10 Osaka Luxury Cruise Reviews

We wanted to go to Alaska ,which was better then we expected.The cabin was brilliant ,as we were travelling with my brother and sister in law we were offered two bedroom suite.We also got all the suite perks flowers,canapés, ... Read More
We wanted to go to Alaska ,which was better then we expected.The cabin was brilliant ,as we were travelling with my brother and sister in law we were offered two bedroom suite.We also got all the suite perks flowers,canapés, chocolates,also laundry.The entertainment was good costumes really nice.All the staff very very polite ,helpful and hard working.We didn't,t do any of the ships shore excursions,as this was a 75 day cruise and we were doing the middle leg most of the tours were sold out,so we booked our own on line.We had lunch at the crab shack one day which was fantastic,I think this would be much better and busy if it was for dinner ,ther was a lot of food for lunch.We also did Chops grill ,very nice but again not busy. Another of our suite perks was breakfast every morning if we wished at Sabattini.There was usually only a few people ,which made it very special and the staff were fantastic. Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
We chose this cruise because of Ports of Call and time of year, and the smaller type of vessel. We were pleased with the choice of the Ports of Call but overall were disappointed in the Quality of the Cruise in a few facets. This is an ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of Ports of Call and time of year, and the smaller type of vessel. We were pleased with the choice of the Ports of Call but overall were disappointed in the Quality of the Cruise in a few facets. This is an expensive ship and we did not fell we received adequate value for the money spent The front desk staff were rude if not nasty, and very officious. The dining was good for Breakfast and Lunch but relatively poor for the evening The seating areas for both were less than comfortable and there were only 2 options for dining. The lack of any Japanese food on board and little attempt to make gala evenings feel gala. The local guides in japan were well meaning but generally incompetent in English and had very little of interest to report. The guide in Bosan was very good however. The tour locations were interesting however. This ship's bookings were dominated by Tauck and as a result we were isolated as a small group of English speakers who were not part of Tauck. Since we had a suite, we would expect a little attention and maybe a perq or two. There were none in evidence.. I think Ponant has a poor sense of customer expectations and I would rate it as much poorer than either AMA Waterways or Viking as well large cruise ships such as NCL. Having made these negative observations, I do want to compliment the service staff including waiters, butlers, and housekeeping. They were always friendly and very responisve Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
This is about the Azamara Quest 16 night Asian cities and waterways cruise, leaving from Osaka Japan on March 17, 2016 and supposed to be ending in Singapore on April 2, 2016. First: this was a 16 night cruise which I booked one year ... Read More
This is about the Azamara Quest 16 night Asian cities and waterways cruise, leaving from Osaka Japan on March 17, 2016 and supposed to be ending in Singapore on April 2, 2016. First: this was a 16 night cruise which I booked one year ahead of time in order for my husband to secure time off. This is a cruise that leaves in the middle the week, and therefore my husband had to take off three weeks from work, but we were excited about the itinerary including Osaka Japan, Hiroshima Japan, Shanghai China, Hong Kong China, Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam, and Singapore.. We were particularly excited about visiting Ho Chi Minh City – Saigon. The cruise was not inexpensive, however it was part of my bucket list – I didn't think I would be visiting Asia again. Two and 1/2 weeks before the cruise I got an email from my travel agency, telling me that because the cruise line needed to "dry dock" the ship a little longer, that Ho Chi Minh City would be removed from our itinerary, and the cruise would be shortened by three days!! Two weeks in advance? They didn't know this earlier? We were offered some money back and some discounts on future cruises. I do not plan to visit Asia again in my lifetime, and therefore this was a significant loss for me, The obvious disregard for the passengers was palpable. 2. The cruise line told me that I needed a valid passport, which expired no less than six months following the end of my cruise. There was no information about a required visa evident in the documents, and when I filled out my "Sea Pass" forms required for boarding, there was no mention about a visa either- just passport and credit card information. I therefore understandably assumed that all visa requirements would be dealt with by the cruise line as had been on the case on all other cruises I sailed on, which have been many.! Upon arrival in Shanghai, we were repeatedly reminded to bring our passports, photocopies of our passports with barcodes on them and our room key card. A visa was never mentioned. After leaving the ship and going through immigration, we were not permitted to enter Shanghai as we did not have a visa! We had to return to the ship and spend the two days in Shanghai watching limited television in our cabins. Perhaps the need for a visa in Shanghai was written somewhere in the small print, however there was no mention of it in any of the final documents I had to sign and review prior to the cruise. My passport information and credit card information was required in multiple locations. 3. A few other issues. The ship was decidedly in poor repair. I have to say that the crew on board were lovely, however the facilities were not. For example: During the first three nights there was an awful odor in my room interfering with my sleep. On the fourth day I noticed that the odor came from the carpet next to the side of my bed which smelled strongly from vomit. Over the next two days, the carpet was shampooed and dried, and the smell was improved. I was surprised that this was not cleaned prior to my arrival! There were additional problems with the cabin as well however I will not go into these at this time. All in all, this was an expensive cruise which was abruptly shortened without our knowledge even though it was clear that they must have known this earlier than we when we were told. As discussed above, two of the scheduled ports were eliminated. Given the expense and inconvenience that we suffered, I think that the cruise line should have offered more – possibly another way to include Vietnam in the cruise. At the very least, the need for a visa to visit Shanghai on a half day Azamara sponsored tour should have been clearly advised. I have been on multiple cruises from low-end to high-end, and I must say, I do nothing I will travel with Azamara again. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
