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Seabourn Ovation Cruise Review
4.5 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating
51 Reviews

A fun cruise on a lovely ship

Seabourn Ovation Cruise Review by Knyght1

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Trip Details
  • Sail Date: Jan 2020
  • Destination: Asia
  • Cabin Type: Veranda Suite

We belong to the Frank Family Wine group, which chose a cruise on the Ovation in January 2020.

Overall, the cruise was very good. The personnel are very friendly and, for the most part, efficient. Our statement was spacious, though a little narrow. Our room steward, who was very friendly and who tried to please, at times missed some basics. For example, once she forgot to leave us any bath towels and forgot to empty a waste basket. Others whose suites she serviced had similar issues. We had to leave her notes to remind her to do things. She did make a special efforts to get us the soda we liked, however.

The fitness center is part of the spa. The gym was small but adequate.

The Retreat is a wonderful place -- in good weather. It has a hot tub, individual cabanas with TV's and refrigerators. The attendants provided wonderful service and offered cocktails and other drinks, food and blankets. Unfortunately, our day at The Retreat had the worst weather of the cruise. There are no heaters at The Retreat, and we had to bundle up. At 4 PM, we were the only couple left there. In good weather, it would be a great experience.

The food at the buffet was good. In fact, the Caesar salad at lunch there was better than the Caesar salad in the dining room, which actually bore no resemblance whatsoever to a Caesar salad.

Another issue with the food in the dining room, aka "The Restaurant" is that two of my wife's entrees/mains were raw in the middle. That should not happen anywhere, much less on a luxury cruise liner.

The service was wonderful, and most of the crew were friendly. (Some of the room stewards on other decks did not look like happy campers, though.)

The ship is modern, having launched a few years ago. There was a lot of closet space in our suite 712. At times the TV had issues connecting, though. The bathroom had a separate bath tub and a shower as well a double vanity. The string used to dry clothes over the bathtub would not retract, however.

The entertainment was quite good, a cut above the standard entertainment on some other cruise lines. Also, there were informative lectures which enhanced the cruise.

The shore excursions for the most part were good. The one glaring exception was the stop in Sihanoukville, Cambodia, with a trip to Ream National Park, where the literature stated that there were 155 different species of birds. I signed up for the excursion solely because of that enticement. There may have been a million species of birds in the forest, but we did not go into the forest. I saw 3 or 4 different types of birds along the river en route to the park, and that was it. At least one species, an egret, also lives in California where we live. Thus, the excursion was both misleading and disappointing from my perspective. The best part of the tour was visiting a little school with a tin roof and one wall. The kids were amazing. Also, the lunch at a hotel where Jackie Onassis stayed was also good, but it did not make up for the disappointment of the rest of the tour. Those who took tours of Sihanoukville were also disappointed. While there is a long of construction, there are also dozens, if not hundreds, of abandoned, partially constructed buildings in the city. Also, the roads in the city are dirt, resulting in a bouncy ride around town. One group hired a private van for 8 hours; they returned to the ship after 4 1/2 hours, however. So caveat emptor for those considering shore excursions in Cambodia.

The highlight of Bangkok, Thailand was the Royal Palace, though the throngs of tourists crushing through some narrow gates or doors made it difficult to get around the Palace grounds at times. The pollution in the city was terrible, however. I coughed the rest of the cruise because of all the particulates I inhaled in Bangkok. The bus trip took a long time both going and coming (welcome to commute traffic). The buffet lunch was quite good at an elegant hotel. Watch out for the red curry unless you like really hot dishes, though.

The beach day at Ko Kood was absolutely wonderful. The crew worked really hard to set up everything. The beach was great, the water warm (though shallow), and the food and drinks were excellent. Seabourn did the "caviar in the surf" routine; go early if you want caviar. Even my wife, who doesn't like caviar, liked Seabourn's caviar offering.

Singapore is an incredible city and the high point of our trip. We did our own excursions there, however. If you go, definitely go to Gardens by the Bay, including the Cloud Forest and the Supertrees Grove. Also, having dinner at Ce La Vi on top of Tower 3 of the Marina Sands Hotel is quite an experience -- and quite an expense. (If you saw the movie "Crazy Rich Asians", you saw some of those things from a distance.)

Vietnam was interesting because of the history of the war. Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigaon, was steeped in history and is fairly modern. Da Nang's China Beach was beautiful; Hoi An, a nearby city is culturally interesting. Halong Bay, with its hundreds of islands, pillars of limestone rising from the sea, is visually stunning. The ship's excursion there was good, but you may wish to pass on the kayaking if you have breathing problems. (The floating fishing village was interesting, but fecal matter in the water was not.)

We disembarked in Hong Kong and enjoyed our tour of the city. (Lunch was not included.)

Embarkation and disembarkation were easy. The coronavirus scare was in effect when we disembarked, and there was some incorrect information about how disembarkation would be handled. Outside of that, things went smoothly.

Knyght1's Full Rating Summary
Onboard Experience
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Public Rooms
Fitness & Recreation
Shore Excursions
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Cabin Review

Veranda Suite

The cabin was quite spacious, though long and narrow. It was a squeeze walking between the bed and the cabinets. It had a shower and a separate tub as well as double vanities. The string to dry clothes would not retract. The room steward was very nice and tried to please, but at times she missed things. For example, once she forgot to leave us any bath towels. The balcony was not large but adequate with 2 chairs with ottomans and a small table. There is a table for two inside where room service will set up your meal. The bed was comfortable, though a bit soft. Large suitcases (18" - 30") will not fit under the bed, though. The TV worked most of the time, but at times there was no connection with the service. Overall, the cabin itself was good.

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

Grand Palace

The Royal Palace was amazing architecture. The crowds were horrible. At times you had to squeeze through narrow doors as hundreds of others all crammed through as well. The pollution in Bangkok was terrible. It made me cough the rest of the cruise.

View All 36 Grand Palace Reviews

After a trip to Hoi An and a brief tour of the city and a trip on a sampan, we attended a cooking demonstration at Red Bridge Cooking School and cooked our own lunch. It was interesting, and the food was good.

View All undefined undefined Reviews
Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)

Nice historical tour offered by Seabourn Lots of sites resonated because of the war.

Ream National Park

The river tour was OK. Saw a few birds and some fishermen. Despite the promise of 155 species of birds, I saw a few water birds along the river, and that was it. The little school was interesting. Outside of that, it was a hike up a dirt road to the bus. Sihanoukville was depressing with all the abandoned, half constructed buildings and the dirt roads. Lunch was good, though. Definitely would not recommend this tour. People who took other tours were disappointed, too.

View All 9 Ream National Park Reviews
Halong Bay

The islands of Halong Bay are incredible. Loved seeing them. The cruise out on the junk was good and informative. I would pass on the kayak tour if you have breathing problems. If you kayak, the tour was interesting seeing the islands and the fishing village. Lunch on board the junk was good.

City Tour

Even though we'd been to Hong Kong before, we saw some new things on this tour. It was enjoyable, though lunch was on our own. Beef and Liberty has good burgers from New Zealand if you want a change of diet.

View All 45 City Tour Reviews

A wonderful city. Toured on our own before boarding the ship.


We did not go to this port. (Apparently, due to the fact that the ship stopped in Hong Kong and with the coronavirus/Covid-19 epidemic, we heard that the Philippines would not let the Ovation dock there.)

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