The launch of 450-passenger Seabourn Quest in June 2011 completed Seabourn Cruise Line's $750 million investment in three new Odyssey-class "yachts," if you can call a 32,000-ton vessel a yacht. Seabourn is, with this sixth ship, now a significant player in the luxury market, competing head-on with Silversea Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises.
Quest is essentially a carbon copy of sister ship Seabourn Sojourn, which debuted in 2010. The decor, hull design and even the menus are the same (although a few tweaks were made between Odyssey, the first of the trio, and Sojourn, the second). Highlights of all three ships include a beautiful and expansive pool surrounded by wooden decking; a central "hub" called Seabourn Square that acts as a combination library, reception, Internet cafe and patisserie; and sumptuous but contemporary decor, with extensive use of cream, white and neutrals in different textures, from leather to gauze, to create a comforting but chic boutique hotel feel. Great emphasis, too, is placed on dining, with three equally appealing venues, The Colonnade (buffet by day, alfresco a la carte by night), the elegant main dining room and Restaurant 2, a gourmet eatery offering tasting menus.
It's very hard to find fault with a product as sleek, contemporary and sumptuous as Seabourn Quest; and the line has, after all, had three shots now at making this style of yacht perfection, learning with each new vessel it launches. So what it boils down to is the service. Is this a luxury product? Or an ultra-luxury product? Sure, it's an all-inclusive product, insofar as drinks, all dining and all entertainment are included (although excursions and spa treatments are not). But is it the last word in pampered cruising? Almost.
The unexpected, if tiny, service hiccups -- like a crewmember not holding a door open for a passenger or a bar waiter being unhelpful when questioned about the ingredients of a certain drink -- had us slightly confused. Disembarkation day was no better than that on a mass-market ship, with constant, intrusive announcements.
On the other hand, most crewmembers do go the extra mile and are all trained to try and solve problems, rather than simply smiling politely. Seabourn calls them "clairvoyant," and it's not far wrong. The initiative shown by even the lowest-ranking cabin stewardesses on Seabourn is always both impressive and touching.