This was our 4th cruise with Seabourn and we had no regrets! Our cabin was wonderful, the service, the food - exceptional as always . We enjoy having lots of restaurants options, with open seating. Some nights we had the pleasure of ... Read More
This was our 4th cruise with Seabourn and we had no regrets! Our cabin was wonderful, the service, the food - exceptional as always . We enjoy having lots of restaurants options, with open seating. Some nights we had the pleasure of joining other folks and other nights having the luxury to eat by ourselves, sometimes even on our lovely balcony.
We usually ended the hard day of sightseeing, sitting in the hot tub comparing notes with fellow travelers. Having the waiters hand out wonderful frozen drinks and/ or champagne made it perfect. And I confess that I did order a plate of caviar almost every day, while my husband treated himself to some ice cream.
We enjoyed all the ports, although we had arranged for private tour guides, we do not enjoy group bus excursions. We were a little disappointed with the new TK Grill, after all the hype, we really preferred Restaurant 2, with its tasting menu. We had the pleasure of meeting and dining with many fascinating and charming fellow travelers, which for us is a highlight of the cruise. We even ran into one couple that we had met on our previous cruise ,18th months earlier! Not uncommon as Seabourn cruisers tend to be very loyal. Read Less
When Diane Love and I completed the first segment of our 61-day journey near the end of Encore's inaugural year, we found that in many ways it delivers what Seabourn promises-- contemporary design, more dining and entertainment venues than ... Read More
When Diane Love and I completed the first segment of our 61-day journey near the end of Encore's inaugural year, we found that in many ways it delivers what Seabourn promises-- contemporary design, more dining and entertainment venues than its other ships, more open deck areas for swimming and sunning, and the feel of an upscale resort.
Encore and its sister ship due next year fulfill the company's commitment to pursue an exponentially larger customer base. Its three other ships launched in the last decade each carry 450 passengers. Encore, with 600 passengers, alone carries the combined capacity of all three of the previous fleet of Spirit, Legend, and Pride that was sold to competing brand Windstar.
We found a mostly enthusiastic ship's company and many satisfied fellow guests. About half of the passengers are repeat-customers from its previous, smaller ships, members of what Seabourn calls its “Club.” This is an outstanding loyalty rate that testifies to the brand's historical appeal despite the conversion to nearly-mid-size ships.
The ships are a size that it believes can better compete with on-board dining and entertainment offerings of Regent, Crystal, and some other top-rated cruise lines.
New Seabourn passengers never sailed on the 200-passenger Spirit, Legend, or Pride. They never had what many considered the superior environment of “the Yachts of Seabourn,” the tag line of yesteryear's quite different experience.
Before the Encore launch this year, Seabourn's 450 passenger ships still evoked some of that small-ship experience, or at least passengers like us pretended they did. These vessels-- the Quest, Sojourn, and Odyssey-- presented a challenge to Seabourn as it rapidly doubled and redoubled recruiting and training to staff the ships. The results were mixed, at least in our travels on each of the three, but they still triggered our memories of the Spirit. For us, the bulked-up Encore lacks this link to the past.
The magic of the Spirit was created by mutual agreement between passengers and crew, all of whom embraced the fantasy that they were aboard a private yacht and all of whom behaved appropriately. Guests we encountered on three Spirit itineraries were self-assured, friendly without spilling their life story in the first five minutes of conversation, and had nothing to prove to fellow passengers. This self-confidence was perhaps most conspicuous in their dress, which was ironically not conspicuous. We all dressed like we were on a prosperous uncle's yacht. We remember no “formal nights.”
In contrast, Seabourn's now much larger clientele includes many who would not appreciate the very old tuxedo joke: “Why would I want to dress like the maitre d'?”
Today Seabourn makes social interaction a higher priority, which seems to be well-received by many new customers. But many of the tools used to facilitate instant friendships depart from the original small-ship experience.
Early in each cruise there is a party of sorts stretched through all the guest decks and companionways. If you obsess about immediately knowing everything about everyone on-board, you may find it appealing to consume drinks and hors d'oeuvres in the confines of narrow passageways. We found it more like a college dorm party for new freshmen.
Add the likes of a costume trivia playoff and passenger “glee club” performance and you get the idea. Love it or hate it.
