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4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
We chose this cruise because we had not been to Spain (except for Barcelona which we love), Lisbon or Porto, Gibralter or Morocco. The ports of call and shore excursions were fantastic. We saw many beautiful sights and learned a lot. ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we had not been to Spain (except for Barcelona which we love), Lisbon or Porto, Gibralter or Morocco. The ports of call and shore excursions were fantastic. We saw many beautiful sights and learned a lot. The ship itself was truly wonderful. The captain and officers were friendly and affable (not to mention very competent), the Executive Chef talented and sooooo personable, the Cruise Director (Handre) phenomenal and the cabin stewards perfect. All the wait staff in the restaurants were professional and at the same time welcoming. The entertainment was over-the-top wonderful. Seabourn does things right, and makes every trip a special adventure. One of the reasons that we love Seabourn is that the all-inclusive program makes the voyage so relaxing. The food is quality over quantity, and every meal was terrific. The deck parties were very enjoyable (lobster on the grill, dancing, champagne and caviar in the pool), and we were impressed by the "specialty restaurant," the Grill by Thomas Keller. One of our favorite activities was shopping in the market in Malaga with Chef Jes; the fish and produce were as fresh as they could be. The excursions were expensive, but the quality of the guides was excellent. The only negative on the excursions was the "hard sell" venues we were forced into in Casablanca and Tangier. They should offer a shopping excursion for passengers that are interested in buying rugs. One of our pet peeves, however, is that the internet service is ridiculously expensive. Since Oceana is offering free internet to its passengers, all other cruise lines should follow suit. We would highly recommend the Ovation for your next trip! Read Less
Sail Date: November 2018
I chose this cruise for a couple of reasons had a chance to travel with family and the thought of going to Barcelona, Morocco, Canary Islands etc. was a gem in itself. I enjoyed the culture, history and architecture of each country. I took ... Read More
I chose this cruise for a couple of reasons had a chance to travel with family and the thought of going to Barcelona, Morocco, Canary Islands etc. was a gem in itself. I enjoyed the culture, history and architecture of each country. I took many interesting tours and found each day was more exciting than the first. I loved the idea of Specialty Dinners and dressing up in our wonderful attire. The months have passed now so it is hard to remember every aspect of the trip. I was impressed with Seabourn because of the amount of guests on the ship. It is important to me that the ship isn't overcrowded. My Room Stewardess was lovely and met my needs. I was respectful to her as she was to me and she respected my wishes when I had the privacy sign on. She was most considerate. I like that in a person that we both had mutual respect for each other. I stayed in 618 and the stateroom was very accommodating. The Lively Entertainment was awesome. I looked forward to that every evening. The staff in general worked very hard. I liked Aldo at the Sky Bar and he always knew my drink, he would say "Strawberry Daiquiri" Ms. and I would say thank you very much. I would sit up to the bar and sing along with Rose the lovely lady at the Piano. I loved the spa and staff were most pleasant. I also liked Jared gave me some good pointers about keeping in shape. I welcomed his advice. To sum it up the staff were excellent and Seabourn will never be forgotten. I do apologize in advance that some information now escapes me. One day I will sail her again. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
We arrived at Manchester Airport only to be advised that our flight to Barcelona was delayed by an hour, not a major problem at the start of our holiday. We got to Barcelona one hour behind schedule, but our Sixt driver was there with ... Read More
We arrived at Manchester Airport only to be advised that our flight to Barcelona was delayed by an hour, not a major problem at the start of our holiday. We got to Barcelona one hour behind schedule, but our Sixt driver was there with name card and we were whisked off to the Colon Hotel for our two day stay prior to our cruise. The Colon hotel is excellently placed for sightseeing in Barcelona, but it is a typical city centre hotel with no “soul” but more than adequate for a couple of days. On the day of embarkation, we were picked up by our Sixt chauffeur at midday and whisked the 15 minute journey to the cruise terminal. Our cases were taken by the port staff, we seamlessly checked in and 15 minutes later we were sipping champagne in the poolside bar prior to having lunch in the Colonnade restaurant. At 14.15 the announcement was made “your suites are ready “. Having been on Seabourn ships several times before there was no need for the usual search for the amenities and various public spaces on board. The service was as you would expect from a 6 star cruise line, with a couple of exceptions in the dining venues - not a major problem but not what you expect (nor pay for) from Seabourn. Seabourn has teamed up with celebrity chef Thomas Keller with a specialty grill restaurant and signature dishes on the main menu every couple of days and the Colonnade restaurant being given over to his menu every couple of days. The Thomas Keller Grill is just o.k., nothing exceptional. We first experienced the Thomas Keller theme over two years ago when it was first introduced on the Odyssey and the menu has not changed at all, with some passengers raving about it whilst others are not so sure, so whether or not Mr Keller retains the franchise remains to be seen, I am not a hundred percent sure There are four dining options on Odyssey two of which are for casual dining. The colonnade and pool bar have a great choice at lunch time, but in the evening they are very restrictive in their choice, with no fish or vegetarian options at times – is this 6 star service? The number of staff does seem to be declining, for example the drinks service around the pool during the day and the number of staff in the restaurants are not what they used to be – little things but if they are not careful their 6 star service will become tarnished. Seabourn Square is very good – a wonderful selection of coffee, cakes and snacks served by cheerful baristas, who frequently refer to you by name and knowing your preferences without you having to utter a word. Our stewardess Zhaneta was extremely efficient, you hardly saw her, but whenever you returned to your suite it had been serviced and was like a shiny new pin. The entertainment is low key, do not expect the Broadway productions of the larger ships. The cruise director Verity was extremely able as were the Seabourn singers and dancers. There were entertainers brought on board to do a couple of shows, so all in all the entertainment changed nightly. The Tim Rice show was a little disappointing given the hype This is not a ship for kids - the average age is 65+, they would be bored to tears with no facilities except the internet which is quite costly. I wonder if there is an element of cost cutting on Seabourn – a little thing “lobster” on the menu? In the Keller Grill it only featured twice in 2 weeks, and not once in the main restaurant, is this the thin edge of the wedge? Would we travel with Seabourn again - yes without doubt, but there are a number of 6 star cruise lines out there, so it is essential that Seabourn continue to strive to be the best and do not rest on their laurels or they could easily be overtaken. Also, there are some new kids on the block – we travelled with Viking earlier in the year, and whilst they are not quite 6 star, they are 5 star + and exceptional value for money offering exceptional accommodation on brand new ships, we will definitely try them again. Read Less
14 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
Since 1999 my wife and I have sailed 300+ days with Seabourn. It goes without saying that over the years we have been very satisfied. Not so with our last two week cruise on the Encore in the Med. It has been a while since we last ... Read More
Since 1999 my wife and I have sailed 300+ days with Seabourn. It goes without saying that over the years we have been very satisfied. Not so with our last two week cruise on the Encore in the Med. It has been a while since we last sailed on a Seabourn cruise and it will be a while - if ever - before we try again. The interior of the Encore including the suites is fabulous, but we cruise where the weather is good and the outside spaces are crammed and chaotic. The pool deck (serving simultaneously as a bar, as a restaurant and as a sun deck is at least 30% smaller than on the Odyssey class - for 150 more passengers. You will have lunch (if you can find a table) less than 10 inches from a sunbed maybe inhabited by a very large person in a very small bathing suit. Even if the food was good you could easily loose your appetite: You reach for the ketchup and you wind up with a bikini top in your hand.... But this goes to the core of our grievances: The food is actually horrible at all of their restaurants. We did not have one good meal out of the 40 odd meals we had during the two weeks. We could not fault the main Chef (from Bologna). He did what he could with an insufficiant budget and inferior ingredients: Dry, tough and tasteless meats. Tired fish. Too few mushrooms to make the mushroom soup taste of mushroom - not dish water. Ill smelling and ill tasting pork belly with a scallop on top with the texture of jelly. Mushy berrys at the breakfast buffet way past their last selling date. Now they have the new specialty restaurant to which Thomas Keller has sold his name. Shame on him. We dined there four times with exacly the same result: The cook has a better budget hence better ingredients. But the guy on this particular cruise did not have any idea whatsoever how to prepare them: The cured salmon was so salty that your palate burned. It was uneatable so it did not matter, that he had forgotten to remove the plastic wrap from the dish. A “grilled” Rib-eye for two was burnt to a crisp on the outside. The proud cook pronounced that it weighed 900 grammes. He cut it up in 14-16 slices at the table and slammed half of the slices down on my wife’s plate and the other half on mine. The plates looked like what you would feed a very big dog. We tried all the sides during our four visits. All of them were seriously over-cooked. Mushy and tasteless. For the first time ever we had a sinewy Lobster Thermidor. It is beyond me how he accomplished that. Once before on all of our Seabourn cruises we have had food as bad as on this one. On that particular one the Chef had a nervous breakdown and was totally unable to function. They had to fly in a trainer/replacement. My guess is that Seabourn has now finally been 100% “incorporated” in Carnival’s HQ in Seattle and has been forced to “piggy back” on deals with the vendors supplying their 4 star cruise lines even though they still charge six star prices. Finally a word about the ratio between newbees and experienced staff. It is way too high. My guess is 80:20. In fact Seabourn rely on the guests to train the majority of the staff who are on their first contract. As a guest you need to in order to get what you want..... Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
