On June 9th, my husband and I embarked on Seabourn's new ship, the Ovation. We joined the ship in Amsterdam and our voyage ended June 30th in Stockholm. It was a fun 21 day journey, enhanced by a beautiful new ship and a hardworking crew.
As others have mentioned, service was not perfect on this cruise, but, most of the time it was excellent. I choose not to dwell on a couple or three meals where there was chaos ruling (often due to language difficulties). The vast majority of the time, our food was served timely and well along with wine or other drinks that we ordered. The ship's crew included some superlative members who gave everything they did a personal touch. This is one reason we love Seabourn.
Any review of food is, necessarily a very subjective experience. The ship's passengers come from several continents and have different expectations when it comes to food choices and seasoning. What some would call bland, others would call just right. Personally, we found the food to be usually excellent. We ate mostly in the MDR (The Restaurant), but also enjoyed offerings at The Colonnade and Earth and Ocean (the new concept on the Patio in the evening). We also had three meals at the TK Grill over 21 days. We enjoyed the TK Grill, but found the chicken to be WAY too salty, while others thought it was perfect. Again, different perspectives on food. We loved the appetizer prawns the steak, mushrooms and especially the Dover Sole.
We enjoyed quite a number of room service breakfasts, but found the room service for dinner (tried it twice) to be very lackluster. I do not recommend it. Breakfast in the MDR was outstanding and such a peaceful experience.
Tea time at 4pm each afternoon was delightful. While you do have to go to a buffet for your sandwiches and other tidbits, tea service itself was prompt and cordial --along with refills if you wanted them.
We ordered caviar a number of times (usually sharing with others) and it was a fun experience.
The ports on this cruise were interesting--they included Hamburg, Wismar (Germany), Sceczsin (Poland), Klapeda (Lithuania), Turku (Finland), Saaramar (Estonia), Bornholm (Denmark), Stockholm, Tallin (Estonia), St. Petersburg (Russia) and Helsinki. We missed Visby, Sweden due to rough seas. While some passengers complained about the Polish port (very industrial) and the port on the island of Saaramar, Estonia, I found the both to be memorable experiences. Neither of these ports are tourist meccas. That is one of the things that makes them interesting. We also enjoyed the island of Bornholm, even though our tour took in a lot of venues in just a few hours (one of eight round churches on the island, castle ruins, and glass making) Our tour guide on Bornholm, while a bit rough around the edges, was a proud Dane and gave us a real sense of what the local people are like. His English was quite good. We toured Tallin on our own--a wonderful experience. Our St. Petersburg guides were quite good---a lot of sightseeing packed into three days. We were in Helsinki a very short time (leaving at 2pm) but glad to have been there. A real highlight for me was Lubeck, Germany which we toured from Hamburg. I highly recommend going to Lubeck,
A word about the cruise director--Handre. He is EXCELLENT. Handre is a true asset for Seabourn and makes every cruise more fun.
Entertainment--The Seabourn Singers are excellent, but for me, the background music was way too loud. I would have enjoyed their voices being more front and center. The singers are delightful people. They mingled with the passengers and it was fun to talk to them. We enjoyed the Tim Rice Show, the Through the Decades Show, and the Nashville Show. The mentalist was very entertaining. We did not enjoy the comics, but once again, any attempt review entertainment is very subjective.
Enrichment--We attended four lectures by Peter Damslich on the Hanseatic League and the Romanovs. All were quite excellent with fabulous slides to go along with his talk.
Poolside dining--We enjoyed many lunches around the pool. I heartily recommend the Napa Burger. The Pool Bar staff is very attentive. The new Earth and Air venue around the pool in the evening is quite good--with excellent presentation.
This was our second Seabourn cruise (the first being on the Encore) and it was great fun. We plan cruise Seabourn again.
Great cabin. Very comfortable bed. Conveniently arranged bathroom, table large enough for dining. Adequate veranda with two chairs and a side table. TV easy to operate.
We had a funny German guide (a woman) who had a broad and bawdy sense of humor. We were able to see Hamburg in the evening on this tour. It included a drive through a lovely estate area, as well as through the red light district. We stopped at a quaint basement beer hall for a beer and pretzel as well as for some schnapps later in the evening. I'm glad we went on the tour.
We also took a tour of Lubeck, Germany the next day. It was OUTSTANDING Do not miss this tour if you go to Hamburg. Beautiful medieval city gates and hidden alley houses were my favorite parts of th tour.View All undefined undefined Reviews
Our booked tour included both the Vasa Museum and the City Hall. While the Vasa Museum tour was rushed (but before the mass of tourists arrived that day), the tour of City Hall was outstanding. Who would think that a tour of City Hall would be so special. GORGEOUS mosaics and other art in the City Hall.
The first day in Stockholm, we toured the Gamla Stan (Old Town) on our own and had a wonderful Smorgasbord (reservation made through the ship) at the Grand Hotel. Highly recommend the smorgasbord.View All 128 Vasa Museum Reviews
We took a tour called Village Life which included going to a Resistance Museum and meeting some elderly women who had been deported to Siberia (along with their families) when they were young children. They sang songs to us about their experiences. We also visited a lovey Lithuanian farm owned by a former British Attache and his Lithuania wife. Good tour and very memorable.
This was a very short and rushed general tour of the city on the awkward day between the two legs of our back to back cruise. The guide actually did a good job showing us a lot of the city, but we literally ran through the city!View All 201 City Tour Reviews
I have to give the ship's tours an A+ here. The World Cup was going on--and traffic was thick. Even so, everything was on time, the guides were excellent and we saw a great deal of the high spots of this city. Of course there was much more to see! If you go on the cruise with a group of six or so, it would probably be affordable to do one of the private tours. We were pleased with the group tours.View All 114 Amber Room Reviews
We enjoyed this tour which included a second palace, a tour of the grounds, former boat house and a few other things.View All 226 Catherine Palace Reviews
Do not missed the Church of the Spilled Blood. It was the most awe-inspiring made made thing we saw on the whole cruise. Gorgeous mosaics.View All 210 Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood Reviews
Our guide did a good job of showing us the high points of this huge museum. We got to do an early opening tour.View All 377 Hermitage Museum Reviews
This was my favorite of the palaces we saw. It includes many of the original treasures which were hidden and kept safe during WWII. I think it is a must see among the palaces. I like it better than Catherine's Palace.View All 10 Pavlosk Palace Reviews
Great tour. The grounds are gorgeous. We returned to St. Petersburg by Hydrofoil.View All 231 Peterhof Palace Reviews
This exhibition came to the ship and entertained us after dinner one night. Excellent entertainment.View All 53 Russian Folk Dance Reviews
Not as impressive as the Church of the Spilled Blood, but still a beautiful church!View All 113 St. Isaac's Cathedral Reviews