My husband and I sailed on the 8/3/19 cruise on the Ovation out of Copenhagen. This was our first time on Seabourn but I have been on over 30 cruises at the ripe age of 31, with the last 15 on the Oceania line. I am an avid traveler and feel I have a critical but fair eye. I had high expectations of this line and particular ship from word of mouth recommendations and other favorable reviews. I was quite disappointed and will list out all of my reasons while still making sure to give credit where credit is due. I will start with the positives first. My overall summary of the below is at the bottom of this review.
Cabin: Our cabin was very nice and spacious. Bed and pillows are comfortable, ample room with a nice walk in closet and separate seating area. Bathroom has a double sink which is very nice, shower is marble and still small but pressure very good. Bathtub a waste of space in my opinion. Balcony nice size and overall room very spacious. We were in cabin 651 on the 6th floor located toward the center of the ship which was great. Molton Brown products in the bathroom and a selection of body soap offered on the first day. Room stewardess was attentive and did a very good job. Only complaint on the first day is that the room wasn’t cleaned well. The soap in our bathroom which was a body wash had been used and there was a lot of dust and finger prints on the table in the room. Otherwise, cabin was excellent and gets high marks from me. I believe we were in category V5.
Ship: the ship is beautiful. Modern, clean, more yacht-like than cruise ship. A lot of wood paneling. 600 people but still felt very quiet even on sea days. Our favorite place to relax was the cappuccino lounge on floor 7 where they had tons of seating and recliners. Decor of the ship was very simple yet elegant.
WIFI: very good! Much better WIFI than any other ship I’ve been on - in room technology good.
Service: this is where our experience goes down the tubes. The service on this ship was HORRIBLE!! The staff do you a major favor and if asked for something that requires them to go out at all of their way, they are rude. We had some staff that were nice (mainly in cappuccino lounge and main dining room - except for maitre de) but all and all, the service sucked. Management lacks tremendously, customer service is non existent and the staff seem poorly trained, disingenuous and disinterested. I’ve really never experienced anything like this before - had we not met several other couples who also shared the same sentiment, I would have thought I was going crazy!! A few examples - almost every meal without fail we waited 10 minutes before getting anything to drink. If we needed a sauce to accompany a meal, we waited 10 minutes. In fact, we stopped ordering sauces because it was such a lost cause & by the time it arrived our meal was over. I asked for cream with my coffee - by the time the cream came, my coffee was cold. We were almost always at a meal with an empty drink that needed refilling. No accommodating what so ever. My husband likes the salmon in the colonnade - we asked if it could be served on the patio 20 feet away and they said no, they prefer not to. At dinner in the main, I asked if i could have a croquette that came with a different entree than what I ordered and was told no, they only had a certain amount and could not accommodate me. I mean, come on! I tried to move my Thomas Keller reservation because my husband wasn’t feeling well and was told with 11 days left on the trip that they couldn’t accommodate us. Finally, after getting the guest services manager involved, we got one at an undesirable time on a different day but at this point, we took what we could get. These may seem Iike minor gripes but we encountered them several times per day and was a major turnoff and took a lot away from the experience. The overall staff attitude was rude and requests of them felt like inconveniences. This in itself was bad enough to never return to this ship. As I said previously, several other couples experienced the same rude service. My husbands Camera was lost day 1 and finally arrived at our cabin with a cracked and dented lens. We requested compensation for the lens. Seabourn asked us to provide the link to the lens - which we did directly from the website - to prove it was $500. They tried to tell us it was a $200 lens (they had the wrong lens) and refused to refund us. We have yet to resolve this issue with them.
Food - We are major foodies and we’re quite disappointed in the food on this ship. I will say that the quality is there in a lot of areas (not all) but the execution is not. Breakfast was good but the same every day. Not a bad thing, but boring after a while. A decent selection and probably the best meal. Lunch was a mixed bag. Salad bar always had nice items and the grill items - fish, burgers, hot dog, etc always very tasty and fresh. Meat quality good, fish quality good. My only complaint on the fish was it never had any seasoning or flavor - this was a major theme for most items on board - but I would still prefer to add salt vs. having the sodium and preservative packed food a lot of ships have, so this wasn’t a major complaint. All lunch hot food served in the chaffing dishes were slop and never hot. We almost never ate any of the prepared food served at lunch because it was room temperature and unappealing.
Dinner : main dining room was respectable but not great. We didn’t have one meal there that was really delicious. Temperature was an issue and seasoning was non existent. I’ve never put so much salt on my food in my life. Service mixed. Our first night there we waited about 15 minutes before anyone came to our table. Finally the waitress comes over with an iPad looking down and says “what can i get you” - no greeting, no introduction. Very impersonal feeling. Sushi was nothing to write home about. A lot of rice and uninspired. I actually overheard someone say “it’s not as bad as gas station sushi” - I’ll leave it at that. The colonnade was OK - probably our least favorite. They do special nights like rib night or clam bake night and they look beautiful but just don’t quite execute it well. For example : rib night - the ribs came out in a beautiful Staub cast iron pan presented family style and looked delicious. Unfortunately, the ribs were dry, cold and had clearly been sitting on a heat lamp for an hour +. We sent it back and got a new rack that was the same dry and Luke warm ribs this time with some bbq sauce slathered on top. To put the icing on the cake, the assistant maitre de came over and instead of apologizing that the food came out lacking temperature and dry, explained that the ribs weren’t Texas style but st.louis style and weren’t supposed to fall off the bone..I mean ..really ? I’m not expecting anything more than a simple apology or some sort of follow up to see if the second round was better. Instead, I was blamed for expecting them to fall off the bone and they didn’t. I didn’t need ribs that fell off the bone, just didn’t want to eat something as dry as wood. The Patio by the pool in our opinion offered the best most innovative meals but even those fell short on flavor and execution. We also had a Northern Europe itinerary with a lot of rain and cool weather and found ourselves eating outside in the windy cold weather because the patio was the best choice. Thomas Keller which is the specialty restaurant was very good for a steakhouse on a cruise ship. I would say this is likely the best option on board. Food delicious but once again, service lacking. Not attentive and seemed to do you a big favor. We found in all restaurants that the deserts were mediocre and most didn’t taste cooked on board. I don’t think I had one desert I loved. I also found the breads were uninspired. In summary : good quality ingredients (for the most part ) that aren’t executed well. Oceania food trumps Seabourn by a landslide.
A few other items to note:
Older crowd, no children. Except for us (in our early 30s), most people were 65+. Not good or bad, just our cruise demographic.
Free laundry was a nice feature with Miele commercial washers and dryers and complimentary detergent.
Gym was small but clean, coffee on board was very good.
Entertainment was respectable.
Nice job at including different daily activities.
Excursions - expensive but well organized. I read the ship docs at ports further away from the destinations to save on docking fees. Not sure if this is true. We did a few excursions - food provided on them was mediocre and limited and tours very pricey.
Spa - didn’t use but quite expensive. Very few discounts offered throughout cruise. They had a “promotion” that if you do 3 treatments from a select number of services you get 10% off first, 20% off second and 30% off third. Note this is per cabin and not per stateroom. I know all cruise spas are expensive but this was more than canyon ranch on Oceania.
I may have left stuff out but to summarize my overall impressions: cabin and ship top notch and classy, food better than the celebrity level lines but nothing special. Service was so bad it border-lined on offensive and as a result, I will likely not return to Seabourn.