Our 7th Seabourn cruse, first on the new Encore-size which carries about 150 more passengers than the previous 'Odyssey' class. We were on for 14 nights, most passengers were on 7 night cruises and the ship was full, so that made ... Read More
Our 7th Seabourn cruse, first on the new Encore-size which carries about 150 more passengers than the previous 'Odyssey' class. We were on for 14 nights, most passengers were on 7 night cruises and the ship was full, so that made it a very busy cruise for the staff. The ship is beautiful as the Odyssey class ships were, very much the same style. The suite was super, everything on the whole ship was clean and maintained and to a very high standard. Public spaces, the pool deck, the main restaurant, the theatre haven't been increased in size as much as the passenger numbers have increased. That led to the pool deck being pretty crowded on an afternoon when people came back from trips. The main dining room doesn't have the same feeling of space on the previous ships, it's ok, but some of the ambience is lost. The second restaurant, "The Colonnade" is much larger and brighter than before which is an improvement. Since now not everyone can fit into the theatre at the same time there are two shows a night instead of one, which does give you some choice. Service has always been key to the whole Seabourn experience and is why we have returned again and again. Overall we received the same excellent Seabourn service from friendly, well-trained staff, there really isn't a bad staff member and many are very good at their job. We did have some lapses, the main dining room did not always work well when it was busy with tables left unattended for longer than you'd expect on a luxury line. There were other issues in other venues with forgotten orders, late room service. There weren't many lapses, but Seabourn usually hits 99% perfect service, here it was perhaps 90%. Food. Everyone cares about food. This cruise it was mostly very good but with, for the first time on Seabourn, a couple of meals which were terrible, badly cooked, bad presentation. The choice was good, there was never a day you couldn't find a venue and menu you were excited about, didn't always deliver however. The ship now has the Thomas Keller Grill for which you can have one reservation per segment, and if you ask nicely and look hungry you might be able to add a second evening. The food there from the fixed menu was excellent. The ship also has a sushi restaurant we tried once, that was also very good indeed. We feel the food on Seabourn is usuall very good with occasional excellent, this cruise was very good with occasional excellent (in Thomas Keller) and a couple of meals which were dire. Entertainment was as good as you can expect from a small cast on a smaller ship. We thought the shows were the best we've had on Seabourn. We were fortunate to have Jeffrey Archer on the ship as a guest lecturer and each of his talks were very well worth attending. Overall it was Seabourn but a bit diluted. Ship is lovely but feels a bit crowded compared to the smaller ships. The staff worked incredibly hard but still the service and the food fell a little short of what we think of as Seabourn standard. We'll definitely continue to sail Seabourn but will favour the Odyssey class ships if we can and if Encore class, try to find cruises which are sailing less than totally full. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
This was a fabulous cruise in so many ways , but our cabin allocation was very disappointing. We generally cruise with Silversea and assumed that all the verandah cabins on The Encore would as on Silversea, be of the same standard, ... Read More
This was a fabulous cruise in so many ways , but our cabin allocation was very disappointing. We generally cruise with Silversea and assumed that all the verandah cabins on The Encore would as on Silversea, be of the same standard, simply differentiated by their position on the ship- we have always found this to be the case with Silversea. Unfortunately we were allocated cabiin 851. This cabin is attached to the Wintergarden Suite and the balcony is miniscule.This cabin should only be offered for single occupation as two poeple could not sit on the balcony in comfort. On a previous voyage on this ship a friend on a guaranteed basis was allocated cabin 1032-a disabled cabin with no external view and a balcony overlooking the pool. Again, she was very unhappy with this cabin. On both occcasions we were told that the ship was full so there was no chance to change. We loved Seabourn Square and the multiple pool areas.The late night entertainment in the Observation Lounge with Barbara and Valerio was wonderful, this was a lovely venue to enjoy a late night cocktail. the Club area was rather small and very little used. The Tim Rice show was good,but the only other show offered was disappointing. Jeffrey Archer was a guest speaker on the cruise and both his lectures were very entertaining. The service was good ,but a little too formal and not especially friendly, even at the end of the week the only person who appeared to know us by name was our wonderful cabin attendant. We really did not like St Tropez or Monaco-both far too crowded,but the other ports of call were good. The smallest gesture to acknowledge the inadequacy of the cabin would have been very much appreciated,but none was forthcoming.Would we sail with Seabourn again? Not sure! Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
I love approaching the terminal right before embarkation. The anticipation has been building for so long, the ship is finally in sight, and you’re almost there! But here’s a tip: in Barcelona, Seabourn ships may not be docked with the ... Read More
I love approaching the terminal right before embarkation. The anticipation has been building for so long, the ship is finally in sight, and you’re almost there! But here’s a tip: in Barcelona, Seabourn ships may not be docked with the others. Our taxi driver (who did not speak English… I’m not sure many in Barcelona do) wanted to go where the larger ships usually dock; we had to motion to him to turn around and take us to Terminal S, as in South. First Impressions No doubt about it; the Encore is a beautiful ship. I had watched many videos about it beforehand, but it wasn’t until I was on it that I appreciated its design touches. We’ve only been on one other cruise ship: Celebrity Solstice. There is simply no comparison. I especially love the colored glass accents… the fish in the Observation Lounge, the auburn bottles in the Thomas Keller restaurant, and the chandelier in the main restaurant. These whimsical accents complement the classic, handsome nautical decor throughout the ship. Who can resist sail away from the first port? You’ve finally made it, with nothing else left to do except enjoy your cruise vacation. We loved the Cruise Director, Chris -- a total sweetheart who is enthusiastic without being over-the-top -- and we appreciate the fact that opera is one of his passions (he has a beautiful voice). But to me, sail-away is the time for fun, get-the-crowd-revved-up music. Instead, we heard opera and more opera -- which can really add weight to the mood. Granted, it was a small point in what was otherwise a lovely experience. Our Suite We lucked out being assigned to a suite on Deck 11; I’m grateful to Cruise Critic members who told me, via the boards, that our suite -- the most forward on that deck -- would be quiet. It most certainly was, as the soundproofing was amazing. The suite was comfortable and felt high end. We loved having a walk-in closet. And our cabin stewardess, Patricia, was absolutely lovely and a great representative of the Seabourn brand. She was extremely efficient, a hard worker, warm, and personable. The Food In addition to the suite, I give high marks to the restaurants with wait staff, especially the main dining room. Not one false note the entire time, and we found the cuisine to be inventive and of high quality. We’re American -- and Thomas Keller fans -- so we loved The Grill. I liked Sushi -- service was a bit uneven -- but we only dined there once. The Colonnade Buffet has many fresh and appealing options, but no real exciting/offbeat presentations. If you’ve ever been to the Bacchanal Buffet at Caesar’s in Las Vegas, you know what I mean: gourmet sliders, red velvet mini pancakes, chicken-and-waffles baskets… that kind of thing. I don’t know why I thought I’d see some of that inventive energy on Seabourn, but that wasn’t the case (not even on our final night, when they touted “epicurean delights” on the pool deck). I found the 1 o’clock lunch opening of the Patio Grill to be odd and inconvenient. And there’s really nowhere to get a late-night snack (Seabourn Square’s little cafe shuts down pretty early, and even when it was open, its snack choices to be rather sparse and not terribly appealing, IMO). I realize that for night owls with a grumbling stomach, the expectation is to call room service. But sometimes I don’t want to wait. And sometimes, when one person is asleep and the other is hungry, room service is not practical. But believe me, I did not starve. Booze Flows Freely I’m not a big drinker on land, so while I definitely enjoyed imbibing on the ship, I’m sure I didn’t get my money’s worth… and that suits me just fine. That’s because on Celebrity, even though we sprung for the drink package, there was something rather dispiriting about having to proffer my room key to get any little thing, be it a bottle of water or a mai tai. That’s why I loved Seabourn’s all-inclusive policy: you ask, you receive. Simple as that. Ports My reviews are mixed. I didn’t find Mahón, on the island of Menorca, to be a particularly compelling stop. But the timing of it was good; since it was our first port, I preferred to continue exploring the ship and only walked around outside for about an hour. Corsica was another place that didn’t really hold my interest. Saint-Tropez was much more of a laid-back beach town than I was expecting. It was OK. Monte Carlo, Marseilles, and Portovenere (Italy) were very cool and interesting. I’m glad we got to experience them. Other Things I Loved The Observation Lounge. We began just about every evening there, enjoying the live music, a cocktail or two, and snacks. Relaxing just about everywhere. Except for the main pool, which is fairly high energy, there are many places to get away from it all. I found the forward whirlpool on one of the days we were in a port that didn’t interest me; and I hung out in it, without seeing another soul, the entire morning. I liked that there were only about 600 passengers, but I wouldn’t want to go any smaller. As it was, we started running into the same people, and part of the enjoyment of cruising is seeing new faces. Things I Would Change I wished that the pools were open later into the evening. Seabourn’s performers are talented, but the themes of the shows just didn’t hold my interest. Seabourn Website is old and clunky… could stand an overhaul. We had a wonderful voyage. We would definitely book on Seabourn again, although we’d also like to give Silversea a try. It’s hard to imagine going back to a mass-market line after such a great experience. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2018