We have cruised numerous times with Azamara and with Seabourn, taking price into consideration until now have enjoyed them equally. There were many problems on this cruise, the wine list was sadly depleted with several of the wines ... Read More
We have cruised numerous times with Azamara and with Seabourn, taking price into consideration until now have enjoyed them equally. There were many problems on this cruise, the wine list was sadly depleted with several of the wines advertised unavailable. The food was just okay, again several obvious items missing. Berries were frozen and mushy and the fruit and juices were never varied. Steaks overcooked and veal greasy and appeared deepfried. Wait staff training seems to have relaxed and waiters regularly walked away when being spoken to, reached in front of diners to retrieve dinnerware and on one occasion dropped dirty cutlery in my lap. Entertainment was dreary, bingo ball machine not working, and run through so fast by a crew member we could not understand that all enjoyment was lost. The Azamazing evening was a disgrace, held in a terminal hall with no atmosphere a few dreary performers and long lines for a caricature or calligraphy drawing. Within fifteen minutes they had run out of beer and white wine. Second half of the cruise the ship was invaded by workers filling the corridors with men, ladders, cables and removed wall and ceiling panels from morning to night making pleasant travel impossible. on the last day they pretty well dismantled most public areas making everyone feeling they couldn't wait to get rid of us. I could go on but will end by saying it is the first time I am pleased to be at the end of a cruise. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
Having cruised with Azamara 4 times before and having just completed the 16 night CUT to 13 night Asia cruise on Azamara Quest we felt it necessary to post this review: 1. We did not receive any communication from Azamara regarding the ... Read More
Having cruised with Azamara 4 times before and having just completed the 16 night CUT to 13 night Asia cruise on Azamara Quest we felt it necessary to post this review: 1. We did not receive any communication from Azamara regarding the shortening of the cruise - found this out by accident whilst checking the shore excursions on line, a few days before flying out 2. 'Azamazing evening' was abysmal - held in a sterile passenger terminal - a direct result of the culling of Ho Chi Minh city from the itinerary 3. Overall the food was not up to the expected standard 4. In Hong Kong we were docked about 1hour from the city making the return trip to the ship about 2 hours - lost sightseeing time. Our overnight in Singapore was also cut. 5. The number of workman on board the ship felt like we were already in dry dock renovation time 6. Despite receiving a net refund for the lost 3 days, no real compensation has been forthcoming for time/stress incurred, expense of rebooking 3 days in Singapore or associated booking fees & taxes for the cruise We are extremely disappointed with the manner in which Azamara has handled this whole situation. Azamara should treat their customers sympathetically and pay real compensation to win back their disillusioned clients! Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
READ THIS BEFORE YOU TRUST AZAMARA CRUISE CLUB. Firstly, we went to our travel agents to enquire about a cruise to Asia on Celebrity Cruise Lines as we have cruised with them before. As it turned out they were totally booked for the ... Read More
READ THIS BEFORE YOU TRUST AZAMARA CRUISE CLUB. Firstly, we went to our travel agents to enquire about a cruise to Asia on Celebrity Cruise Lines as we have cruised with them before. As it turned out they were totally booked for the period we were seeking. It was suggested, as an alternative that we look at Azamara Club Cruises. Oh, how I wish we hadn't done so. Honestly, it was the worst travel decision we have ever made. It was absolutely disgusting, to say the least. When we first looked into it we came across a 16 night cruise starting in Osaka and finishing in Singapore on the Quest which was supposedly being offered at half price.($10,998 for a balcony stateroom for my wife and myself) The travel agent was so excited because she said she had never seen Azamara advertised at such a low price. The more we looked at it the more excited we became as it was said to us that we would have the experience of a lifetime. How right she was, it was the most disappointing travel experience we have ever had. Two weeks before departure we were contacted and advised that our cruise would be reduced by 3 nights as Azamara wanted to put the ship into dry dock 3 days earlier then expected for refurbishment. (We were aware that the ship was to be refurbished at our cruises completion) We were also advised that Ho Chi Min City would no longer be part of our itinerary. We were told that we would be reimbursed for the 3 nights with the exemption of our gratuities and port taxes. (I don't know who got to keep the taxes for a port that we did not enter) We decided to except this reduction because we had booked accomodation in Tokyo and Kyoto pre cruise and had pre booked flights etc. so we would have lost too much money if were to cancel. After embarking in Osaka all passengers were gathered for the safety muster which is compulsory for everybody onboard in case of an emergency. Sitting next to me were several men who appeared to be dressed in some kind of uniform. I latter realised this was their work uniform as they began work straight after the muster was complete. As it turned out, Azamara, in their wisdom had decided to occupy the vacant staterooms (created by cancelations due to the reduction of nights) with contractors/tradesmen so that they could begin the refurbishment over the duration of the entire cruise. I can't begin to explain here what a nightmare this cruise was with all of the banging, drilling and obstacles we had to put up with for the entire cruise. (We have plenty of photographic evidence to support what we experienced) One of Azamara's claim to fame is that they can get their ships to ports that other cruise lines can't, due to the small size of the ship. (This is one of their main selling points) Well this wasn't so in Hong Kong. We were docked at the Old Airport Terminal wharf which after a very long walk through the terminal and then about a 40 - 50 minute shuttle bus ride to the Ocean Terminal Wharf, the terminal where we should have docked in the first place. The reason we docked at the Airport Terminal was so that Azamara could continue to carry out refurbishment works. Once again we have photographic evidence witnessing Azamara staff discarding of the soft furnishings from our staterooms (They disappeared about mid cruise and were not replaced) and laundry equipment, etc. being thrown overboard into rubbish skip bins on the wharf. They would not have been able to carry out works of this scope at the Ocean Terminal due to lack of space available. Our stateroom fridge was emptied by staff with 3 days remaining. When we asked why this happened, they told us that they didn't