We took the 13 day transatlantic cruise on the Legend, from Fort Lauderdale to Lisbon, with a one day stop in Madeira, between April 8 and 21, 2010. We are experienced veterans of Cunard, as well as the great transatlantic liners of the 50s, 60s and 70s. We sought out Seabourn because we like ships to be ships, not floating Las Vegas Hotels or theme parks.
In sum, Seabourn fully deserves its fine reputation. As other reviewers have noted, the food and service are superb. Portions in the dining room are moderate to small, so that you can try everything. The smaller dining room toward the aft of the ship offers equally refined fare, and is excellent for breakfast and lunch, as well as different dinner menus. We had a $400 shipboard credit which we planned to spend on premium wines. We did not bother, as the wines Seabourn provides were superb. Instead, we spent the credit on a tour of Madeira and the gift shop.
Coming recently from Cunard, we are used to excellent service. The Legend was even better, nearly faultless, despite having some new crew members undergoing training. Within a day or two most of the waiters and other staff knew our names. The crew is uniformly friendly, without being intrusive, and their morale seems exceptionally good. Not having to sign chits for every drink was a great relief, and probably saves the cruise line considerable trouble. There were 162 passengers aboard, including quite a few singles, and the cabins were fully booked. Crew outnumbered the passengers. Because of these small numbers, there were never any lines. Embarkation and debarkation were as easy as if we had our own yacht.
The sea conditions on the Atlantic in April were calm to moderate. Because the Legend is a small ship, it does move with the swells. We recommend taking seasickness medication with you. After a few days, we got used to it and no longer needed the pills (which worked fine). The other passengers seemed similarly adjusted. The weather was surprisingly good: sunny most days and warm enough to sunbathe on deck. You will not need warm clothes as you would on the northern Atlantic.
It was rather easy to meet people. With 13 days and mostly at sea, you can meet most of the other passengers. We were invited to a table for 10 hosted by one of the crew or entertainers nearly every night. Shipboard activities were minimal compared to the large cruise ships, but it had what we liked: good lectures, bridge and lots of time to read and relax. The nighttime entertainment was pretty standard fare and done with spirit. There could have been more classical music for our tastes, but we realize others have different preferences. Our only criticism of the cruise is that the music was usually much too amplified, which drowns out conversation, especially for older people. Take note, Seabourn.
The cabins are good sized and comfortable, with large windows with a good view of the sea, better than the typical "balcony" cabins on larger ships which actually are recessed and restrict the view somewhat, or give a view of lifeboats. The minibar is kept stocked with whatever you like and you can borrow DVDs from the small, but quite good library.
Here are the caveats, for those who are considering Seabourn for the first time. Don't take Seabourn with children. There isn't anything for them to do. If you like chock-a-lock activities, crowds, and lavish surroundings, Seabourn is not for you. The ships are elegant, yet understated, refined without a tad of ostentation. They do not have the photographers, midnight buffets, and hoopla common on the larger cruise lines. Nearly all of the passengers are in their 50s, 60s, and 70s, as one might expect, and on our cruise were mostly from the U.S. and Britain, as well as some from the Netherlands and several other countries. People dress nicely on the Legend, a bit more so than we expected.
The transatlantic cruise is for people who like ships and the sea, and can do without the stops. It is also Seabourn's best bargain overall.