The crowd on our first segment from Civitavecchia to Dubai seemed a bit older than some past Seabourn cruises. We are not privy to the company's data, of course, but the need to fill hundreds more “bed nights” may have expanded Seabourn's net to older targets through different agent promotions and marketing channels.
Public, unguarded conversations about options for hip replacement, the benefit of dying quickly if you have cancer, and extended family health histories made us sometimes feel we were on a Holland America cruise. Holland America, which attracts an older profile, has been the sister line of Seabourn since management of both was consolidated by big brother Carnival, the ultimate owner, a few years ago.
Seabourn built larger public spaces to make everyone more comfortable, but also books many more passengers to fill the bigger ship. To manage poolside crowds, bulletins remind clients that sun bathing is available not just at the main pool midships, but at new locations fore and aft.
In Encore's popular forward Observation Bar, the volume of passengers who have had a few pops sometimes results in increased passenger volume. That is to say that you may quite clearly hear gratuitously loud conversational outbursts in English or non-English languages, including German or New Jersey or Australian.
Cocktail hour hors d'oeuvres and teatime treats (except the scones) are no longer passed in the Observation. You must choose from a self-service “tapas” buffet and cart everything to your seat. This provides a greater variety but less "luxury" than passed hors d'oeuvres, which are still offered in the Club lounge.
New to us is a bar menu that includes additional charges for what Seabourn considers premium liquors. Seabourn has also been trying to sell wine tasting events from $99 to $500 per person, and individual vintage bottles at meals. All this in an all-inclusive format that promises no charge for fine wine and spirits throughout the ship and no requirement or expectation of tipping.
The largest space is the “Grand Salon,” used for daytime lectures and demonstrations. The Encore's slightly larger stage makes space for more ambitious evening entertainment programs. This change has led Seabourn to present “production” events many nights, featuring four singers and two dancers. We found these evenings somewhat comparable to dinner theater, perhaps a reasonable alternative to the overwrought productions on the largest mainstream cruise ships.
We would have preferred a jazz trio or a chanteuse. The Grand Salon and Encore's other lounges seem to us better suited to a cabaret duo (as practiced in the Observation) or jazz piano and bass, rather than a mini costume epic. Other nights entertainers come from the rotation of singers and instrumentalists and comics and the occasional magician that is familiar to regular cruisers on any cruise line.
For Seabourn regulars, the Grand Salon is best known for numerous fat pillars that block views of the performers from many angles and only a slight rise in seating from front to back that likewise can compromise views. This invariably results in intermittent Jack-in-the Box moments throughout every performance as audience members jump up to try to find a better view. The problem has not been corrected on the Encore.
The Restaurant, Encore's main dining room, proved the best choice on this trip and was consistently serving more interesting and better prepared food than our personal experience on Seabourn's 450-passenger ships. However, the “best” table on a particular voyage depends on rotating personnel and other factors, so next sailing you may prefer the poolside Patio, the Colonnade, the new Sushi bar, or the Keller Grill.
The net of 1) a bigger ship, 2) ample passengers, and 3) broader demographic and social profile yields an environment akin to a country club or private beach club on a crowded holiday weekend.
Whether that delivers what Seabourn advertises-- “ultra-luxury”-- is in the eye of the beholder and depends on the personal experience and preferences of each customer.
If you have not stayed at l'hotel du Cap in Antibes or dined at long-gone La Cote Basque in New York or enjoyed a villa at the Four Seasons Jimbarin Bay in Bali or (fill in the blank with your own expectations), you may wrestle with an appropriate way to best characterize Seabourn Encore.
Next we continued from Dubai to Singapore to Bali to Sydney.
The final legs of our eight plus weeks on Encore were a vivid reminder of the overwhelming importance of people-- both staff and guests-- to the enjoyment and satisfaction of any cruise.
About 95 percent of the original 600 passengers who boarded with us in Rome disembarked in Dubai or Singapore, along with a large percentage of the guest-facing staff. We found that we had set sail on a quite different experience onward to our final destination, Sydney.
The crew and staff who stayed aboard continued to remember our names (a cornerstone of the Seabourn experience) and deliver the level of service we saw beginning in Rome. Some newcomers did not perform as well and there seemed to be a shortage of personnel during peak demand. Service deteriorated further after Bali.