think we wanted to use it. There was one day when we were laying by the pool and contractors were dragging electrical cables along the deck amongst the passengers. On other occasions we couldn't leave our staterooms because the hallways were blocked both ways by contractors with ladders and spools of cables and tools. These are just some of the occurrences that we had to put up with for the duration. Then to top the whole thing off. When we disembarked in Singapore, Azamara informed us that due to the reduction of the cruise, they would as an extra gesture, set up one of their staff at our hotel to organise any shore excursions that we might want to take. Thinking that we would take advantage of this we decided to make a booking for a night safari excursion to the zoo on the following evening. When we arrived back at the hotel, 1 hour before the excursion was to leave, we found a note under our hotel door stating that the excursion had been cancelled due to lack of numbers. It was too late to try to organise another excursion so we just lost another night. Nothing but disappointment after disappointment right to the very end. I nearly forgot to mention the Azamazing Night in Hong Kong. This is supposed to be of a cultural essence pertaining to the country of port. It was set up in a large room in The Airport Terminal, Hong Kong. (Very sterile room with rows of chairs on a flat floor) If you were more than four rows back you couldn't see what was happening. In the end it was more like a group carrying out various party tricks. A party without drinks, as the drinks ran out well before the show was over. Not that we stayed until the end as we and most other guest left before it was over. (Not very cultural at all) Honestly, if you are thinking of taking a cruise. Don't go near Azamara. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
We paid £350 per person per day for an 8 night cruise around Japan on Le Boreal. Having paid a price similar to those on "Six Star" cruises such as Seabourn or Silversea I think it wasn't unreasonable of us to expect a ... Read More
We paid £350 per person per day for an 8 night cruise around Japan on Le Boreal. Having paid a price similar to those on "Six Star" cruises such as Seabourn or Silversea I think it wasn't unreasonable of us to expect a similar standard of food. We were sadly mistaken. Both Breakfast and Lunch are served as a buffet. The choice, presentation and flavour of the food on offer was distinctly 3 star or inedible, for example, American sytle bacon was served undercooked and submerged under 2 centimetres of molten fat! Dinner was a slight improvement but nowhere near the standard of, say, Seabourn. Poor service, cold soup, watery Caesar Salad and a miniscule overdone steak on three of our eight nights compounded our dissatisfaction. On most nights of the cruise the small boutique was not open. When we enquired why it wasn't open we were simply told "Because the manager has decided so" Embarcation on Ponant ships starts at 17.00. Not very useful if you have flown in earlier that morning. They provide no facility to store your baggage prior to embarcation. The embarcation process itself is shambolic e.g. luggage taken from you without being tagged, medical questionairre not collected. Entertainment on such a small ship is obviously going to be more restricted than on bigger ships. However, matters were not helped by the schedule of events being manipulated to suit "private events" or a cruise director who seemed incapable of keeping to a schedule. The ship itself is superb, service outside of the restaurants is excellent and the bars are outstanding. I've complained to Ponant and after three weeks they've offerred us a €500 onboard credit to spend in the spa or boutique. The spa is very expensive and the boutique is hardly ever open! If we'd had paid half of what we did I don't think we would have complained about anything, except breakfast which was truly awful. However, we paid £350 per person per night and it simply was not worth it compared to what you can get for your money elsewhere. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
This was not the best cruise we have been on. We were in a suite on deck 8 and it was clearly not worth the price. Every morning we were wakened between 6:00 and 6:30 by banging of tables and chairs in the pool deck over our heads. The gap ... Read More
This was not the best cruise we have been on. We were in a suite on deck 8 and it was clearly not worth the price. Every morning we were wakened between 6:00 and 6:30 by banging of tables and chairs in the pool deck over our heads. The gap under our door was large enough that hall noise disturbed us and the whistle of the wind reminded us of an Oklahoma tornado. We had to roll up a towel and cram under the door to reduce the noise to a more acceptable level. The tub was raised too high and I had to shower bent over. Lighting was poor and there was only a single plug-in available for curling irons or charging electronics. Service on the Journey was noticeably better than the Quest. Often our water glass was often empty and there were long pauses before you could get your wine glass filled. Not all tables, some had superb waiters but many were not as capable. Shore excursions were usually not worth their high cost. We took a few walking tours (our favorites) but groups were too large and you rarely could hear the tour guide. None of them used electronic devices such as a radio and ear buds for tour members. I have no idea why such a simple thing was not available. Often there were guests that had limited walking ability on a tour defined as strenuous. This shortened the tour as much time was spent waiting and made it boring. They need tours that cater to people with limited motor skills, especially given the age demographic that is always on their ships. Enjoyed the tours in Shanghai and Singapore and Hong Kong. The rest they could have kept. Interesting that several very senior officers and often the captain of the Journey met passengers returning from shore excursions. Made you feel valuable. Didn't happen on the Quest. The food was good as was bar service. Speciality restaurants were satisfactory but could use a little more diversity in their menus. Cabin steward and butler were fantastic (as they seem to be on every cruise we've ever been on). Shows were pretty much exactly what we saw on the Journey ten months earlier. The band drown out the stars and the drummer drowned out the band. Not very good quality. The ship is due for a refit so maybe it'll improve. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
This was our 8th cruise and the second time on Seabourn. Our previous trip on Seabourn was in 2000 on a 7-day Mediterranean cruise which we thought was outstanding in every way. We selected this cruise to Asia based on our prior experience ... Read More