This cruise focuses on the resort areas of southwestern Europe (Spain, Portugal & France.) But we booked it to see a bit of Morocco (Tangier), Cadiz and Cape St. Vincent (where Admiral Nelson famously prevailed over the Spanish ... Read More
This cruise focuses on the resort areas of southwestern Europe (Spain, Portugal & France.) But we booked it to see a bit of Morocco (Tangier), Cadiz and Cape St. Vincent (where Admiral Nelson famously prevailed over the Spanish fleet). Hailing from Palm Beach, Florida, we don't need to visit beaches or beach towns. Early in the cruise, we took a couple of Seabourn's shore excursions. Each involved a bus ride to see an ancient walled, hilltop town and a walk around the town. Seen one, seen'em all, and traveling in a large group makes it hard to cover much ground (too much time waiting for everyone at public restrooms). In contrast, where we engaged tour guides on our own, we got good guides, who spoke pretty good English, for modest prices. The best was Youssef Sedraoui in Tangier; you can read about him on Tripadvisor.com; although we engaged him in Tangier, he arranges tours anywhere in Morocco. Many great things have been written by others about Seabourn, and I agree, so I won't gush about the many positives. I offer only one criticism, but it is broad: Seabourn's definition of "luxury" could be more sophisticated. They focus on food & drink, offering higher-end beverages at no extra charge. The staff is delightfully polite and friendly and highly responsive within certain limits, but not quite as responsive to guests needs as in the best hotels (maybe staff insufficiently empowered to make exceptions to accommodate preferences?). We felt we were in one of the better business-class hotels, but not in a 5-star hotel. Of course, facilities like the Spa and the Pool are not nearly as nice as ashore, and entertainment options are limited (one venue, some performances strong & others not so). All this is understandable in a 600-passenger ship. But the question lingers: for similar cost, do you need to endure the limitations of a ship? The thing is, the cost per night for two people (about $1,500 for us in a V6 suite) is comparable to the cost of the mandarin Oriental in Barcelona or a 5-star hotel in New York, with hundreds per day left over for food & drink. You might be thinking my problem is not with Seabourn, but with cruising. Maybe, but I think that Seabourn could up their performance in terms of service at modest incremental cost, and the scales would tilt in their favor vs. say, of cruising, for us, anyway. This was our first cruise. We are going through the Panama Canal next March on Regent. We'll see how that compares. By the way, about The Retreat: Encore, at 600 passengers, is bigger than some Seabourn ships and has a new, premium-priced area called The Retreat (a dozen or so cabanas, each with two lounge chairs, a TV and other seating and furnishing). The Retreat generally gets panned by old Seabourn cruisers, mostly because it has no pool, only a hot tub (particularly off the mark in the Med in high summer) and its premium pricing is not in the all-inclusive spirit of Seabourn cruises. We used The Retreat twice, once on a sea day and once on a port day, and liked it, mainly because we hate the crowding of the non-premium pool area. We would use The Retreat again, if we cruised again on the Encore or its sister ship Sojourn. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
In all fairness, I will begin by the positive. One of the newer Seabourn vessels, the Encore is in great shape. Having sailed over 200 days on the line, many of the typical Seabourn standards were present right away at embarkation. ... Read More
In all fairness, I will begin by the positive. One of the newer Seabourn vessels, the Encore is in great shape. Having sailed over 200 days on the line, many of the typical Seabourn standards were present right away at embarkation. Walking through the hallways we were always greeted by the big smiles of the housekeeping staff who are always busy, busy, busy. The service in the main dining room was mostly perfect. The first "dancing under the stars" event was a blast as the departing CD really knows how to get a party started. The caviar sailaway to the music of live opera is always a treat. The service, however, was out of synch. With the exception of a handful of seasoned crew, the staff seemed inexperienced and we had many service issues, some minor, some unacceptable. We even had a confrontation with a server early on in the sailing that had us seeing things that we may have otherwise overlooked. I really do believe in the Seabourn brand, but will be taking a little break. I have 3 future cruises programmed, 2 of them are on a different line. Hopefully they will get it together before the next time we board. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
Have been on Seabourn a few times and decided to take our grown up family on this trip What should have been a super holiday was let down somewhat by mediocre service. On our previous trips with the line this has been their strong suit but ... Read More
Have been on Seabourn a few times and decided to take our grown up family on this trip What should have been a super holiday was let down somewhat by mediocre service. On our previous trips with the line this has been their strong suit but not this time. We were on recently in October and it felt like being on a different ship. The restaurant staff are always polite but there was a sense of a lack of control and communication especially in the main dining areas. We had had slow service in the dining room and complained and things got better until the last night when it all fell apart again. Two of our party have food allergies and these just did not seem to be taken note of. On one occasion my wife was served a starter that could have made her very ill if she had not detected very quickly that one of the ingredients was the one she was allergic too. On our other cruises staff were always quick to get to know our name and our preferences but this did not happen on this one. Not all areas were poor some were very good such as Seabourn Square , Patio and the Sushi restaurant. Bar service was also first class especially in the observation lounge. Entertainment was excellent particularly the host dancers and crew performers and entertainment staff. The only thing we would suggest is some new shows are in order. Have seen the Tim Rice experience more than once! The casino was very well run and had a friendly vibe about it. Cabin service was absolutely superb. All in all frustrating as what should have been a great family holiday was let down by the less than impressive dining experience. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
We sailed on the Encore last summer and looked forward to our next cruise this June. At every meal the featured meal involved pork whether carved or stewed. In general the food quality took a dive even in the dining room. If there is a ... Read More
We sailed on the Encore last summer and looked forward to our next cruise this June. At every meal the featured meal involved pork whether carved or stewed. In general the food quality took a dive even in the dining room. If there is a meat quality less than choice it seems like it was served. In the Collonade resturant the service was poor and often ran out of the food specialty of the evening. It is a failure when the food served in Keller, their specialty (one time per cruise) is better than the dining rooms food making a guest feel like for the cruise price, you are getting their parent Carnival’s cruise. The service on the cruise is still excellent especially beverage service on the pool decks. Room service was excellent and the caviar was available. In the dining rooms , quality seafood was absent unless it was ordered 48 in advance. The entertainment was above average for a small boat but the production shows were a repeat of last year with new performers who were good. The comedian was the same also. Lounge performers were good.. Since food quality is a major choice in picking a cruise, Regent, Oceania or Crystal has gotten back my attention . Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
We sailed on Quest a few years ago and had a fabulous time. This time, things were just not the same. -About 3 days into the 11 day voyage, they varnished our balcony railings making it impossible to touch the railings until the last ... Read More
We sailed on Quest a few years ago and had a fabulous time. This time, things were just not the same. -About 3 days into the 11 day voyage, they varnished our balcony railings making it impossible to touch the railings until the last day of our voyage -The food was OK, not great. In The Restaurant, the service was hurried and the food was always lukewarm. The menu, while it DID vary, was variations on the same theme over and over -Dinner in The Patio one night was SO bad, we had to send it back. It was inedible. -The tours were categorized incorrectly. The Tangiers tours was VERY strenuous (but rated only moderately) and we had several people who had great difficulty with the steps. But the Seville tour was rated very strenuous and it was moderately so. Additionally the lunch in Seville was inedible. No one at our table ate and the tour was $220 so you'd expect better food. The tour bus in Malaga had no a/c and it was 80 degrees out -Cabin service was GREAT but the life jackets are put on a very high shelf in the closet and, being only 5' tall, I could not EVER reach one in an emergency -Very disappointed that they allowed babies in diapers in the pool. That's VERY unsanitary. We didn't have a bad trip at all but we wished the attention to service and detail was the same as when the company was owned by Cunard Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
We have just returned from a Mediterranean cruise on the Encore. We liked the size of the Encore, the number of passengers, the crew, the space, etc. Most of the entertainment was good, although it does lean towards music from ... Read More
We have just returned from a Mediterranean cruise on the Encore. We liked the size of the Encore, the number of passengers, the crew, the space, etc. Most of the entertainment was good, although it does lean towards music from musicals and dancing from "Strictly" - neither of which are our cup of tea. It was a shame to have an award winning soprano on board throughout the cruise who never opened her lungs to some opera. We did not like the lack of soundproofing in our cabin which will keep you awake if you are a light sleeper. We also thought that frayed old towels in the bathroom should have been replaced long before. As I said at the beginning on the whole we enjoyed the cruise, but we could not justify 8,000 pounds each for 11 nights.I assume that a lot of the price is there simply to exclude some people. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
Travelled several times with Seabourn, previously the smaller ships which have now gone and the last time on the Quest. The feeling amongst other Seabourners was that the larger the ship the less the service atmosphere and attention.There ... Read More
