Seabourn offers an array of tours in every port for an extra charge. Prices struck us as a tad pricy, for example $149 for a hike to a glacier that wasn't even guided. On our cruise, we found a nice mix of sightseeing/coach tours, hikes and cultural tours; tours are rated as easy, moderate or considerable walking (from the viewpoint of someone in their 60s or 70s). You can also book a private car and driver.
Unique Seabourn options include a chance to go shopping at a local market with the ship's chef (usually advertised a day or two prior). The line also has a partnership with UNESCO, and marks tours to UNESCO sites. Mostly this means that a portion of the tour proceeds benefit UNESCO; look for Discovery Tours, which are (supposedly) more exclusive tours. An example of a Discovery tour on Quest is a tour of Stonehenge that allows Seabourn travelers beyond the ropes to walk inside the stone circle.
Seabourn also offers a series of tours called Ventures by Seabourn. These are kayak or Zodiac tours led by expert naturalists, scientists and historians (and trained kayak guides). These tours are often among the more expensive tours, but they are a very good experience with knowledgeable guides and a strong support team for the kayak groups (so you never feel like you'll be left behind to struggle if you get tired). You'll learn a lot and get an up-close view of the port's scenic offerings.
Daytime and Evening Entertainment
Seabourn's entertainment team plans practically no activities during hours the ship is in port. On sea days, there are various and fairly low-key activities, such as bridge, lectures (by the Ventures team or guest lecturers), trivia competitions, dance classes and cooking demos. Seabourn's trivia games are extra competitive, and teams stick together throughout the entire cruise as scores are cumulative.
There's one seating of one show each night in the Grand Salon theater (which offers bar service just before and during the performance). With the 2017-debuted "Evening with Tim Rice" show, Seabourn has really upped the quality of its cast of onboard singers. To cast the show, the line requires auditioning singers to have performed in Broadway, West End or national/international musicals; as these singers also perform the other musical revues onboard, the talent level is quite high and among the best we've seen on a small-ship cruise. However, the quality of the guest entertainers on the cruise really fell short. We found them amateurish and often cheesy.
Once per cruise, the evening show is replaced with the Rock the Boat dance party where the dance band teams up with the ship's singers to get the crowd on their feet by the pool deck. Also because Quest's itineraries are usually cold-weather, Seabourn's legendary Caviar in the Surf beach party, where uniformed waters emerge from the waves bearing platters of caviar and Champagne, is usually transformed into a Champagne and Caviar Deck Party for one sail-away.
In the evenings, the focal point after dinner is The Club, which has a dance band and jazz trio who switch off. Both groups were talented, and the dance band played a fun mix of music and got the late-night crowd dancing. There's a small casino with roulette, blackjack tables and a couple of slots off The Club, which sees more or less action depending on how port-intensive the itinerary is. The Observation Lounge has a pianist, and is popular during the sail-away for pre-dinner drinks, but it closes at midnight on the dot.
Quest offers enrichment lectures related to the cruise destination by employing a mix of guest speakers and its Ventures team. On our cruise, a historian and a naturalist offered lectures on animals and the Viking history of the region. A port lecturer gave anticipatory slideshows of the upcoming destinations, but he was more of a tease than an actual help in either planning independent touring or shore tours.
The spa team lead seminars, both Steiner's typical "Eat More to Weigh Less" talks and Andrew Weil-influenced classes on mindful living.
Seabourn includes all but the most premium alcohol in its fares, but the line is by no means stingy with its pours. Waiters will make a point to ask you if you want a drink and check in to see if you need another. Sail-away and other parties will feature some sort of special bar setup, whether it's a line of after-dinner liquors at the Rock the Boat party or waiters handing out aquavit during a fjord sail-away.
The two main lounges for pre- and post-dinner drinks are The Club and The Observation Lounge, with two pool deck bars for sunny-day thirst-quenching. The Club and Observation Lounge have their own special cocktail menus through Seabourn's partnership with mixologist Brian Van Flandern, but oddly don't have regular cocktail menus so there's not much in the way of inspiration if you don't know what to order.
Many of the indoor and outdoor seating venues, including the Grand Salon and the Observation Lounge, house a stash of warm orange or brown blankets that are perfect when the A/C is turned up too high, or you've just come in from some windy scenery watching.
