3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2017
When we travel broad, it has to be for a least a month in order to make the cost of flying Business Class and getting over jet lag worth it. We received the Norway two weeks as our gift from Seabourn for having sailed over 250 nights with ... Read More
When we travel broad, it has to be for a least a month in order to make the cost of flying Business Class and getting over jet lag worth it. We received the Norway two weeks as our gift from Seabourn for having sailed over 250 nights with them, and thus it was logical to add on another seven days in order to do the Baltic, where I had never been. I was not at all disappointed because not only did St. Petersburg live up to all the hype and its reputation, but also Helsinki and Tallinn were great surprises. We did very few excursions organized by the ship on the Norway portion of the cruise because we were spending a lot to avail ourselves of all that Russia had to offer. We packed our three days there with excursions, morning and afternoon, and they were all worth it, with excellent guides, who not only were knowledgable but also had amazing commands of English and wonderful senses of humor. Everything I had to say about the cruise is definitely applicable to this cruise. The one thing to add was the difference in demographics. I have never been on a Seabourn cruise where the median age skewed so young. There were 20 passengers under 21 along with young and youngish marrieds and singles in their thirties, forties, and fifties. It was interesting that there was less of a sense of camaraderie than on the typical Seabourn cruise. We really socialized far less than usual. I suppose that the brevity of the cruise is one important factor in explaining the diverse clientele. We actually received a Tiffany crystal candle holder as a prize for having the most sail days, an honor that our friend Carole had garnered on the Norway section of the cruise with three times as many days as we. Obviously, the Baltic is a cruise that true cruisers do early in their careers. I am not going to repeat what I said in reviewing Norway because everything is applicable and accessible in that review. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2017
First of all, it was the two week cruise which we got for free because we have 250 plus sail days, and so we picked the most expensive (or one of the most expensive) venue. Secondly, everyone who cruises the fjords of Norway is blown away ... Read More
First of all, it was the two week cruise which we got for free because we have 250 plus sail days, and so we picked the most expensive (or one of the most expensive) venue. Secondly, everyone who cruises the fjords of Norway is blown away by the natural beauty, and so were we. Not only was the landscape spectacular, second to what we experienced in Antarctica on the same ship in December/January, but the cities we visited were also quite picturesque. Scandinavia is very civilized and clean. As usual, the food and service were excellent not just in the dining room but also in the Thomas Keller Grill and in the Colonnade, the nights where there are the Ad Hoc menus. A word of caution with the Grill is to share the entrees because they are, contrary to the servings in the Restaurant, large. The eggplant parmesan is amazing, as are the artichoke, the Caesar salad,), the roast chicken, and the meats. The menu is pretty much fixed, but there are always specials among the entrees and appetizers. The entertainment is also wonderful, not only the cast, but also the guest artists, with the sole exception of the Norwegian folk lore show, which was dreadful. Usually, I enjoy the local talent, but this time, they had a group of women without much talent or soul. Of note is the spectacular Tim Rice show with familiar and beautiful tunes from his shows. I always enjoy the gym classes, and this time, the gym instructor from Latvia (Enjis) was in a league of his own by creating workout routines that were amazingly effective in thirty minutes. I lost four more pounds on the trip, all the while eating to my heart's content and consuming wine only at dinner. Assiduously avoiding the elevator at all cost is also key to keeping off the unwanted avoirdupoids. I am continuing with his regimen here on land because it was so effective. Admittedly, Seabourn is my cruising "drug" of choise, and I have limited exiperience with any other line, its being Regent. What I love about Seabourn is the personal touches, the fact that everyone knows your name a la Cheers, and the international cast of characters that work on the ship, which allows me to keep my languages current. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2017
We WERE Seabourn loyalists but this cruise was just bad. No personal service, completely disorganized, a cruise director we almost never saw and when we did failed to say hello in the halls, food promised that never appeared. Each shore ... Read More
We WERE Seabourn loyalists but this cruise was just bad. No personal service, completely disorganized, a cruise director we almost never saw and when we did failed to say hello in the halls, food promised that never appeared. Each shore excursion was chaos - you had to go down the row of buses looking for your tour as there was no one to direct you. Disembarkation was chaos - a long line of passengers waiting to leave (after it was announced we could leave) while new staff were scanned in for a very long time. Long lines to find a table at breakfast. Long waits for drinks at the bar. The dress code (no jeans after 6) was completely ignored - even the staff commented on it. We booked another cruise on the ship but cancelled the day we got home. We are now looking at other cruise lines and will be very reluctant to book again. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2017
Overall our trip exceeded our expectations. Nevertheless, we thought it would be important to provide comments based on our experiences and alert you to areas that need improvement, i.e., Before the Cruise, Room, Servers, Food, and ... Read More
Overall our trip exceeded our expectations. Nevertheless, we thought it would be important to provide comments based on our experiences and alert you to areas that need improvement, i.e., Before the Cruise, Room, Servers, Food, and Activities. Before the Cruise • The webpage did not work well. Links did not work, pages were inaccessible, and there were too many times that the page was down for “regular maintenance”. • The materials sent were not helpful; too much and too redundant and not sufficiently customized. • It would have been helpful to know in advance that dry cleaning was not available on the cruise. • Price for internet use has to be more reasonable; access to the internet is essential for most of us. Room The room worked well for us— very comfortable bed, excellent way to adjust lights, good hangars. Having a balcony with a full view was very important and made a big difference. There were sufficient plugs for our electronics. Much to our pleasant surprise, if desired, two people could shower together. Area for Improvement: • The laundry service could have been better. We