The new cruise director who boarded in Singapore was intent on amping up social events, which led to some odd results. Popular trivia contests appeared more often in the forward Observation Bar, sometimes overlapping afternoon tea or evening hors d'oeuvres. Some bean bag games, which had been played on a small outdoor space on Deck 7 aft of Seabourn Square, moved to the main pool. This necessitated closing one side of the pool sun deck to accommodate the dozen or so people who chose to toss bean bags, clap, and cheer, while the rest of us tried to read or sleep.
Encore does offer a more serene escape from the main pool, The Retreat on Deck 12. Access, including a private cabana, is charged at about a $300 daily premium above the "all-inclusive" cruise fare.
Caviar in the Surf, which Seabourn labels a "Signature Event," moves to the main pool when staged on a sea day. On one such occasion the cruise director apologized in advance for turning up the music, and then set it so loud that it could have been the ship's Life Boat Muster alarm. I took ear plugs to the next Caviar in the Pool. Sample lyrics:
Mr. Worldwide to infinity
You know the roof on fire
We gon' boogie oogie oogie, jiggle, wiggle and dance
Like the roof on fire
We gon' drink drinks and take shots until we fall out
Like the roof on fire
Now baby get your booty naked, take off all your clothes,
And light the roof on fire
Tell her, tell her baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby
I'm on fire
I tell her baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby
I'm a fireball
Meanwhile, the wave of 500 plus new guests appeared more diverse in nationality and in language (good) and in savoir faire (bad). This diversity cut both ways, adding to the richness of many conversations and interactions, while subtracting from the usual impression of sophistication and civility among Seabourn passengers.
At one port, the captain had to urgently announce over the ship-wide public address system that passengers must stop throwing soda bottles off their balconies to children in small boats 5 to 11 decks below.
One can be forgiven for sometimes thinking they boarded the wrong ship after watching:
a passenger prepare his caviar by mixing all the condiments into the central caviar bowl and eating it with a silver tablespoon, or a diner use his hand to grab a barbecue rib from the family-style serving platter, gnaw it down, and then pitch it back across the table into the platter.
Such incidents were certainly not typical, but they were not unique or isolated.
Between Dubai and Singapore we did get our wish for a charming chanteuse, British vocalist Laura Broad. Unfortunately, Grand Salon entertainment after Singapore became more and more narrowly targeted, to be polite. Two evenings the acts were the worst we have ever suffered at sea.
Most every employee on a Seabourn ship does their best to satisfy, and so our thanks go to all of them. The following were special:
Dimir, the Restaurant maitre d', whose attitude and extra treats kept customers happy.
Slobodan, the ship's chief bartender, who not only appeared virtually simultaneously at all the ship's venues to smooth service, but also corrected any discrepancy he saw beyond the bars in his travels throughout the ship.
Victoria, the bartender in the Observation, who understood that her job is performance art and deserves a standing ovation.
Cindy, the server at a crucial corner of the Colonnade, who kept the entire buffet buzzing.
Anarita and Bruno, the "Duo" in the Observation lounge, who every night performed outstanding, sophisticated music despite a sometimes raucous bar audience.
Reflecting on all 61 days of our travels, Diane and I concluded that Encore is a substantially different product that has attracted many materially different customers, compared to Seabourn's other ships.
The suddenly obvious difficulties of imposing the historical Seabourn ambiance and service on a 600 passenger ship suggest that the cruise line may have entered a less discerning customer segment that is at odds with its "ultra-luxury" aspirations. Read Less
We chose this cruise (west coast repositioning, Vancouver to LA) for the price and itinerary. We were very pleased, Seabourn delivered what they promised. The itinerary was Vancouver, Seattle (1 1/2 days), Portland (1 1/2 days), San ... Read More
We chose this cruise (west coast repositioning, Vancouver to LA) for the price and itinerary. We were very pleased, Seabourn delivered what they promised. The itinerary was Vancouver, Seattle (1 1/2 days), Portland (1 1/2 days), San Francisco (2 days), Monterey (1 day), Santa Barbara (1 day) San Pedro (debarkation port for LA). 11 days for $4,495 per person, tips and beverages included.
