Seabourn Venture has a full expedition team onboard to help passengers make sense of the natural world around them. Expect to find geologists, biologists, naturalists, ornithologists and historians, as well as people who help with kayaks, zodiacs and the ship’s submarines. You’ll get to know the staff through activities, as well as lectures, wildlife sightings in the Bow Lounge and Seabourn Square, as well as meals since some expedition staff do sit with passengers.
If you’re on a polar sailing, you will be put in a color-coded group for landings; landings are determined by weather, but the ship will strive to have at least one, if not two, per day. Seabourn provides you with a polar jacket and boots, the latter of which are stored in an area called The Landing. (Your wet jacket, as well as wet snow pants, gloves, hats and neck gaiters, can be hung up to dry in the warming closet found in your cabin).
The Landing is a clever area developed specifically to help passengers transition between the warm and cozy ship and the expeditions outside. Boots are stored in open lockers that tilt down, so staff can spray them with disinfectant after each use (to prevent the spread of avian flu). It also provides easy stairs to the protected staging area where you embark the Zodiacs.
When you disembark the Zodiacs, there is a protected area above the stairs to rinse off your boots and clothing. Remember, penguins poop -- and clothes and boots can get quite smelly, especially at the height of the Antarctic season.
The two submarines on Seabourn Venture seat six passengers and have the ability to go down 300 meters (984 feet). The subs can be used in Antarctica and Greenland, but keep in mind that the conditions for their use are very specific -- wind and weather have to be perfect for the staff to take them out. Sub rides are not included in the Seabourn Venture fare; you’ll pay between $500 to $900 per person for a 45-minute dive.
You’re far more likely to enjoy the inflatable, motorized Zodiac rafts on Seabourn Venture. These rugged stalwarts of expedition cruising are used to go out and view wildlife, make landings on shore and get you up close to icebergs and other glaciers. You’ll want to have some amount of mobility and coordination to maneuver in and out of the Zodiacs, but the staff are also adept at helping passengers who are a bit unsure.
Seabourn Venture has enough Zodiacs to bring all passengers out at once. It’s unlikely that will ever happen, though, I was told, as that requires an unusual amount of manpower to take place. It’s more likely that you’ll be going out in groups once or twice a day. Bundle up when you take a Zodiac ride, as the boats are exposed to the elements and it can get cold. You’ll also want to wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from the sun’s reflection off the ice, along with ample sunscreen for any exposed skin.
One complaint that we have about Seabourn Venture’s Zodiacs: they are stored on the top deck, as opposed to being placed in a garage below. This means that it can take some time for the crew to bring the Zodiacs to water level and that it can be more difficult to do in certain weather conditions.
Seabourn Venture has a fleet of kayaks for excursions; these cost extra, to the tune of about $199 per person. The kayaks are two person, but if only one person in your group wants to go, the expedition staff will put someone in with you so you don’t miss out.
Before you go out on the Zodiac, sub or kayaks, you’ll be asked to attend a safety briefing, where staff may talk to you honestly about your ability to take part in the activities. This is not to exclude anyone, but to make sure that accidents don’t take place. It’s best to be honest about what you can actually do, rather than risk something awful happening in remote corners of the world.
The Discovery Lounge is the main theater on Seabourn Venture, and it’s used for lectures, cultural shows, musical performances and special events like the Captain’s cocktail. It’s a handsome space, with a convenient ledge in front where you can put your drink.
Don’t expect elaborate shows on Seabourn Venture. Generally, your cruise director may put on a show or two, and there might be a cultural performance scheduled if you’re on a non-polar itinerary. Usually there’s a guest entertainer on your trip and on some nights, the staff might show a movie, complete with fresh popcorn.
Far more interesting are the enrichment lectures offered by the expedition staff. Attend as many as you can, even if the topic seems esoteric; our favorite on our trip involved the "Guano Wars" between Peru, Chile and Bolivia, something we had never heard about before. If you simply can’t make it, you can also watch the lectures on your in-room TV.
On a polar cruise, your time during the day will be maximizing your time outside. When your group is not scheduled for a Zodiac landing, you can spend time relaxing on the ship, viewing wildlife with the expedition staff onboard or going to seminars on iPhone and other photography.
Trivia is usually held once a day, and these can be great ways to meet other cruisers. Usually there’s a wine tasting with the ship’s sommelier held at least once per voyage for an extra fee.
Your Seabourn Source app has the daily program in it, and you can also request a paper version of the Seabourn Herald daily program in your room every night.
