We booked a v2 suite (532) in June and not our normal guaranteed as there are a few v1 and v2 suites we really don’t like. Just over a week out British Airways pilots announced their strikes dates one of which was our departure day. Seabourn quickly rebooked us on another flight on the previous day but unfortunately this was from Heathrow and not Gatwick (our local airport) as per our original flight so we had to rejig our airport transfer arrangements. We received no advice of this either from Seabourn or from our agent but we spotted it on our BA app. We checked with our agent and asked what the hotel arrangements would be but that was not resolved until 2 days before departure. Just under a week out we logged into our account with Seabourn and discovered we had been given an upgrade to a v6 on deck 10 again with no advice from the agent or Seabourn. The communication could have been much better on both these issues but I guess they were busy sorting out cancelled flights.
On our new departure day the flights and transfers went smoothly and we had a nice hotel in Cannes. We transferred to the ship around lunchtime and were pleasantly surprised to find that our cabin was available. I fixed the Seabourn luggage labels to our suitcases before our transfer but of course the labels were for our previous suite having been posted to us around 6 weeks out. I did try to change them to our new suite number with some tape as they are difficult to write on. One suitcase arrived in our cabin very quickly but not the other. I enquired several times but was told on each occasion that they were still distributing the luggage. I also took a trip down to deck 5 to see if my bag was there but no sign. On our way to our muster station via the crew stairwell there it was!! Our missing suitcase was stuck in a corner… ..abandoned!! So eventually the missing bag arrived… 4 hours after the first one and just in time to change for dinner.
The bar in our cabin was stocked with our selected spirits but as on our previous trip on Odyssey last year our chosen beer was nowhere to be seen and after some enquiries nowhere on the ship. I raised this a few times even with the hotel manager when we met him one evening but I got nowhere. So if you want anything just ask doesn’t work if you would like a proper beer!! Not sure why they have a free-form box for beer if they can’t provide it? We tried to order Dover sole for dinner one breakfast time but the chef told the maitre d’ that he needed 24 hours notice.
Generally the food we found much better on this ship than on Odyssey though some nights we did struggle with the menu especially on the chefs dinner night. The portion sizes weren’t generous so we never felt as though we had eaten too much after most of the served meals. The buffet portions are of course down to you!!
Most of the staff were excellent and many greeted us by name.
Our cabin Steward kept the suite reasonably clean but marks on mirrors and glass doors never seemed to get her attention. She never re-organised the balcony furniture and small pieces of food we spilt on the balcony floor were still there several days later. She was also not so good at restocking our fridge with mixers or the cabin with drinking water. Our bathrobes were only occasionally properly wrapped up following use. Plastic disposable bottles of water have now gone from the ship and been replaced with reusable plastic bottles refilled each day. Many people complained about the quality of the water but we didn’t find it a problem. It would be a good idea to bring your own drinks bottle to take ashore as the supplied ones are not so good to drink from on the move.
To secure your place on an excursion you need to book on line and pay with your credit card. If you wish to use any onboard credit you may have to pay for excursions you then have to visit guest services and have your payment credited to your shipboard account and refunded at the end of your cruise. Your refund won’t of course necessarily be at the same exchange rate as your original purchase. Our refund appeared on our credit card within a few days.
We asked for a complementary wine list on board but as before the actual wines available didn’t match the list. Oyster Bay was the only NZ sauvignon blanc available and many of the wines came from the USA! We did find a nice Bordeaux and an Italian Valpolicello. Having our wine topped up was never a problem which is just as well as the standard wine glasses used for both red and white wines are not big. They were only filled to half way too so you do need a few top ups.
We never found the ship was crowded even though it was supposed to be full except in and around the main pool. The outside area of the Collonade was also very popular so get there early.
The layout of the Collonade we found was much better than on Odyssey. The bar service in the observation lounge was poor most times we visited so we abandoned it in favour of the grill bar.
We called room service at 17.50 one night to order dinner in suite. They took the order and told us 18. 50 to 19.00. Nothing arrived by 19.15 so I rang again and was told they were very busy so be a few minutes. Nothing arrived by 19.35 so left to find food elsewhere.
The Colonade has some themed nights some of which are reservation only but you only find out when the Herald newspaper arrives the previous evening – so even if you have a few drinks you must concentrate and read it!! This cuts your dining options if you don’t spot it. Other themed nights are just turn up and they also have an always available menu these nights. They do tend to keep the Colonade open beyond the stated lunchtime opening if excursions are late back but the restaurant staff are not always too happy about it.
Some bar staff now seem to be using measures for spirits so don’t be surprised to receive a small cognac after dinner. The pool/sky bar seem to be the exception to this.
On our last day on board we were advised that the Oyster Bay sauvignon blanc had run out? It is quite strange that the Stoneburn SB ran out at almost exactly the same stage on out last cruise on Odyssey? The alternative SB from Bordeaux was quite poor in comparison. We did spot some Oyster Bay at the pool bar but it could have been their last bottle.
Another economy we noticed was when we ordered champagne and caviar in our cabin. Last year on Odyssey they always brought a bottle and would open it for you and pour two fresh glasses. This time they arrived with two glasses covered in cling film which they unwrapped for you. Is this the future of 6 star cruising. As has been said in other reviews the brand of champagne has changed but we certainly preferred the previous brand.
In conclusion we enjoyed our cruise with Seabourn and preferred the larger ship. We would be happy to cruise with them again but I think we will try to cruise off season a bit more as it is normally quieter and the prices are lower.