a rushed way and it shows. Examples of this are carpets that don’t seem to be “tucked in” properly (at least in our cabin) and are already coming off, air bubbles in the wood veneer panels, chips in the enamel of the bathtub, etc. Simply put, there will be a lot of work needed to be done in the first drydock.
One last note and this will be of absolutely no interest to most, the fitness center was not truly “fully equipped” as the promotional materials state, but rather seemed to have an odd collection of TechnoGym machines with very specialized functions, not the machines that work the main muscle groups. Again, if you don’t regularly workout with weights, you won’t care about this one bit.
The gym did have a suitable number of cardio machines including elliptical machines, treadmills and one stairmaster, plus the Kinetic wall which I never got around to trying.
This is a matter of personal taste. In our view, it was mostly very good and sometimes great, but not exceptional. A bit on the bland and unimaginative side. One example of this is the nightly themed menus on the Colonnade. They consisted of two or three “theme” dishes which were not in the least the real thing (with some better than others) and the rest of the menu was the same every night. This is not a criticism as the food was always of good quality, just seemed to be playing it safe a lot.
Restaurant 2 was a pleasant diversion from any blandness. The whole concept of a tasting menu is not well understood or liked by many as we found out. We liked it. It was a great experience and it must be tried at least once. Do not be intimidated by the menu (it sounds far more daunting than the food really is), don’t rush it. Each morsel is carefully designed to play against the others on your plate and there are unexpected, delicious surprises – like the “vanilla flavoured asparagus cappuccino”.
The Patio Grill was convenient for a quick bite and a very pleasant spot but unremarkable food wise. For example, I expected real cheese in my cheeseburger, not a slice of processed cheese. Nice pizzas.
Room service was great. We had breakfast in our balcony many times and had the most pleasant times. We also ordered room service for a simple dinner on the last night as we were feeling under the weather. The food was good, delivered hot and promptly and the service was always first rate.
Varied and of good quality. The Seabourn Singers are young and talented and they try hard to please everyone in the audience. This is a big feat considering the generational differences. The other acts, a pianist, a violinist and two comedians provided a good dose of entertainment. The regular musicians on board gave us ample opportunity to dance which is one of our main pleasures while cruising. We particularly loved the pool deck party.
First impression was that of spotty, impersonal service. This impression soon changed as we noticed steady improvement after a couple of days into the cruise. Most staff (with very few exceptions) proved to be warm and caring and we found ourselves being addressed by name often and by many of them. The Hotel Manager made a good effort to help resolve an issue we had and followed through with solutions. We met many staff members who were not only new to Seabourn (1st contract) but also new to cruiseships altogether. While some of the most experienced Seabourn staff shined, so did some of the newbies. Very rarely did we experience any staff members who did not perform to expectations.
While we were in a small minority due to our age, we felt welcome by all and met an overwhelming majority of fantastic, fun and entertaining, sweet, interesting, truly enjoyable folks, some of which we had the pleasure of dining and/or having drinks with several times throughout. This was a true highlight of our experience and, above all, perhaps the main reason we will sail with Seabourn again.