Travelled several times with Seabourn, previously the smaller ships which have now gone and the last time on the Quest. The feeling amongst other Seabourners was that the larger the ship the less the service atmosphere and attention.There is occasionally evidence of lack of joined up thinking, the pre-cruise itinerary is very detailed but there is one in your suite, not pointed out specifically, that differs in both description and price and on the first one I took, the ground operator did not provide the full itinerary. Thomas Keller would be embarrassed to be served in "his" restaurant, irritating music, a diner drinking beer straight from the bottle and no finesse in either the food or the service, should go and watch Michel Roux at work in La Gavroche. The Restaurant and Sushi on the other hand were very good. Entertainment was generally good as was the guest speaker except that on two occasions his talk included ports we had already left !! What happened to the open air putting green ? As the school report would say Seabourn you need to try harder, you charge a premium price but not quite a premium service yet and by the way include wifi as Silversea and Regent do it is after all the 21st.century. Will almost certainly try Seabourn again but probably not the Encore. Read Less
21 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
Seabourn Ovation is brand new and is the most luxurious and stylish ship - we were in awe! The entertainment is world-class - both the onboard singers and dancers and the visiting entertainers, who were incredible. We feel very lucky to ... Read More
Seabourn Ovation is brand new and is the most luxurious and stylish ship - we were in awe! The entertainment is world-class - both the onboard singers and dancers and the visiting entertainers, who were incredible. We feel very lucky to have seen such top-class entertainment in our intimate venue on a cruise ship. The service is second to none and the staff are attentive, caring, friendly and genuinely interested in our cruise experience. We left Barcelona and ended in Lisbon. Destinations (except Casablanca) were well-chosen, with interesting excursions and cultures. More time in Gibraltar was needed, though. Our V2 veranda cabin space was generous and the balcony was far bigger than we were expecting. Even though the ship was fully-booked we kept wondering where everyone was (even on the day at sea!) because there were always empty sitting spaces across the entire ship. Staff are so attentive in the outdoor eating area that we never waited more than two minutes before being asked if we wanted a drink. Excursions are well-organised. Embarkation was easy - no queues and our bags were delivered promptly enough. Disembarkation was easy and our bags were taken off the ship on time. Overall the whole experience was magical. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2017
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
16 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
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 ... 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. Cabin 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. Service 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. Food 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. Entertainment 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
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
We chose Seabourn as we like smaller ships, fewer passengers; we're a couple in our 60's / 70's. We like adventure, travel, we don't need a lot of theme entertainment, and we are foodies; food and wine are important. ... Read More
We chose Seabourn as we like smaller ships, fewer passengers; we're a couple in our 60's / 70's. We like adventure, travel, we don't need a lot of theme entertainment, and we are foodies; food and wine are important. The entertainment on Seaboard was just right; the entertainment acts in the Main Salon were entertaining, as were piano duo in the Observation Bar. Poolside parties . . .that meant dancing for us - fun! The MAIN REASON that I chose the Encore was the Mediterranean itinerary. Food: We loved the options of a casual meal in the Colonnade, inside or out. Sharing tables there or in the Restaurant was lovely in meeting new people. The theme nights in the Colonnade were pretty close in quality to the Restaurant. At lunchtime, if you’re on board and miss not getting in time before the 2:30 closing, the Deck 9 small buffet outdoors with salads, charcuterie, and hot entrees is a good one. High tea in the Observation Bar: a nice treat at 4pm, although once the service was pretty spotty / slow. In order of great good / ambience our dining preference is: The Restaurant, then the Sushi Bar, and next the theme nights at the Colonnade. The TK Grill was overly pretentious; there was a mistake in writing up my husband’s order for steak, the wait in between courses is far too long, and the decor isn’t modern as the rest of the ship. The TK Grill is not for us. Room Service for me every morning for breakfast - - I was feeling very spoiled! The Ship: I used the Fitness Center three times, very clean; light filled, good variety of machines. I only wish there were more light weights, as I do lift weight but have shoulder issues. And they need thicker floor pads for those doing sit-ups and Pilates exercises. For nighttime entertainment, the Grand Salon was perfect sized, with very comfortable seating. In the Square, this was handy as a meeting spot, plenty of seating areas for conversation, reading newspapers, drinking a latte. For outdoor decks, I like sunbathing, eating outdoors and finding a quiet spot. There was only one day I couldn’t easily find a lounge in the sun ; eventually I did. There are many nooks throughout the ship decks, depending on sun and wind where you can find a spot to your liking. Hot tubs were a bit on the small side, although there are enough in number. Shore Excursions: I booked a shared minivan for an excursion and the driver was careful, tour guide really informative. In Lucca, we rode from port in Livorno on the bus, then to Lucca for a walking tour. The tour guide was very organized, charming and gave good insightful talks. The half day boat ride from Santa Margherita to Camogli and Portofino was our highlight excursion! The most delightful experience . . .it was nirvana, for those who love boating / traveling like us. Read Less
36 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
My wife and I just returned from our 10 night cruise on the Seabourn Encore from Barcelona to Rome. I won't comment on the ports, but they were fabulous. This review will focus on Seabourn, the Encore, crew, service, dining and ... Read More
My wife and I just returned from our 10 night cruise on the Seabourn Encore from Barcelona to Rome. I won't comment on the ports, but they were fabulous. This review will focus on Seabourn, the Encore, crew, service, dining and overall experience. We are avid cruisers who enjoy cruising the way it used to be before the mass market craze of the 80's starting to take flight. Seabourn Encore nails everything classic and amazing about cruising while incorporating that which is modern and relevant in 2017. From the moment we boarded - which was simple and painless - we knew we were embarking on something special. Being a new ship our first observations were how beautiful the Encore looked and how delicious she smelled. You can definitely smell the new and fresh fabrics - especially leathers. No doubt this beauty is a new ship! While boarding we were addressed by name and asked if there were any special occasions we would like to have acknowledged on board - this was indicative of service to follow. The ship is absolutely stunning and gorgeous. Those looking for the Vegas style glamour and glitz of mass market lines will be disappointed. This ship is more akin to a Four Seasons or Mandarin Oriental hotel is design and décor. We were concerned that Encore being the largest ship in the Seabourn fleet that she would feel to large and crowded. Not at all!!! There are so many amazing public spaces to disappear, read a book, relax and have solitude. The ship never felt crowded. For a ship this size it is impressive that there is a mid ship and aft pool in addition to a forward spa - really unique! We found little surprises everywhere - i.e. self service drink and suntan lotion station at pools. The Retreat does seem to be a wasted space that could be used for something that could be appreciated by all passengers. It was seldom used. Dining was absolutely fantastic! Don't forget to order caviar whenever you feel like it! Seabourn did not miss a beat. The new Thomas Keller Grill is an amazing addition! Don't miss the New York Strip. The bar lounge and restaurant are wonderful. We were told this restaurant is supposed to be billed as a classic 1960's steak house. The pool grill, Colonnade, and restaurant never disappointed. Room service was flawless. One afternoon my wife and I wanted a club sandwich for lunch by the pool. The bar waiter heard us and ordered it through room service. Suites are beautifully appointed, with perhaps the brightest, most luxurious and functional bathrooms at sea. The standard Seabourn suites have bathrooms that are even better than the Regent Seven Seas Explorer in my opinion. The overall ambience is that of understated elegance. The passenger mix probably averaged 60's and 70's. We are in our late 40's. However, the passengers on board were generally very young at heart, fun, fashionable and came from many countries and walks of life. Not stuffy at all as some posters have suggested. What we didn't see were walkers, wheelchairs or cranky people on this particular sailing. Additionally, we noticed most passengers were very fit and active. We normally don't go to the shows. However, we did on this cruise as we became friendly with some of the entertainers. There were 4 singers and a ballroom duo for main production shows. All were amazing with fabulous voices and terrific dancers. We really enjoyed the shows. The observation bar, the Club and Thomas Keller lounge all had impressive entertainment including a duo, band and pianist/singer. I would be remiss if I did not comment on the most fantastic and impressive aspect of this cruise - the crew! Out of my 80+ cruises I have never experienced a more accommodating, warm, happy and outstanding crew as we had on the Encore. I cannot compliment the crew enough. Special recognition goes out to Roberto at Seabourn Square, Julie and Olga (baristas), our cabin stewardness Nash (she was incredible), Victoria (bartender in Observation) - she was beyond words, Carolina Perez (dining hostess) and of course Handre the world's best cruise director! I have never gotten off a cruise and remembered so many names of people who contributed to making our experience a very, very special one. Can't wait to go back on Encore. I certainly understand that reviews are just opinions and people are entitled to their own opinions. However, I really don't understand some of the negative reviews about Encore. We have our next Encore cruise booked. Kudos to Seabourn! Lastly, people often ask me if I like Crystal, Regent, Oceania, Silversea or Seabourn better. These are my favorite lines. At this time I will say Seabourn ranks high above the competition. Here's why in short. Regent forces shore excursions on you. We don't like paying for something we might not use. We don't enjoy being on buses with 60 people and usually arrange our own excursions. Because of this policy I think Regent also attracts more of a nursing home mentality crowd who enjoys everything being done for them. So Regent tends to attract passengers not quite as young at heart. That being said, we still cruise Regent on certain itineraries. Crystal is a wonderful product, but ships are old and a disaster. Certainly not up to par with newer more modern ships. I hope the upcoming renovations change things a bit. Crystal also relies heavily on Indonesian/Filipino crew in service positions. I personally preference the strongly European service crew on Seabourn who provide a level of service that is unparalleled. Just a different level of service and Seabourn pays their crew more for it. Oceania is a fabulous product with phenomenal food and gorgeous ships. I find service on Oceania to be indifferent and they sit somewhere between luxury and mass market. Having to show your key card every time you order a drink is a game changer in the wrong direction. Silversea is not quite as polished as Seabourn. Service is outstanding, but the quality of food and overall experience is just a little inferior to Seabourn. Lastly, if I had to find one area to criticize about Seabourn it would be horribly uncomfortable lounges. Seabourn has invested so much in their bedding. Why not do the same with lounges. Regent and Oceania win in the lounge department with comfy cushions and terry cloth covers with their logo - classy! Anyway, if you are contemplating Seabourn Encore - just do it! Amazing! Read Less