Embarkation was smooth but a little slow due to a behemoth ship also embarking at Canada Place. Other than that, no problems. Pre-clearing US Customs prior to boarding was great because we didn't have to be delayed once we reached the first port of call in Seattle. Our cabin was ready when we boarded about 1 PM. Lunch in the Collonade was relaxed and well prepared. Plenty of champagne available to celebrate.
Cabin. #725. Veranda suite was about average and comparable to other cruise lines, except that there was a huge walk in closet. Bathroom had a separate tub and shower and two sinks. The only problem was the toilet not working on two occasions. The problem was resolved fairly quickly on both occasions. Our stewardess Vanessa was great and was always available for ice or any other request.
Dining. First rate at all of the venues: The Restaurant, Restaurant 2, Collonade and Patio. The caviar was always available. It was not ossetra or other top notch caviar, but it was decent. I do not recall a bad meal. Dining room service was almost flawless, one or two hiccups not worth mentioning in detail. My wife did think that the menus sometimes had too many fish options and not enough meat, but she is a very finicky eater.
Entertainment/Activities. Not a whole lot. We went to one ventriloquist show and a cooking demonstration. I did not get a chance to go to any of the lectures which is my fault. If you need a lot going on all the time this would not be the cruise for you. On the plus side there were no children, so poolside was relaxing without kids screaming and doing cannon balls in the pool.
Excursions. Can't rate them as we do DIY excursions 99% of the time. All ports were good except for Portland OR. If you are a hipster who likes to smoke weed you would enjoy it. Otherwise it is a haven for wastrels, indigents, stoners and weirdos. The Japanese gardens and the rose test garden were nice. Downtown has zero to offer in my opinion. All the other ports were great, especially San Francisco. The extra time in the first three ports was great and expanded the possibilities for sight seeing.
Service. A very high staff to customer ratio, and the very pleasant crew made service impeccable.
Ship Maintenance/Cleanliness. Spotless. The Sojourn is seven years old but everything is in good shape and not run down. The decor is understated but very pleasant and relaxing.
For this itinerary, price and what you get for your dollar I would consider this a very good value. We were very satisfied.
Fellow cruisers. On the geriatric side. I think we were one of the youngest at 55 years old. Some very elderly and infirm. Read Less
After reading some negative reviews about the Encore prior to our cruise, I was apprehensive. All of that apprehension melted away quickly starting with embarkation in Civitivecchia. Embarkation was totally painless, taking less than ten ... Read More
After reading some negative reviews about the Encore prior to our cruise, I was apprehensive. All of that apprehension melted away quickly starting with embarkation in Civitivecchia. Embarkation was totally painless, taking less than ten minutes. We were ushered by smiling crew members to the Colonnade where a wonderful luncheon buffet awaited new passengers. While we were dining, it was announced that all rooms were ready for us and when we arrived in our room, all our luggage was there. Our Veranda 5 room was lovely. There was plenty of space, including a very comfortable queen size bed, a sofa, and a table with chairs large enough for dining for two. The bathroom including both a tub and shower (the shower was small) and two sinks. Our veranda was large enough for two chairs and a side table. The TV was large enough and very easy to operate. Our mini bar was stocked with the bourbon my husband has order, but not the vodka I had ordered. That was corrected soon enough as we let our stewardess know about the missing order. We did not see our stewardess again during the entire cruise, but our room was tidied and cleaned twice a day. She fell a bit short on replenishing our ice bucket and clearing away used glassware. Next time, we will point this kind of thing out--and hope for improvement.
On port days, we found that the excursions were very well organized. We took an excursion in each port and found several of them to be exceptional (our favorite was the Eze/Rothchild House at the port of Monte Carlo) and some were just ok. We don't regret taking any of them. With all but one excursion, we were back to the ship in time for a late lunch at the Colonnade. We LOVED lunching on the deck patio outside of the Colonnade. There were items to order from a menu if we did not wish to do the buffet. The lunches were leisurely and such a good memory now.
We ate most dinner in the Main Dining Room (called The Restaurant) on this ship. There were adequate choices--special entrees, appetizers of the day as well as mainstay classics like grilled salmon, steaks, etc. I found myself enjoying the classics more than the specials. All of the food in the MDR was good and the service was quite well done.