Seabourn Venture can be a sleepy ship at night, particularly after busy days of excursions and getting in and out of expedition clothes. Live music is fairly limited to a piano player during Happy Hour in The Club and a two-person band in the Constellation Lounge.
A dance party was held twice during our 12-day voyage in the Constellation Lounge, with the cruise director serving as DJ. These were fairly sparsely attended by guests, although the youthful expedition crew made it seem a lot more lively.
There is no casino onboard Seabourn Venture.
Your Seabourn Venture cruise includes all alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, save premium wines. While there’s no specific craft cocktail program, we found the drink menu to have a nice mix of classics and more interesting concoctions
For a Chat with the Expedition Staff: The Bow Lounge is out of the way but it’s worth making your way there, not only to see the cool equipment that mimics the ship’s navigation, but to hang out with the expedition staff, who are stationed there for set hours. We found them fun, youthful and eager to share their knowledge, as well as help you look for whales, birds and other wildlife.
For a Latte: Seabourn Square is an excellent place to base yourself during the day, with a fantastic specialty coffee bar and comfy sofas and chairs. It’s not quiet, but it’s the place to go if you want to feel like you’re in the middle of the action.
For a Cozy Cocktail: The Expedition Lounge is on the same floor as the Discovery Lounge and The Restaurant, making it a great place for a pre-dinner drink in front of the faux fireplaces.
For a Before Dinner Nosh: The Club is marine mod chic, with good cocktails and sushi bites.
Seabourn Venture has an infinity pool, located at the back of the ship on Deck 5. There are also two hot tubs here. It’s a bit close to the Colonnade and Patio, where people are dining, but the loungers surrounding it make it feel like a separate area.
For those who want more seclusion, there are two hot tubs on Deck 9, outside The Club.
You’re not going to get a ton of sunbathing days on Seabourn Venture’s polar itineraries. Still, if you’re on a repositioning cruise and want some sun, you can find it near the Infinity pool and also way up on Deck 10.
There are nice outdoor places to sit, both in the sun and under cover, outside Seabourn Square on Deck 6 and the Constellation Lounge on Deck 9.
Seabourn Venture’s main reception and concierge area is located within Seabourn Square on Deck 6. There is also an expedition desk, along with a scale for weighing passengers for sub trips, on Deck 5 outside the Expedition Lounge. This is only staffed during certain hours, however, and we found it much easier to simply take care of excursion requests and other issues at Seabourn Square.
Laundry facilities are free on Seabourn Venture, with detergent provided.
There’s a shop on Seabourn Venture, with Helly Hansen outdoor gear, Molton Brown products and other niceties.
Seabourn Venture has complimentary Wi-Fi that is strong enough to surf. We found it worth the money to upgrade to the streaming package, which allowed us to make Zoom and Teams calls, as well as stream workouts. Keep in mind that Wi-Fi is notoriously non-existent in polar regions.
The Spa on Seabourn Venture has a nice array of treatments, for a ship of its size. We had a so-so Swedish massage and an excellent Biotec facial. Prices are eye-watering; higher than what you find on land, but hey, you’re on a luxury ship at sea so why not treat yourself?
Besides spa treatments such as massages, facials and body wraps, there’s a salon where you can get your hair cut and colored, have men’s’ grooming services and manicures/pedicures.
A delightful (and photogenic) feature of Seabourn Venture’s spa are the two huge and gorgeous saunas in the men’s and women’s changing rooms. Both have window views and a ton of space.
The gym on Seabourn Venture is a nice size for a small ship, and has a nice array of cardio equipment such as treadmills, ellipticals and stationery bikes. There are also weight machines and free weights. Located at the front of the ship on Deck 7, the gym also has nice views outside, although keep in mind that this part of the ship can get rocky during inclement weather.
One downside to Seabourn Venture is that there no real outdoor area or promenade deck to walk around the ship. We found that we missed this on sunnier days.
The fitness area also has rooms for stretching and yoga classes, most of which are included in the fee. One exception was the guided sound bath meditation, which carried an extra fee. While it wasn’t a lot, we were somewhat surprised to see this as an added cost on a luxury vessel.
Kids must be at least 6 years old to sail on Seabourn Venture. But we’re not sure we’d recommend the ship for those who haven’t reached their teen years. There are no kids programs, kids menus or babysitting services onboard, and younger children would simply have nothing to do on long sea days or crossing The Drake Passage.