I'm not that experienced with cruises as the only other cruise line I've been on (as an adult) is Crystal Cruises (2 cruises) but I am extremely happy to have found Seabourn. My husband and I were lukewarm on cruises as we found Crystal to be a bit too formal for us. Also the crowd there was much older (we are in our forties). I am also not a fan of big crowds. However, my mom enjoys cruising and I always try to travel with her on at least one trip annually. As such, when we decided to try out the Seabourn Odyssey, we selected a shorter cruise (a 7-day sailing from Athens to Venice). The Odyssey surpassed most of our expectations despite having read the glowing reviews.
Firstly, the service was outstanding - unobtrusive, efficient, friendly and genuinely interested. Secondly, the food was superb - down to the breadsticks. Our only complaint here was that their interpretation of Asian food paled by far to Crystal (we asked for a special dinner consisting of chinese food one night - we are Asian). However, now that we know, we can stay away from requesting this to focus on the seafood that was consistently good. Thirdly, the vessel is so well designed that we often felt that we were on a private cruise. The only time we lined up for anything was during the Colonnade's buffet breakfast. My favorite hiding spot was at Seaborn Square's patio. We were often the only ones in the level 6 whirlpool. I had found the Crystal cabins (both Serenity and Symphony) to be fine but the size and comfort of the Odyssey's suites is so much better, especially the size of the bathroom and the wardrobe. I tried out the special bubble bath, which is a nice way to start the cruise (although once was enough for me).
Last, but not least, the informal atmosphere I think helped to inculcate a relaxed holiday/resort mood on board. There was no pressure to have to dress up in the evenings in formal attire while at the same time, some sense of decorum was appreciated by my mom (who does like to dress up and did not feel out of place if she did).
As with other reviews, the weakness is most definitely the entertainment but because we knew about this, we weren't too disappointed. My mom, who loves to dance, had enough of this activity to keep her occupied. I believe the younger vibe of the passengers helped and my mom remarked that she felt there was more willing participation from the passengers to dance when compared to other cruises she had been on (Crystal, Cunard). We did not take any shore excursions as I prefer to arrange my own visits. I would have liked more informative lectures on board - something Crystal does well - but again, I had enough going on not to miss it. The "casino" was woefully small so I suspect this aspect may not favor those who are more inclined towards this activity.
On the whole, perhaps it is because the program and vibe suite my age group better that I enjoyed the Seabourn more than Crystal. I definitely prefer the smaller size over the big cruise ships because I don't like being herded.