Our first Seabourn Cruise. We were on board for 45 days, Dover to Montreal via Scotland, Iceland, Greenland, Labrador. The Viking historical highlights were the Hvalsey church in Greenland and the Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland. Sadly, the St. Kilda landing was scrubbed due to inclement weather. The scenic highlights were the fjords and glaciers of Prince Christian Sound, and the cultural highlights were Isle of Man, Reykjavik, and Nuuk (Greenland).
Good itinerary, but we saw other, more nimble ships making the same calls (notably Ponant and Scenic), so there are alternatives to Seabourn.
We were in cabin 826 (they call it a "suite") which is roomy with a generous balcony, but with what we consider design flaws. The TV is poorly positioned for comfortable viewing, the lighting for the table is not optimal, the closet is cramped. The twin sinks in the head are nice, but with a good shower, the bathtub is unnecessary, and uses space better allocated to the closet (the old "R" vessels have dressing room/closets which we much prefer). The vanity is well done. We were surprised that no binoculars were provided (as we had on Silversea), this on a cruise where icebergs, whales, polar bears, sea birds, and calving glaciers are spotted and watched.
The common spaces are elegant and roomy. The six elevators run like a charm and one hardly ever waits for a ride, even when the crowd exits the shows or lectures. Tender shuttles, quay landings, and shore excursions were run very smoothly.
The food is very elaborate, excessively so in our opinion. Lots of choices, but all of the gourmet "nouvelle" style, with rich sauces and elegantly presented. Plain dishes can be ordered from room service or at the patio restaurant, the latter being an uncomfortable place in the northern latitudes.
Staff is extraordinarily attentive - room service comes very promptly, table service will see your plate whisked away as you put down your fork, your wine glass refilled while still two-thirds full. Our impression is that the obsession with delivering over-the-top service results in a somewhat tense and forced amiability on the part of the wait staff. The staff is drawn from a very diverse set of nationalities, a departure from the more cohesive crews of filipino or indonesian origin on other cruise lines, which we have found to be more relaxed and genuinely warm.
The captain made daily detailed announcements about weather outlook and sailing status, and the attention to navigation and safety was very thorough. We were able to witness the bridge protocols on a port departure, and everything was conducted very carefully and by the book. Quiet competence and superb attention to safety.
There is a striking schizophrenic aspect to the QUEST, originally designed for sailing warm waters and subsequently modified for high-latitude cruising: it is a deluxe ship trying to masquerade as a quasi-expedition platform. Of the 45-day cruise, no more than three of four were of shirtsleeve temperature with clear skies, yet every day the lounges around the pool were lined up with fresh towels (and thus forcing passengers to walk on a delaminating portion of the teak deck, rahter than on a safer path!). The outdoor restaurant provides infrared heatlamps and blankets for each table. The "expedition" complement of ten or twelve "zodiacs" is clearly insufficient to take more than a quarter of the passengers off at any one time. There is an extra charge of $150 per hour per person for such excursions, again not much in keeping with the expedition structure we have experienced elsewhere.
A week or ten days, rather than 45 days, might have worked better for us on this Seabourn cruise. We'll likely choose to go with one of our other favorites (Regent Seven Seas, Silversea, Ponant, Windstar) on our next cruise .