My wife and I took our first (and unfortunately probably last) cruise on Seabourn last week on the Odyssey on an 8 night Mediterranean cruise. Here is my personal review, starting with the good things:
Embarkation in Monte Carlo: Excellent. We arrived at about 12:30 and embarkation took no more than 10 minutes. We proceeded to the Colonnade for lunch (which was average to good). Nice that they have a bag check available next to the Colonnade for your carry-on bags. Everyone was extremely friendly and wonderful. Staterooms were ready pretty much right on the dot at 2 pm.
Stateroom: Excellent. We were in a penthouse suite (1016) right next to the observation bar. I thought that the location might be a little loud, but although we could here the activities in the observation bar if we listened for it, it was never a problem. The room is gigantic compared to other cruises we have been on and was well furnished. The bed was comfortable and we have no complaints about the amenities (although my wife thought the Molton Brown toiletries smelled too "manly". That is personal preference though and not a complaint). Our stewardess was great, very friendly and the room always looked great.
Ship amenities: Excellent. While we are not big drinkers, we did have a few drinks in the observation bar and the pool bar. The bartenders were friendly and efficient and the drinks were good. My wife had coffee a few times from the Square and had the same experience. The library is nice and well stocked, as is the game room. The casino is small, but never overly crowded (in fact it was near empty most of the time). The dealers were pleasant (although they took my money ). Pools looked nice, although it was too cold to partake. I like the informal feeling of Seabourn Square as opposed to standing in line at a desk somewhere to make reservations/excursions etc. I also like the small size of the ship and feel that Seabourn might be making a mistake in getting larger ships (Encore).
Tours/Excursions: Excellent. We did the galley tour and loved it. We also went to the cooking demonstration. The chef is part comedian and we had a great time (as did everyone else there). We did one excursion (to Pisa) and it was well run and the tour guide was friendly and knowledgeable.
Fellow Guests: Excellent. Everyone was very friendly and we had some interesting conversations at the dinner tables. Seemed like the mix was about 60% American, 30% English, and 10% Other.
R2: Excellent. We decided to do R2 last minute and asked at Seabourn Square at around noon if they could fit us in. We were wait-listed, but called at around 6 to see if we wanted to join another couple at a 4 top table. We decided to join and had a great time. Many of the items I would never order on their own, but I ate all of them. Some were better than others, but overall I really enjoyed the experience and the food.
Food: Average. We had heard so much about the food on board and were really excited. Unfortunately, with the exception of our one night in R2 and the Indian night in the Colonnade, we were disappointed. The food was not bad, it just wasn't up to the level that we were expecting. Breadsticks were awesome though.
Hosted tables: We got invited to 3. We went to 2 (CD and a singer). We declined the 3rd (with the Asst. Capt I believe) because we wanted Indian in the Colonnade. Great conversation all around.
Restaurant service: Poor (and the reason we probably won't sail with Seabourn again). The service in the restaurant and colonnade was horrendous. Everything took forever. (I understand that fine dining is a slower pace, but this was far beyond that.) On the first night, I ordered a diet cola with my meal and had to ask multiple people before I received it. This continued the second night. On the second night, we were at a hosted table with the CD. I would have thought that the service would be better, but I was wrong. Once again I asked our waiter for a diet cola. Then I asked the assistant waiter, then the wine steward, then the waiter again. From the first time I asked until I received my drink took 45 minutes (I looked at my watch). It wasn't just the drinks though, everything took forever: we had dirty plates in front of us for over 15 minutes without the table being pre-bussed. The attitude in the dining room seemed to be "not my job". On the third day, I went to Seabourn Square to make reservations for R2. At that time, I informed them of my problems in the dining room. While they were apologetic and took notes of the conversation, nothing changed and the atrocious service continued throughout the rest of the cruise. It got to the point that I would bring a drink from my stateroom because I didn't know how long it would take to get one in the restaurant. Even water glasses would sit empty at our table. We usually joined other people in the restaurant and it seemed everyone was having the same issues. I understand that you can have an 'off night', but this happened pretty much every time we went to a meal, and actually seemed to get worse throughout the cruise. The colonnade for breakfast and lunch was no better. We would be done with our buffet food before we were even asked if we wanted coffee or eggs. I have seen others post about having their plates carried from the buffet for them. This only happened once the entire time we were on the boat. (We don't need our plates carried, but this is indicative of the service we received.) We asked for hot sauce one time. Not only did it take a while to get it, the waiter actually came over 5 minutes later to take it away to another table before my eggs even showed up. (do they really only have one bottle of Tobasco sauce on the ship?). On other (supposedly lower class lines such as RC and Celeb) ships, not only do they automatically refill glasses in the main restaurant before you have finished them, they seem to learn what we drink and have them out without even asking. I was scared to ask for a refill in the restaurant or colonnade because I didn't think it would show up before we left. Dining is a very important part of a cruise and I feel that we were really let down in this regard. I don't believe the problem was due to understaffing. We saw numerous people in the dining venues just standing around talking to each other. I really think the attitude was "not my job, let someone else do it".
Very large room. Noise from Observation bar noticeable, but not a problem. Huge balcony and bathroom with whirlpool tub. Large walk in closet.
Recommend a hop on/hop off bus tour (pickup right outside the cruise terminal) to get to all the sights. Highly recommend the Chocolate Museum
Great hike up to the top of the fort.
Take the train from Nice and then walk or take a cab from the train station.