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7 Night Caribbean Cruise from St. Maarten

7 Night Caribbean Cruise from St. Maarten

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Seabourn Odyssey
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Itinerary

St. Maarten is busier than ever, as cruise lines call on Philipsburg with their biggest ships. (Sometimes there are a half-dozen in port at one time.) There's also more to do once you disembark, with shopping and beaches serving as the primary attractions.

That can be viewed as either good news (more shopping choices, better deals and more beach activities) or bad news (more people) for this port of call, which, along with neighboring St. Martin, makes up the world's smallest island inhabited by two countries.

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In 1493, Christopher Columbus was allegedly so smitten with this volcanic island that he named it after St. Christopher, the patron saint of travelers. Since its discovery, St. Christopher (later shortened by British sailors to St. Kitts) has been fought over by the British and French who, tragically, made it a center of the West Indian slave trade. Pirates, including the notorious William Kidd who was marooned on Nevis after his crew mutinied, enjoyed lucrative careers in Basseterre Harbor.

St. Kitts and sister isle Nevis were part of the British Empire until 1967, earning semi-independent status when they were named associated states of Great Britain. In 1983, the 68-square-mile St. Kitts and Nevis became an independent, two-island nation with a parliamentary government headed by a prime minister. While British holdovers such as cricket and driving on the left side of the road remain, the Kittitians are extremely proud of their history and how far they've come on their own.

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  • Day 3

Antiguans like to boast that they have 365 beaches -- one for each day of the year. And while no one counts to ensure the accuracy of this catchy marketing claim, the squiggly shaped island indeed is full of beachy gems, each with its own unique appeal.

Part of the West Indies, Antigua was first occupied by the peaceful Arawak Indians around 200 B.C. They stayed until the arrival of the Caribs, an Amazonian tribe, whose name was derived from the Spanish word "caribal," meaning "cannibal." Then, the island was known as Wadadli until 1493 when Columbus, who never made landfall, sailed by and named the island in honor of Maria de la Antigua, a saint he worshipped in Seville.

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  • Day 5

Your first look at St. Lucia's lush coast from the deck of a cruise ship is likely to include the island's most dramatic geologic feature: the Pitons, two striking volcanic peaks that rise a half-mile off St. Lucia's southwestern coast. The island's beauty has earned it the nickname "Helen of the West Indies."

Though St. Lucia has plenty of visitors (including those from cruise ships and a steady influx of honeymooners), parts of the island have largely remained unspoiled due to the locals' commitment to protecting the rainforests and other natural resources. A decent percentage of the island -- some 19,000 acres -- is protected as part of the St. Lucia National Rain Forest.

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With little cruise traffic and few all-inclusive resorts, St. Vincent is one of the Caribbean's least traveled islands -- and that makes visiting this small volcanic island simultaneously exciting and challenging. On the plus side, the lack of development means that its landscape is still breathtakingly unspoiled; in fact, parts of St. Vincent are so densely forested that you can't circumnavigate the island by car. But it also means that if you're seeking boutique shopping, large-scale cultural attractions or haute cuisine, you may have to wait for your next port call.

St. Vincent is an ecotourist's dream, filled with plunging waterfalls, abundant rainforests and colorful coral reefs. The adventurous can climb to the rim of La Soufriere, the volcano that looms over the northern end of the island, or go swimming in the Falls of Baleine, a waterfall so remote it can only be reached by boat. Travelers looking for a more laid-back eco-experience can stroll the peaceful paths of the Montreal Gardens or take a drive among the lush banana groves and rainforests of the hilly Mesopotamia region. Mingled in with all the natural beauty are traces of St. Vincent's diverse cultural heritage, from 19th-century European forts to ancient petroglyphs etched into rock by some of the island's earliest inhabitants.

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Barbados -- or B'dos, as the locals abbreviate the name -- was a British territory until 1966 and remains greatly influenced by the United Kingdom. Brits on holiday make up the largest number of visitors to the island. Driving is on the left-hand side of the road, and afternoon tea is a respected ritual. Anglican churches are the anchor of all 11 parishes, although, in recent years, more evangelical churches have become the choice of many Bajuns.

But those of all nationalities will feel at ease there. The Bajuns are open, friendly people, proud to share their home with visitors. There's little crime and a general sense of safety and well-being.

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Seabourn Odyssey

Cruise Critic Editor Rating:
4.5
146 reviews
Why Choose Seabourn Odyssey?