ended up having to hand wash an item as the laundry was concerned it would be damaged if they tried to get the stain out. We found that all it needed was a little bit of soap and water. Staff: We enjoyed that staff throughout the ship wonderful were consistently friendly, accurate, and pleasantly attentive. Areas for Improvement: • Rigidity by Restaurant hostess: If the room is empty why not give a window seat? • If it is late and most people have had dinner why not give 2 people a table for 4? • Set tables that have a view and not just the ones to make it convenient to serve. Food: We appreciated being able to dine when we wanted, where we wanted, and just the two of us when desired. Breakfast or dinner at The Restaurant ranged between very good and excellent. Truly enjoyed lamb chops for breakfast. Room service was very good. Having toured the kitchen we had a good understanding of why room service was more prompt and accurate than eating at The Restaurant. Thomas Keller restaurant was very good but not spectacular. Some of the dinners at The Restaurant were actually better, e.g., salmon, steak, duck breast, lovely sóuffles, and salads. We enjoyed having champagne with all of our meals and the frozen ice cream sticks dipped in dark chocolate were exceptional. During Tea both the food and service were excellent. Areas for Improvement: • Lunch at The Restaurant was uneven (ice cream was served half melted; veal was dry). • The Restaurant should have more whole grain breads. • It would have been better to have menus that benefited from the local food, e.g., Norwegian waffles for breakfast, more salmon and crab dishes. • Colonade dinner featured Paella. It was terrible; was more like rice with seafood on top and not a drop of saffron. Beyond disappointing. • Good idea to add the tea scones as a breakfast item. Activities: The hotel manager was consistently exceptional in how he took care of us and all the guests. We found the shows entertaining and the lectures interesting. The dance classes (especially the lady) were lots of fun and helped to amp up our steps. The Seabourn singers were good and put on an admirable effort. In the Beauty Salon the stylist and colorist did a great job. Areas for Improvement: • We did not appreciate the Spa trying to sell additional add-ons, e.g., the shoe inserts. It seemed too much of a hustle. • The staff at Seabourn Square were pleasant and as helpful as they could be but they needed to have better knowledge of what there was to see and do in each port and better skills at using the Internet to gather information, e.g., car rental service. It seemed as if each one had their own set of resources and the information was not shared. A shared database similar to what the restaurants have for servers would be very helpful. • Not a good idea to promote tours that were fully booked in advance. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2017
This was my fourth Seabourn (SB) cruise, and DH’s second, with one prior on the Quest summer 2016 we both shared. We have done a dozen cruises on luxury lines, so the review below compares this cruise with prior experiences, and ... Read More
This was my fourth Seabourn (SB) cruise, and DH’s second, with one prior on the Quest summer 2016 we both shared. We have done a dozen cruises on luxury lines, so the review below compares this cruise with prior experiences, and provides some guidance for newbies contemplating taking a SB cruise for the first time. We also did a detailed semi-live blog during the cruise, with photos, on the Cruise Critic SB subforum, so if you wish to see more details about the ship and the ports than are provided below, copy and paste this link (or if it does not work, then just search the forum for my entry entitled “Not-quite-live from the Seabourn Quest, Barcelona to Dover, 4/15/17-5/1/17). Photos start at post 9. http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2488142 OVERALL: Overall we were both pleased with our experiences on the Quest on this 16-night “epicurean” itinerary cruise from Barcelona to Dover, 4/15/17-5/1/17 to the interesting ports of Gibraltar, Portimao, Lisbon, Bilbao, La Rochelle, Bordeaux (overnight), Portland UK, Rouen (overnight), Cherbourg (from which we went to DDAY's Omaha Beach, the American Cemetery, and Arramanches) and Brugge. However, there remains room for improvement in some of the food, and on some services. We rate it a 4.3 overall on a scale of 1 to 5, (and thus round down to 4 on the overall CC scale). It is still the best overall inclusive, primary English language luxury line we have sailed on so far (comparisons: Silver Sea, Regent, Crystal). We did not think the food and service were quite as good as on Hapag-Lloyd’s (HL) luxury ships Europa 2 and MS Europa last year, however, HL is a line where wine and spirits are not included, where the primary language is German, and which is on average more expensive, so it is not directly comparable. EMBARKATION: very smooth and easy, almost no waiting, friendly welcoming personnel in Barcelona, large bags were immediately taken. We arrived shortly after 12 PM (though the official embarkation time is 2PM we could get on earlier even though our room was not ready), and then went to a buffet at the Colonnade indoor/outdoor casual dining venue (personnel can hold your hand luggage there for you while you take lunch, or you can keep them at your side). The buffet and service were both basic and adequate, nothing special, but we were happy to have lunch on board before official embarkation time. We found all our luggage already in the suite after we were allowed access around 2:30 PM. We had pre-ordered a foam topper for what we knew would be a relatively hard mattress, and it was put on later that evening after we reminded the stewardess. Muster followed shortly thereafter and took less than a half hour. It simply involved going to the MDR according to our stations where we listened to the safety instructions without wearing the life preservers,and where personnel took roll call. GENERAL ATMOSPHERE : Relaxing and uncrowded overall, though sometimes cleaning staff yelled personal conversations and joked loudly in hallways. The ship was well-maintained and clean. Smoking was no longer allowed on suite balconies or in the Observation Lounge, just in a couple small designated outdoor areas. Unfortunately a lot of the furniture, although stylish, is uncomfortable for me, but I am very sensitive due to musculoskeletal problems, so I found the stiff main entertainment lounge/Grand Salon chairs, the mostly stiff Observation Lounge chairs, MDR chairs, and especially the in-suite hard couch, unpleasant. To help get comfortable, I would often carry a small cushion with me. Overall, with some exceptions, there was a calm atmosphere and long lines for anything were not common (the long line waiting in the sun for a special cheese tasting notwithstanding). However, sometimes the Colonnade and MDR had slower than ideal table service at peak hours due to apparent staffing shortages, slower than I have come to expect from luxury cruise lines. All staff I saw, many of whom are of Eastern European origins (and some of whom looked like they belonged on fashion