We had a couple of dinners in the Colonnade on the deck patio. I would have preferred access to the MDR menu instead of the evening Colonnade menu, but the venue made up for it. Nothing wrong with the food there, just not my favorite choices. The one dinner we had on the Patio (around the swimming pool) was quite good. We enjoyed it immensely.
Entertainment was good. We didn't go to the show every night, but did go more than half of the time. The singers/dancers were quite excellent and entertaining. We also enjoyed the one woman show put on by the Assistant Cruise Director and the classical pianist who did two recitals.
A real high spot was Suzanne Jane, a talented singer/pianist who performed in the Thomas Keller Grill Bar. This particular bar was our favorite place on the ship to have before dinner or after dinner drinks.
Now--a word about the size of the Encore. We had sailed previously on a Silver Sea ship (the Shadow) which is smaller with fewer passengers and worried that we would not like this larger ship. We did NOT find that to be the case. In fact, the ship still felt like a smaller ship and we never felt crowded. Perhaps there was a crowd somewhere, but we just didn't see it. The Encore is a beautiful ship with quite a few choices for venues for relaxing, eating, drinking and being entertained. We found its atmosphere to be very pleasant and just about perfect for our cruse. We met some really nice people onboard and have corresponded with several of them since the cruise.
One high spot was the Rock The Boat dance party on the deck. This was held the night we were in the port of Monte Carlo. It was so beautiful to be in that port and out on the deck at night surrounded by the twinkling light of Monte Carlo. The music never stopped during the party. There was lots of dancing--and everyone seemed to be having a very good time.
We also enjoyed a tour of the Bridge. The Second Officer conducted the tour and the captain came in to say hello. In addition, we did a tour of the Galley. What fun. We also enjoyed a cooking demonstration by the executive chef on our At Sea day. It was enjoyable.
In summary, I could find very little fault with the Encore. It's a lovely ship and it had a great crew. Great fun was had by all.
P. S. I agree with others that The Reserve on the top deck is a total waste. We did go up to see it and it did to look like something that was worth over $300/day. I don't think it was ever fully used except perhaps on the At Sea day. I think it should be opened up for all the passengers. In fact, that is pretty much a no brainer. Everyone loves that Seabourn ships are one class ship and I think they should stay that way.
We've already booked another cruise--this time on the new Ovation which will set sail for the first time in May 2018. We'll be boarding June 9th! We can't wait. I know it is going to be another great vacation. Read Less
We flew into Athens the day before departure, and boarded the ship around 4 pm on departure day. Embarkation process was smooth, except that when we got on the ship, the elevator we were sent to only went to the 9th floor and our suite ... Read More
We flew into Athens the day before departure, and boarded the ship around 4 pm on departure day. Embarkation process was smooth, except that when we got on the ship, the elevator we were sent to only went to the 9th floor and our suite was on the 10th floor. As relatively "newbie" cruisers, some explanation of where to go to access the correct elevator would have been helpful, but we did figure it out.
The Odyssey is a lovely ship, well maintained and comfortable common areas through out. Our Penthouse Suite was surprisingly spacious. Plenty of closet and drawer space, double sinks in the bathroom. Shower stall is a bit cramped but adequate. The bed was incredibly comfortable. Room temperature was always just right.
Seabourn is particularly known for its dedication to top-notch service, and that is certainly what we experienced. Every member of the staff seemed to go out of their way to provide whatever we wanted. The only service "complaints" I have are so petty I feel stupid to mention them.
We particularly loved going to the Observation Bar for pre-dinner cocktails, and enjoyed the piano entertainment by Katy, plus nightly servings of caviar! We also loved the patio bar around the pool. Plenty of chairs around the pool, but sunny and shady for at-sea days or after returning to the ship from a port.
Meals were excellent. Not to say that there wasn't the occasional "dud" course, but overall we loved the food. The Thomas Keller Grill is very special (I loved the veal chop!), and the Thomas Keller "theme" nights (one night ribs, one night fried chicken) were a lot of fun. On those nights, sharing tables was encouraged and meals were served family style.
The nightly entertainment was a mixed bag. Some shows were really good. Some just "meh", but we didn't really care that much about seeing shows. We did enjoy the team trivia days, as well as the casino (which is small, but adequate).