Pro

The ship's ambience is contemporary and elegantly casual with plenty of options

Con

Service on a vessel known for intuitive crew was surprisingly inconsistent

Bottom Line

The ship is ultra-comfortable, social and small enough to nip into offbeat ports


Cruise Reviews

1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2017
A beautiful ship with excellent crew/staff,smaller than your average floating office block we have been on ships larger,about fifteen hundred people and have no wish to go on any ship that takes three days to load and unload ... Read More
A beautiful ship with excellent crew/staff,smaller than your average floating office block we have been on ships larger,about fifteen hundred people and have no wish to go on any ship that takes three days to load and unload passengers,impossible to find your suite,cabin without a map and compass ,surrounded by thousands of people,takes ages to tender to port,queue for two hrs for food,full of screaming spoilt children,it was an absolute pleasure and we will do it again soon,nothing was left to chance,off ship barbecue/beach days were well organised embarkation and luggage service first class,probly not possible but I would like to have been able to see NBC sports channels on suite TV and a pool table,only this might be tricky unless they invented metallic balls that didnt roll about with the sea ( lol) did hope to see Ross Roberts as we have sailed with him 3 times and he is the complete entertainer,still there is always next time Thank You Alastair and Carolyn Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
As a long time Seabourn cruiser (22+ since 1997), I was a bit disappointed with the many things that are no longer "Seabourn Style"... No champagne waiting for you on a tray as you embark the ship. No one beaming and ... Read More
As a long time Seabourn cruiser (22+ since 1997), I was a bit disappointed with the many things that are no longer "Seabourn Style"... No champagne waiting for you on a tray as you embark the ship. No one beaming and saying "Welcome Home" as you board, recognizing you from a precious cruise, or greeting you after returning from an excursion other than security checking you in. No check in while sipping champagne and nibbling canapes in the lounge waiting to be escorted to your room. The gangway person pointed to a crew member near the elevator, who simply punched deck 8 and told me to enjoy my lunch at the patio bar. No explanation, no choice given to dine elsewhere. Honestly, out of 350+ crew, I only recognized FOUR, who have now been promoted. They do seem to be bringing all new crew to the 'older' ships now to train for the new ships coming. The majority of crew I met were on their first contract. Seabourn boasts that the crew members will greet you by name after the first day. That didn't happen until the 5th day, and then only after I mentioned that was lacking at a hosted dinner table. Then the 'upper' crew knew me, but still not the more than 2 or 3 of the crew. Service the first 3 to 4 days was dismal. At breakfast in the Collonade, I would be almost finished with my breakfast before coffee or water was offered. This improved after day 5 when I figured out to sit in the same spot each day near the service area so I could flag someone down. I do expect better service on Seabourn than I receive at Denny's. I was assured the first night that I would receive the traditional invitations to join a hosted table for dinner. That didn't happen the second and third nights. In the dining room, most nights the dessert was served as the main show would be starting, causing us to either miss dessert, or walk in late to the show. How can dinner take more than 2 and a half hours??? If I had not sailed on Seabourn over the last 20 years and experienced the exceptional, intuitive service with everyone knowing my name by the second day, or expected what the brochure still promises, even after the things they no longer do, this might have been a good experience. For those passengers that are moving up from lesser lines, this is still a good product. The ship was not decorated for Christmas. Not even one bow!! Very disappointing. I understand they are trying to save money wherever they can, but really?? No Christmas? Every other ship I have sailed on during December always had decorations up by Dec 1st. The bar is now self service sodas, wine and beer for lectures in the grand salon, and only self service popcorn and sodas for the afternoon trivia games - I have never seen that before. How is that 6 star service???? I don't see much difference now between Seabourn, Crystal, Oceania, and Ponant so I will shop by the best value and itinerary. Yes, Seabourn has the larger suites, but I am rarely in my room. I would rather have better service for the money or spend less and still get better service than I just experienced on Seabourn. On the positive side: The food was amazing and Chef Tom (not Keller) is one of the best I have seen on the Seabourn ships. The singers onboard were fabulous! Brett and Ashley Ricci have stunning voices. Her Opera songs were amazing (and I am not even an opera fan!) The cafe at Seabourn Square is divine - perfect for an early coffee and danish or a late afternoon treat with decadent cookies and desserts!! The beach BBQ at Carambola's was great. The spa is great, the 'sound bath' meditation class was a nice addition. Overall, I am hoping that this little glitch is just growing pains similar to what we went thru on the little ships when they were training new crew for the Odyssey, Quest and Sojurn. I am come back after they are done training... Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
First, a little background to put this review in context. We are in middle and late middle age, respectively, one retired and the other still in the workforce. We cruise often, are five star with Holland America Line ("HAL"), so ... Read More