This was our 8th cruise and the second time on Seabourn. Our previous trip on Seabourn was in 2000 on a 7-day Mediterranean cruise which we thought was outstanding in every way. We selected this cruise to Asia based on our prior experience (stellar), price (discounted due to the rainy season in Asia) and the ports of call (new and different). We previously have sailed on Crystal (3 times in 2009) and older cruise ships (Cunard, Sitmar, Sagafjord). We are a middle-aged, professional couple that enjoy good food and wine. We don't enjoy large, mass-market cruises and prefer a quieter experience. We offer this review for those considering Seabourn for the first time and hope it provides more detail than the colorful brochures about what to expect from your cruise experience. We had a great time and nothing in our experience on the Pride over-shadowed the fun of our time onboard. Prospective passengers should be prepared for a small ship (about 250 passengers) without the big cruise line amenities (no Broadway revues, rock climbing or golf) and glitzy design (subdued public spaces). This was a low-key cruise for those that want to relax and visit new ports of call. Seabourn markets their cruises as a luxury yacht experience. The cabins are true suites and service is outstanding, if over-solicitous. But the luxury does not extend to the food or wine. The ship design is awkward in many places (such as no bathrooms connected to any restaurants). Over-all, the cruise would be graded a C+ in comparison to prior experiences and our expectations for a luxury experience. The average score is largely based on ambience and the quality of food/wine. We realize that food and ambience are subjective. There were also some concerns about sloppy sanitation with most passengers ignoring the hand washing stations before entering the eating venues, tablecloths not being changed between covers, foods that should have been cold at room temperature, and a dishwasher that doesn't remove lipstick from coffee cups. Below is a more specific summary of our experience. Food All-inclusive works best for hard liquor drinkers. We drink wine and found the wines served comparable to "2 buck Chuck" of Trader Joe fame. We were served $5-8 retail range wines at all meals. Chile and Argentina are the favored wine production locations. Wine bottles featured for sale at dinner are very high-priced (Far Niente, for example in $90-100 range). We ultimately decided to order the expensive wines as the quality was so poor on the included offerings. Breakfast in the Veranda Cafe feels crowded as they only serve 36 at a time and it is a buffet service. Fruit is plentiful but never tasted by the kitchen staff before serving and many times the fruit was tasteless or bitter. There was smoked salmon but no bagels unless you asked for them. Scrambled eggs but no potatoes (unless you asked for them). You can order from the grill omelets, eggs, pancakes, or French toast which are good and served promptly. Breakfast in the dining room is much later, better and is promptly served. Lunches in the Veranda are aged sandwiches, a variety of salads (all tasteless and warm) and a selection of hot dishes plus hamburgers and special order hot meals (such as grilled fish). There is an outdoor grill but on this trip there were lots of raining days so it didn't happen much. Food served during a grill day was left in bowls without any ice on a hot, muggy, 85 degree afternoon. Dinners in the dining room (they are serious about the dress code) are served quickly but lots of short cuts in the prep that compromise quality. For a luxury cruise they need to serve luxury wines and food. Mass production compromised taste at every turn. The meats are cooked exactly to order and are tender but lack flavor without a generic sauce (whatever it's called on the menu it is the same sauce at each meal). Clam chowder was thin and watery with no clams or potatoes. Lobster bisque had lobster but watery and weirdly spicy. Shitake mushroom soup was a watery broth with some reconstituted dried shitakes floating around. Creamed soups all tasted like cream of chicken no matter the menu listing. Salad one night had a pre-cooked and cold piece of bacon just laid across the leaves. Tomatoes were hard and tasteless. Desserts were plentiful but not very sweet (wondered if they were rationing sugar). Room service serves a variety of items but on my sandwich order one evening they served a handful of oily chips that were crushed and appeared scooped from the bottom of a bag. You will have to ask for cream with your coffee as 2% milk is on all tables in every restaurant. For 2 weeks no one in any restaurant remembered I wanted cream with coffee and I had to ask for it at each meal. Restaurant 2 is the alternative dining venue (it is the Veranda Cafe during the day) and serves from 7-9pm only by reservation but is more casual for those opposed to dressing up for dinner. It has a single menu with alternatives for each course. The Veranda Cafe/Restaurant 2 cannot be reached without going outside and walking in the rain. This was a problem on our cruise as it rained hard for the majority of the cruise and wait staff were not very observant in helping people with umbrellas come out of the rain. Sanitizer stations at dining venues are not enforced or not available. Tablecloths are wiped clean of crumbs between services and my coffee cup at one breakfast had an obvious lipstick mark on the cup that should have been removed by even a residential quality dishwasher. The waiter that I pointed this out to said that the washer doesn't polish the cups. Berries are not available for breakfast in the Verandah unless you ask and they stash them in itty-bitty bowls rationed neatly to 5 berries and kept behind the counter. Hamburgers are tasty but fries are remodeled mashed potatoes that are battered and deep-fried. All sausages are made of pork and when they substituted beef sausage one morning for breakfast it was a hot dog, so beware. Breads are tasteless and generally lacked salt and flavor (rationing salt, too). By the end of the cruise we had decided that the lack of seasoning must be due to Seabourn's concern for the passenger's health and were with-holding salt and sugar in our best interest. Service Our luggage was available when we boarded in Kobe. Our TA asked about having our luggage boarded while we did some sight-seeing in Kyoto and had been told "NO." Once in Kobe they readily agreed to have our luggage transferred to the ship without us being present. This initially left a poor impression as to the level of service we would receive but it appears that Seabourn staff in the USA are aggressively resistant to customer service unlike the actual Seabourn staff onboard. Other passengers onboard confirmed issues with headquarters being a negative that changed their interest in sailing on Seabourn again. Our cabin attendant introduced herself immediately on boarding and did a great job of servicing the cabin. Service staff in the restaurants were not always observant—repeatedly had to ask for coffee refills at all meals. Wait staff though is constantly asking if we are satisfied, pouring/offering more wine, and clearing the table of dishes and extra utensils. This was annoying especially when having a conversation with tablemates that were persistently interrupted. There's a push to have you join large