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Sail Date: June 2019
I just returned from my first, but not last, Seabourn cruise aboard Quest. The ship itself was wonderful, but it was the staff and crew that impressed me the most. From the first moment I arrived on board, I was made to feel as if I ... Read More
I just returned from my first, but not last, Seabourn cruise aboard Quest. The ship itself was wonderful, but it was the staff and crew that impressed me the most. From the first moment I arrived on board, I was made to feel as if I were the most important person in the world. Almost from the moment I boarded, all of those with whom I came in contact knew and called me by my name! (I realize that seems to be a relatively minor thing, but it meant a great deal to me!) I am a solo traveler, and I really appreciated the nightly invitations to dine in The Restaurant with a volunteer host. I met some extremely interesting people, both host and guest, whom I might otherwise have not. I particularly enjoyed dining with the entertainers--both ship and guest. The excellent Cruise Director Team of Handre and Luke, not only knew my name, they seemed to be genuinely concerned that my Quest experience be the best possible. They also seemed to have a hand in everything involving passenger entertainment and happiness. The only complaint I have is that dreadful "single supplement." I understand the financial rationale behind it, but I still resent paying, on a per-person basis, more for my suite than those fortunate enough to have someone with whom they can travel--but I guess I don't resent it that much since I've already reserved a suite on Encore's Holiday Cruise! Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
Chose this cruise because the itinerary was all new to us and it hit some spots on our bucket list, including Giverny, D-Day beaches, Bayeux Tapestries, and Lisbon. Embarkation was quick and easy. Had an early private excursion in ... Read More
Chose this cruise because the itinerary was all new to us and it hit some spots on our bucket list, including Giverny, D-Day beaches, Bayeux Tapestries, and Lisbon. Embarkation was quick and easy. Had an early private excursion in Lisbon and getting off the ship was very fast. For the first 24 hours, service in the Restaurant and Colonnade was slow and we got the impression that the servers and others were trying to figure out territories and responsibilities. Things seemed to improve thereafter, although we still encountered slow service in The Restaurant on occasion. Best service and food were in The Grill, but we only got in once. In The Restaurant, entrees are modest in size and so are the accompaniments. But ordering sides of vegetables or starches is easy. We ate all breakfasts and most lunches in the Colonnade and we very happy with the selection, which is so large that it can be hard to find things. Several of the employees there learned our names and made real efforts to be helpful and friendly. Saw the singers and dancers a few times. The Tim Rice show (he appears on video) was excellent while the others were fairly average. Went on three of the ship's excursions: (1) a sunny day and amazing array of flowers made for a great time at Monet's home and garden in Giverny and the guide did a good job; (2) Santiago de Compostela was an intriguing place and the guide knew her stuff and had a good sense of humor; and (3) it was a cloudy day in Porto, there was a lot of standing around and waiting, and the guide was just okay. Wanted to see both D-Day beaches and the Bayeux Tapestries, not a combination offered by Seabourn, so we got a private guide and found another couple to join us and it worked very well. Noticed that there didn't seem to be a deck with an outside walking route as long as the ship, but weather kept us inside most of the time. Went to a number of functions where officers made an appearance and then vanished, but we (and probably everyone else) did get a couple of invitations to dine with officers or entertainers and we did have dinner with the head of human resources. Met a number of Seabourn veterans who were disappointed in the service in the dining venues, as we were. Was also surprised that we were asked to provide information about birthdays and anniversaries, but when our anniversary came there was no recognition of it. We also missed Regent's included excursions, Internet access, and phone call allowance. We expect two things from cruises (and land trips): (1) to get away from the chores of cooking, cleaning, etc. and the rest of the routine and (2) to see interesting places, either on excursions or independently. We got these on this cruise, met nice people, and were treated well by the crew. Did this cruise line and this ship and crew do this so much better than others? I would say not. Would we return? Probably yes, if we found an attractive itinerary and price. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
