3 Kobe Luxury Cruise Reviews

I've been on several Seabourn cruises in the past (this cruise put me over 100 days sailed with them) and while no cruise was perfect Seabourn in the past has been the best - for me. I like re positioning cruises (they tend to have a ... Read More
I've been on several Seabourn cruises in the past (this cruise put me over 100 days sailed with them) and while no cruise was perfect Seabourn in the past has been the best - for me. I like re positioning cruises (they tend to have a lot of sea days and I enjoy sea days). I saw one on the Sojourn going from Kobe to Vancouver. Bonus - its a short flight from Vancouver to San Francisco so I'd only have to do the long haul thing in one direction. Embarkation started almost precisely on time and aside from one passenger using his mass to knock people out of his way to be first was a nice and quick experience. Once on board I noticed that there was no one greeting passengers or directing them to any particular place. On past cruises staff was present to greet guests and direct them. After embarkation came the muster drill. Thankfully Seabourn doesn't require you to wear or even bring your brightly colored tripping hazard (life vest). The drill took place in the Restaurant and we didn't have to go out on deck and deal with the elements. In my suite I had a letter from Seabourn waiting for me. It informed me that there would be ongoing construction on the pool deck during the cruise and that areas would be closed off. So they're saying on a crossing/cruise with a large number of sea days the outside would be a loud smelly mess and that the Patio Bar/Grill (bar and restaurant for the pool area) would be unavailable some days. Wonderful. I was not given the option for a graceful exit from this cruise. The letter was more of a "SURPRISE" that you didn't want. This was not a good start to a luxury cruise. Even mid tier hotels will inform guests of any upcoming construction. I guess the small saving grace was that I couldn't hear the construction sounds or smell the odors they generated in my room. Others weren't so lucky. For this each suite was given $500. The dining experience had a few issues that would continue to be issues. The first was understaffing. I don't know if it was due to the launch of their newer bigger ship or a harder time finding crew or perhaps penny wise pound foolish but aside from the TK Grill the other dining venues seemed understaffed (when the restaurant manager is running around taking orders and the ships sommelier is busing tables - you're short staffed). Further a lot of the staff in both the Colonnade and the Restaurant were very green. How green? They'd bring the wrong food to passengers and then argue with them (in one instance eggs Benedict were served as Florentine. When the passenger complained after the argument they were given the Benedict - with strands of spinach still on the plate. Some would become irate if you didn't order your dessert with your appetizers/entrees. They'd start out with the word "NO" and then wait for correction rather than getting an accurate answer before stating something wasn't possible. Drink service in the Restaurant for dinner was the worst of any Seabourn cruise I'd been on. They no longer have the wine stewards and now rely on your overworked green wait staff to do most of the beverage work as well. Penny wise, pound foolish again. If your overworked servers were slow with the food, well now so followed your drinks. The food in the restaurant was to me for the most part: boring, unseasoned, bland and unadventurous at best. At worst it was the worst version of some dishes that I've ever had. Thankfully the Colonnade didn't seem to have the food issues (and a far lesser extent of service issues). However the only dining location on the ship that felt like it belonged on a luxury cruise was the TK Grill. Better ingredients, more staff per passenger, and probably because Thomas Keller insisted actual flavorful food. However the TK Grill (and TK night in the Colonnade) had its issues as well. When Michael Sandoval (one of Kellers staffers) was running things the food came out cooked perfectly. They day he left the ship (and on subsequent visits) all the Thomas Keller food was off. An exmaple of this would be the Ad Hoc fried chicken. Under Seabourn it was either rubber skin and raw meat or burnt skin dripping pools of grease. Under Sandoval it was crisp, moist, tender, flavorful and not overly greasy. I got the distinct impression that left to its own devices Seabourn can't meet the demands Kellers food requires. There were also reservation issues with the TK Grill. I had a reservation deleted and other passengers felt that staff was trying to coerce them into altering or giving up their reservations. The bars (especially Observation and Patio) along with their staff seemed to be the one area of the cruise experience that hadn't declined in quality. I generally don't partake in the ships entertainment so I don't have too much to say on that. I did play trivia and this time people seemed to actually treat it like a game rather than a deathmatch as on previous cruises. As this was a crossing (really a cruise to relocate the ship to its next seasonal AO) we didn't have that many ports. Seabourns shore excursions are rather generic. They do try to keep the number of passengers per tour down but don't offer lower limit tours like some lines do. My only issue with the tours was missing one because we ended up spending an extra day in Aomori (where they added but a single tour) - but you can't blame the weather on the line. We also lost a port because of that delay. We were supposed to visit Icy Point Straight but that was cut. Originally we were supposed to visit Glacier bay rather than Hubbard glacier. I don't know who didn't do what there but IMO Glacier bay is the far better glacier experience. Because to date this cruise was an aberration I did book a future cruise. Hopefully the ship will have righted itself and food/service will be back to their usual high standards. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