The Club (Deck 5): The Club opens just prior to dinner and closes when the last passengers stagger off to bed. It has a small square dance floor in the center, and a jazzy trio and a lively dance band trade off sets (jazz pre- and post-dinner, dancing in the later hours). It's the go-to evening destination for conversation, drinks or a little boogie, and on our cruise, the musicians were outstanding, especially the dance band's female lead singer.
Seabourn Square (Deck 7): The hub of the ship, Seabourn Square contains a coffee bar offering specialty coffees, liqueurs, cakes, pastries, sandwiches and ice cream; a library, with a decent selection of novels and travel guides; jigsaw puzzles; two banks of internet terminals; and a central, semi-enclosed area where Seabourn staff sit at desks and handle everything from onboard accounts to shore excursions. Chairs and couches are extremely comfortable, and it's highly likely that your hour with a book will turn into a power nap.
Patio Bar (Deck 8): This bar serves the beverage needs of sun worshippers, hot tubbers and Patio diners on the pool deck. The bartenders like to make seductive and calorific frozen concoctions (like mango daiquiris and a blend of Bailey's, mocha ice cream and crushed-up chocolate cookies) and wander the pool deck offering them to whomever looks thirsty.
Sky Bar (Deck 9): The Sky Bar overlooks the pool deck, and is a lovely spot to enjoy sail-away or the night air on a warm night.
Observation Lounge (Deck 10): The Observation Bar at the top of the ship is the spot for scenic viewing indoors through its panoramic windows giving 180-degree views. In the morning, early risers can grab coffee here from 6:15 until 8 a.m. It re-opens at 4 p.m. for daily afternoon tea, then stays open for drink service until midnight. It's a favorite for sail-away.
Seabourn Quest has three distinct pool venues, spread throughout the ship, which are under-utilized because the ship is so often sailing in cooler climates. The main pool area is on Deck 8, where you'll find the largest saltwater pool, two hot tubs and showers. Waiters will come around to take drink orders from hot tubbers and sunbathers; during lunch hours, the bartenders like to mix up a round of frozen or blended cocktails and offer them to anyone interested. The pool is surrounded by mesh loungers with adjustable head rests and a few circular clamshell daybeds, big enough for two. More loungers overlook the pool on decks 9 and 10.
The second pool area is aft of The Club on Deck 5. A small, square pool is flanked by two hot tubs, loungers, tables with wicker chairs and pool showers. A small cart with soft drinks is stationed here, so you don't always have to run inside for a beverage. A promenade of sorts runs from this pool area along both sides of Deck 5 under the lifeboats but does not circle the front of the ship to make a full loop.
A fifth hot tub is all by its lonesome on Deck 6 forward, also with loungers and DIY drinks available. Access is via the corridor of Deck 6 suites, and this hot tub is often not discovered by first timers until later in the cruise.
Up on Deck 11 forward is The Retreat, with shuffleboard, Ping-Pong, a putting green and golf cage, and the Sun Terrace with more lounge chairs but no hot tub or pool.
One nice touch is that on the occasional sunny day, the spa staff will set up a massage chair by the Deck 8 pool and offer free mini-massages to anyone interested.
Although its sister ships have water sports marinas, Seabourn Quest had to take its platform out of operation when it was refurbished to be ice rated. While the marina is used to launch Zodiacs, it's not utilized for passenger play. This isn't really a problem because the ship so rarely sails in warm-water destinations where the marina would be used.
Seabourn Square is the hub for guest services on Quest. The semi-enclosed, central portion of the square houses four desks, where guest and destination services staff answer any and every question you might have. A separate counter area was unused on our cruise, but often representatives from the day's port set up shop there to help with independent exploration planning for a few hours in the morning.
On two sides of Guest Services are banks of computers, set up for internet use. Unless you're in the top suites, you'll need to pay extra for internet access, either Wi-Fi throughout the ship or the desktops in Seabourn Square. Pay 40 cents per minute, or buy a package: $19.95 for two hours, $29.95 for three hours, $39.95 for four hours, $239.85 for unlimited access for a week or $399.95 for unlimited access for longer cruises. Each package can be used on several devices, but only one device can log in at a time. We found Wi-Fi speeds to be pretty good for a cruise ship, though in certain ports, due to topography, internet access was not available at all.
