We chose this cruise for a few reasons. We had previously sailed Seaborn Encore in the Mediterranean and thoroughly enjoyed the ship, food and service that Seabourn provided, therefore, Ovation, which is the same class ship as Encore, was an easy sell for us. Ovation was just beautiful.....almost identical to Encore. We love the size....large enough, light filled with beautiful yachtlike decor but small enough to give us the feeling of being on a private ship. Our suite on the deck above the pool, was well appointed (hello 3 sinks!) and our needs were more than meet by our stewardess who always had a smile & pleasantry to share.
We felt the service and the entertainment were a cut above our previous cruise....this being only our second cruise ever. We were addressed by our names each & every day. Our Captian was very visible and engaging as was CD Handre. Both were class acts. Servers in all resturants were pleasant, engaging and good at their jobs.
We wanted a late May cruise and this itinerary seemed interesting. We had been to Lisbon but not Northern Spain or Western France or Southern England. We have been to Normandy, Brugge, Amsterdam etc. but were very happy to return.
I was a bit apprehensive since I had heard that the Bay of Biscay is notorious for rough seas. Well, she was a gentle giant. Lisbon was faboulous with warm temps and sunny skies.
Northern Spain was just beautiful, with a bit a rain here and there, but nothing to dampen the beauty of the coastal towns of Gijon and San Sebasion, Biblao etc. and the wonderful sights & food.
We did miss one port, Biarritz, France due to the port closing. The sun & moderate temps made a welcome return in Bordeaux......this was one of the highlights of the cruise. We came up the Gironde River and docked right smack dab in the middle of the city. We were the only ship in town and the locals came by in droves to relax and picnic in our shadow. A lovely French lady approached us on our return to ship just to chat about our cruise and our reflections of her city. The Bordeaux wine region is spectacular.....St Emillion is not to be missed.
Southern England, port of Torquay was a pleasant surprise....warm temps and sunny skies, contrary to the Agatha Christie image that I expected. We visited the sea town of Dartmouth with its' interesting seafaring history.
As an American, the beaches of Normandy hold a special place in our hearts and it was good to return. We arranged for a private tour & spent the day with a lovely local French lady, three generations removed from the events of WW2 but whose grandfather was head of the resistance movement at the time......her reverence for those who helped liberate her homeland was palpable....not to mention her expertise in the places and events of the Allied invasion. Wow....just Wow!
We sailed up the Thames to the Greenwich neighborhood of London. Spent two wonderful days....Windsor, the Cotswolds etc.
Then is was across the Channel again.....may I add that the seas in all our Channel crossings were calm and I mean, calm....to Zeebrugge, where we chose to visit Ypres and Flanders Field (of WW1 fame) as we had been to Brugge & Brussels in the past. Beyond moving! Amazing how a city and region so devastated by that horrible war has risen from the ashes to present a gorgeous city and countryside.
We ended in the city of Amsterdam with all its charms etc. The Anne Frank House is a must do along with a private canal cruise.
This cruise seemed to us to hit a very historic note. We enjoyed it very much as we had a sample of Western Coastal Europe with its' amazing role in the history of two world wars. From the German UBoat stalls in Bordeaux, to the beaches of Normandy to the Fields of Poppies in Flanders to the London Underground bunkers.....We were impressed with the spirit of the European people who endured so much during those dark times.
Cruise & Ovation both get an APlus from us.
Beautifully laid out and appointed. Loved the quick acess to the upper deck above the pool. Nice to walk out to tables, chairs, lounges and bar. Christina, our room stewardess was excellent and looked after our needs.