tables at dinner hosted by the ship's officers but there is no upgrade on any wines when you attended that we had seen on other cruise lines. Room service was slow on the first use—first call yielded no answer. Second call promised to call back and did within 5 minutes. Food ordered (turkey sandwich and brownie) took 40 minutes to show up. Later in the cruise Room Service was exceptional with food arriving promptly. The Spa is fairly priced with excellent service. Sommelier was great and we used her to order higher-end wines for dinners. She also offered a selection of the included wines so we could drink the best of the offerings. Wines on the "revenue" list are pricey and few in number. An average bottle cost is in the $50 to $70 range. Cabin Cabins are large and spacious in comparison to other cruises we have taken. The bathroom contains 2 sinks, a tub, and plenty of additional storage. The shower is hand-held at either 4' or 6' fixed by a grip on the side wall which doesn't give the same effect as a fixed shower nozzle. Soaps and toiletries are high end. The bed is located next to the bathroom door so using the bathroom in the middle of the night will always awaken the person sleeping on the side of the bed next to the bathroom. The bed is comfortable, had high quality linens and lights for reading that are individual. There is a walk-in closet (a squeeze for 2 people though) with drawers and a safe. A sitting area is comfortable and spacious with a coffee table that makes into a table for in-cabin dining. The sofa is covered in brocade fabric with lots of thread pulls that make it look a bit shabby. TV is a fixed flat screen so only 1 person sitting in bed can see it—curtains that separate sitting area from bedroom obscures part of the TV. Channels are few with 3 devoted to almost-new movies. Fox, BBC, and CNN are available news stations. Requested liqueurs were in the refrigerator. The large window in our suite gives great views of the ocean and ports. Wifi failed to work and required a visit to the reception area. Turns out Dell and Mac computers require the direct IP address to connect. This is not posted anywhere. Entertainment There were excellent talks on areas we visited emphasizing history, culture and politics from professor and former diplomat Rob Warne. The kimono demonstration was outstanding. Low key activities included bridge lessons and team trivia (which was great fun). We visited the lounge for one night and found the singing group (including the cruise director) an enjoyable listening experience. Dancing in The Club is difficult with a small floor made smaller by the presence of a grand piano and entertainers. Movies on TV were recent releases and shown each day for variety. Shore Excursions Shuttle buses to the center of town are offered at each port at no extra cost and are a great and low cost way to do a little sight-seeing without a formal tour. Currency exchange is available on board and a table for brochures and assistance in touring is available at each port. Excursions are expensive and provide a variety of options. Water is available (though never chilled) and umbrellas as you leave the ship on tour. Our cruise encountered issues with weather with one port socked in by fog and the Chinese authorities refusing us entry from South Korea on the next port stop. Seabourn expanded our visit to Shanghai instead but all potential cruisers should realize that their contract with the cruise line is not a promise of stops as listed in the itinerary. Many passengers were upset at missing 2 stops in China. Seabourn shore excursion staff did a great job of reconfiguring the tours after the cancellation. Ambience The Pride is a small ship and feels crowded at times in the lounges and the Veranda Cafe. A mix of people from octogenarians with walkers and wheel chairs to families with teen-agers was onboard this cruise. Mostly, folks appeared to be retired. We found friendly fellow-cruisers who were the nicest we have met on any cruise line (no sense of entitlement as we experienced on Crystal) and the staff is approachable. Lots of elegant casual nights in the dining room (men must wear jackets) but not much to do after you're done eating. There is a single seating for each meal with dinner service beginning at 7 pm and ending at 9 pm with no entertainment until 10 pm. There's a small pool and 3 Jacuzzis (one hidden on the 5th deck forward). Elevators are only big enough for 2 people (maybe 3 if you're small). Food is not available anytime at any venue unless you want to sit in your cabin and dine from room service. No restaurants have a bathroom available in the same area or level—you must walk up or down or to your cabin. Over-all We had a great time. Nothing on the ship ruined the cruise experience. If considering Seabourn with other luxury cruisers I would examine your expectations for food, wine, ship design, ambience and entertainment. This ship, perhaps because of economies of scale at Carnival (parent company) serves fairly mediocre food and low end wine. If you value the food and wine experience this may not be the ship for you. The ship is older and the design reflects its age. If a newer more contemporary design and amenities are required, then this ship will disappoint. We enjoy shipboard entertainment (when it is good) but we didn't miss glitzy revues and once-famous entertainers. We liked the cruise director's activities and singing ensemble but others may feel that it is too much lounge-style and want the bigger experience. Would we travel again on Seabourn? Likely not, as food and wine for us are deal breakers and the design issues (locations of bathrooms, going outside to eat at the Veranda, and smallish feel of the ship) made the cruise seem a compromise. Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
23 Jun - 5 Jul 10. Japan, Korea, China Our tenth cruise. First time on Seabourn Embarkation & Disembarkation First impressions are important. When we arrived they said our name wasn't on the list and they asked us if we were ... Read More
23 Jun - 5 Jul 10. Japan, Korea, China Our tenth cruise. First time on Seabourn Embarkation & Disembarkation First impressions are important. When we arrived they said our name wasn't on the list and they asked us if we were sure we were sailing on that cruise. Of course, that started all kinds of panic thoughts in my mind. "Ha ha," they were just kidding! Sorry, but it wasn't funny and it wasn't the gracious "welcome aboard" that I expected. They took our hand-carried luggage to the show lounge where we waited in line to in-process. It wasn't as quick as the larger ships, but it didn't need to be. We were in the cabin by 2:00 pm and our luggage showed up piece by piece during the next 30 minutes. See "Shanghai, China - Day 4" below for details on disembarkation. Service Seabourn prides itself on service and we heard a lot about it. Most of it was excellent, but there were a few issues along the way. For example, during the sailaway, the drink and canapE waiters were everywhere and very generous. However, the deck chairs were all lined up along the railing—-making it difficult