Seabourn's two shops are also just off the Square. One sells clothing, purses, jewelry, sundries and other souvenirs, while the other focuses exclusively on high-end jewelry.
Forward of Seabourn Square, by the aft spiral staircase is the card room, with a stash of board games and video games -- and square tables for bridge and other card play. It's used for an assortment of purposes, such as morning meditation, youth activities and even religious services. (You'll find a collection of bibles and prayer books on its shelves.) It's all set up with a Wii video game system, should any passengers wish to play. Mostly it's used when kids are onboard.
The popular launderettes are located on Deck 5, with one room on the port side and a second one starboard. Each launderette contains two washers, two dryers, two ironing boards with irons and a utility sink. DIY laundry is complimentary, and a basket of detergent pods is provided for your use. The longer the cruise, the more in demand the machines are, so you'll need to be strategic about when you schedule your washing. The dryers are also not as strong as what you're used to at home.
Conference rooms are also on Deck 5. The medical center is on Deck 3.
The Seabourn Spa, run by Steiner, has the slight feeling of a rabbit warren inside, and we had to ask directions to the fitness center from reception. From the spa entrance, go left to the Motion Studio (the group exercise room with a kinesis wall) and treatment rooms; straight to the extra-fee thermal suite; and right to the salon and fitness center. The changing rooms, each with a free-use dry sauna, are in a corridor directly behind the spa reception desk.
Treatments include the usual range, from massages using bamboo or hot stones to facials and body wraps. The salon offers hair treatments and styling, nail services, waxing (amusingly dubbed Bliss Poetic Waxing) and men's grooming treatments, including shaves. An acupuncturist is also on hand to stick you with pins and cure what ails you. Prices are high ($150 for a 50-minute Swedish massage, BIOTEC facial for $209, mani-pedi for $138), and we didn't notice many port-day discounts. Certain treatments do count toward the 10-20-30 offer (book three services and get 10 percent off the most expensive, 20 percent off the middle and 30 percent off the cheapest).
The thermal Serene Suite (herbal sauna, steam room, circular Kneipp Walk Pool for enhancing circulation and contoured heated loungers) costs $25 for a day, or you can buy a full-cruise pass.
The fitness center is long and narrow, with the machines practically on top of each other, so working out is rather unpleasant on a sea day when the gym is packed. Get your heart rate up with treadmills, elliptical trainers and recumbent and regular stationary bikes, or feel the burn with free weights and TechnoGym resistance machines. Group fitness classes (Pilates, Kinesis circuit, stretch, core and abs, total body workout) are free of charge, though you can pay extra for personal training, body composition analysis or the Trilogy combination workout series (a mix of cardio, strength and recovery).
New in summer 2017 to Seabourn Quest is the Spa and Wellness with Dr. Andrew Weil experience, which incorporates yoga, meditation, spa treatments and seminars on mindful and healthful living. Daily guided group meditation is complimentary, but the 30-minute yoga classes cost $15. On the one hand, these classes are better than your typical cruise ship yoga classes; on the other hand, it seems cheap for a very inclusive luxury line to charge for yoga (especially when caviar is free). An unusual aspect of the Weil classes and treatments is crystal sound bath therapy, which involves ringing crystal bowls to create a sound pattern that is supposed to relax you and put you into a meditative state.
There's no official running track onboard, though joggers utilize the Deck 9 loop around the pool in the morning when passengers aren't lounging there. Ten laps make 1 kilometer.
Seabourn's ships are not designed with families in mind. Having said that, they do carry families in summer and during other holiday periods, particularly as the trend for multigenerational cruising grows. Seabourn has taken the attitude that it's better to acknowledge this and entertain the children onboard, rather than ignore them and have their presence upset other passengers. To that end, the line hires youth staff during peak sailings. Staff members arrange games and other distractions for a few hours just before and just after dinner. There is no in-cabin babysitting.
The children on our summer sailing were rarely seen, and when they were, they were well behaved and having a great time. The pool, the song-and-dance shows and afternoon tea were the onboard attractions, besides the youth activities.
As mentioned previously, Seabourn Quest can accommodate a third guest in any suite, either with a sofa bed or rollaway. Several suites interconnect, so families can have more space without being separated by a locked door.
* May require additional fees