We just returned from a two week cruise through the Panama Canal with stops in Belize, Honduras, Costa Rica, Panama City, and Nicaragua. The Seabourn Spirit is a small ship with about 200 passengers and what seemed like as many staff members. The food was wonderful and the service fantastic. Our cabin was large enough that we never in two weeks felt clautrophobic. Each day we were in port we had breakfast delivered to our room, and, unlike many hotels, it always arrived on time, hot, and perfectly complete. The food was always well-seasoned, beautifully presented, and delicious. Breakfast and lunch in Restaurant 2 in the stern of the ship was always wonderful. We always had dinner in the dining room because we liked the formal atmosphere and it never disappointed. The wine pairings were also very nicely done.
The staff, however, was this ships most notable asset. Each day we were greeted by name from smiling faces that made you feel that you were the one person they were waiting to see. They were easy to chat with, but only if you started the conversation. We always spoke to them and enjoyed all of our interactions, but my impression was that if you didn't want this to occur the staff would have been efficiently and politely silent. The bartenders could make any drink and it was always the best you have every had. The table service was nicely done, and in most cases they seemed to sense what your needs were. They do encourage the making of new friends with the crew hosting tables of dinner guests. We accepted some but did not feel coerced into attending all these dinners, and most nights really enjoyed dinner for two. We did, however, have lunch and drinks with various people and met many very interesting individuals.
The personal touches were also impressive. A day at the beach was anything but a typical day at the beach with water toys, caviar, champagne, amazing food, and music. The Captain had a block party, where everyone took their wine glasses from their cabins, stepped out into the hall and met their neighbors while the stewards filled wine glasses and passed snacks. We met people across the hall from a neighborhood where we lived some years ago. There was a gathering in the bow of the ship for our first sunset in the Pacific. Each day at noon when we were at sea the Captain read a poem about the sea and they were always a perfect compliment to the day. I only wish he had given the authors name. The Market Galley Lunch has to be seen and experienced to be understood.
We booked our land excursions before we left on this trip and were pleased with the companies and individuals with whom Seabourn dealt. They also had talks on the various stops although these seemed to be too little too late. The only trip that was a disappointment was Panama City. It was supposed to be a walking tour, but was a rushed trip looking through the windows on the bus with little stopping or walking. The other trips on Belize, Honduras, Costa Rica and Nicaragua were all just terrific.
This is an all inclusive trip, and it was very nice not signing or carrying a wallet throughout this cruise. One thing to remember is that this is not a cruise for children or teens. It is a luxury liner not an amusement park, and there is nothing to entertain them, but for adults there were evening shows, and music each night for dancing even a couple of nights under the stars.