To begin, this wasn't my first cruise, just my first Seabourn cruise. The Seabourn company makes booking, travel, embarking, etc. very easy and organized. From the second you arrive, you'll realize this is no ordinary cruise ... Read More
To begin, this wasn't my first cruise, just my first Seabourn cruise. The Seabourn company makes booking, travel, embarking, etc. very easy and organized. From the second you arrive, you'll realize this is no ordinary cruise ship. The entire staff, without exception, is friendly, polite, knowledgeable, professional, and most importantly when on a cruise, looking to pamper and attend to your needs. To put it simply, everyday, the entire staff is looking to please you. The service on this ship is excellent. I will say that this ship rivals any 5 star resort, hotel, or restaurant, except you have an ever changing view of coastlines! This is an exquisite ship, beautifully decorated, with lovely touches throughout. Our suite was spacious with a sitting area, deck, table and chairs, and was very well attended. The bathroom was quite large and mostly beautiful marble. Our room attendant kept out room well stocked with luxurious treats, drinks, and the next day's info. Our room, and the entire ship is pristine gleaming clean. "The Colonnade" serves all meals, but we mostly ate breakfast here. You can order, but the buffet quite literally has more variety than I have ever seen. "The Grill by Thomas Keller" is a first rate, wonderful choice. FYI; it's reputation is well known so make reservations before you board. There is also a wonderful poolside option with pizza, pasta, and more casual great food. Any one of the choices offers amazing food with excellent service. There's also a variety of wonderful nightly entertainment. After seeing some of the world's most beautiful cities while on various well planned amazing excursions throughout Europe, coming back to this beautiful ship every evening made for the most luxurious trip we have ever been on. If you're looking for luxury and the best service, Seabourn has perfected every detail. We can't wait to sail with "Seabourn' again! Read Less
Sail Date: July 2018
Have sailed on Cunard, Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, Holland America. This was our 4th Seabourn cruise. We like the beauty of the ships, the great food and service. This was a port intensive cruise and gave us, we think, a good tasting of ... Read More
Have sailed on Cunard, Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, Holland America. This was our 4th Seabourn cruise. We like the beauty of the ships, the great food and service. This was a port intensive cruise and gave us, we think, a good tasting of Ireland, as well as stops in the Scilly Isles, The Isles of Mull and Iona in Scotand, and Holyhead, Wales. We took only 3 excursions - one to Tresco and it's gardens in the Isles of Scilly led by a very good birder/naturalist, one across Mull to Iona, and one around the tiny island of Staffa. Could have skipped the Staffa excursion - we went out on zodiacs, were not able to land on the island and just about everything we saw (save a multitude of puffins - wonderful) we could see from the ship. The time the ship spent waiting at Staffa so we could do that excursion took a good 2 hours away from our time in Obermory and Iona, where I would have loved to have had more time. The ship had been refreshed recently and it showed. Beautiful. I didn't attend any of the shows, so I can't comment. Nor did I visit the gym, though I did use the pools and hot tubs daily because water has always been my thing. Some nit-picking -- I would remove the Hublot adds from the TV in the Seabourn Square; vulgar. Get rid of the stale hors d'oeuvres and serve high quality mixed nuts in the bars. Or have them on offer for those who want them. I only went to two lecture events in the afternoon; one about Ireland was very low-brow; I could have given a better one by researching Wikipedia and downloading slides from the web with a few hours notice. The other was an unabashed ad for Seabourn's antarctic cruises. I heard some people were impressed by a talk on Churchill that I missed. We were happily on shore enjoying beautiful walks in glorious weather just about everywhere we went. I hope to sail with Seabourn again. It was a lovely cruise. Sometimes I would be having a meal in the Colonade al fresco on the back of the ship and look out at the sea and think I could not be in a more beautiful spot. 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
22 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2016
This was the second time we travelled on Seabourn Quest in 12 months and we upgraded to an Owner's Suite on the basis that a sofa bed was available as advertised on-line. The sofa bed ended up being two duvets, folded, as a mattress ... Read More