runways rather than carrying vacuum cleaners or drink trays around), seemed to work very hard to keep up, but some lacked adequate training for some tasks, and English skills were variable. There just were not enough staff for peak times (especially in the Colonnade, e.g., once we had a waiting time of over 20 minutes to get sparkling water). Table availability at prime hours was also routinely scarce in the Colonnade and at the Patio Grill, so when combined with the matching service problems, we preferred taking both lunch and dinner in the calmer, quieter, guaranteed-seating MDR if at all possible, which also played calmer music at lunch, and where pax were also more sedate. Passengers we met at optional communal or hosted tables, on excursions and cocktail get-togethers, or in the hot tub (perhaps a biased sample, e.g., with the hot tubbers) were generally pleasant, well-off, well-traveled, and well-mannered, with a few odd and loud or boorish exceptions. DEMOGRAPHICS.: The ship was full, with the vast majority of pax English speakers from the U.S., (252) followed by Australia (56) and the UK (30), Canada (16), Germany (12), and remaining pax in single digits. Average age seemed to be in the mid to late 60’s, give or take a few years depending on genetics and sun block usage, and I only saw one child pax. Pax were mostly do-everything-together couples, but there were also some couples traveling with other couples or extended family. LGBT pax are welcomed on SB, confirmed to DH after a long discussion with a hot-tubber who has done dozens of cruises with SB and absolutely loves it. Most pax were reasonably mobile, though there were some with wheelchairs and walkers, and appeared to be well-cared for. Some of those pax unfortunately also repeatedly opted to go on group excursions that were clearly marked as not designed for those with significant mobility impairments, and SB did not enforce mobility requirements for excursions. It was hard to spot a solo traveler (which is not surprising, as SB pricing is not solo-friendly), but there appeared to be a few, and they often opted to dine at hosted tables. DRESS CODE: Pax usually followed the designated evening dress codes, which were most often the very general “elegant casual”, e.g., for men long trousers and a nice collared shirt or a sweater, though many chose to wear jackets without ties to dinner. There were a couple “formal” nights with jacket required in the MDR on which most male pax wore jackets with ties, rather than tuxedos. Blue jeans are officially not allowed at dinner in the MDR. There were a few pax who occasionally showed up for dinner in overly casual clothing which was definitely not “elegant casual”, and they were not turned away, but no one looked like a slob. FOOD AND BEVERAGE: Food opinions are subjective, but overall we found the food on this cruise very good to excellent in the MDR, good in the Thomas Keller Grill, good at the Patio, mostly just ok at the Colonnade buffets (some exceptions that were very good), ok at breakfast room service, and definitely good enough to do a SB cruise again on the right itinerary. A highlight of our experience was interaction with the wine steward in the MDR, Antoni Pradeep, whose pairing suggestions were excellent, and who also provided us with a list of included wines on my request to help guide our choices. I would not sail again on this ship just for the food experience, even though this was billed as an “epicurean” cruise, but combined with the excellent itinerary and other benefits of SB, it was still a good overall choice for cruising this itinerary. The food quality and variety were not at the level of the food on HL’s Europa 2 and MS Europa on our cruises in 2016. SB had a decently priced but limited special order wine list, though we only resorted to ordering off of it twice as we could typically find an included wine that worked for us with our meals (even though we are from northern California wine areas and can be picky), and ordering off that list was not aggressively advocated either. Included champagne was Nicholas Feuillatte brut reserve, available at will. Wait staff typically came around at dinner and initially tried to push an inexpensive included sauvignon blanc or pinot grigio (we sampled all that were offered and only liked one, from NZ) before we had even had a chance to look at the menu, but we simply chose what to order first and then either looked at the lists of included wines to find an appropriate pairing, or talked to the wine steward. We ate at The Grill restaurant only once, the first night, where they served the new highly touted TK grill menu, included in the fare. It was fine, solid quality upscale American style food, steak, lamb, fish, but nothing spectacularly unique. First came celery sticks with radishes and cucumber pieces and green goddess dressing, all fresh but not unique, as we can get these at home. DH’s steak and my Dover Sole Meuniere were fine. We did not go back, primarily due to the acoustical assaults in that venue, e.g., loud and annoying music pulsated overhead, just as it did last year, apparently to create a 50’s and 60’s cool diner vibe and atmosphere, plus pax and staff conversations tended to be loud and the room has poor sound muffling, so the noise enhanced a sense of stress. I regret that the delightful and unique old R2 small-plates-with-pairings restaurant concept has been discontinued. The food in the MDR both at lunch and dinner was usually prettily plated, very good and usually interesting, (though basics such as simple steak and Caesar salad were also available nightly), and I found the TK offerings there better than last year. There were only a couple entrees that tasted boring. I enjoyed most of the vegetarian dishes which I tried when I wasn’t very hungry (a state easy to get into on SB due to constant food ingestion), even though I am not a vegetarian. Portions sizes were reasonably small, which suited us perpetual weight watchers fine. The only time I asked for a double portion was when I ordered a steak tartare appetizer and was skipping the entree, but large, young and very active men (on this cruise that would be only crew members and perhaps one other pax DH met who was a mountain climber) might want to ask for double portions right from the start to secure adequate calories. There were also TK offerings on a few nights in the Colonnade, by reservation only, with only one entree offering per night, e.g., fried chicken, ribs or clam bake, but we did not go this year because last year we had been underwhelmed with the odd ribs-related experience. A few people we met during the cruise who had done the “family style” TK ribs in the Colonnade this cruise, however, greatly enjoyed the experience. We like trying a little bit of many foods when we travel, so our favorite kind of venue is usually an upscale buffet, but this year due to more limited selections of buffet food, Colonnade crowding and inside noise, plus odds of more significant service problems there which could create annoyance, we preferred the MDR for both lunch and dinner. There was a different official food theme in the Colonnade each day, e.g., French, German, Japanese, Tuscan