The only real negative about the cruise was the pathetic internet access. My husband and I each opted to buy 2 hours worth of access, figuring we could sign on, download email, and sign off. Sounded like a great idea, but often trying to download emails would take as long as 10 minutes. Most of the time, we just had to wait til we got to a port where we could access free WiFi or our cellular network. Plenty of people were frustrated with the slow internet speed. While we all like to "disconnect" to some degree, it is still necessary to be able to check in once a day. Read Less
I'm on board Odyssey right now in week 4 of a 5 week cruise. We've sailed on most of the major cruise lines and there are so many ways Seabourn excels its hard to describe. Just try them, you simply can't lose. The service is great and the ... Read More
I'm on board Odyssey right now in week 4 of a 5 week cruise. We've sailed on most of the major cruise lines and there are so many ways Seabourn excels its hard to describe. Just try them, you simply can't lose. The service is great and the staff excellent.
Being all inclusive means no chits, no "may I have your keycard" constantly. Other lines may offer drink packages, but you and the bar staff are still passing back and forth cards, receipts etc. The ambience is totally different when all that nickel and diming stuff goes away.
Throw in more like hosted dinner tables, staff who actually know your name, remember your favorite drinks, previews of the next day's dinner menus delivered to your room etc.
And stuff like no ship's photographer in your face all the time, almost no announcements all day long for Bingo, art auctions, pool games, and (usually) no, or almost no kids Read Less
I picked Seabourn because I was told the service was outstanding. If anything, that understates the service. I never had anything less that a totally perfect service from any employee. If I was picky, I would note that caviar took 25 ... Read More
I picked Seabourn because I was told the service was outstanding. If anything, that understates the service. I never had anything less that a totally perfect service from any employee. If I was picky, I would note that caviar took 25 minutes to show up one night, and that I had already finished my first martini before it arrived. That is hardly anything to complain about.
I was disappointed in the quality of the food in the colonade one night, and in the quality of the service in the Restaurant one morning at breakfast. Overall, however, food was outstanding.
About the embarkation. We were on the 10th floor. We entered the boat, as did everyone else, on the aft side. The greeter told us to take the elevator to the 10th floor. The problem is that the aft elevator doesn't go there. Right when we were entering and did not know our way around the ship, we got bad instructions. If they won't let 10th floor guests enter in the front, they should let us know how to get there. Read Less
We have previously cruised on several upscale cruise lines, including Silversea, Regent, Azamara, and Oceania. Pricing for this cruise was significantly discounted, so we decided to give Seabourn a try. What an upgrade! Everything about ... Read More
We have previously cruised on several upscale cruise lines, including Silversea, Regent, Azamara, and Oceania. Pricing for this cruise was significantly discounted, so we decided to give Seabourn a try. What an upgrade! Everything about the ship was better than what we've previously experienced. Most especially, service was superb. For example, I had heard that one could ask for a special dish in the restaurant, and the ship would try to satisfy the request. So I requested sweetbreads. Our waiter was gone for less than 5 minutes, and when he returned, he informed us that we would have an appetizer of sweetbreads at our next dinner in the main restaurant. Food was uniformly excellent. Ship-sponsored excursions, which I try to avoid like the plague, were high quality and price-competitive with what I could arrange privately. We took one in Malta when I could not find a private one that covered what we wanted, and we wound up adding one to Caines. Both were very well done.
Was the cruise flawless? No. The crew never got my wife's title right; they called her Mrs. or Ms. rather than Dr. (which Azamara always gets right). Bar service in one of the bar venues was not good. But overall, we could not have asked for a better experience. The only problem is that now we need to stretch our cruise budget to try to get back on a Seabourn ship. Read Less
We are regular Seabourn cruisers going every couple of years . We are shocked by the dumbing down since the new owners have taken over. Food is so boring and repetitive . No interesting food, no innovation . Just Meat or fish on a plate . ... Read More
We are regular Seabourn cruisers going every couple of years . We are shocked by the dumbing down since the new owners have taken over. Food is so boring and repetitive . No interesting food, no innovation . Just Meat or fish on a plate . Limited food options, Collonade has choice of two items only per night, and half the time you have to book for this mediocre experience , restaurant 2 which was good , has been replaced by Thomas Keller- not an improvement/ just more boring same old same old food in every restaurant on the ship. It's an insult
Everyone complained of the food at the Grill restaurant
The main restaurant has appetisers that second as the salads for the night and the vegetarian options. Never more than 1 actual appetitiser that's not a salad / vegetarian option. No big kitchen market day smorgasbord, as in previous cruises .