22 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
We booked Owner's suite 701 having been told it was "subject to noise when anchoring". What we got nstead was and hour to an hour and a half of extremely loud banging, grinding, clanking and intense vibration. When we ... Read More
We booked Owner's suite 701 having been told it was "subject to noise when anchoring". What we got nstead was and hour to an hour and a half of extremely loud banging, grinding, clanking and intense vibration. When we reported this issue we were told that it was the thrusters not the anchor as the ship was not anchored and that we were to expect the same for the remainder of the cruise. We were also told that "at least" on our one sea day we could relax since the ship would not docked. That day we were woken to hammering and noise due to maintenance close to our suite. Even after complaining this went on for over one hour. It is clear to us that Seabourn sold us this suite with full knowledge of the existing problem and used deception to do so. Buyer beware that if you are going to reserve suite 701 and pay this much money you will subjected to a very stressful experience upon arrival at port and also departure which will make your vacation a very stressful one. Aside from this the Encore is understaffed, service is simply average and entertainment leaves a lot to be desired. We have been very disappointed overall with our experience with Seabourn and will not be sailing with them again. Seabourn is obviously only interested in making money without concern for providing their guests with the superior experience and service they advertise. Read Less
24 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2017
We were looking forward to 20 days in the Med on the Encore after our previous experiences on Seabourn's 200 and 400 ships -unfortunately the reviews we read prior to leaving home were true. There seems to have been a fundamental ... Read More
We were looking forward to 20 days in the Med on the Encore after our previous experiences on Seabourn's 200 and 400 ships -unfortunately the reviews we read prior to leaving home were true. There seems to have been a fundamental shift in Seabourn's strategy, target market and service - saving money where ever possible - time in ports, tendering and fewer staff ( advertised as 465 staff in actual fact 416). We were told by one crew member we we're on a "family " cruise -haven't seen that in the brochures! Ship design is great as a hotel but not as a supposed single class ship.The pool area a total joke the pool is tiny and quite insufficient for 600 passengers. Really only good for standing still and dare not make any ripples in case you disturb the standing readers. Pool chairs booked early with towels like a cheap European beach -staff wont do anything about it despite there being clear guidelines. After 2 days we didn't even go to the pool. The Retreat, a massive area on the top deck, is a mere $350 US a day !!! Always empty apart from -we were told by one senior officer- complementary to people who "provide constructive feedback"; which translated means complain and you can use it. But who would want to? A series of cabanas with loungers each with TV, champagne all day and personalised service. So whats the attraction?! You can have all hat anywhere in the ship! The Retreat is a shocking waste of space - enlarge the main pool area and turn the retreat a patio dining area. Staff seem hugely over worked. Some returnees but many new, many of whom are somewhat unprofessional and wouldn't have been let near a Seabourn ship in the past: terribly slow and forgetful service, lack of ability to understand their customers needs. Even the cruise director seemed rushed The Restaurant is a great design but too small -only seats 350 ( other ships can seat almost, if not all passengers). Seabourn Square still a really nice area as is Colonnade and particularity good being able to use the outside area on level 8 for breakfast and lunch. Shame not also available for dinners when the Patio closed as was too busy and had to wait for a table Once you scratch the surface even senior officers agree there is a real problem -not one person we spoke to in 20 days who had cruised with Seabourn before would go on Encore again. In summary really disappointing staff quality and ratio resulting in poorer service, a huge area badly utilised and a pool far too small for the size of the ship. Read Less
37 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2017
I have never written a review before. We checked in to our Winter Garden suite which was very nice. Overall the ship was beautiful and general staff were great.The problems were with the hotel management. It was comical. We had to eat ... Read More
I have never written a review before. We checked in to our Winter Garden suite which was very nice. Overall the ship was beautiful and general staff were great.The problems were with the hotel management. It was comical. We had to eat dinner by 9pm in European summertime while its still daylight outside. My wife made several attempts to make appointments with nail technicians and hairdressers to be told the only appointments available were in the evening around 8pm therefore we had to eat dinner in our room as she finished at 9pm.We could not get a booking into any of the restaurants when we wanted to. Because of this we ate room service for several nights a row. We went to the cruise guest services for assistance and to voice our dismay. So they made a booking in Thomas Keller restaurant for three nights later. When we arrived at the restaurant we were told we had no reservation. This was very upsetting whilst embarrassing and humiliating. It was the last straw for us. We disembarked the cruise at the next port three days before the end of the cruise. After speaking to the Service Manager on several occasions the first time we saw the Hotel Director was on the morning of our disembarkation. A bit late. Entertainment was designed for 65 to 85 year olds with no atmosphere for any other age group of which there were many. The ship is hopelessly understaffed. With such a beautiful ship and the money we spent we expected some priority with reservations or at least a coordinator to help. We have been on many cruises before and have never had a problem with the management style before. It feels as the ship is run for their convenience not the guests. I'm sorry to say Seaborne Encore was a very disappointing experience. Never again. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2017
This cruise was for 20 days - 2 back to back cruises (Barcelona to Barcelona). This was our 3rd Seabourn cruise (total 44 days) and the first on the Encore which has 150 more guests. We were a bit worried with some of the negative ... Read More
This cruise was for 20 days - 2 back to back cruises (Barcelona to Barcelona). This was our 3rd Seabourn cruise (total 44 days) and the first on the Encore which has 150 more guests. We were a bit worried with some of the negative comments we had read but didn't need to be, the cruise exceeded our expectations. Apart from the area around the pool deck (which was not an issue for us as we do not use it often), the ship felt much the same as our previous cruises on the Odyssey and the Quest, it was never crowded for us and the extra guests were not noticed. As expected for a new ship, the furnishings were in perfect condition and we thought they were very tastefully done. We love the cabin layout and the extra power points were welcomed and in perfect locations. FOOD The food could not be faulted. The chef changed at the halfway of the cruise but the food quality was just as perfect, it did not change and was just as good. We dined in the evening in all the venues, mostly the main dining room, but also the TK Grill (very good), Sushi Bar (also very good), Patio Grill (also very good but more casual and not our preferred venue to eat) and the Colonnade outside deck although only ate here two or three times in 20 days. All the venues were excellent but we just preferred the main dining room (The Restaurant). The Colonnade was our "go to" venue for breakfast and lunch and loved the food and the service, never once did we have any issues (great food, excellent service). The morning coffees each day were very consistently made by Julio and Dalia, the perfect starter. We sometimes varied our order, but I noticed others who had the same order each day and Julio and Dalia knew what they wanted without the guest even saying their order. THE CREW I would have to say this is the best crew we have experienced, from the Captain (Mark Dexter) to the tender crew who worked so diligently to get everyone on the tenders. The Filipino guys and gals who operated the tenders were so good (and there were many tender ports on this cruise, some of them difficult - bouncy seas). Special mention to Handre (CD) and Beth (Assistant CD) and Nino (Restaurant Manager), they would have to be up there with the nicest and most efficient people/crew. The crew in the restaurants were super friendly and efficient. We could not believe how so many crew addressed us by our names and yet we had not seen them before. Credit to Seabourn and the crew for this as they have obviously worked out a system to enable it. Not expected, but shows the level of commitment by the crew. Our stewardess was very efficient, not gushy (we don't want that) but very sweet. She did her job as well or better then any stewardess we have had previously. It was a pleasure to meet her. ENTERTAINMENT We played trivia for the first time and loved it. Handre and Beth made it special, they are very talented at making it fun for all. We loved the musical entertainment of the cruise. The singers and musicians (the 4 Seabourn Singers - Chloe, Laura, Brian, Derek and Suzanne in the TK Bar, Joe and Megan in the Observation Lounge) were all very professional and better then we had previously experienced on a cruise. Overall a fabulous cruise and didn't want to leave the ship, could have stayed on longer than the 3 weeks of this cruise. (If we had a problem on this cruise it was with a few of the guests, some were downright rude to the crew and treated them badly. This is not necessary as the crew were very efficient and very friendly. I would imagine they are used to treating workers and people who look after them this way which is rather sad.) Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2017
