Oceania lover has fling with Seabourn
Barcelona to Monte Carlo 25-07-2016 to 04-08-2016
This was a special surprise gift for my mothers **th birthday. The last couple of years I have been cruising on Oceania (previous ... Read More
Oceania lover has fling with Seabourn
Barcelona to Monte Carlo 25-07-2016 to 04-08-2016
This was a special surprise gift for my mothers **th birthday. The last couple of years I have been cruising on Oceania (previous on Celebrity en Star Clippers) but this itinerary looked just perfect with lots of small ports and the price for a V4 Verandah suite was the same as a Penthouse Suite on O. So I decided to give Seabourn a try and I’m happy I did.
We flew to Barcelona a day before the cruise and stayed at the Arts Hotel. A beautiful big hotel at the Port Olympic that is just steps from the beach and night live. We had a corner suite that was just absolutely stunning. One of the best rooms I have ever stayed in. Staff very friendly and helpful. We ate at Carpe Diem a small trendy restaurant close to the hotel and on the beach. Most shops are closed on Sunday so do a day of sightseeing instead.
We took a taxi at noon to the World Trade Center Port that is centrally located. Our luggage was immediately picked up by the porters and carried away. We filled out the health questionnaire and checked in. A few minutes later we boarded Seabourn Sojourn. The exterior of the ship or yacht as Seabourn calls it is glamorous but my first impression of interior was underwhelming. Compared to the opulent interior styling on especially the Oceania-class ships with crystal, polished wood and impressive artwork, Seabourn choose a far more subdued style. Beautiful in some area’s like the ‘The Restaurant’, Pool and ‘Seabourn Square’ but also a tad boring like in ‘The Club’ on Deck 5 that gave me the impression of being in a third party airport lounge. The styling of ‘Restaurant 2’ is more glitzy and eclectic and I hope the new Thomas Keller restaurant that will be replacing R2 will have a modern feel to it. For a ship launched in 2010 it just looks a somewhat dated.
We totally loved the abundance of deck space and small quiet areas like the sun deck (6) with whirlpool (but no shower) and the small pool deck at the stern of the ship (5). The sunbeds are pretty but very firm and could use a cushion. The level of service was also fabulous. Smiling and truly attentive staff throughout the vessel that made us feel welcome and special. They knew our preferences by day 2 and really did everything possible to exceed our expectations. Our stewardess Ivana was a gem and the best ever. Not only did she keep our suite spotless, she also provided a wealth of information about the ship and services. Always great for first timers!
Our V4 Verandah Suite (707) was light and roomy (only the space between the bed and dresser is tight). Oceania penthouse suites are larger but we were perfectly happy with the size of our small suite on Seabourn. I loved the bar and tv cabinets and being able to draw the curtains between the sleeping and living area. All very elegant! The mini fridge was stocked with our preferred soft drinks and there was a chilled bottle of champagne waiting for us. I ordered a flower arrangement in advance and it was big, nice and lasted the entire trip. The seating area has a well-designed layout but the fabric and colors of the chairs and especially the couch are an acquired taste. I don’t know if it was meant to be and art-deco theme but we didn’t fancy it. The beds are very firm not to say rock hard and the pillows gigantic. The bed linens are soft but the whole experience does not compare to the wonderful beds and linens that Oceania provides on its ships. We did love the small make-up vanity and the bathroom is spacious with separate soaking tub and shower. Molton Brown provides the luxury bath products and you have dual sinks, with high-end fixtures, marble tiles and good lighting. I would have loved to have a night-light there. A pair of drawers would have been a welcome addition to the bathroom since shelves and storage are limited. The suite also features a walk-in closet, safe and two bathrobes. I missed electrical outlets near the nightstands for charging my phone or tablet. The air-conditioning did what it is designed for and we had no problem getting the ideal temperature for our suite. We liked sitting on the balcony late at night with a glass of wine and listen to the waves and talk about our day.
