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Seabourn Sojourn Cruise Review
4.5 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating
145 Reviews

Not what is used to be - an experience with questionable standards

Seabourn Sojourn Cruise Review by Emperor Norton

18 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: May 2018
  • Destination: Transpacific
  • Cabin Type: Suite

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.

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Cabin Review

Cabin A1 420

I had a GTY cabin (the cruise line picks for you) and ended up in 420. It was very close to the forward elevators and at night the nearby fire/flood doors would sometimes be closed to keep noise down. Noise was never an issue.

The room itself is an ocean view suite so no veranda for me (which is fine as I'd rather be outside on deck).

The only physical issue I noticed was the room had what appeared to be a few dozen shims between the overheard and bulkhead. While not overly attractive (when noticed) they did seem to be doing their job as I didn't hear creaking in my room.

The motion of the ocean didn't bother me in the room (YMMV) and found the room calmer and quieter than some of the more central rooms on the ship. Size wise it was fine for myself but I wouldn't try to put more than two adults in it.

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