We liked our previous Seabourn cruise and wanted to go on their newest ship. Embarkation went smoothly due in part to using the smaller World Trade Centre terminal. Enjoyed lunch in the Collinade until our suite was ready. Pleasantly ... Read More
We liked our previous Seabourn cruise and wanted to go on their newest ship. Embarkation went smoothly due in part to using the smaller World Trade Centre terminal. Enjoyed lunch in the Collinade until our suite was ready. Pleasantly surprised on entering the suite to see that our special beverage requests were there and the our lady responsible for the suite available for a full tour. There were one or two minor things she wanted to explain to make us more comfortable. She was excellent throughout our stay doing something different everyday to make it more personal. The layout of the ship is similar to the Odyssey, our previous ship, except for the extra deck for the Retreat, a private facility for a day charge of $350 or so. A little surprising for an all inclusive cruise. Looked around this one day but no one was there. I initially booked a suite on the eighth deck aft but upgraded it later to suite 853 to be more conveniently located. Previously tried to upgrade to the 9th deck (pool) for the same category but none available. Unfortunately 853 connects with another and you could hear normal conversations. Poor insulation. More disturbing was the noise above from the pool chairs/tables which were moved around at 6am everyday. Complained to guest relations for two days running. The noise was even louder when they had to clear the deck for a special event but this was at 4pm. We also had a rattling problem wth the veranda divider but this was sorted quickly. Notwithstanding, we enjoyed the cruise. Restaurants/bars/service excellent except The Grill which is overrated and The Grill themed nights in the Colonnade were a waste of time. Disembarkation was chaotic with passengers being directed in the wrong direction. On our next Seabourn cruise I will avoid connecting suites and below the pool deck ! Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2017
This was my fourth Seabourn (SB) cruise, and DH’s second, with one prior on the Quest summer 2016 we both shared. We have done a dozen cruises on luxury lines, so the review below compares this cruise with prior experiences, and provides ... Read More
This was my fourth Seabourn (SB) cruise, and DH’s second, with one prior on the Quest summer 2016 we both shared. We have done a dozen cruises on luxury lines, so the review below compares this cruise with prior experiences, and provides some guidance for newbies contemplating taking a SB cruise for the first time. We also did a detailed semi-live blog during the cruise, with photos, on the Cruise Critic SB subforum, so if you wish to see more details about the ship and the ports than are provided below, copy and paste this link (or if it does not work, then just search the forum for my entry entitled “Not-quite-live from the Seabourn Quest, Barcelona to Dover, 4/15/17-5/1/17). Photos start at post 9. http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2488142 OVERALL: Overall we were both pleased with our experiences on the Quest on this 16-night “epicurean” itinerary cruise from Barcelona to Dover, 4/15/17-5/1/17 to the interesting ports of Gibraltar, Portimao, Lisbon, Bilbao, La Rochelle, Bordeaux (overnight), Portland UK, Rouen (overnight), Cherbourg (from which we went to DDAY's Omaha Beach, the American Cemetery, and Arramanches) and Brugge. However, there remains room for improvement in some of the food, and on some services. We rate it a 4.3 overall on a scale of 1 to 5, (and thus round down to 4 on the overall CC scale). It is still the best overall inclusive, primary English language luxury line we have sailed on so far (comparisons: Silver Sea, Regent, Crystal). We did not think the food and service were quite as good as on Hapag-Lloyd’s (HL) luxury ships Europa 2 and MS Europa last year, however, HL is a line where wine and spirits are not included, where the primary language is German, and which is on average more expensive, so it is not directly comparable. EMBARKATION: very smooth and easy, almost no waiting, friendly welcoming personnel in Barcelona, large bags were immediately taken. We arrived shortly after 12 PM (though the official embarkation time is 2PM we could get on earlier even though our room was not ready), and then went to a buffet at the Colonnade indoor/outdoor casual dining venue (personnel can hold your hand luggage there for you while you take lunch, or you can keep them at your side). The buffet and service were both basic and adequate, nothing special, but we were happy to have lunch on board before official embarkation time. We found all our luggage already in the suite after we were allowed access around 2:30 PM. We had pre-ordered a foam topper for what we knew would be a relatively hard mattress, and it was put on later that evening after we reminded the stewardess. Muster followed shortly thereafter and took less than a half hour. It simply involved going to the MDR according to our stations where we listened to the safety instructions without wearing the life preservers,and where personnel took roll call. GENERAL ATMOSPHERE : Relaxing and uncrowded overall, though sometimes cleaning staff yelled personal conversations and joked loudly in hallways. The ship was well-maintained and clean. Smoking was no longer allowed on suite balconies or in the Observation Lounge, just in a couple small designated outdoor areas. Unfortunately a lot of the furniture, although stylish, is uncomfortable for me, but I am very sensitive due to musculoskeletal problems, so I found the stiff main entertainment lounge/Grand Salon chairs, the mostly stiff Observation Lounge chairs, MDR chairs, and especially the in-suite hard couch, unpleasant. To help get comfortable, I would often carry a small cushion with me. Overall, with some exceptions, there was a calm atmosphere and long lines for anything were not common (the long line waiting in the sun for a special cheese tasting notwithstanding). However, sometimes the Colonnade and MDR had slower than ideal table service at peak hours due to apparent staffing shortages, slower than I have come to expect from luxury cruise lines. All staff I saw, many of whom are of Eastern European origins (and some of whom looked like they belonged on fashion runways rather than carrying vacuum cleaners or drink trays around), seemed to work very hard to keep up, but some lacked adequate training for some tasks, and English skills were variable. There just were not enough staff for peak times (especially in the Colonnade, e.g., once we had a waiting time of over 20 minutes to get sparkling water). Table availability at prime hours was also routinely scarce in the Colonnade and at the Patio Grill, so when combined with the matching service problems, we preferred taking both lunch and dinner in the calmer, quieter, guaranteed-seating MDR if at all possible, which also played calmer music at lunch, and where pax were also more sedate. Passengers we met at optional communal or hosted tables, on excursions and cocktail get-togethers, or in the hot tub (perhaps a biased sample, e.g., with the hot tubbers) were generally pleasant, well-off, well-traveled, and well-mannered, with a few odd and loud or boorish exceptions. DEMOGRAPHICS.: The ship was full, with the vast majority of pax English speakers from the U.S., (252) followed by Australia (56) and the UK (30), Canada (16), Germany (12), and remaining pax in single digits. Average age seemed to be in the mid to late 60’s, give or take a few years depending on genetics and sun block usage, and I only saw one child pax. Pax were mostly do-everything-together couples, but there were also some couples traveling with other couples or extended family. LGBT pax are welcomed on SB, confirmed to DH after a long discussion with a hot-tubber who has done dozens of cruises with SB and absolutely loves it. Most pax were reasonably mobile, though there were some with wheelchairs and walkers, and appeared to be well-cared for. Some of those pax unfortunately also repeatedly opted to go on group excursions that were clearly marked as not designed for those with significant mobility impairments, and SB did not enforce mobility requirements for excursions. It was hard to spot a solo traveler (which is not surprising, as SB pricing is not solo-friendly), but there appeared to be a few, and they often opted to dine at hosted tables. DRESS CODE: Pax usually followed the designated evening dress codes, which were most often the very general “elegant casual”, e.g., for men long trousers and a nice collared shirt or a sweater, though many chose to wear jackets without ties to dinner. There were a couple “formal” nights with jacket required in the MDR on which most male pax wore jackets with ties, rather than tuxedos. Blue jeans are officially not allowed at dinner in the MDR. There were a few pax who occasionally showed up for dinner in overly casual clothing which was definitely not “elegant casual”, and they were not turned away, but no one looked like a slob. FOOD AND BEVERAGE: Food opinions are subjective, but overall we found the food on this cruise very good to excellent in the MDR, good in the Thomas Keller Grill, good at the Patio, mostly just ok at the Colonnade buffets (some exceptions that were very good), ok at breakfast room service, and definitely good enough to do a SB cruise again on the right itinerary. A highlight of our experience was interaction with the wine steward in the MDR, Antoni Pradeep, whose pairing suggestions were excellent, and who also provided us with a list of included wines on my request to help guide our choices. I would not sail again on this ship just for the food experience, even though this was billed as an “epicurean” cruise, but combined with the excellent itinerary and other benefits of SB, it was still a good overall choice for cruising this itinerary. The food quality and variety were not at the level of the food on HL’s Europa 2 and MS Europa on our cruises in 2016. SB had a decently priced but limited special order wine list, though we only resorted to ordering off of it twice as we could typically find an included wine that worked for us with our meals (even though we are from northern California wine areas and can be picky), and ordering off that list was not aggressively advocated either. Included champagne was Nicholas Feuillatte brut reserve, available at will. Wait staff typically came around at dinner and initially tried to push an inexpensive included sauvignon blanc or pinot grigio (we sampled all that were offered and only liked one, from NZ) before we had even had a chance to look at the menu, but we simply chose what to order first and then either looked at the lists of included wines to find an appropriate pairing, or