Having taken 10 cruises before, my wife and I (52, 42 years old) just completed our first luxury cruise on Seabourn. June 29-July 6 from Venice to Athens on Odyssey.
We booked our travel from the US through Seabourn and had a positive experience in every way. Great price on the airfare, and one pre-cruise night in the Baglioni Hotel in Venice, and one post-cruise night in the Grand Bretagne in Athens. Seabourn personal were very present at the airport, and the hotels, and we had virtual personal escorts from the Venice airport to the Water Taxi to the Baglioni, where we were met by a Seabourn staffer stepping off the boat. Again that attention as we left for the ship the next day. The biggest lesson for me was ALWAYS take the cruise offered transfers, as it made for a totally worry-free experience.
Upon debarkation, we went from breakfast, walked off the ship with no line, into a waiting car service, and was at the Grand Bretagne and checked in within one-hour. Just amazing. And, the next day a Seabourn staff was there to ensure our car was waiting and our bags were loaded. The whole Seabourn transfer and travel experience took magnitudes of stress from our trip.
This was our first time in Venice, and all of the other stops. Amazing to hear some “veteran” cruisers complain about the heat and some of the ports. 1 – Its July in the Mediterranean and 2 – They booked the cruise knowing the ports, right? We enjoyed every stop immensely. The small ship in small ports that aren’t overrun by tourists cannot be beaten. And as for weather, we did not even see a cloud until Day 6. Perfect conditions.
After boarding…we waited a total of 5 minutes to get on the ship. The door to door access, from embarkation to every excursion to debarkation was appreciated. The overriding theme from the cruise was the service was indeed a cut above in every respect. No question everything was done with the cruiser in mind. My wife and I don’t consider ourselves complainers, but by Day 5 we were searching for something to complain about and couldn’t find it. Even the other couples were ended up spending time with on the ship felt the same way. Tough job for their staff, because we did see others who wanted to complain about everything. High maintenance folks for sure, but the staff managed those people so well, and those folks gave my wife and I something to laugh about every night, and made us appreciate the cruise even more!
Vodice, Day 1, was our favorite stop. Beautiful town. We took an excursion to Kayak in Trogir and it was exceptional. With one notable exception, the tour operators were outstanding, communicated well with everyone, and were quite engaging. We Kayaked nearly 10 miles in crystal clear, cool Aegean waters, with a wonderful meal afterwards. Wisely, we had scheduled a massage for that night, and my wife (well experienced in the Spa world) said it was as good a massage as she has had. The facilities were pretty blah, but again people make everything, and the people in the spa were wonderful.
Day 2 was Kotor, which we also loved. Took a Tuk Tuk ride along the coastline to the Port of Montenegro and it was a beautiful ride. Shopping in the old town was outstanding, but we were one of four ships that day in Kotor, and it was crowded.
Day 3, Corfu, was the best shopping day, as a bus took us from our ship (and I mean right outside the ship) to the shopping area and back, then we took a 4x4 excursion in the afternoon. The 4x4 took us up to a village in the highest hills, then down again, with some great views, and a couple of stops in small villages where we loaded up on olive oil to bring back. The excursion operators were so-so at best, as they complained about Seabourn to us before we left. Half of the 4x4 were air conditioned and half were not, which wasn’t good for those of us in non-AC with 95 degrees! Again, great views and a neat thing to do, but the one excursion we took that we didn’t care for the operators.
Day 4 was Cephalonia. It was beautiful. Our excursion was Melissani Lake and Drogarati Cave. Both stops were an hour, but the tour was about 15 minutes, so we had excess down time, but a bus ride around the island for some incredible views made for a great day. The wife and I made a habit of eating at tavernas on the water every day in each port. It was the highlight of the trip for us as the food was wonderful, and the exposure to the culture of each stop was wonderful. I had a good tip early which was always order the house wine. Four Euro for a ½ L at each stop and it was wonderful for our lunchces. That night, the only entertainment we found even remotely entertaining was Ben Mills, a singer who was part Joe Cocker and part Springsteen. He was outstanding. Never more than 50 people at the entertainment though.
Day 5 was Gythion. No excursions this day, but a nice walk around town, a taverna, and back to the spa for each of us. Wife had a Thai Poultice massage that she is still talking about.
The final day was Nafplion which was a surprise to us, as it had wonderful shopping (including some high-end shopping) and great leather items. We tried to reschedule our excursion from the Corinth Canal crossing to a winery tour but were waitlisted and ended up with no tour. That was fine as the Canal was an hour bus ride away and we didn’t need more bus time.
We found the Thomas Keller grill the night of our Korfu stop to be nice. Didn’t feel the need to try to get a 2nd reservation, but all of the food was exceptional on the cruise so it didn’t stand out to us as it did to some. We had four nights in the restaurant and a couple of nights of room service. Food was great, service was better. I like some casino time, but with just one black jack table, one three-card poker table and a roulette wheel with about 15 slot machines, it was a waste of time for me. And given how dead it was, a waste of time for most.
As first-timers Laurinda, our Suite Stewardess, was more concierge and advisor than attendant. She really made sure we knew the ins and outs and didn’t miss anything onboard.
All in all, what a great trip. Yes, the service was as described. The ship itself was OK. The onboard activities were so-so, but you don’t take this cruise for on-board activities. We certainly wouldn’t take our kids on Seabourn, but Seabourn isn’t designed for kids. When we take our next luxury cruise, it will be with Seabourn. Probably a different, larger, ship, but what a week. I’ll try to post my copies of the Herald on the Boards. I looked high and low in advance of the cruise to have some idea of what our days would look like and couldn’t find it, so I hope this helps.