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The first of Seabourn's "larger" ships changed too many of the things that made the previous generation special. The common areas, floor by floor: 12 - the new Retreat area is peculiar and expensive. I understand an effort to generate revenue from otherwise dead space, but $350 for a day's access to a large tv screen and top-shelf liquor, under canvas, isn't sensible. I predict this will quickly be replaced by a golf simulator. 11 - Observation has suffered from the wider space and bad lighting. A vaulted ceiling over the bar simply leaves the rest of the room feeling small and cheerless. 10 - treadmills overlooking the stern are a modest improvement, but the trade-off was loss of the terrific relaxation area in that spa spot. That spa area has been shrunk and moved to a dark, cheerless hallway. It is necessary to walk through the reception area to access the only toilet. I rate the entire spa/gym area slightly worse than the older ships despite an increase in space. 9 - Colonnade has more space, but deployed it oddly, with a U-shaped buffet line consuming table space. Seabourn for some reason decided to have hosted dinners here, and that really doesn't work. Patio grill swapped ends of the ship and somehow lost shaded seating space, an unfortunate design outcome. Pizza remains excellent. 8 - TK Grill has a very nice piano bar with, on this cruise, a brilliant entertainer. The Grill is very proud of the Thomas Keller association, so limits cruisers to two dinners. No great loss. Lobster Thermidor was overlooked and horrid, sole overlooked and overdressed, and "daily specials" were anything but special. Steak was the best I've had on Seabourn, but only average by any other measure. 7 - No great changes to Seabourn Square, although the changes were harmful. Bookshelves are too low to be able to see titles. The customer service area has no single entry, so disciplined queuing is impossible. Coffee bar is unchanged, although for some reason the lunchtime sandwiches have disappeared and Grandmother Cake continues to be held in reserve until 11 am. 6 - Grand Salon eliminated two of the three video screens, meaning that a large portion of the seating suffers from obstructed views. Big step back. 5 - laundry ... oh, wait, THERE IS NO LAUNDRY!!! 5 - Club is simply awful. Bartender must go to the kitchen to make a drink. Lighting is poor, but the lighting design on the entire ship is bad. Big loss of a formerly terrific gathering spot. 4 - dining room is not changed much, although again, lighting is badly designed. For some reason, the kitchen on this cruise has been unable to produce a meal in less than 90 minutes, a long time to wait for unremarkable food. Menu continues to shrink, so the kitchen ought to be able to get the meals out. Steak here remains a very bad idea ... bad cuts, badly prepared. New Years Eve surf and turf was inedible. Senior staff is carried over from other ships, and is generally excellent. But there is a real Upstairs/Downstairs element here, with line level crew launching F bombs around passengers in a very un-Seabourn fashion. I'm sure this will be brought up to Seabourn standards, but needs attention and training.

A Step Backwards

Seabourn Encore Cruise Review by T*Time

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Trip Details
The first of Seabourn's "larger" ships changed too many of the things that made the previous generation special.

The common areas, floor by floor:

12 - the new Retreat area is peculiar and expensive. I understand an effort to generate revenue from otherwise dead space, but $350 for a day's access to a large tv screen and top-shelf liquor, under canvas, isn't sensible. I predict this will quickly be replaced by a golf simulator.

11 - Observation has suffered from the wider space and bad lighting. A vaulted ceiling over the bar simply leaves the rest of the room feeling small and cheerless.

10 - treadmills overlooking the stern are a modest improvement, but the trade-off was loss of the terrific relaxation area in that spa spot. That spa area has been shrunk and moved to a dark, cheerless hallway. It is necessary to walk through the reception area to access the only toilet. I rate the entire spa/gym area slightly worse than the older ships despite an increase in space.

9 - Colonnade has more space, but deployed it oddly, with a U-shaped buffet line consuming table space. Seabourn for some reason decided to have hosted dinners here, and that really doesn't work. Patio grill swapped ends of the ship and somehow lost shaded seating space, an unfortunate design outcome. Pizza remains excellent.

8 - TK Grill has a very nice piano bar with, on this cruise, a brilliant entertainer. The Grill is very proud of the Thomas Keller association, so limits cruisers to two dinners. No great loss. Lobster Thermidor was overlooked and horrid, sole overlooked and overdressed, and "daily specials" were anything but special. Steak was the best I've had on Seabourn, but only average by any other measure.

7 - No great changes to Seabourn Square, although the changes were harmful. Bookshelves are too low to be able to see titles. The customer service area has no single entry, so disciplined queuing is impossible. Coffee bar is unchanged, although for some reason the lunchtime sandwiches have disappeared and Grandmother Cake continues to be held in reserve until 11 am.

6 - Grand Salon eliminated two of the three video screens, meaning that a large portion of the seating suffers from obstructed views. Big step back.

5 - laundry ... oh, wait, THERE IS NO LAUNDRY!!!

5 - Club is simply awful. Bartender must go to the kitchen to make a drink. Lighting is poor, but the lighting design on the entire ship is bad. Big loss of a formerly terrific gathering spot.

4 - dining room is not changed much, although again, lighting is badly designed. For some reason, the kitchen on this cruise has been unable to produce a meal in less than 90 minutes, a long time to wait for unremarkable food. Menu continues to shrink, so the kitchen ought to be able to get the meals out. Steak here remains a very bad idea ... bad cuts, badly prepared. New Years Eve surf and turf was inedible.

Senior staff is carried over from other ships, and is generally excellent. But there is a real Upstairs/Downstairs element here, with line level crew launching F bombs around passengers in a very un-Seabourn fashion. I'm sure this will be brought up to Seabourn standards, but needs attention and training.
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