Market, Baltic night (this was much better than last year), pasta, etc., though not uncommonly the same thing was served at the salad bar and dessert bar day after day, just with a different name. Breakfast buffet was ok for usual English-speaker tastes, but the bread, cold meat and cheese choices put out were more limited compared with on HL, where the buffet is more European style. We used room service for breakfast when we had early morning excursions, and also a couple other times (e.g., usually between 9:30 and 12:30, when typically no dining venue is open other than room service or SB Square simple little pastry snacks). A room service hamburger was very good, compared with a Patio Grill burger on the patio, excellent last year, this year mediocre. I am not sure what caused the discrepancy. Room service breakfast offerings were basic, from a list of fixed choices you check outside your door on paper before going to bed, (if you deviate you may receive some comical deliveries), and usually though definitely not always arrived on time. Breakfast pastries and breads in general on board were improved compared with last year, e.g., on a few days French baguettes were baked, and the rolls trended towards appropriately crispy rather than rubbery like they were last year when we cruised. Snacks and specialty coffees at Seabourn Square varied in quality, although the offerings did not vary from day to day and were not particularly enticing, but I definitely appreciated having these between-meal options available ( closed 6-9 PM). The calm Observation Bar also offered self-serve coffee (variable quality), tea bags, OJ and little pre-made breakfast pastries at 6:15, for those of us who do not wish to communicate with humans until we have caffeinated. Observation bar and Club snacks we tried before dinner were tasty. SERVICE The best way to describe SB service this cruise is that it was generally good, though I did find myself getting a bit annoyed with occasional service deficiencies by lower level crew who need more training and understanding of what a luxury cruise is supposed to be. The exceptions often involved violations of the Do Not Disturb sign, the most egregious of which was a woman from laundry services busting into our suite to discuss a minor, non-urgent issue relating to trousers when I was in the bathtub and had a privacy sign up, and then not immediately leaving, but also involved poor communication between staff. Many staff seemed fixated on just doing their specific narrow job and showed a disinclination to get involved with resolving a problem in a way that would best accommodate guest's comfort. I spoke with the empathetic customer care coordinator Melissa Selling about these issues but it is unclear if anything was done by her other than to fill out a paperwork report, as a couple of the issues of concern (some of them comical) continued the next day . Some of the room stewardesses and eating venues personnel were not entirely well-trained or well-organized, and some appeared exhausted, especially at peak hours when they struggled to keep up, so SB would do well to improve training and staffing back to the level they had previously (though this might involve raising prices). Laundry and dry cleaning services are available on board ($50 per laundry bag stuffed so solidly it could serve as a cosh, 2 day service, 50% upcharge for same-day service on items), nothing was permanently lost or transformed into a child’s size though I did have to pursue a disappeared bag. There is also a launderette for self-serve we did not use, and a clothes-line is available over the tub for drying your own items. You can also get as many towels and pillows as you want for your suite, which this pillow princess definitely took advantage of. SB Square personnel were friendly, and there were either no or short lines to talk to them. The phone was not always answered immediately, but I only fell asleep once while on hold. When we got home we found a large charge to our on-board credit card to an airline for a person we have never heard of, which was processed immediately after the charge that closed out our bill on disembarkation day, and which we think was likely made in error by SB ( we are pursuing details on this through our credit card fraud protection and with emails to SB customer relations). SPA, EXERCISE AREA, AND POOLS: loud music played not just in the exercise area , where I would expect pep, but also in the communal manicure/pedicure/hair care area, which was not very relaxing as the customers’ conversations and blow dryers there were also competing for attention, and stressed front desk personnel could be snippy. So I only used the area once (I prefer quiet, solo chambers, with calming music, for manicure service, rather than forced listening to stories about other pax problems, e.g., their split ends or toenail problems. DH frequently enjoyed the relatively private hot tub in the bow on deck 6, which is also a good place to meet people. There were also four other hot tubs (two in the very public area near the main pool, often closed off, and two closer to the smaller pool on Deck 5 aft outside the Club lounge). The pool was nicely heated but not used much. DH also used the fitness center, it was fine, usually uncrowded except at peak time on a sea day, with an ocean view, where nothing was broken and there was a trainer there ready to help who may not have been named Hans or Franz, but should have been. ENTERTAINMENT was overall pretty good, better than last year, especially for such a small ship, e.g., it featured both popular and classical music by Australian pianist Gary Walz, and also a female former West End singer with a terrific voice. We went to most of the shows. Brit Davey Howe performed innovative and comedic musical works with trumpet, piano, shower hose, and walker leg and was my favorite. There was a funny British comedian, a not so funny or magical female comedian magician, and a singer who had starred in The Lion King who did an assortment of cool-sexy-guy type covers who was very popular with the crowd. The base SB band itself was very good, and the singers could sing, though sometimes sung boring old songs like The Girl From Ipanema at the Patio. The Trio with sultry singer Emma in the Club should not be missed, if she is there. The entertainment this year was much better than last year on the Quest, which was a positive development. INTERNET was bad. Ship wifi was usually very slow, and in our suite typically non-existent, a constant struggle, as it often is on ships, even luxury ships. We had opted for the unlimited plan for $399 for the 16 days of the cruise to avoid the stress of sensing the clock ticking and price rising while on-line with a slow connection. Only one person per suite could be on at a time which required some coordination (on HL two could be on, but for comparison there was no unlimited plan, there it was 0.19 Euro/minute). It worked best in the Square and in a fellow pax room directly below a router, which ours was not. We thus relied heavily on our cellular service and created hot spots, to get any major work done ensuite. DH, who is technically inclined, communicated with SB