Editor's note: Seabourn Spirit was sold to Windstar in February 2013, and has been renamed Star Breeze. It entered service as a Windstar ship in May 2015.
Passengers on Seabourn Cruise Line's trio of 208-passenger, ulta-luxury ships -- Seabourn Spirit, Seabourn Legend and Seabourn Pride -- enjoy fine dining (especially at dinner), all-suite cabins and doting service. You won't find much razzmatazz here, but you will find an opportunity to enjoy some quiet time and converse with your fellow travelers in a refined environment.
The Champagne flows liberally, there's opportunity to eat caviar, and all women get the arm of a waiter when they enter the dining room. Since you've paid considerable bucks upfront, the line can afford to throw in freebies. And they do: Included in the cruise fare are a welcome bottle of Champagne; an in-suite bar setup; nearly all drinks (you pay extra for some premium brands); decent wine with lunch and dinner; and crew tips.
Seabourn also has a complimentary shore excursion program. On each cruise, at one port of call, there is one free shore-side event to which all passengers are invited. These events are often a highlight of the voyage, and have included such excursions as a visit to a private villa in Malta, a glass-roofed canal boat ride in Amsterdam and an outdoor folkloric dance performance in Nafplion, Greece.
You can use the ship's water sports equipment for free, and do not have to pay extra for a Pilates class or wine-tasting seminar. Plus, there are niceties like fruit smoothies, suntan lotion and cold towels passed out on deck on a hot day.
Still, despite a higher staff-per-passenger ratio than most lines, service is not seamless. While dinner is presented with military precision, including lifting silver domes off entrees on cue, the young (but very handsome) waitstaff seemed lost on our cruise during breakfast and lunch buffets, with guests having to flag someone down for coffee or a clean place setting.
The decor on the Seabourn Spirit is comfortably upscale. There is plenty of space to explore but really nowhere to go -- at night, your choices are The Club with adjacent small casino, the show lounge and (weather permitting) the pool bar. Don't expect much late-night partying.
Passengers are mostly American or British, wealthy, well mannered and well traveled. The average age depends on the cruising region, but usually ranges from late 40's to late 60's. Passengers tend to be loyal to Seabourn; half may be repeaters.
Seabourn passengers generally like to dress up. There are two formal nights on weeklong cruises and three on 14-day sailings. The line has elegant casual and formal evenings. Formal attire includes a tuxedo, suit or slacks (jacket required) for men and evening gown or other formal attire for women. Elegant casual attire includes slacks with a collared dress shirt or sweater (jacket optional) for men and skirt or slacks with a blouse, a pant suit or dress for women. Jeans are welcome in all dining venues during the day, but not appropriate in any public venues after 6 p.m., when the dress code applies.
Tips are included in the cost of the cruise.