3 Lisbon Seabourn Ovation Cruise Reviews

We are frequent Seabourn cruisers but are slowly pulling back after over 150 nights. We too this European cruise with friends as we have cruised with them before. Our friends opted for a Penthouse Spa suite and we had a regular ... Read More
We are frequent Seabourn cruisers but are slowly pulling back after over 150 nights. We too this European cruise with friends as we have cruised with them before. Our friends opted for a Penthouse Spa suite and we had a regular penthouse. As I have opined before, passengers in penthouses receive only extra space in the room. No preferential treatment for restaurant bookings, no butler etc. This is in contrast to other luxury cruise lines. We generally eat late which caused some problem. On several nights, probably more like 5 out of 14, there was not seating available in the main restaurant. We were shuffled off to a near bar to wait for a phone call. We did get 2 meals in Thomas Keller, but the extra night was due to no availability in the main restaurant. The meals and service there were excellent, as it generally was in the remainder of the ship. We requested an extra night in TK but were turned down every time. Then we witnessed something we had never seen on Seabourn. While at the TK bar, we observed a passenger tip the head host and immediately get in. We felt we had paid enough and declined to take that route in search of extra reservations. Weather played a factor and we spent an extra day in Spain, on a Sunday due to bad sea conditions. It rained and time was better spent indoors, especially given everything was closed anyway. It was disappointing to miss the first French port but you can't blame a cruise line for weather. Entertainment was good, food was 4.5 out of 5, but clearly not 5 out of 5. The mix of ports in Spain, France and England was enjoyable. In retrospect, we paid far too much having upgraded to a Penthouse and not having gotten our moneys worth. We now refer to Seabourn as "Socialist Cruising". They do a good job taking care of the masses but once you leave the room, everyone is equal. No need to pay top dollar and you would be just as well to purchase a standard room from a travel reseller (as over 100 on the cruise did) for a bargain basement price. Every cabin is the same and everyone is treated equally, which is generally good. Bottom line - we get far more enjoyment for the same money at some other luxury cruise lines. You may notice this in my reviews of other cruise lines. We may be back, we enjoy Seabourn and the Ovation, we just don't love it anymore. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
We chose this cruise for a few reasons. We had previously sailed Seaborn Encore in the Mediterranean and thoroughly enjoyed the ship, food and service that Seabourn provided, therefore, Ovation, which is the same class ship as Encore, was ... Read More
We chose this cruise for a few reasons. We had previously sailed Seaborn Encore in the Mediterranean and thoroughly enjoyed the ship, food and service that Seabourn provided, therefore, Ovation, which is the same class ship as Encore, was an easy sell for us. Ovation was just beautiful.....almost identical to Encore. We love the size....large enough, light filled with beautiful yachtlike decor but small enough to give us the feeling of being on a private ship. Our suite on the deck above the pool, was well appointed (hello 3 sinks!) and our needs were more than meet by our stewardess who always had a smile & pleasantry to share. We felt the service and the entertainment were a cut above our previous cruise....this being only our second cruise ever. We were addressed by our names each & every day. Our Captian was very visible and engaging as was CD Handre. Both were class acts. Servers in all resturants were pleasant, engaging and good at their jobs. We wanted a late May cruise and this itinerary seemed interesting. We had been to Lisbon but not Northern Spain or Western France or Southern England. We have been to Normandy, Brugge, Amsterdam etc. but were very happy to return. I was a bit apprehensive since I had heard that the Bay of Biscay is notorious for rough seas. Well, she was a gentle giant. Lisbon was faboulous with warm temps and sunny skies. Northern Spain was just beautiful, with a bit a rain here and there, but nothing to dampen the beauty of the coastal towns of Gijon and San Sebasion, Biblao etc. and the wonderful sights & food. We did miss one port, Biarritz, France due to the port closing. The sun & moderate temps made a welcome return in Bordeaux......this was one of the highlights of the cruise. We came up the Gironde River and docked right smack