Square three times about the issues, and the personnel there smiled and noted the concerns, but not once was he contacted directly by anyone from IT, (we just got promises there would be contact), only some indirect information was communicated by a non-technical lady SB crew member, and the issues (beyond the issue of speed, e.g., cloud services blocking) were not resolved. Ship wifi was one of the weakest aspects of this ship, and it thus rules out future trips where there would be no escape option to use local cellular, e.g., transatlantic or remote area trips, for people who must have reliable internet access when they travel. PORTS AND EXCURSIONS There were no complimentary excursions offered by SB, all were for an extra charge. Most were reasonably priced and ok, some were excellent, a few were poor values. Buses were uncrowded and typically had a max of 26 people on an excursion ( a couple exceptions), and had reclining seats and at least passable AC. Sometimes there was a functional WC on the bus, you never knew in advance when there would or would not be one. BARCELONA — our embarkation port, where we spent 3 days pre-cruise on our own (we had previously been here for several days before). This popular and excellent bustling port city has a lot to see pre-cruise, or post-cruise if you end here. I would recommend at least four days, and preferably take a private tour of La Sagrada and other Gaudi masterpieces in the area, plus a trip outside to Montserrat, and spend a few hours in the Picasso Museum (go early and buy tickets online if you are not part of a tour, as it gets very crowded). The more off the beaten path Catalonia Museum on a hill has excellent modern and Romanesque art collections, as well as city views and adjacent is a massively sized organ. I could easily spend a full two weeks in Barcelona -- every year! GIBRALTAR — a very interesting small territory town with a lot of history, owned by Britain. We did the excellent though strenuous (marked level 2 out of 3 by SB but it should have been a 3/3 in difficulty) uphill “City under Siege” excursion, where we toured the military siege tunnels, and also the museum in town where there are restored Neanderthal woman and child skeltons. We also saw the interesting indigenous monkeys of the island roaming about who have a history of their own (e.g., during siege, they were food for troops). Beware of the risk of extra high cellular charges by your cell phone company for this separate “country”. PORTIMAO — the port itself, which tends to be very warm, was out of town, so other than seeing a closed down sardine factory museum within walking distance nearby (worth a look — the video story in Portuguese with English subtitles is both interesting and humorous), there was not much to do directly near the ship. We were bussed on the “A Taste of Algave” excursion to the seaside town of Alvo (old and new features), which has restaurants and shops both near the water and up an old-town hill, and could be more fun to tour without the time pressures of an excursion, followed by a trip to an unremarkable local winery for a tasting with fish dip and chips. This was not the greatest excursion, but ok for an overview. LISBON — we were only docked here one day, but this hilly and scenic city deserves at least four days if not more (which I had spent last year prior to another cruise), depending on how many museums you want to see and how much Fado you want to hear, even more if you want to do day trips. We did a non-SB group excursion to the medieval walled town of Obidos, about an hour away, which was fantastic, very scenic, with restaurants and shops, it would make a good full-day trip. We also visited the beautiful Santa Quintana winery for tasting and an upscale lunch, which was fantastic. It would be a good idea for SB to do an overnight in Lisbon. BILBAO — we toured the modern art Guggenheim Museum on a SB excursion, which everyone should do at least once to appreciate the craziness of four-story flower dogs and a giant metallic arachnoid, which have revived this previously dying town. We preferred spending our elective, non-group time on the higher levels where the art, to us anyway, was more interesting (Kandinsky and Picasso rather than Koons). Next time, we’d also like to send more time walking the city streets of this old Basque town, people-watching, and dining locally. LA ROCHELLE — we did an excellent full-day 5/5 SB excursion to the little market town of Saintes, (you could spend a day there just shopping and eating and visiting the churches), where I loaded up on the best ham I’ve ever eaten, and after a terrific excursion French lunch at a nearby Michelin-rated restaurant Le Relais du Bois Saint-Georges, toured the Chateau de La Roche Courbon castle, which has beautiful grounds. BOURDEAUX — here we docked for an overnight right in town, right next to a colorful Sunday food market selling all kinds of delicacies (you may want to skip breakfast on the ship if the market is running), and an easy walk to many interesting sights, several fantastic churches, fountains, and saw the new Wine Museum modern structure which we did not have time to go into. There are many reputedly excellent restaurants and museums in town, and we unfortunately did not have enough time to fully take in and appreciate this city. We did a forgettable (and overpriced at $275/person) SB-sponsored “exclusive” excursion to a winery that was anything but exclusive (70 people were bussed there and played follow-the-leader on the winery tour), with (by French standards) mostly mediocre food, served with some good red wine, on beautiful grounds. It would clearly have been better and much cheaper to book a private winery tour and exquisite French dinner, next time we will know better, or at least ask how many people will be on the “exclusive” tour before booking. We also did an excursion to the very cute town of St. Emilion, where there is a fascinating underground ancient church, and where you could also easily spend a day winding through the little streets, eating, and window shopping. PORTLAND, UK — the locals here are happy to see cruisers, serenaded us with a uniformed band and fired cannons at sail-away. We did a very nice excursion to the beautiful Minternes estate and gardens, where the 93-yr-old Lord of the house hosted us with interesting stories of the past, and we were then served scones. The gardens are exhiliarting and worth a trip, you could spend the whole day there (I recommend skipping the scones and just head straight for the garden to maximize your time wandering around there, then go down a series of long, gentle paths lined with rest benches, and loop back, a mile or so). We drove past the “Rude Man” Cerne Abbas Giant chalk figure on the way back to the ship, but he was off in the distance and his most famous body parts were barely visible. ROUEN — (overnight). We cruised down the scenic Seine to this out-of-town industrial port, which itself is unremarkable though there is a church and there are some shops, but it served as a base for excursions. We did a late afternoon/early evening excursion to the picturesque seaside town of HONFLEUR (don’t come after 6 or all the museums