I love food! Buying it, preparing and of course sharing and eating it. My friends tell me that I’m a pretty good cook. Due to my line of work I have dined in many great restaurants but I also love a simple bistro or well-prepared hamburger. My loyalty with Oceania has to do with their food. The variety of their restaurants and high quality ingredients is splendid and although the menus could use a little more modern influences I do love that they have products like lobster, scampi and other seafood, premium cuts of beef on every menu every day. The food on Seabourn is good but compared to Oceania more limited. Fine products like lobster, caviar and premium cuts are hard to find on the menus and only available as a special order in advance. We don’t like to pre-order because it makes us feel uncomfortable.
This food on Seabourn is very well prepared and tasty. Compared to Oceania the dishes served on Seabourn are more modern and lighter with less double cream and butter. Pizza, burgers and gelato were also very good. All our meals were good but only a few were very memorable like our experience in R2 and the Thomas Keller night in the Colonnade. We choose the more casual Patio Grill many evenings since the weather was wonderful and we like dining al fresco. I know many guests have mixed feelings about the partnership with Thomas Keller but we liked it a lot. Our night featured a modern take on the classic Waldorf salad and a beautiful bone in prime-rib with roasted broccoli and silky mashed potatoes. Seabourn could improve the quality and selection of breads, baguette and pastries.
We aren’t big drinkers but like a good glass of wine. Most evenings the selection was fine with a few highlights like a Pouilly-Fuissé, Chianti Classico and Sand Tropez Rosé. A few bottles shouldn’t have been offered like a €3.99 bottle of J.P. Chenet that you can find in every cheap grocery store in Europe. Cocktails, champagne and digestives were always available and offered throughout the day by the pools and in the bars. We love that you didn’t have to sign for every drink. That really is a luxury!
Seabourn could improve the quality of the coffee they serve. I got a cappuccino at Seabourn Square every morning but I couldn’t get the very friendly barista to get me a proper cappuccino made with a strong espresso and some foamy milk. The Barista Coffee Bar on Oceania wins hands on and I also missed those very tasty mini pastries featured on Oceania like the canelés and madeleines.
It seemed to us that Seabourn caters to a crowd that is very hard to please.
This was our only real disappointment during our cruise. We met so many people who seemingly had only one hobby and that was to complain about the food, drinks, service, menu and we even met a couple that told us that Seabourn should do something about the heat in the ports we visited. I’m not kidding! I have to say that being surrounded with so many people who felt to urge to complain out loud didn’t do much good for the overall atmosphere. This cruise had one day at sea and all sunbeds were already ‘reserved’ at 8:00 am by sophisticated guests like they do in those cheap all-inclusive resorts.
The system is slow and works with only device at a time. This is how most ships work…BUT charging a staggering $400 for 10 days is a total rip off. That’s almost 10% of the cruise fee. A luxury brand like Seabourn shouldn't charge for Wi-Fi at all and if it does it should be for a friendly fee. It's 2016 and 90% of the guests use the Internet.
I don't smoke and after reading so many complaints on the cruisecritic.com board I was afraid I would have to endure smoking everywhere. I experienced no such thing and was pleasantly surprised. I never smelt smoke outside and we used the balcony a lot and never even got a whiff of smoke. I really don't understand what all the fuss is about. We got the message that Seabourn is going for a much stricter smoking policy in the near future. Victory for al the vocal complainers but this non-smoker didn’t have any problems with the current
We enjoyed every minute of our cruise with Seabourn. We had a fabulous itinerary, attentive staff, and a relaxing atmosphere with an abundance of space, good food and smooth sailings. Seabourn leaves little the wish for and tries very hard to give its demanding passengers a refined luxury experience. I'm afraid some guests on board are impossible to please and hearing so many complaints and seeing so many rude, snobbish people did spoil the atmosphere at times. No cruise line is perfect, there is always room for improvement, but I think Seabourn offers a sublime vacation.
Would I choose Seabourn over Oceania?
It totally depends on price and itinerary. If Seabourn and Oceania keep the same price level, I would book with Seabourn again depending on the itinerary. I really liked the small ship experience with small ports, no waiting for anything (except on sea days), no signing for drinks, good food and very attentive and well trained staff. But I do like Oceania's a little over the top decor, variety of restaurants, menus and the large penthouse suites. So my love for O is still burning but I do have a serious fling now with Seabourn. Read Less