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1 Middle East Gourmet Food Cruise Reviews

This was our first Seabourn Cruise, and what better way to begin than on Seabourns newest ship, Encore. We held high expectations, and we were not disappointed, We arrived in Athens a few days beforehand, and stayed at the Grande ... Read More
This was our first Seabourn Cruise, and what better way to begin than on Seabourns newest ship, Encore. We held high expectations, and we were not disappointed, We arrived in Athens a few days beforehand, and stayed at the Grande Bretagne, as did a number of other Encore guests, who had booked through Seabourn The embarkation was smooth, we were quickly welcomed on board, by Handre the Cruise Director and other crew. Guests were invited to lunch in the Colonade Restaurant, and soon enough our suites were ready. Our suite, 908, was far enough away from the elevators, but close enough to the pool area. It was of a generous size and tastefully decorated. The bathroom was well appointed with twin basins and a large bath, which we never used. The room lighting was initially confusing and power points were few. For a brand new ship, it lacked the technology we would of expected ( ie: USB ports). The towels were thick and fluffy, and obviously brand new, as were the sheets and other items in the room. The balcony was roomy and comfortable. The closet lighting was inadequate and there was not enough hanging space, and we could not have used it as a dressing room., We met our stewardess, and in conversation we asked about clothes pressing. She told us as there was no self service laundry on the ship, pressing was complimentary, however after we were billed, we had serveral conversations with the front desk before they agreed to remove it from our account. We were told that a laundry was going to be installed on deck 5, probably before the Singapore sail We dined that night at Sushi and thoroughly enjoyed the food, albeit a limited menu. Staff were very welcoming, enjoyed the sake was excellent. We dined at the Thomas Keller Grill the next night and found it a great dining pleasure, and dined there several more times. The Elysian Lamb was excellent, and we enjoyed everything that we ordered on each visit, however during the cruise many guests complained about Grill, mainly, we believe, because they were not willing to be flexible with simple requests. The main restaurant the staff were very pleasant and put in great effort. The food was always presented well and tasted delicious, howvever the food was very mildly spiced so as to appeal to a majority of palates. You cant please everyone! Many guests preferred to dine as a table of 2 or 4, and we felt comfortable with this rather than at larger tables. Breakfast was always at the Collonade Restaurant. I learnt after 2 days to skip a caffe latte, and order tea instead, as it the coffee always took far too long to arrive. As with other ships and hotels, having to make your own toast is an issue, but the staff were always happy to do it for you avoiding any hassle. The staff were always very pleasant and helpful, and the lunch buffet was always popular and of quality ingredients. We also lunched in the Main dining room, and it was much quieter and enjoyable. As Seabourn has a all inclusive policy, the quality of wine and spirits was excellent and any discerning palate would agree. The policy of asking for a special meal to be prepared the next night if the ingredients were available is a good option and we did have Thai food prepared one night which we shared with onboard friends. Most nights began at the Observation bar, and we enjoyed the music of Darlene and Raleigh, a very pleasant and talented couple.Other performers were pleasant, and always made an effort to interact with guests in their free time. We took Seabourn shore excursions in Crete, Israel and Petra. On the way back from Petra we were treated halfway through the journey to champagne and caviar, a Seabourn experience, and to top it all off we were welcomed back aboard the ship by all the crew who lined a red carpet. We felt like A list celebrities as we reboarded the ship. Also, whenever we took a Seabourn excursion, the coaches were full sized coaches but only two thirds occupied for each persons comfort, a great policy. Handre, the Cruise Director, and his assistant Jacqueline always had a smile on their faces and we enjoyed their company. We enjoyed playing Trivia on sea days, and unlike other cruises, we had to retain our original team for the entire cruise. We were also invited to dine with the Captain at his table one night. It felt very special to get the invitation. The Encore has a 'retreat' with 16 private cabanas, and is charged at $350US per day. One couple extolled the virtues of the retreat, to the extent that we felt they were on commission, but we could not see the value or the need. We found that afternoons on sea days lacked much in the way of activities, so many people just lounged by the pool, while others took the opportunity to play bridge Many guests are regular Seabourn cruisers and are fiercely loyal, more so than for other cruise lines. Some guests did not like the size of the new ship or amount of guests onboard. They will know which ships to cruise on in the future. Again some guests need to be more flexible. The front desk is a ridiculous set up with several entrances thereby no one knows who will be served next. The whole cruise was a delight. There were a few kinks, but overall a great introduction to Seabourn, We wonder how different Seabourn Ovation sister ship will be when it is launched soon. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016

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