talked to the wine steward. We ate at The Grill restaurant only once, the first night, where they served the new highly touted TK grill menu, included in the fare. It was fine, solid quality upscale American style food, steak, lamb, fish, but nothing spectacularly unique. First came celery sticks with radishes and cucumber pieces and green goddess dressing, all fresh but not unique, as we can get these at home. DH’s steak and my Dover Sole Meuniere were fine. We did not go back, primarily due to the acoustical assaults in that venue, e.g., loud and annoying music pulsated overhead, just as it did last year, apparently to create a 50’s and 60’s cool diner vibe and atmosphere, plus pax and staff conversations tended to be loud and the room has poor sound muffling, so the noise enhanced a sense of stress. I regret that the delightful and unique old R2 small-plates-with-pairings restaurant concept has been discontinued. The food in the MDR both at lunch and dinner was usually prettily plated, very good and usually interesting, (though basics such as simple steak and Caesar salad were also available nightly), and I found the TK offerings there better than last year. There were only a couple entrees that tasted boring. I enjoyed most of the vegetarian dishes which I tried when I wasn’t very hungry (a state easy to get into on SB due to constant food ingestion), even though I am not a vegetarian. Portions sizes were reasonably small, which suited us perpetual weight watchers fine. The only time I asked for a double portion was when I ordered a steak tartare appetizer and was skipping the entree, but large, young and very active men (on this cruise that would be only crew members and perhaps one other pax DH met who was a mountain climber) might want to ask for double portions right from the start to secure adequate calories. There were also TK offerings on a few nights in the Colonnade, by reservation only, with only one entree offering per night, e.g., fried chicken, ribs or clam bake, but we did not go this year because last year we had been underwhelmed with the odd ribs-related experience. A few people we met during the cruise who had done the “family style” TK ribs in the Colonnade this cruise, however, greatly enjoyed the experience. We like trying a little bit of many foods when we travel, so our favorite kind of venue is usually an upscale buffet, but this year due to more limited selections of buffet food, Colonnade crowding and inside noise, plus odds of more significant service problems there which could create annoyance, we preferred the MDR for both lunch and dinner. There was a different official food theme in the Colonnade each day, e.g., French, German, Japanese, Tuscan Market, Baltic night (this was much better than last year), pasta, etc., though not uncommonly the same thing was served at the salad bar and dessert bar day after day, just with a different name. Breakfast buffet was ok for usual English-speaker tastes, but the bread, cold meat and cheese choices put out were more limited compared with on HL, where the buffet is more European style. We used room service for breakfast when we had early morning excursions, and also a couple other times (e.g., usually between 9:30 and 12:30, when typically no dining venue is open other than room service or SB Square simple little pastry snacks). A room service hamburger was very good, compared with a Patio Grill burger on the patio, excellent last year, this year mediocre. I am not sure what caused the discrepancy. Room service breakfast offerings were basic, from a list of fixed choices you check outside your door on paper before going to bed, (if you deviate you may receive some comical deliveries), and usually though definitely not always arrived on time. Breakfast pastries and breads in general on board were improved compared with last year, e.g., on a few days French baguettes were baked, and the rolls trended towards appropriately crispy rather than rubbery like they were last year when we cruised. Snacks and specialty coffees at Seabourn Square varied in quality, although the offerings did not vary from day to day and were not particularly enticing, but I definitely appreciated having these between-meal options available ( closed 6-9 PM). The calm Observation Bar also offered self-serve coffee (variable quality), tea bags, OJ and little pre-made breakfast pastries at 6:15, for those of us who do not wish to communicate with humans until we have caffeinated. Observation bar and Club snacks we tried before dinner were tasty. SERVICE The best way to describe SB service this cruise is that it was generally good, though I did find myself getting a bit annoyed with occasional service deficiencies by lower level crew who need more training and understanding of what a luxury cruise is supposed to be. The exceptions often involved violations of the Do Not Disturb sign, the most egregious of which was a woman from laundry services busting into our suite to discuss a minor, non-urgent issue relating to trousers when I was in the bathtub and had a privacy sign up, and then not immediately leaving, but also involved poor communication between staff. Many staff seemed fixated on just doing their specific narrow job and showed a disinclination to get involved with resolving a problem in a way that would best accommodate guest's comfort. I spoke with the empathetic customer care coordinator Melissa Selling about these issues but it is unclear if anything was done by her other than to fill out a paperwork report, as a couple of the issues of concern (some of them comical) continued the next day . Some of the room stewardesses and eating venues personnel were not entirely well-trained or well-organized, and some appeared exhausted, especially at peak hours when they struggled to keep up, so SB would do well to improve training and staffing back to the level they had previously (though this might involve raising prices). Laundry and dry cleaning services are available on board ($50 per laundry bag stuffed so solidly it could serve as a cosh, 2 day service, 50% upcharge for same-day service on items), nothing was permanently lost or transformed into a child’s size though I did have to pursue a disappeared bag. There is also a launderette for self-serve we did not use, and a clothes-line is available over the tub for drying your own items. You can also get as many towels and pillows as you want for your suite, which this pillow princess definitely took advantage of. SB Square personnel were friendly, and there were either no or short lines to talk to them. The phone was not always answered immediately, but I only fell asleep once while on hold. When we got home we found a large charge to our on-board credit card to an airline for a person we have never heard of, which was processed immediately after the charge that closed out our bill on disembarkation day, and which we think was likely made in error by SB ( we are pursuing details on this through our credit card fraud protection and with emails to SB customer relations). SPA, EXERCISE AREA, AND POOLS: loud music played not just in the exercise area , where I would expect pep, but also in the communal manicure/pedicure/hair care area, which was not very relaxing as the customers’ conversations and blow dryers there were also competing for attention, and stressed front desk personnel could be snippy. So I only used the area once (I prefer quiet, solo chambers, with calming music, for manicure service, rather than forced listening to stories about other pax problems, e.g., their split ends or toenail problems. DH frequently enjoyed the relatively private hot tub in the bow on deck 6, which is also a good place to meet people. There were also four other hot tubs (two in the very public area near the main pool, often closed off, and two closer to the smaller pool on Deck 5 aft outside the Club lounge). The pool was nicely heated but not used much. DH also used the fitness center, it was fine, usually uncrowded except at peak time on a sea day, with an ocean view, where nothing was broken and there was a trainer there ready to help who may not have been named Hans or Franz, but should have been. ENTERTAINMENT was overall pretty good, better than last year, especially for such a small ship, e.g., it featured both popular and classical music by Australian pianist Gary Walz, and also a female former West End singer with a terrific voice. We went to most of the shows. Brit Davey Howe performed innovative and comedic musical works with trumpet, piano, shower hose, and walker leg and was my favorite. There was a funny British comedian, a not so funny or magical female comedian magician, and a singer who had starred in The Lion King who did an assortment of cool-sexy-guy type covers who was very popular with the crowd. The base SB band itself was very good, and the singers could sing, though sometimes sung boring old songs like The Girl From Ipanema at the Patio. The Trio with sultry singer Emma in the Club should not be missed, if she is there. The entertainment this year was much better than last year on the Quest, which was a positive development. INTERNET was bad. Ship wifi was usually very slow, and in our suite typically non-existent, a constant struggle, as it often is on ships, even luxury ships. We had opted for the unlimited plan for $399 for the 16 days of the cruise to avoid the stress of sensing the clock ticking and price rising while on-line with a slow connection. Only one person per suite could be on at a time which required some coordination (on HL two could be on, but for comparison there was no unlimited plan, there it was 0.19 Euro/minute). It worked best in the Square and in a fellow pax room directly below a router, which ours was not. We thus relied heavily on our cellular service and created hot spots, to get any major work done ensuite. DH, who is technically inclined, communicated with SB Square three times about the issues, and the personnel there smiled and noted the concerns, but not once was he contacted directly by anyone from IT, (we just got promises there would be contact), only some indirect information was communicated by a non-technical lady SB crew member, and the issues (beyond the issue of speed, e.g., cloud services blocking) were not resolved. Ship wifi was one of the weakest aspects of this ship, and it thus rules out future trips where there would be no escape option to use local cellular, e.g., transatlantic or remote area trips, for people who must have reliable internet access when they travel. PORTS AND EXCURSIONS There were no complimentary excursions offered by SB, all were for an extra charge. Most were reasonably priced and ok, some were excellent, a few were poor values. Buses were uncrowded and typically had a max of 26 people on an excursion ( a couple exceptions), and had reclining seats and at least passable AC. Sometimes there was a functional WC on the bus, you never knew in advance when there would or would not be one. BARCELONA — our embarkation port, where we spent 3 days pre-cruise on our own (we had previously been here for several days before). This popular and excellent bustling port city has a lot to see pre-cruise, or post-cruise if you end here. I would recommend at least four days, and preferably take a private tour of La Sagrada and other Gaudi masterpieces in the area, plus a trip outside to Montserrat, and spend a few hours in the Picasso Museum (go early and buy tickets online if you are not part of a tour, as it gets very crowded). The more off the beaten path Catalonia Museum on a hill has excellent modern and Romanesque art collections, as well as city views and adjacent is a massively sized organ. I could easily spend a full two weeks in Barcelona -- every year! GIBRALTAR — a very interesting small territory town with a lot of history, owned by Britain. We did the excellent though strenuous (marked level 2 out of 3 by SB but it should have been a 3/3 in difficulty) uphill “City under Siege” excursion, where we toured the military siege tunnels, and also the museum in town where there are restored Neanderthal woman and child skeltons. We also saw the interesting indigenous monkeys of the island roaming about who have a history of their own (e.g., during siege, they were food for troops). Beware of the risk of extra high cellular charges by your cell phone company for this separate “country”. PORTIMAO — the port itself, which tends to be very warm, was out of town, so other than seeing a closed down sardine factory museum within walking distance nearby (worth a look — the video story in Portuguese with English subtitles is both interesting and humorous), there was not much to do directly near the ship. We were bussed on the “A Taste of Algave” excursion to the seaside town of Alvo (old and new features), which has restaurants and shops both near the water and up an old-town hill, and could be more fun to tour without the time pressures of an excursion, followed by a trip to an unremarkable local winery for a tasting with fish dip and chips. This was not the greatest excursion, but ok for an overview. LISBON — we were only docked here one day, but this hilly and scenic city deserves at least four days if not more (which I had spent last year prior to another cruise), depending on how many museums you want to see and how much Fado you want to hear, even more if you want to do day trips. We did a non-SB group excursion to the medieval walled town of Obidos, about an hour away, which was fantastic, very scenic, with restaurants and shops, it would make a good full-day trip. We also visited the beautiful Santa Quintana winery for tasting and an upscale lunch, which was fantastic. It would be a good idea for SB to do an overnight in Lisbon. BILBAO — we toured the modern art Guggenheim Museum on a SB excursion, which everyone should do at least once to appreciate the craziness of four-story flower dogs and a giant metallic arachnoid, which have revived this previously dying town. We preferred spending our elective, non-group time on the higher levels where the art, to us anyway, was more interesting (Kandinsky and Picasso rather than Koons). Next time, we’d also like to send more time walking the city streets of this old Basque town, people-watching, and dining locally. LA ROCHELLE — we did an excellent full-day 5/5 SB excursion to the little market town of Saintes, (you could spend a day there just shopping and eating and visiting the churches), where I loaded up on the best ham I’ve ever eaten, and after a terrific excursion French lunch at a nearby Michelin-rated restaurant Le Relais du Bois Saint-Georges, toured the Chateau de La Roche Courbon castle, which has beautiful grounds. BOURDEAUX — here we docked for an overnight right in town, right next to a colorful Sunday food market selling all kinds of delicacies (you may want to skip breakfast on the ship if the market is running), and an easy walk to many interesting sights, several fantastic churches, fountains, and saw the new Wine Museum modern structure which we did not have time to go into. There are many reputedly excellent restaurants and museums in town, and we unfortunately did not have enough time to fully take in and appreciate this city. We did a forgettable (and overpriced at $275/person) SB-sponsored “exclusive” excursion to a winery that was anything but exclusive (70 people were bussed there and played follow-the-leader on the winery tour), with (by French standards) mostly mediocre food, served with some good red wine, on beautiful grounds. It would clearly have been better and much cheaper to book a private winery tour and exquisite French dinner, next time we will know better, or at least ask how many people will be on the “exclusive” tour before booking. We also did an excursion to the very cute town of St. Emilion, where there is a fascinating underground ancient church, and where you could also easily spend a day winding through the little streets, eating, and window shopping. PORTLAND, UK — the locals here are happy to see cruisers, serenaded us with a uniformed band and fired cannons at sail-away. We did a very nice excursion to the beautiful Minternes estate and gardens, where the 93-yr-old Lord of the house hosted us with interesting stories of the past, and we were then served scones. The gardens are exhiliarting and worth a trip, you could spend the whole day there (I recommend skipping the scones and just head straight for the garden to maximize your time wandering around there, then go down a series of long, gentle paths lined with rest benches, and loop back, a mile or so). We drove past the “Rude Man” Cerne Abbas Giant chalk figure on the way back to the ship, but he was off in the distance and his most famous body parts were barely visible. ROUEN — (overnight). We cruised down the scenic Seine to this out-of-town industrial port, which itself is unremarkable though there is a church and there are some shops, but it served as a base for excursions. We did a late afternoon/early evening excursion to the picturesque seaside town of HONFLEUR (don’t come after 6 or all the museums are closed, or between 4 and 7 as we did, when the major restaurants are closed, if you want dinner, as dinner does not start until 7). Next time we will visit Honfleur without a SB excursion and allow time for a leisurely French meal. We also did a SB excursion to Monet's GIVERNY Gardens, where much was in bloom. The flowers were exquisitely beautiful, but the place was oppressively crowded, as the venue does not limit ticket sales. It was hard to pass with so many international tourists (including us), many with selfie-sticks keen on getting themselves into staged pictures (absolutely not us), and with super-long waits for the women’s WC, as there were simply not enough toilets for the female components of the crowds. If you have a weak bladder, I recommend going easy on pre-excursion coffee and keep yourself on the thirsty side. CHERBOURG -- we went on an all-day excursion (1.5 hour + bus trip each way) to DDAY's Omaha Beach, the American Cemetery, and Arromanches-les-Bain, where the “Mulberry” artificial harbor and docks were set up to allow many ships and supplies to dock in Normandy during WW2, and which has an interesting museum with exhibits, multi-lingual tours, and an informative movie. There were also excursions available to other battle sites through SB, e.g., Utah Beach, and Sainte-Mere-Eglise, offered by SB, but we only had enough time for one. The American Cemetery is beautifully laid out, very peaceful, and well-maintained, over 172 acres, with tasteful memorials and graves of 9387 American military dead from the Normandy invasion campaign. It has thousands of crosses and over a hundred Stars of David, all that remains of known and unknown young American soldiers who died in that campaign to liberate Europeans from unspeakable tyranny, including my immediate family. We did not see nearly as much as we would have liked in this historic place, for that we will need to come back for a full week in Normandy. Our guide was also less than ideal, as he seemed to just go through the motions in his descriptions of the important historical events rather than showing any enthusiasm or true interest in them (I felt like grabbing his microphone on the bus and taking over the narrative), perhaps due to his own background which was almost certainly not on the side of the Allies. Unfortunately on the bus the guide also seemed equally interested in proudly telling us about France’s mandatory 35-hour work week limitations, wonderful social welfare benefits, and humorous driving habits, with perhaps greater fervor than he talked about the events of 1944, and although these were interesting facts, they seemed inappropriate to discuss on this kind of sobering tour. Halfway, the tour stopped for an included group lunch at a nicely located restaurant with a water view where we were served local pate, chicken, and creamy dessert, with plenty of $5.17/bottle Bourdeaux table wine included in the excursion fee. This was overall an ok introduction to this area, considering we were only there for a day, but when we come back (and we must come back) we will almost certainly get a private guide with greater interest in WW2 history. I highly recommend reading Steven E. Ambrose’s book “DDAY”, or similar, to prepare. BRUGGE. This is a a beautiful city with a lot to see, including canals and chocolate shops, museums and churches, and we booked an excursion to it which SB called “Romantic Brugge” , which was anything but romantic. Unfortunately it was a 3-day weekend and the city was a solid mass of tourists, and it was very hard for us to keep up with our oblivious, insensitive guide who seem to stride briskly to Chopin's Marche Militaire through the city, with senior citizen pax in her group mostly fending for themselves. The excursion was rated 2/3 but should have been 3/3 difficulty given the strain of walking several miles at a brisk pace, with little time, while dodging horses, scooters, carts, baby carriages, Segways, and other fall hazards. The 30-minute canal ride, however, was lovely. I do not recommend this tour in high season or on weekends if you are in any way mobility, cardiac, balance, or pulmonary impaired. If we return, it will be without a group guide, and not on a busy weekend, and on our own (SB offered a busride to and from Brugge without a group tour, which would have been better, but the huge crowds would still have been there in the key areas). I rate this as the worst excursion of the cruise, 2/5, but sadly in one of the most beautiful cities. IN SUMMARY, we enjoyed the cruise, the itinerary, and generally good SB service, exceptions noted both above and in more detail in my referenced blog. I was a bit disappointed in the decline in quality food offerings and variety in the Colonnade, and in some service deficiences apparent now that I had not seen in 2015 when I did my first two SB cruises on the Odyssey, but was pleased with the improvements in the MDR foods since we were on the Quest summer 2016 and in the TK offerings, breads and included wines. We realize no cruise is perfect, and SB must be compared with other English language luxury lines. We have put down a deposit for a potential future cruise that would give us a 5% discount, but have made no irreversible commitments. We have a few more cruises booked with HL instead of SB on similar itineraries, which we are not canceling, as that is where I thought the overall food and service were 5/5 instead of 4.3/5 like on SB, (and where Do Not Disturb signs were always strictly respected), but as noted, has other disadvantages. We have posted some pictures of the cruise and the ports in this beautiful, fascinating, and history-rich area, to which we plan to return. Read Less
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