to get to the railing without moving the chairs ourselves. Frankly, we were surprised this detail had been overlooked. Unlike other all-inclusive cruises, where it is almost difficult to get a drink, the drink waiters were always there in the lounges asking what you wanted. If the event wasn't something with normal bar service, they always had sodas, coffee, tea, and sparkling water with an ice bucket and often cookies or other snacks. Room service was OUTSTANDING—-the best we've had on any ship! Dining room service was good most of the time, but it had a few flaws—-mixed up orders, slow to take or deliver orders, lukewarm food, etc. And what is it with the pepper? They tried to grind pepper on every course. We told them from the beginning that we didn't want any pepper, ever, but they still insisted on offering it for every course at every meal to the point of annoyance. Some things are just different. Because of the size of the ship and the "snugness" of the dining room, bread is left in a basket on the table, instead of served by the waiters—-something most of the people at our first dinner didn't figure out until it was almost over. That also means that the selection of bread is limited and you may not get what you want out of the basket. Clientele Mostly well traveled in their 50s & 60's, with some older and younger. There were a few teens onboard, including several recent high school graduates traveling with their families. Because this was an Asian itinerary, there were more international passengers (Australians, Brits, Chileans, etc.) We were surprised there were only a couple of Asian couples. Lots of people on this cruise seemed to be trying Seabourn for the first time. We suspect there may be two reasons for this. First, with their new ships coming online, many of the Seabourn faithful are probably trying their new products. Second, this cruise had significant discounts that attracted new clients to Seabourn who wanted to give it a try. Dining Food. This was real hit or miss. Some items were fantastic, while others were horrible. It may be partly due to the logistical problems of getting the ingredients they need. During the galley tour the chef said strawberries were particularly difficult to get and had to be flown in! Anything with shrimp or scallops was usually excellent. Beef and other meats were pretty good. Appetizers, soups, and salads were more inconsistent. The "crispy crab" was a deep fried shell with no meat that I could find—-a real disappointment after seeing all the big fresh crab earlier that afternoon in the fish market of Busan. That brings up another small disappointment from this cruise. The "Shopping with the Chef" is highly touted in the Seabourn sales DVD. We were anxious to try it, but we don't think he ever went shopping in any of the local markets on our cruise. Perhaps it happens in the Med and not this part of the world. It was a bit of a disappointment for the menu, because there wasn't any real "local flavor" to the menu—-something we hoped would be easier to accomplish on a smaller ship than mass market competition. Restaurant 2. The reservation system for this restaurant really needs to change. Since it is the only "casual" restaurant when the main restaurant is coat & tie, those who don't like to dress for dinner tend to make standing reservations. With only 35 seats available for 200 guests onboard, that makes it difficult for anybody else to get reservations. I would suggest a system where "first timers" get priority so everybody can go at least once. We tried unsuccessfully for several nights and eventually got in by talking directly to the Maitre d'. We were glad we did because the meal was fantastic. My steak was the best I had all cruise. The upstairs pool grill was only open a couple of nights, but since it was also casual and "by reservation only," we couldn't get in there either. Veranda Cafe (same space as Restaurant 2). Since this is a small ship, this area is set up as a limited buffet for breakfast and lunch with many items available only on request. Don't be shy about asking for something. They have a lot of options, but aren't going to put them on a buffet where they may get wasted. They prefer to cook to order. There are also some things that they just want to serve to you, instead of allowing you to help yourself (e.g. cereal). They will even do special requests with advance notice. Service here was inconsistent—-sometimes the wait staff was extremely attentive and at other times it was difficult to get their attention. I think having separate food and drink waiters (who are indistinguishable by uniform) contributes to the confusion and delays. Dress code. The plan was one "black tie" night (first night at sea), seven "elegant casual," and four "casual" nights (including the first and last night). In this crowd, most people wore tuxedos and formals for "black tie," but many also wore dark suits. We enjoy dressing formal for dinner, but hauling a tuxedo and formal gown all the way to Asia for only one night seemed like overkill. On "elegant casual" nights, I liked to wear a tie with my jacket, but most men wore only jackets. While we enjoy dressing for dinner, many people do not. At one dinner a guest at our table brought his jacket, showed everybody he had one, but never wore it! Perhaps a "coat & tie recommended, but not required," would encourage people to dress for dinner without excluding those who don't from the dining room. Because we had two extra nights in port in Shanghai, they converted one of the elegant casual nights to casual, so that all three nights in port were casual. Since people had very flexible schedules in port, we thought that was a good idea. Activities & Entertainment Entertainment. About what you'd expect from such a small ship with no production cast. The cruise director staff did double duty and performed several enjoyable shows. The guest entertainers (pianist and violinist) were excellent. The child acrobats in Shanghai were a special treat and a lot of fun. Guest Lecturers. One of the things I really like about lines like Regent and Seabourn are the guest lecturer programs. We had two. A Japanese lady gave a couple of presentations, including the kimono demonstration with a particularly lovely guest as the model. Rob Warne (retired State Department with lots of Asian experience) gave several presentations that were all very helpful and insightful. Of course, they were also replayed on the in-cabin TV. Onboard Activities. Other than team trivia and bridge, there wasn't much organized activity, even on sea days. The onboard selection of CDs and DVDs was nice and we watched a couple of movies in our cabin. If you spend most of your time onboard instead of going into ports, you may be disappointed. Ship 179 guests, 181 crew (as posted on the bridge). About a dozen people on the crew were trainees. Cabin. Standard Seabourn Suite (A-2). The room itself was quite large with a nice seating area. We didn't miss the balcony because the weather wasn't good enough to take advantage of it. The bathroom was all marble with a tub, double sinks, and plenty of storage. The