5 Hong Kong to Asia Seabourn Ovation Cruise Reviews

By Glyn May The waiter, sensing that our patience was wearing thin, dropped a bowl of hot chips (fries) and a bottle of tomato sauce at our table. “Chef’s compliments”, he said, “ dinner is going to be a bit late”. ... Read More
By Glyn May The waiter, sensing that our patience was wearing thin, dropped a bowl of hot chips (fries) and a bottle of tomato sauce at our table. “Chef’s compliments”, he said, “ dinner is going to be a bit late”. Classy cruising. Not. Two days earlier, a crewmember carrying a sharp-edged tray had accidentally slashed my wife’s arm badly when he bumped into her in the breakfast queue. And, as we approached our homeport, all power failed and the ship narrowly missed drifting into concrete bridge pylons. In 40-plus cruises over more than 35 years before and after that forgettable holiday, my wife and I in recent years have stepped up into the heady world of ultra luxury cruising –- a field that, despite the eye-watering cost, doesn’t always live up to its publicity. Until we joined the Seabourn Ovation on March 2, 2019 for a 14-night cruise from Hong Kong to Singapore. Our wallet took a AUD21,000 (USD15,000) hit, but for the first time on this new (launched in May 2O18) absolutely beautiful mid-sized 600- passenger all-suite ship, it was worth every dollar. Nothing is perfect, so give or take a couple of petty whinges (no self-serve steamed rice and very average congee (Asian soup) while sailing in Southeast Asia, and a frosty reception in The Grill restaurant) Seabourn Ovation went as close as ever we expect to get. As sometimes jaded, increasingly grumpy and always critical travellers, it was a joy for us to start our cruise by first running an eagle eye over suite 726 on our arrival Yes, you can assume that boarding was faultless. Not one photographer on the gangway, or anywhere for the entire cruise. These days we notice things that niggle experienced cruisers on: A wall safe comfortably at chest height (it beats sitting on the floor) in a spacious walk-in robe with three dozen clothes hangers. Plenty of mirrors, a seriously cold fridge stacked with soft drinks, beer and a real bottle of champagne; plus a list of ‘complimentary’ (paid for in the fare) good quality wines. If you can’t find anything to satisfy your taste buds from Chile, California, Australia, Spain or Italy, there’s a lonely bottle of Petrus 1995 Pomeroz Grand vin from Bordeaux waiting for you in the glass-walled wine rack in the elegant main dining room ‘The Restaurant’ for USD4,500.00 (AUD6,348.00). The label is a bit scruffy so maybe the Sommelier might do a deal. In our suite there’s a lounge long enough for a rack-stretched basketballer or a third guest, a generous, glass-topped round table for 24-hour room-service-with-a-flourish (starched linen and folded napkins) and a king-size bed with a choice of six pillows soft, firm, extra firm. The TV set is on a trolley for manoeuvrability and there are plenty of movies on demand. In-suite announcements from the bridge are restricted to an average two a day -- weather and brief entertainment updates, or shore excursion boarding. No electrical engineering degree is required to operate the lights. Just click and press for a range of illumination levels from dimmed romantic to the blinding glare in the interview/confession room down at my local police station. One of Seabourn Ovation’s most remarkable (unique?) assets is its ubiquitous South African Cruise Director Andre Potgieter who recently received the prestigious President’s Award for Leadership from Seabourn Cruise Line president Rick Meadows. Andre, a softy spoken, articulate young man, emerges like a breath of spring each day in a different tailored jacket and slacks and a new spectacular bow tie with matching pocket-handkerchief. Wherever he goes, goggle-eye grandmothers swamp him with cheek kisses and embarrassing hugs. Which probably explains why, when the ship is in port, Andre trains for his favourite sport, marathon running. Of the 575 passengers from 27 nationalities on board -- average age around 60 -- there were 266 from the U.S, 112 the U.K, 46 Autralians, 34 Canadians and 33 Germans. In two weeks they demolished 2,272 bottles of red wine, 1,435 white and 633 bottles of champagne. And although there were no children on board, 390 litres of ice cream. A total of 32,826 breadsticks mopped up 21lbs of caviar. Two popular spots on the ship are the Observation Bar on the deck 11 which features high tea for an hour from 4pm then a friendly circular bar open until midnight; and The Retreat on the top deck (12) an exclusive enclave with 15 private cabanas, lavish amenities and an oversized whirlpool spa. Evening