are closed, or between 4 and 7 as we did, when the major restaurants are closed, if you want dinner, as dinner does not start until 7). Next time we will visit Honfleur without a SB excursion and allow time for a leisurely French meal. We also did a SB excursion to Monet's GIVERNY Gardens, where much was in bloom. The flowers were exquisitely beautiful, but the place was oppressively crowded, as the venue does not limit ticket sales. It was hard to pass with so many international tourists (including us), many with selfie-sticks keen on getting themselves into staged pictures (absolutely not us), and with super-long waits for the women’s WC, as there were simply not enough toilets for the female components of the crowds. If you have a weak bladder, I recommend going easy on pre-excursion coffee and keep yourself on the thirsty side. CHERBOURG -- we went on an all-day excursion (1.5 hour + bus trip each way) to DDAY's Omaha Beach, the American Cemetery, and Arromanches-les-Bain, where the “Mulberry” artificial harbor and docks were set up to allow many ships and supplies to dock in Normandy during WW2, and which has an interesting museum with exhibits, multi-lingual tours, and an informative movie. There were also excursions available to other battle sites through SB, e.g., Utah Beach, and Sainte-Mere-Eglise, offered by SB, but we only had enough time for one. The American Cemetery is beautifully laid out, very peaceful, and well-maintained, over 172 acres, with tasteful memorials and graves of 9387 American military dead from the Normandy invasion campaign. It has thousands of crosses and over a hundred Stars of David, all that remains of known and unknown young American soldiers who died in that campaign to liberate Europeans from unspeakable tyranny, including my immediate family. We did not see nearly as much as we would have liked in this historic place, for that we will need to come back for a full week in Normandy. Our guide was also less than ideal, as he seemed to just go through the motions in his descriptions of the important historical events rather than showing any enthusiasm or true interest in them (I felt like grabbing his microphone on the bus and taking over the narrative), perhaps due to his own background which was almost certainly not on the side of the Allies. Unfortunately on the bus the guide also seemed equally interested in proudly telling us about France’s mandatory 35-hour work week limitations, wonderful social welfare benefits, and humorous driving habits, with perhaps greater fervor than he talked about the events of 1944, and although these were interesting facts, they seemed inappropriate to discuss on this kind of sobering tour. Halfway, the tour stopped for an included group lunch at a nicely located restaurant with a water view where we were served local pate, chicken, and creamy dessert, with plenty of $5.17/bottle Bourdeaux table wine included in the excursion fee. This was overall an ok introduction to this area, considering we were only there for a day, but when we come back (and we must come back) we will almost certainly get a private guide with greater interest in WW2 history. I highly recommend reading Steven E. Ambrose’s book “DDAY”, or similar, to prepare. BRUGGE. This is a a beautiful city with a lot to see, including canals and chocolate shops, museums and churches, and we booked an excursion to it which SB called “Romantic Brugge” , which was anything but romantic. Unfortunately it was a 3-day weekend and the city was a solid mass of tourists, and it was very hard for us to keep up with our oblivious, insensitive guide who seem to stride briskly to Chopin's Marche Militaire through the city, with senior citizen pax in her group mostly fending for themselves. The excursion was rated 2/3 but should have been 3/3 difficulty given the strain of walking several miles at a brisk pace, with little time, while dodging horses, scooters, carts, baby carriages, Segways, and other fall hazards. The 30-minute canal ride, however, was lovely. I do not recommend this tour in high season or on weekends if you are in any way mobility, cardiac, balance, or pulmonary impaired. If we return, it will be without a group guide, and not on a busy weekend, and on our own (SB offered a busride to and from Brugge without a group tour, which would have been better, but the huge crowds would still have been there in the key areas). I rate this as the worst excursion of the cruise, 2/5, but sadly in one of the most beautiful cities. IN SUMMARY, we enjoyed the cruise, the itinerary, and generally good SB service, exceptions noted both above and in more detail in my referenced blog. I was a bit disappointed in the decline in quality food offerings and variety in the Colonnade, and in some service deficiences apparent now that I had not seen in 2015 when I did my first two SB cruises on the Odyssey, but was pleased with the improvements in the MDR foods since we were on the Quest summer 2016 and in the TK offerings, breads and included wines. We realize no cruise is perfect, and SB must be compared with other English language luxury lines. We have put down a deposit for a potential future cruise that would give us a 5% discount, but have made no irreversible commitments. We have a few more cruises booked with HL instead of SB on similar itineraries, which we are not canceling, as that is where I thought the overall food and service were 5/5 instead of 4.3/5 like on SB, (and where Do Not Disturb signs were always strictly respected), but as noted, has other disadvantages. We have posted some pictures of the cruise and the ports in this beautiful, fascinating, and history-rich area, to which we plan to return. Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2017
We have sailed on several all inclusive luxury class cruise lines and prefer Seabourn over their competitors for many reasons. Our latest cruise from Fort Lauderdale to Barcelona on Seabourn Quest can sum up our reasons for this ... Read More
We have sailed on several all inclusive luxury class cruise lines and prefer Seabourn over their competitors for many reasons. Our latest cruise from Fort Lauderdale to Barcelona on Seabourn Quest can sum up our reasons for this preference. First is the Seabourn high standard of the ship's maintenance. We have yet to find one square inch of rust, shabby carpeting or non functioning equipment that would interfere with the enjoyment of our cruise. Case in point is the fitness center where all the equipment is up to date and in working order. We cannot say this regarding Seabourn's competition where we have experienced ships that simply seemed "down at the heels" and half the fitness equipment displayed "out of order" signs. Embarkation and debarkation were a breeze and we, as usual, were surprised at the rapidity of luggage delivery during both events. As with past experiences, Seabourn chooses to recruit its crew members from many different countries and each one brings a smile and willingness to make you feel special. Of course, some crew members are more competent than others, but we found no service issues on this delightful crossing. Last year we were fortunate to be among the first to experience the new