closet was walk-in, but provided surprisingly less useable space than many wall configurations on other ships. There were the two bottles of wine in our fridge, as requested, and the fruit bowl was kept stocked. Only one 220V and one 110V outlet at the desk/vanity, so bring an extension cord if you expect to power more than one thing at a time. The hair dryer was in the desk/vanity drawer. Cleanliness & Condition. Getting a bit worn in spots. The pool is missing a handful of tiles. Purple carpets in the stairwells were also worn and looked tacky. Part of the problem was all the rain and a lack of place to wipe your feet when coming in from the decks or gangplank. The carpet absorbs all the water and soil being tracked in from outside. Although we eventually discovered an obscure back route to the Veranda Cafe, they really need to configure a rain cover from the stairwell to the main entrance door so guests don't have to carry umbrellas in the rain to get to meals at the cafe. Smoking. This was a big deal for us, since we are both very sensitive to smoke. Fortunately, we had no problems in our room or any of the enclosed areas. The only problem area was outside. The pool bar area always seemed smoky and the guests who smoked there were often not very considerate of those who did not want to inhale their smoke. That affected our enjoyment of several sailaways. DEcor. Some people may think low ceilings make spaces cozy and comfortable. I was surprised that it wasn't more elegant. A lot of it reminded us of South Florida dEcor from the 80's. It didn't say "elegant yacht" to us. Gangplank. This was a bit of a hazard and disappointment. During the pouring rain at several ports, we were walking up and down a steep all metal gangplank with ridges, but no non-skid coating. I was afraid some of our fellow passengers could fall and really hurt themselves in those conditions. At a minimum, Seabourn needs to put a non-skid coating on that gangplank. It would be better if they could figure out how to provide some protection from the rain with covers or shrouds. The other option is to rent covered portable ramps from the ports that have them. When it wasn't raining, it was often extremely hot and humid. Many other lesser lines provide water, juice, and cold face towels for refreshment prior to reboarding. Why doesn't Seabourn? While it may not be economical to have somebody stand there all day, they could at least meet the returning shore excursions. Services Housekeeping. I'm so in love with my wife that I didn't notice this until somebody on the crew pointed it out to us—-the cabin staff is all women and mostly quite attractive. I'm not sure why that is important to Seabourn, but who am I to argue? There is a single stewardess (no assistant) who was very attentive and friendly. Self-Service Laundry. Two washing machines and two dryers always seemed to be busy. The washers worked fine with the supplied soap on the express cycle. However, the dryers were not vented, so they just cooked the clothes and never seemed to dry them. Everything dried faster hanging in our cabin—-a real surprise for our stewardess one night! Confusing labels in foreign languages made it difficult for many guests to use the machines. Some people were using 1:15 hour wash cycles instead of the quicker 30 minute options. Once we figured everything out, we helped a lot of people use the machines. Seabourn really needs to take a few minutes to prepare quality instructions that will save their guests lots of time and headaches. Internet. Reasonably priced at $9.99 per hour. However, you have to buy access in one hour blocks. When you exceed the hour, the rate jumps up steeply and it's not always easy to quit what you are doing to rebuy another hour. I had a good wireless connection in my cabin. My only complaint is that the login address posted in the business center was incorrect. After struggling for two days to get a wireless connection (thinking it was my browser or a connection problem), I went to Reception, where they quickly provided me with the correct IP address. I discovered that other guests had experienced the same problem. Seabourn could easily solve the problem by simply posting the correct information in the Business Center! Spa & Fitness Center. Fitness center was well equipped and the spa looked small but adequate for this size ship. We were so busy with ports that we never took advantage of the facilities. Gift Shop. They did well with the space they had, but don't expect too much—-it is a small ship. Since it has to be closed in port, it was closed for the last three days in Shanghai. They may even benefit from making it mostly a sundries shop and selling other items "on demand," selling from a catalog like in-flight shopping, or finding other creative ways to sell high end or logo items during sea days. Photographic services. None. Bring your own camera and take your own pictures. Staff Captain. Standard daily announcements. He was very apologetic when he was forced to cancel two ports and go directly to Shanghai. (More on that later.) Cruise Director & Assistants. Friendly, polite, and relatively low key. The CD and two Assistants also provide quality entertainment onboard. Shore Excursion Staff. These two were on the ball. They were much more knowledgeable and helpful than what we've seen on other cruises. With such a small ship, shore excursions were limited (and sometimes expensive) and they were always willing to discuss alternatives. We had local agents with maps at almost every port and currency exchange when we needed it. Tipping. Cruise lines continue to struggle with how to make non-tipping or "tip inclusive" policies work in an industry that typically relied on tips. I think that if tips are included in the price, then policies should be clear and tips shouldn't be offered or accepted unless the policy also states, "Tipping is allowed for exceptional service." Otherwise, guests are confused about whether or not they should tip. I would have been more comfortable tipping for room service, but I expected the tip would be refused. I found out late in the game that many people were tipping extra in various ways on this cruise. Since our stewardess was dedicated to our cabin, I tipped her as we departed. At the end, it was obvious that the waiters were hoping for tips for carrying our hand luggage down the gangplank, so be prepared for that. In summary, this is touted as a six-star luxury cruise, but it misses that mark on several counts. It was still a fantastic cruise and we would definitely sail them again if the itinerary matched our needs (as it did in this case), but other lines we've sailed do a better job of providing a true luxury experience. Port Reviews This itinerary was the primary reason we chose this cruise, and we were not disappointed. Some of the shore excursions seemed overpriced, particularly in Japan ($179-189 for a half-day tour). But some of the sights are difficult to get to on your own, so you have to pay the price to see some of these places. On the other hand, the ship provides a free shuttle into town at all ports. This was a handy way to