We chose this cruise because of very good past experiences on Seabourn, particularly on the 210 passenger “little sisters”. When they introduced the larger (450 passenger) ships the loss of the country club ambiance was significant. ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of very good past experiences on Seabourn, particularly on the 210 passenger “little sisters”. When they introduced the larger (450 passenger) ships the loss of the country club ambiance was significant. One glaring but understandable change was the dramatically reduced use of passenger’s names, it was a very common and pleasant feature on the smaller ships but it would be unreasonable to expect it to continue with 450 passengers names to try and remember. It was a bit disappointing that on a 21 day cruise the bar staff didn’t eventually pick up on at least a few of the names of the nightly regulars. The other disappointing aspect of the bar service was that regardless of how busy the the place was, the Observation Bar closed at exactly midnight, no excuses, no exceptions, we’re closed! The strict closing time of the Observation Bar meant having to relocate to The Club for late night drinks, but you needed to hurry because after midnight they close as soon as the guest count drops below six people. Also, late arrivals (11:30pm or later) were clearly not welcome, particularly if you were a medium sized group. The staff didn’t groan but the facial expressions and negative body language were unmistakable. The turning up the lights, the partial closing of the shutters and the mopping behind the bar were other less than subtle indicators that we should leave. Given that all drinks are complimentary, it did occur to me that Carnival’s bean-counters may pressure the bar staff to shut down early and that puts those otherwise good staff in the unwelcome position of having to turf out guests who are reluctant to leave. This repeated experience was in sharp contrast to the hospitality enjoyed on previous Seabourn cruises. Similar issues were noted in the main dining room which was clearly understaffed and where a number of servers seemed inexperienced and overwhelmed. Most of the obvious rookie staff maintained a very good attitude, trying hard to be polite and cheerful at all times. Unfortunately, some of the senior staff appeared to have difficulty handling the stress and could be quite sullen or irritable. Once again I suspect the bean-counters are responsible for this. The food in all of the restaurants usually varied between good and very good, with an occasional course which qualified as truly outstanding. I did have a couple of disappointing steaks but that was only due to being served “medium well” instead of the requested “medium rare”. In the past Seabourn has allowed me to go “off menu” on those very rare occasions when none of the night’s offerings appealed. This is no longer allowed without 24 hours notice. Unfortunately I don’t know what will be on tomorrow’s menu or what food I’ll be in the mood for. I understand that going off menu is not something they want to widely encourage but having that option available was one of the things which used set Seabourn apart. Whilst on the subject of food, the main restaurant’s attempt to produce a decent soufflé was pitiful. I ordered several during the first week of the cruise, each time hoping somebody in the kitchen would realize that sponge cake and soufflé are not the same thing, even if the sponge cake is hollow and you open up the thick sponge top-layer to pour in the sauce. This resembles assembly line food, not the “A la minute” preparation which they claim. And now for a slightly sad but still mildly amusing incident related to the faux soufflé. When served with a sponge cake masquerading as a Poire William soufflé, it arrived very obviously alcohol free. “No problem” I foolishly thought, “I’ll just order a shot of Poire William and add it myself”. The obliging young server went away to fetch some but returned with the news that there was none available anywhere on the ship. The server’s discomfort was palpable when I asked for a shot from the generous supply that the kitchen must have on hand for tonight’s featured soufflé. A few minutes later the server returned in the company of the sommelier who (with a straight face) informed me that for soufflé they only use Poire William powder, hence my request for a shot could not be fulfilled. I do enjoy an occasional bit of fun so I feigned great interest in the powder product and requested the name and address of the manufacturer so that I could order some for home use. I suggested a cellphone picture of the label would be perfect. Unsurprisingly, the sommelier did not return with the requested information and avoided me for the rest of the cruise. In summary, my wife and I had a very enjoyable cruise, thanks in large part to some wonderful fellow passengers and several marvelous crew members. We still think Seabourn rates highly but the cutbacks are evident, from little things like the reduced quality of the caviar to the more serious problem of understaffing and early bar closings. We have paid a deposit for a future cruise in the hope that smarter management will reverse the decline but, if the bean counters continue to cut corners, it will probably be our last cruise on this once great cruise line. Perhaps this is all part of a plan to move towards a younger and less demanding demographic with which to fill their much larger and more impersonal ships. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
Seabourn is the ultimate experience. Worth every cent. Staff are superb and you just can’t go past Seabourn. It is the only cruise line for us now. I have never enjoyed a cruise or any holiday as much as the 21 days on Seabourn from Kobe ... Read More
Seabourn is the ultimate experience. Worth every cent. Staff are superb and you just can’t go past Seabourn. It is the only cruise line for us now. I have never enjoyed a cruise or any holiday as much as the 21 days on Seabourn from Kobe to Vancouver. The dining was perfect. Loved the patio area and the cocktails. Even on a cold night it was great and staff spoiled us with plush orange snuggly blankets and heaters. Day at Hubbard Glacier was one of those rare moments in life that remain with you forever. The Captain and crew made the day so perfect and Champagne to sip along the way. Sophie the cruise director was fantastic and like all staff knew our names within a day. Benita one of the wait and bar staff is to be congratulated for her attention and spoiling. Breakfast in the dining room with Marine was a superb way to start the day. Dritian and the 2 young girls in the coffee shop were lovely and knew our regular order and had it ready before we could blink. I can truly say that the cruise exceeded all our expectations. Seabourn organised the lot from airlines to transfers and not one hitch. Seabourn are heaven. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018

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