Seabourn Ovation Cruise Review by Melody Harmony
- Sail Date: October 2018
- Destination: Baltic Sea
- Cabin Type: Owner's Suite
This time, our trip was from Dover (London) to Venice - about a month - on Ovation. The ships are lovely, as are the cabins. The cabin stewardess was excellent. The cruise director was excellent - but the apparent problems are far from his control.
Sadly, the service throughout the remainder of the ship fell far short. The service on Seabourn has continually degraded since its office merger with Holland America. In the Restaurant and in the Colonnade, service was extremely slow. The norm to wait for coffee or a glass of juice was often 15 - 20 minutes. The staff were excellent - there were simply too few of them. The clear way to improvement in this area is to hire more staff and to train them well in the Seabourn manner.
The spa is beautiful but it, too, seems understaffed. The major problem there is with scheduling. Armed with a page outlining my requests for dates and services, I was told they were unable to fulfill these requests. For guests who are aboard for two or more As for the decline in entertainment, that area, too, needs a huge overhaul. How long can two ships live on one show? The Tim Rice show is well done - but for two years now, it's the only show onboard that's been worth seeing.
Seabourn no longer offers the exclusive service and the personal touches that originally made it shine, and which were the basis for Seabourn ships and cruises consistently ranking #1 in the industry.
It's a sad realization, but Seabourn is no longer great; it's not even good. It has removed services, diluted service in public areas, reduced the numbers of staff (pre-dinner in the Observation Bar, it was next to impossible to get a waiter), and in general, the attitudes of the service staff have been reduced to that of the mid-range ships. For example, one morning, we were leaving the ship for an excursion and waiting for approval to debark. Three staff members were on duty in that area, and one was vocal about how badly the company treated its employees. This kind of attitude was also displayed by some staff members in the Colonnade.
Two extremely large spaces on this ship and its sister ship, Encore, sit empty most of the time. The retreat (why in the world would someone PAY to sit in an area that's already available FREE?) and the beautiful deck area outside the Grill, under the Colonnade deck. We were told that Thomas Keller doesn't want his food served cold. If that is the reason, it is ridiculous. In the Mediterranean, the weather is balmy and the temperature outside is warmer than inside. The number of steps from kitchen to table is the same. Whatever the reason for this space sitting empty, it has involved very poor planning. Yes, guests could walk down all of the steps to get there from the Colonnade - but very few actually do it. The space sits empty.
Whether the overall problem is lack of planning, lack of training training, hiring of so many new staff due to the two new larger ships, or to something else - is all irrelevant. Seabourn has lost its shine. No wonder its 2018 rank sank to #4 - another new low.
The ports were fine, but the shore excursions, too, reveal that Seabourn is looking for a bargain - not for quality. Excellent tour guides still live in all of the ports; we didn't encounter any except on tours that we privately ordered. The ship's tours were fair - but did not begin to equal what Seabourn has offered since its inception.
Too much emphasis on economy and Thomas Keller, and not enough emphasis on the guests. We will not likely return. Many other regular Seabourn guests shared their disappointment.
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