entertainment in the Grand Salon, often starring one of the slickest teams of ships’ dancers and vocalists we have seen on a cruise ship and backed by Seabourn Ovation’s highly professional orchestra, featured a range of top-class acts from a comedian and to an opera singer. A tip: For an unobstructed view, find a seat away from the intrusive supporting pillars. A shore excursion with a difference on Seabourn’s Asian itineraries is the idyllic day spent on the company’s picture-postcard tree-fringed private beach, ‘The Den’ on the exclusive Thai island of Kood. On a clear sunny day more than 400 souls disembarked from Seabourn Ovation tenders to discover rows of deck chairs under shade trees, a feast of lobster, steaks and salads, champagne on ice and a full bar. All of this ferried ashore from daybreak and served by the ship’s crew and a group of local Thais. With only a few days left and most passengers staying on board for the cruise to Dubai, we were wondering whether they still threw stowaways in the brig. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
Chose this cruise as we had never been to the Asian region by ship. The Ovation was wonderful, the Staff and Crew were the best we have encountered on any cruise line .The food was beautifully presented and top quality. Handre is ... Read More
Chose this cruise as we had never been to the Asian region by ship. The Ovation was wonderful, the Staff and Crew were the best we have encountered on any cruise line .The food was beautifully presented and top quality. Handre is certainly the number 1 Cruise director.The Hotel Manager was Helmut Huber top guy and turned out to be a very funny man, actually hilarious!The Food and Beverage Manager was Ali who we have experienced previously he is just amazing he works very hard to please everyone. Our room attendant again was the best we have experienced Hayley was 1st Class. We have done many cruises on Seabourn and many other lines but Seabourn is outstanding, The special event on Ko Kood island was just an amazing experience we were so thrilled The Band know as Musical Society are fantastic and very personable, The deck parties are again outstanding and the ,say good bye ,to the crew on the deck is an emotional event most of the crew and Staff turn out to wave good bye while we drink and eat and have fun . Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
We are Platinum members and our last Seabourn Cruise was 2 years ago. We wanted to try their new larger ship and booked Hong Kong to Hong Kong, a BTB 28 day cruise. The ship is beautifully decorated. Our cabin was the same size as on ... Read More
We are Platinum members and our last Seabourn Cruise was 2 years ago. We wanted to try their new larger ship and booked Hong Kong to Hong Kong, a BTB 28 day cruise. The ship is beautifully decorated. Our cabin was the same size as on the Sojourn and Odyssey. One problem was that the drawers in the furniture across from the bed were very hard to access and the space there has only enough room for one person to stand. The pool area was the same as the smaller ships and getting a place on sea days was difficult. The chairs are the same and not comfortable. Our one peeve was that now bartenders are instructed to measure out the amount of liquor for each drink. This on a ship that touts itself as all inclusive. We would have to tell them to pour doubles so we wouldn't have to come back. In the lounge outside The Keller Grill there was only one waitress and one bartender and it took 25 minutes for our drink to come. The comedians were all from Wales or UK and as Americans we could not understand them. Most of the musical shows were good and the singers and dancers were exceptionally good. The even sang opera at the pool and that was a real treat. We had a problem on one of the ship's excursions and it was not handled well. We were only told it would be reported and then never heard back. We agree with others that Seabourn, now having staff hired by Holland America, has gone downhill in service. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
The good A very nice new vessel with a very good navigation crew. Our room care (stewardess) was exceptional. The bad The food on board was boring, repetitive, bland, of high-salt content, and medioce in preparation. The Japanese ... Read More