First, a little background to put this review in context. We are in middle and late middle age, respectively, one retired and the other still in the workforce. We cruise often, are five star with Holland America Line ("HAL"), so that line is our point of comparison. HAL is a very good mid-tier cruise line while Seabourn bills itself as a "luxury' line. Thus, on Seabourn, with this smaller ship, we expected more than the very good service we have come to consistently enjoy on HAL. Generally, Seabourn does some things very well. Yet our overall experience, and thus our first impression of Seabourn, is that it missed the mark for consistent delivery of a "luxury" experience. We found a lack of consistency in food and service. Some days and some meals everything was great. Yet at other times it was not up to par (below HAL standards). We also thought that on the Odyssey for our cruise there were many new staff not yet fully trained, and that the ship at times seemed short-staffed, both of which led to some service "misses". As these staff become better trained, and more people are added, some of those "misses" will hopefully disappear. Yet this did impact our cruise. Beginning at the beginning, Embarkation was awful. On HAL we are used to arriving at the port about 12:30PM, waiting perhaps in a short line to see an agent, checking in and boarding the ship. That entire process usually takes about 20 minutes. Once checked-in we typically go to the dining room for a relaxing lunch to start our cruise, avoiding the busy Lido buffet. By the time we are done with lunch, around 2PM, the cabins are ready. On this Odyssey cruise, however, after arrival at the Port we (and most everyone else) ended up sitting on those hard bench-chairs in the Port. We sat for close to 40 minutes before a group of us were invited to join a long line-up to check-in. We then waited in that line another at least 20 minutes. On boarding the ship, the Colonnade (buffet) was, we were told, full, and the Restaurant (dining room) was not open for lunch. So we sat outside after I found a shady spot (not without difficulty). After having a self-serve hamburger (in fairness it was brought to me but I had to go down stairs to order it), we went into the "Square", usually a nice seating area which was also jammed full of tired people waiting for their cabins. The expectation in the boarding documents was that cabins would be ready at 2PM, a reasonable time. Our check-in agent told us it would be 2:30. Yet it was only after 3PM when we finally were told that the cabins were ready. On the much larger ships, with more people and cabins to process, the entire process is far more efficient. The same comparison is made for disembarkation. Not since many years ago have we had to vacate our cabin early in the morning of the last day. Rather, on HAL one may remain in ones cabin until one disembarks, by no later than 9:30 AM. That civilized process is not yet replicated on Seabourn. Rather, we had to be out of our cabins by 8AM, with general disembarkation only scheduled to begin at 8:30 AM. In fact it only began about 8:45 AM, with us waiting in the Club (one of the very nice bars on board which that morning was full of folk waiting for the "all clear"). We waited a bit to allow the crowds to disperse...yet got caught anyway in a hold in a hallway where we had to stand for about 15 minutes and wait until congestion below cleared up. On finally entering the hall where luggage is stored, two of three of our cases were present. Yet the third was not. We noted a bag that was easily identifiable on the slow-moving baggage belt and, when that bag came around again without our third bag having in the interim appeared, we reported our bag missing. We were told that, yes, all bags were off. My wife and the agent went to see if our third bag was elsewhere, while I waited with the other two cases. Lo and behold, after 9:30 a number of other bags suddenly appeared on the belt! So, contrary to what shore-staff were told, not all bags had, even as of that late hour, yet been removed from the ship! Again, this ship has 450 passengers. It thus begs the question as to why HAL ships with three, four, and even five times more passengers can manage a far more efficient and, dare I say, luxurious, embarkation and disembarkation experience. After all, these two experiences book-end the cruise. They respectively set the tone for the cruise to come, and are the last memories which passengers take away. In my view, it is important that these thus be as positive experiences as is possible. At present, however, for this cruise I describe them as a Gong Show (for younger readers or those who never saw this circa 1980's US TV show, Google it). From what I hear, Seabourn will be streamlining these processes in the future. Good; as once new and presumably more efficient processes conducive with the goal of providing a luxury experience are in place, we would be interested in how these work. When we finally got to our room after 3PM, part of our cabin requests were accomplished, yet part were not. There was one person at guest relations who, when I called, was unfortunately completely unhelpful. Thank heavens for our excellent stewardess who sorted matters out, yet that guest relations person was either untrained and/or should go work for a governmental postal service. Alas, this was, however, our continuing "first impression" of what, after all, is billed as a luxury experience. It was in our view until that point the antithesis of luxury. Not a good first impression, yet happily, things did improve. What was good on the Odyssey? In fact, there was lots we ultimately liked: • We really liked the verandah cabin. It was more spacious, with more storage space than we expected (lots of drawers and the walk-in closet is great). It also was nicely appointed. We liked the very functional table in the room and footstool with tray, which facilitated