dab in the middle of the city. We were the only ship in town and the locals came by in droves to relax and picnic in our shadow. A lovely French lady approached us on our return to ship just to chat about our cruise and our reflections of her city. The Bordeaux wine region is spectacular.....St Emillion is not to be missed. Southern England, port of Torquay was a pleasant surprise....warm temps and sunny skies, contrary to the Agatha Christie image that I expected. We visited the sea town of Dartmouth with its' interesting seafaring history. As an American, the beaches of Normandy hold a special place in our hearts and it was good to return. We arranged for a private tour & spent the day with a lovely local French lady, three generations removed from the events of WW2 but whose grandfather was head of the resistance movement at the time......her reverence for those who helped liberate her homeland was palpable....not to mention her expertise in the places and events of the Allied invasion. Wow....just Wow! We sailed up the Thames to the Greenwich neighborhood of London. Spent two wonderful days....Windsor, the Cotswolds etc. Then is was across the Channel again.....may I add that the seas in all our Channel crossings were calm and I mean, calm....to Zeebrugge, where we chose to visit Ypres and Flanders Field (of WW1 fame) as we had been to Brugge & Brussels in the past. Beyond moving! Amazing how a city and region so devastated by that horrible war has risen from the ashes to present a gorgeous city and countryside. We ended in the city of Amsterdam with all its charms etc. The Anne Frank House is a must do along with a private canal cruise. This cruise seemed to us to hit a very historic note. We enjoyed it very much as we had a sample of Western Coastal Europe with its' amazing role in the history of two world wars. From the German UBoat stalls in Bordeaux, to the beaches of Normandy to the Fields of Poppies in Flanders to the London Underground bunkers.....We were impressed with the spirit of the European people who endured so much during those dark times. Cruise & Ovation both get an APlus from us. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
We chose the Ovation for the itinerary. Leaving from Lisbon and on to Portomao, Huelva (Seville), Malaga (the Alhambra), Cartagena, Monte Carlo, Cinque Terra, Toulon (Provence), Mahon (Minorca) and disembarking in Barcelona. All in all, ... Read More
We chose the Ovation for the itinerary. Leaving from Lisbon and on to Portomao, Huelva (Seville), Malaga (the Alhambra), Cartagena, Monte Carlo, Cinque Terra, Toulon (Provence), Mahon (Minorca) and disembarking in Barcelona. All in all, the itinerary lived up to its expectations, although we had to miss Portomao because of Tropical Storm Leslie so we remained in Lisbon for the second day. The only hitch we had for our own itinerary ashore as with the Alhambra. We had been wait-listed for a ticket package that included the Nesrud Palaces, a highlight of the Alhambra and, according to those who have been there, not to be missed. When it become apparent that we would not be getting tickets through Seaborn (they are extremely difficult to come by), even though we had been on the wait list over four months prior to leaving. A few people were lucky enough to get the Seabourn tickets, but more on that later. We told the guest services agent on board that we planned on using the ship's tour bus to the Alhambra (which did not include the Nesrud Palaces), as we had purchased our own tickets and would join up with the bus prior to the group leaving the Alhambra. Our tickets were from 11am to 2pm, meeting at 10:45pm exactly where the tour bus would be pulling into the bus parking lot. We informed the Seabourn rep of our plan prior to boarding the bus and she cleared it with the tour guide. We arranged with him to meet up with the group at a restaurant should we not be ready to rejoin the bus when the Seabourn group was ready to leave. All was going smoothly as we left the port around 8:35am. Unfortunately, the guide decided to announce that we would be pulling into a rest stop for bathroom use and also for buying merchandise. Had the stop been for ten minutes all would still have been fine, but it was closer to 25 minutes and we then had no chance to make our tour. The Alhambra was outstanding, but we will now never have the opportunity to see the Nesrud Palaces. Those who were able to secure tickets for the Alhambra and the palaces thought they were all set. Unfortunately, for some of them, since showing your passport is required at different checkpoints randomly and then, for the palaces, for everyone, when the group was asked to present