Met lots of people also complaining about the food
If you are a foodie, DONT COME! You will be so disappointed
Food is better on Azarmara, Oceania, Crystal
Clearly the tasteless bean counters have destroyed any competitive edge Seabourn has in tne market place
We have been loyal customers for many years but this is the last Seabourn cruise we will do.( currently trying to cancel the 35 day cruise we have booked for next year - couldn't survive 35 days of this food!) Read Less
I've cruised with a number of high end operators (Seabourn x2 excl. this sailing, Silversea x3, Crystal x1, Sea Dream x1), and I've worked 37 years in the service business, both delivering customer service myself, and managing teams who ... Read More
I've cruised with a number of high end operators (Seabourn x2 excl. this sailing, Silversea x3, Crystal x1, Sea Dream x1), and I've worked 37 years in the service business, both delivering customer service myself, and managing teams who do, in various countries around the world. I had wanted to try Seabourn Encore, as it was the newest ship in their fleet, and the itinerary was perfect. I had read previous reviews, and boarded with some concerns. Rather than focus on what is repeatedly praised, I will offer my objective feedback on those areas which attract unfavourable reviews.
We booked late and could only secure a cabin on the lowest deck. A requested paid upgrade was not available on departure. Once you get over the 'snob value' of deck levels, it worked out for the best. The cabin was as good as any I have sailed in on other Seabourn ships on upper levels, in terms of noise and facilities, even though it was adjoining. Being in the middle of the ship, we felt little movement, and had no creaking movement noise, or from decks above. OK, our balcony had a metal panel beneath the rail rather than glass, but it made no difference, and was marginally bigger. We visited cabins on decks 9 and 10, and I certainly won't bother paying for higher cabins in future. Excellent appointments.
We received efficient and courteous service from every staff member without fail. There were of course some staff who shone, but none disappointed. I've always been taught to treat others as you expect to be treated, and I cannot fault both the friendliness and professionalism of the team. Restaurant/food and drink service was timely (I note especially special orders for breakfast in the Colonnade), correct and the food was hot. It is apparent that some more experienced staff from other ships have been moved to Encore following previous poor feedback.
We ate in all locations and for various meals. Everything we ate ranged from good to excellent. It is true that I noticed a reduction in quality in some areas however, as previously the 'excellents' outweighed the 'goods'. The afternoon tea service has been scaled back in terms of range and quality of the pastries and sandwiches. Most noticeably, the Colonnade dinner is much poorer than it used to be. The daily dinner themed menus's are extremely limited, and previously this venues dinner menus were a choice of part buffet, part a la carte menu. There was one tuscan market event which was excellent. The atmosphere was previously more lively and enjoyable. The Colonnade for dinner was a disappointment unfortunately in terms of offer and atmosphere. However, breakfast and lunch there was very good. The TK grill was excellent, however, on both occasions we ate there, lobster was not available, due to a 'sourcing' issue. That was disappointing.
Surprisingly good. Yes, there are a limited number of performers who appear throughout the cruise in various productions, but the standard of the performance, and the quality of the production was very enjoyable. The couple who performed in the Observation Bar (Bruno and Ana Rita) were exceptional, and regularly moved their audiences to tears.
The one complaint in this area, was that on occasions, a pianist played in the Observation Bar at tea time, who was, to be quite honest, appalling. It was embarrassing for him and his guests. I would prefer nothing, rather than have to endure such appalling piano playing.
My only criticism on ship design is on the layout and format of gents toilets. You need to have these available and plentiful adjacent to the restaurants. On the Colonnade level there was just one gents toilet and it was for disabled. The door was confusing to open/close and simply insufficient for this location. In other areas, rather than having urinals for multiple guests, a toilet would have a single cubicle. This, for me, is a major design failure.
In summary, Seabourn Encore did not disappoint, and we had an excellent cruise. It's a shame that some of the restaurant quality fell a little short, but this seems to be a common trend across the luxury brands, as competition increases and consolidation occurs. If these quality issues could be addressed, it would be an outstanding experience, and not an excellent one. We would most definitely return to Seabourn, and The Encore. Read Less
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