Thomas Keller cuisine on board Quest and greatly enjoyed it . On this crossing, the chef's team has delivered again with a mix of Keller menus, Seabourn inspirations and classics. The restaurant inclusive wine selections are good and if we didn't like an evening's selection, we simply asked for another wine we liked including at the Keller Grill. We must say the most delicious dinner we have had at sea was the Thomas Keller fried chicken with cheese grits served at the Colonnade one evening. Many of our fellow passengers' only experience with fried chicken had been of the fast food variety so they turned up their noses and went elsewhere. Rest assured Thomas Keller fried chicken has no similarity to the greasy product that the world finds in places like....I shan't name brands! Let us just say if you ever have the opportunity go to Keller fried chicken night, please do so as long as you let us be first to the table!! We know how much work goes into serving this truly outstanding dinner. Before anyone thinks we work for Seabourn, we will make a couple of observations which we hope will be noted. The music in the Grill was so loud conversation was difficult. We would also like Seabourn to come up with some interesting trans Pacific crossings. Finally, we are disappointed that Seabourn has decided to originate Atlantic crossings from Bridgetown as opposed to Fort Lauderdale/Miami. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2017
Where to start? We have cruised on a number of lines however Seabourn has provided the best expirience. The staff is a critical part of our comments. Every one seemed to know our names from the first day to the last. They were not 0nly ... Read More
Where to start? We have cruised on a number of lines however Seabourn has provided the best expirience. The staff is a critical part of our comments. Every one seemed to know our names from the first day to the last. They were not 0nly professional and courteous, more importantly they were interactive . We really enjoyed the interactions with them. As fate would have it a gentleman asked us to join him for dinner. We struck up a conversation with him and learned he was the oncoming hotel manager. each time we saw him in our daily meanderings a conversation ensued. One evening he asked us to join him for dinner which we did. We were also asked to host a table several times. We hosted lecturers and conversationalists which added to our learning experiences. We loved the anytime dining available in both the restaurant and Colonnade. Because of our desire to meet people we always asked to share a table. We dined with Australians, ew Zealanders, Brits, Germans, and of course Americans. This alone made our trip interesting. Unfortunately the food was eexcellent. I say that because our clothes shrank a bit. We scheduled shore excursions as well. They were nevered crowded. They limited the number per bus to about 30. Once that was achieved they opened another bus. They also had schuttle busses available to the center of town at every port. We had a number of favorite ports but St Petersburg stood out. The Hermitage was more than expected, as were the churches. Finally, Seabourn cemented our desire for cruising with Small ships. Cruising into downtown Bordeaux, and up the Seine River convinced us of that. Had it nor been for expected high winds we would have also gone into Downtown St Petersburg as well. Would we cruise Seabourn again? Absolutely and we will the good Lord willing and the creek don't rise. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2017
We initially booked the crossing, (Fort Lauderdale to Barcelona)..however, after listening to what the next contiguous cruise, (Wine and Food) we stayed on the ship I must say, this particular was the best one for us on Seabourn. ... Read More
We initially booked the crossing, (Fort Lauderdale to Barcelona)..however, after listening to what the next contiguous cruise, (Wine and Food) we stayed on the ship I must say, this particular was the best one for us on Seabourn. Every aspect of the trip, the ship itself, the staff and the cuisine. WOW! Everything about this cruise was excellent, (i.e., the ship itself, the staff, the cuisines and the wines!!! There were several people from the Corporated office in Seattle, who supported all of the daily events. Guest chefs were brought aboard during the sail, all of home provided special regional dishes.The Wine Guys were also aboard. They are world class experts on wines, especially, Spain and the United States. They made our trip s m o o t h............. I believe that the service on this particular cruise showed a level of excellence rising above what has always been wonderful. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2017
My spouse and I sailed on the Seabourn Quest – “21 Day Ultimate Antarctica and Patagonia”, from January 12, 2017 through February 2, 2017. Anyone that has sailed with Seabourn knows the trips are ridiculously expensive ... Read More
My spouse and I sailed on the Seabourn Quest – “21 Day Ultimate Antarctica and Patagonia”, from January 12, 2017 through February 2, 2017. Anyone that has sailed with Seabourn knows the trips are ridiculously expensive and should expect to receive exceptional service and the trip you expected. We enjoyed our experience but are disappointed that Seabourn reduced the Antarctic portion of our cruise from the scheduled six days to four days due to the illness of two of the passengers onboard. While we are most sympathetic to the circumstances of these individuals and their families, is seems unfair that the remaining 400 plus passengers were so negatively impacted. We question whether or not this situation could have been addressed earlier when there would have been less impact. Specifically, there was clearly better access to medical facilities during our stops in Montevideo, The Falkland Islands and perhaps even in the South Shetland Islands. Although information provided regarding the status of the sick individuals was limited, understandably to protect their privacy, it is our understanding that both were seniors (86 and 90 years old) and that the 90 year old ultimately passed away while on the ship. We were directly familiar with the circumstances of the 86 year old woman, given that she and her family had their cabins located close to ours and, consequently, we got to know them during the cruise. As a result, we are fully aware that the woman took sick immediately after boarding (if not sick prior to boarding) and was either in her stateroom or in the ship’s infirmary during her entire stay onboard. We therefore question whether or not it would have been possible for staff members to identify her emergent medical condition earlier in the voyage. Many of the passengers we spoke to on the ship wondered if Seabourn had other options to deal with the sick passengers prior to departing from the Falklands. We question where Seabourn’s protocol for passenger embarkation on trips to remote locations takes into consideration the passenger’s age and the increasing likelihood of illness as the passenger gets older. This is especially relevant when sailing to areas like the Antarctic when the ship is not in