their passports the list of passengers did not match the names on the passports. Some names were of people not taking the tour. The mix up caused some passengers to have to miss the Alhambra and the palaces. We had read on Cruise Critic that Seabourn's shore excursions are below average and had not encountered that when on a Quest voyage. This particular trip was excellent once in the Alhambra as the guide was extremely knowledgeable about the history of the buildings and the area. The guide on the bus, however, was constantly talking, was very redundant and seemed to be along for the ride. All of the other tours was above average, although the timing for a tour of Eze and the Rothschild Mansion in Cap Ferat gave too much time to the later and not nearly enough time to Eze. Also, this trip was extremely tiring because all tours, half day or full day, started early in the morning so you began to feel sleep deprived early into the trip. I think they should offer afternoon half day excursions to alleviate the fatigue factor when you are on a 10-day cruise with only one at-sea day. Others felt the same way. The cabins on the ship are up to Seabourn's standards. They are among the most spacious in the industry and our ship stewardess was outstanding. The room is well-equipped and pretty much anything can be delivered to your room upon request, including unlimited amounts of champagne. The food on the ship was excellent. No complaints at all. The service was another matter. The worst was the Observation Bar between 6 and 7:30pm. You had a tough time flagging down a waiter as there were often only one or two of them. Going to the bar yourself and carrying the drinks to the table was impossible on rough sea evenings. This problem with service in the Observation Bar continued throughout the cruise. Towards the end of the voyage, we went down to Bruno's lounge in the Thomas Keller grill and after a ten-minute wait, went up to the bar for a drink. For afternoon tea in the Observation Bar, tea was offered, but they didn't mention that scones, sandwiches and cakes were available at the self-serve area where tapas are available every evening. On the Quest a waiter brought these items around which is the way afternoon tea should be presented. Service in the Restaurant was fine, but not if you wanted to get to the 8:45pm show. Fortunately, my husband and I did not have that problem because we had caught two shows and didn't think they were very good so skipped them from that point on. The service in the Colanade was excellent except for the final morning which was an absolute zoo. It was so bad that we ended up getting a bite to eat at Seabourn Square. We were heading for the Restaurant for a nice relaxing breakfast before disembarking because we had to be out of our room at 8pm, but could stay on board until 10pm. The Restaurant was closed, however, although we had no clue that it would be. On the Quest the Restaurant is open for the final breakfast before disembarking. The Patio's food was excellent as well as the service, and there were an adequate number of waiters should you need a drink while relaxing by the pool. Thomas Keller Grill was an interesting evening. We were told by the waiter to look forward to enjoying a romantic meal. To me, that's leisurely, but he did not seem to understand that. After ordering our drinks, he immediately asked if we were ready to order. We said that we needed some time. He came back in five minutes and asked again and we told him we weren't ready as we wanted to enjoy our drinks. After a few minutes, the supervisor went up to our waiter and talked to him. I assume it was about their need to get our order in. The supervisor then came up to our table and asked if we had any questions and we told him we didn't, we just wanted to slow the process down. The meal was very good, though, and there was a good vibe. The best experience for us was Sushi. The food was excellent, there were nice tables for two and the service was what you expect from Japanese staff - respectful, courteous and timely. All in all the management of the Ovation has a way to go to beat the service on the Quest. I think they need some time to work out the glitches as the ship only had its maiden voyage in May. Hopefully, things will improve soon. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
Seabourn Ovation Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 5.0 4.7
Dining 4.5 4.2
Entertainment 5.0 3.9
Public Rooms 5.0 4.6
Fitness Recreation 4.0 4.1
Family 3.0 4.1
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.7
Enrichment 4.0 3.8
Service 4.5 4.1
Value For Money 4.5 3.6

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