The good A very nice new vessel with a very good navigation crew. Our room care (stewardess) was exceptional. The bad The food on board was boring, repetitive, bland, of high-salt content, and medioce in preparation. The Japanese cuisine was notably poor, e.g. old proteins. The vessels hotel staff was often overwhelmed during high service intervals, e.g. luncheon. The ratio of hotel staff to guest seems too low for proper service. We were disappointed with Seabourn’s handling of their booking credit and AMEX credit, Seabourn only allowed the higher value. The ugly Seabourn shore tours are expensive, the vessel was often ported far away from salient activities (long commutes) and in the case of the Vietnam north unsafe junk tours, e.g. our junk was literally lost in the fog without proper safety procedures. The Cambodia shore excursion was terrible. Seabourn and Silver Sea could have coordinated debark at Singapore much better, both simultaneously. The pool was small and poorly maintained, e.g. corrosion and detritus. Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
We sailed in 2017 on the Sojourn to Alaska and it couldn't have been better - even with departing chefs in the middle of the cruise. Last year we sailed on the Encore to the Med and there was a huge difference in the experience, for ... Read More
We sailed in 2017 on the Sojourn to Alaska and it couldn't have been better - even with departing chefs in the middle of the cruise. Last year we sailed on the Encore to the Med and there was a huge difference in the experience, for the worse. Now in Asia, the Ovation is a bit better than the Encore but sorely lacking for an ultra luxury cruise line. The ship is beautiful and the cabins and housekeeping are great; that's about where it ends. Food and service keep getting worse each day. We had sushi for lunch one day and it was ok; they had a special omakase dinner one night which was completely inedible. The fish was old and smelled, even the salmon roe. Keller-food is ok albeit very boring; Service is terrible. They shouldn't include this as a dining option because you are only allowed to go twice per cruise. We ended up having room service 3 nights because it was the only way to best ensure a decent meal. Breakfast in the Colonnade was the same each day-marginal fruit, canned corned beef hash and the usual array of eggs, bacon, etc. Cooked to order omelets were lacking in filling and dry. We were trying to figure out the problem; I think they are making food for old American and British guests. It is completely lacking in flavor and variety; someone mentioned that they weren't allowed to make it spicy. Salt seems to be the key ingredient, rendering the food inedible at times. Not a good idea to try to get service at lunch time on the patio; they have a shift change at 12 and often there is no one around for drinks or the bar. Apparently they cannot take food orders if they work for the bar and vice versa. The best food and service was at Earth and Ocean (the patio transformed at night); portions are small though and it means you will be eating outside in often unpleasant weather. The best food we had the entire time was off the ship. They have an Italian chef, who didn't have an Italian night and there was very little Asian food, although the entirety of the cruise was in Asia. Be very careful of their shore excursions. They seem to be docking quite far from some cities, leaving you with a 3 hour drive each way to see a city like Bangkok; it isn't really worth getting off the ship as there isn't enough time in the cities. Also, their excursions are almost double of what you can find with Viator or Tours by Locals. We ran into the Silver Seas a few times and they docked in a much better location. Price perhaps? The stop in Cambodia was horrific. If I had know what we would encounter, we never would have left the ship. I don't think they are vetting the tour operators very well. Their descriptions of the tours paint a lovely picture, which often isn't the case, especially for people with mobility issues - getting into small boats, climbing over ropes, etc. Entertainment was below par-a magician and a cello. Boring. The show the singers and dancers did the last night was pretty good -Push the Button. We won't be sailing on Seabourn again; It isn't even the price that is the issue, it's the disappointment with the food, service and entertainment, which should all be top notch. They will say no, but I think this is a result of their purchase by Carnival. You can really see it in the cheapening of things like less crew, poorly trained crew, poor wines (like Sebastiani Chardonnay), and the quality of the food. This isn't the luxury experience you were anticipating. Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
Seabourn Ovation Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 5.0 4.7
Dining 4.5 4.1
Entertainment 5.0 3.9
Public Rooms 5.0 4.6
Fitness Recreation 4.0 4.0
Family 3.0 4.0
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.7
Enrichment 4.0 3.9
Service 4.5 4.1
Value For Money 4.5 3.5

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