close proximity to medical facilities, and in this case for 10 days. Presumably this is why International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators recommends having passengers complete a medical form prior to sailing to the Antarctic. Does Seabourn follow this protocol? Seabourn refused to answer us on this! It was clear that the Captain Dvergastein and the Quest staff were sincerely regretful that our time in the Antarctic was cut short. Efforts were made to compensate (and perhaps distract) us by including the sail to Cape Horn and the addition of another port (Chacabuco). It is, however, noteworthy that the additional port was disappointing and required passengers to spend more money if they wanted to go on a tour – which was advisable as there was absolutely nothing to do or see in the town. It is important to underscore that we, and the great majority of passengers we spoke with, specifically chose this Seabourn itinerary because of the opportunity to go to the Antarctic. The fact that we lost one third of the scheduled time in the Antarctic on a very expensive cruise is upsetting to say the least. We acknowledge that Seabourn provided a token onboard credit as well as a $750 credit per passenger for a future cruise with Seabourn. While appreciated, frankly, these efforts fall far short of adequately compensating us for the lost time in the Antarctic. After arriving home we contacted Seabourn advising them of our concerns, and after numerous emails and phone calls that went unanswered, we finally received the token refund. Seabourn needs to do better. Read Less
16 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2017
Itinerary We have always chosen our cruises based on itinerary, and we loved that this trip offered an expedition experience, exploring Antarctica by zodiac and walking on the White Continent, as well as interesting South American ports ... Read More
Itinerary We have always chosen our cruises based on itinerary, and we loved that this trip offered an expedition experience, exploring Antarctica by zodiac and walking on the White Continent, as well as interesting South American ports and the Falkland Islands. It was wonderful to board in Buenos Aires rather than flying from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia, where the smaller expedition ships embark. The Crew What a delightful, happy, friendly, helpful crew! Everyone from our cabin stewardess to the waiters to the guest services staff was just top-notch. We marveled that we were greeted by name after a short time. Not one negative or so-so experience in three weeks! The Ship The public spaces on the Quest are beautiful and comfortable, busy but not overly crowded. Even on sea days, we were able to find a place to sit and chat or work on our laptops. Seabourn Square was our clear favorite! The Internet was surprisingly strong as well, even in Antarctica. It was sometimes slow in our cabin, but never a problem in a public space. My husband was able to get work done on some of the sea days, which was critical for him on such a long cruise. The laundry facilities are quite limited – four washers and four dryers, all on deck 5, that serve the entire ship. I woke up really early one morning to secure the machines. The ship provides pod-style detergent, but no dryer sheets. The Food The quality of food was just outstanding. We joked that after we returned from dinner every evening, we found ourselves checking out the Herald newsletter to see where we wanted to eat the next day! Room service – great for breakfast before early excursions and an occasional dinner “in” – was terrific, always on time with hot the food and beverages. The Thomas Keller Grill is definitely worth a night or two. The Patio is wonderful for a casual meal – even in Antarctica, with blankets and heaters! – and has a fabulous new chef from Italy who makes pizza that tastes like you’re dining in Naples. On such a long cruise, we felt the Restaurant’s menus could have offered a little more variety and more “healthy” choices. And as we had read on the Seabourn Boards, the quality of the complimentary wine was disappointing. If you ask for an alternative to what they are serving that evening, they will happily find something that is more to your liking that is still included in the “complimentary” category. The Cabin The Quest’s standard cabin with a verandah was extremely comfortable and modern, with a walk-in closet, separate vanity and nice-sized dining/desk table with two chairs. The storage space was significant for a 21-day cruise that involved lots of bulky cold-weather clothing. I would recommend bringing a power strip for charging computers and cameras and a travel clock for the bedside table. Oddly, there is a wall clock, but nothing by the bed. The Expedition Team I can’t imagine a better group of expedition leaders, headed by the delightful Iggy. Experts in everything from penguins to birds to whales to history, this group of about twenty gave us an incredible experience in Antarctica. They led our zodiac outings, gave lectures on sea days, were available on outside decks at designated times to answer questions and look for wildlife and even hosted dinner tables in the Restaurant. The team held a recap & briefing meeting every evening before dinner to go over plans for the following day. In Antarctica, the weather determines everything, and there is no set itinerary almost until the moment you get off the ship. Excursions In addition to the included expeditions in Antarctica, we booked several excursions through Seabourn in other ports. We found them to be similar to the high-quality excursions we’ve taken with Crystal. Buses were never crowded, guides were generally quite good (there always seems to be a stand-out and one who’s just okay) and the included meals were excellent. The Captain In a place as remote as Antarctica, you quickly realize the difference a great captain can make. The Quest’s Captain Dag was just phenomenal, a great communicator who shared the wonder of what we were seeing as if it were as new to him as it was to his passengers. We loved the way he ended his daily announcements with a poem – “the verse of the day,” as he called it – and how he navigated us through the Lemaire Channel, one of the most stunning places imaginable. After four days in Antarctica, we had two medical emergencies that required evacuation. Captain Dag made the tough call to head back to get help for the passengers. It was, of course, the right thing to do. What I really appreciated was the way Captain Dag handled the situation, acknowledging that even though all of us would want the same decision for our loved ones, it was still disappointing to leave so suddenly. He told us he would try to replace one of the lost days in Antarctica with the chance to sail past Cape Horn. And he did. Read Less
Seabourn Quest Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 5.0 4.7
Dining 4.5 4.5
Entertainment 3.5 4.0
Public Rooms 5.0 4.7
Fitness Recreation 4.0 4.0
Family 3.0 4.0
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.8
Enrichment 3.5 4.0
Service 4.5 4.6
Value For Money 4.5 4.2
Rates 5.0 4.3

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