explore on your own. Kobe (Embarkation) - We spent three days in Osaka prior to the cruise with day trips to Kyoto and Nara. We stayed at the Crowne Plaza, Osaka and found it very conveniently located for our sightseeing agenda. It was about an hour and $100 cab ride to Kobe. Kagoshima, Japan - Took a shore excursion to see Sengan Garden and Sakurajima Island. The gardens were large and it was raining, so we didn't get a chance to fully explore them. The ferry to and from Sakurajima was fun, but there wasn't much to see on the island other than lots of lava and ash. Nagasaki, Japan - Since this was our first trip to Japan, we had to do the Peace Park, Atomic Bomb Museum, and Epicenter. The stop by Nagasaki's Museum of History and Culture was rushed and we did not get much of a chance to see some of the things on display there. My wife missed the porcelain room she wanted to see, but I found it and took pictures for her. We took the ship's shuttle into town in the afternoon for shopping. There are some fantastic kimono shops near the shuttle drop off. Busan, Korea - Busan has a good subway system and a hop-on/hop-off bus that provides lots of options for touring on your own. We went to Beomeosa Temple on our own, as did several other couples from our ship. The ship's shuttle dropped us off near the fish market—-a must see in Busan. Jeju Island, Korea - We took an excursion to a volcanic crater, folk village, and museum. We also considered going to see the famous "Women Divers of Jeju," and heard from those who went on the excursion that they really liked it. Mokpo, Korea - We took an excursion to Bamboo Country and Slow City, which was fairly expensive, probably because of the length of drive and included lunch. Our 20 minute stop at Bamboo Country was too short. The park was quite large and looked like it could be a lot of fun, but we only got a chance to see about 10% of it. After a stop at a bamboo museum and some shopping, we had a very interesting lunch. The highlight of the day was a visit to "Slow City." We were afraid that it would be a duplicate of the village we saw on Jeju Island, but what made this trip special was a German anthropologist who had "gone native" and had lots of interesting insights into the Korean culture. Quingdao, China - Canceled due to fog. The ship diverted directly to Shanghai. Jiangyin, China - Also canceled when we diverted to Shanghai. Seabourn was able to arrange essentially the same shore excursion to Wuxi that we would have taken from this port, but we departed from Shanghai instead. It was probably the best shore excursion we had all cruise. Since it now originated from Shanghai, they took advantage of a brand new high speed (200 mph) train instead of the original 90 min bus ride each way! Our trip to Wuxi included beautiful gardens, nice lunch, canal boat ride, brick-making museum, and time to visit another temple. Wuxi is a model for the "new Chinese city" and definitely worth visiting. Shanghai, China - Day 1. We did the Ancient Town of Zhujiajiao shore excursion. We saw the town from the canal boat ride, but didn't get a chance to explore much on our own. The guide got lost getting us back to the bus so we were walking through some of "real China." We then had to wait to recover a guest who had gotten lost from the group. After a rushed and marginal Chinese lunch, we had a very interesting tour of a silk factory. This was the only tour where we had "forced shopping." The prices on the silk comforters and pillows were good, but we think they were making up the difference in the silk duvet covers, sheets, and pillowcases. They also had a large silk clothing store, but the prices looked about average. Shanghai, China - Day 2. Shore excursion to Wuxi (see Jiangyin above). Shanghai, China - Day 3. Took the ship's shuttle to YuYuan Gardens so we could take our time to enjoy them. The gardens were fantastic, but the crowds outside the gardens were oppressive. We then jumped on the hop-on/hop-off bus to get an overview of the city. We got off to see the jade Buddahs and then got off at the Bund for a walk back to the ship. Shanghai, China - Day 4. Disembarkation. If you want a larger vehicle, because you have more than two people or a lot of luggage, I suggest arranging a "tourist" van directly with your hotel. The ships staff said they couldn't do it for us, but we later learned that our hotel concierge could have made the arrangements with a local transportation agent. When we got off the ship, there were lots of cabs available, but all the larger cabs were gone. Despite being told what hotel to take us to, we got "Shanghaied" by a taxi driver who took us on a route five times longer than necessary. Although it was only a few dollars, the bellman at our hotel helped to make the point to the taxi driver that we were not going to pay full meter price for his antics. If we had arranged a van with the hotel, it would have made our life much easier as we were making the transition from the ship to the hotel. After check-in we started our day with plans to see a couple of museums. The Urban Planning & Exhibition Center was closed on Monday, so we only got a chance to see the Shanghai Museum. It is truly world class with some pottery over 8,000 years old! Shanghai, China - Days 5-7. We stayed at the Radisson New World on the north side of People's Square. It was a great location and a very nice hotel. The metro stop was across the street and we took it to Expo for the next three days. We calculated that it would take about a month to see every pavilion at Expo, so pick your favorites and good luck with the crowds! There is a reservation system to get into some of the pavilions, but those tickets go early in the day. Departing Shanghai - Our concierge arranged for a "tourist van" to take us to the Maglev station on checkout day, It was only $18, which is more expensive than a taxi, but well worth it for comfort if you have a lot of luggage. If you are flying into or out of Pudong Airport, you really must take the Maglev train. At a top speed of 250 mph, it takes only 7 min and 20 sec to get to the airport. Don't blink or you will miss the other train passing you! It's only $6 per person. You'll have to handle your own bags, but there are large storage spaces on the train. You will enjoy a fast, smooth, and comfortable ride to the airport. Luggage carts are available once you get out of the train station and into the airport. One final tip that probably applies to all international travel: We ran into a problem with our ATM card numbers being skimmed, and our card got locked—-something we discovered the hard way when trying to get cash to buy Expo tickets. If possible, I would avoid using outdoor ATM machines. You will be safer if you can get to an indoor ATM at a bank or store that has better security and control of the machines. If you must use an outdoor ATM machine, look carefully at the card reader to make sure somebody hasn't placed a skimmer on it. Bottom line: This was a fantastic trip and we would do it all again in a hearbeat. Read Less
Sail Date June 2010

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