room service meals. The verandah was just fine too. It held two nice chairs with ottomans, and a pub table suitable for a light meal or drinks. • Carambola Beach Day—lovely beach, great meal (grilled lobster) prepared in somewhat challenging circumstances (not on the ship), and everyone, passengers and staff, in a great mood that day, with caviar and champagne in the surf--brilliant! • Thomas Keller: We had two dinners there, each were truly excellent for food and service. • Sommelier Onur, who really knows his stuff and is a very hard worker—the man was everywhere, all at once, yet he did it with aplomb! Sommelier Katryna in Keller was also excellent—quite knowledgeable, also, about wine and how to select for her customers. • Our stewardess was a delight, as indeed were all of them on that floor. • Some dining room (“The Restaurant”) lunches and dinners were excellent—on those occasions everything came together in a symphony of excellence. Following from the last bullet above, let’s review what should have been better. The overall impression we formed is a lack of consistency. For example, some meals were great in the Restaurant, others less so. Some servers really were tops; others were the opposite—for example, when dining with another couple one night (night of the Chef’s Dinner) we were being rushed through course after course until my wife put a stop to it. As our second course plates were removed, she asked the waiter to hold the main course. He at first answered that “they were up”—meaning that he was going to bring them straight-away. We had to tell him, no, we don’t want them yet. In fine dining, should not rushing the meal not be obvious, without the guest needing to state the obvious? Food is subjective, so this is just our taste and preferences. We found some meals excellent whether in Colonnade, Restaurant, or from Room Service. Service also improved as the cruise progressed, as did the food. Yet there were in some dishes too much salt, in our view. For example, the night the BBQ ribs were offered in Colonnade, those were great, yet the baked beans were just loaded with salt (too bad as they were otherwise promising). The lobster soufflé served one evening in the Restaurant also was too salty. Regarding salt, “less is more”. Other spices can be used instead, and more salt can always be added at the table. Regarding the Colonnade, again, some of the servers (at all meals) were better than others. It was not always consistent. As to the Patio, the one night we tried it for dinner we found the service at best perfunctory, with long waits even for a menu. Nice venue, quite decent food, yet the service was “off” that night. It may have been that the area was short-staffed that night but, whatever the reason, service suffered that night. One day at the small pool on deck 5 (a lovely spot), unlike the other days there was no bar-server periodically checking for who needed a drink. A deck-hand/mechanic when I asked kindly agreed to call someone to offer service. The chap who arrived took my order and the order of another lady, and eventually brought our drinks. Yet when I suggested that he see if others wanted a drink (the area was nearly full), he demurred, stating it was very busy at the upstairs pool, but he would send someone. My thought was while it was busy at the upstairs pool, what were we all at this pool--chopped liver? Moreover, I was there another almost two hours and nobody ever showed up to offer anyone anything. The next day it was much better, with servers regularly checking in to see if we wanted anything. That is as it should be, yet it should have happened seamlessly. This again speaks to the lack of consistency in the service. Bar service in the Club was excellent generally, yet some of the new waiters were not aware of what was meant by “soda on the side”. The more experienced ones knew to bring a little beaker of soda water on request. Yet others did not, nor did some clearly understand our drink order the first time. The Bands were excellent at this venue, and got us all up and dancing before and after dinner (it was a different band after dinner). Regarding the Observation Bar, there was a pianist in the Observation Bar. Yet when a few of us went up there one night after the show it was clear she was playing for background only. Other than a few groups most people left as it was kind of “dead”. If it could be made more of an impromptu piano bar, with sing-a-longs encouraged in the later evening, that would be very nice. I bet other guests would enjoy it. Overall, we found the entertainment very good to excellent: lovely cast of talented singers and some nice impromptu shows, including opera on deck one afternoon. Some of the speciality acts were good too. Overall, it appeared to us that the ship was struggling at times with demand. It seemed at times short-staffed, also with lots of new staff. A word on dress code: we expected Seabourn to be more "formal" or dressy than is HAL. In fact, for our 12 day cruise there was only one formal night. While a few gents wore tuxes, many more wore suits (as did I) or sports jackets/blazers that night. At other nights in the Restaurant, while some men wore a jacket without a tie (most nights, as I schlepped a few jackets in my luggage, I wore them) many just wore a nice shirt and slacks. In the Colonnade or at the Patio it was even more casual. In the Caribbean this was not necessarily a bad thing. In Europe it may be more dressy yet, for this cruise at this time, this was what we observed. Bottom line: we bought future cruise credits so we have the "no risk" option to return if we wish with a slight discount. We probably will return at some point to give Seabourn another chance. Yet, as can be seen, we were not blown away by our experience. Our first impressions of Seabourn is a mixed one, more mixed than I thought it would be. 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