This was the second time we travelled on Seabourn Quest in 12 months and we upgraded to an Owner's Suite on the basis that a sofa bed was available as advertised on-line. The sofa bed ended up being two duvets, folded, as a mattress plus pillows taken from the main bedroom. Our complaint was not resolved and the company has not responded to either my feedback or my Travel Agent's complaints. The Owner's Suite was also subject to considerable noise from 4.30am for up to 45 minutes and was hardly suitable for an 87 year old with hyper-tension and poor mobility. We found that the attention to detail was lacking. Borrowed knives to cut fruit as well as mugs for our tea and coffee were removed until we asked that they be left for daily use. Requests for English Breakfast teabags resulted in a supply of Earl Grey teabags - twice. The coffee machine was never replenished with water during the whole cruise - we did it ourselves each day. Invitations to join staff tables were not issued for the first week but came on a daily basis once we had complained to our Agent in Australia. Messages left at the service desk were not delivered. We embarked and were then left to our own devices to find our cabin (no directions or offers of assistance) and we had trouble getting any information on the internet service. The staff were all very kind and attentive but we felt that they hadn't been sufficiently trained. We heard other complaints - missing laundry, ordinary food and poor service. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2011
On our Rome to London Seabourn Sojourn cruise, we flew into Rome a day early and stayed at the Hotel Columbus near the Vatican. For a mid priced hotel it was adequate. Two blocks to the Vatican and street dining, very convenient.Easy ... Read More
On our Rome to London Seabourn Sojourn cruise, we flew into Rome a day early and stayed at the Hotel Columbus near the Vatican. For a mid priced hotel it was adequate. Two blocks to the Vatican and street dining, very convenient.Easy trip next day to Civitacheccia to the Sojourn.Easy checkin, champagne greeting and ready room. Big bath w/ dbl sinks and tub, more than needed but top quality fixtures. Small but adequate veranda and excellent appts thruout room. Maid svc was excellent and timely, they did the room while you were away. Many geriatrics?? on board, so casino, spa, other svcs suffered but tea time was quite popular with our British based companions. Dining venues were consistently outstanding except for specialty Restuarant II which was a little over the top with 8 small, individualized servings of many specialty items?? Never a wait or a crowd for seating and, mostly, excellent service. One failing was the WiFi svc which was abysmally slow and expensive. Entertainment was cruise ship quality but worth the time. Debark was a breeze due to both the small number on board and Sunday arrival. Will travel with Seabourn again. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2010
My wife and I have been cruising since 1995, including multiple experiences with Seabourn, Silversea and Regent--but also with larger Holland America and Princess ships, and one very-forgettable Celebrity Alaska cruise. We have some ... Read More
My wife and I have been cruising since 1995, including multiple experiences with Seabourn, Silversea and Regent--but also with larger Holland America and Princess ships, and one very-forgettable Celebrity Alaska cruise. We have some perspective as to reasonable expectations which come from spending more "upfront" going with an all-inclusive "boutique" smaller ship; vs. the mid-size varieties where one winds up paying extra for a soft drink or a special coffee + "suggested gratuities" or automatically-added-on payments to staff + wine with dinner + extra charges for specialty dining venues + on-and on. Up until last month, our most recent Seabourn experience was in 2000 with the "Sun" on a 19-day repositioning cruise from Ft. Lauderdale to Bercelona--with 900 other guests. (The Sun remained under the Seabourn label for about three years; wisely, it was then handed-off to another nameplate. Currently, that ship is a Holland America vessel.) That's 900 passengers. Do the math. We had been spoiled by prior cruises on Seabourn's "Legend" (around 195 guests). Naturally, we expected some service changes, but were unprepared for the realities of about 600+ other Seabourn alumni on that voyage "pushing back" with the staff when dealing with the realities of diminished service. The staff did it very best; and I would bet the other 300 passengers with no prior experience with Seabourn had a very pleasant experience. We--and about 600 others--did not. So--it was to Regent and Silversea. However--with the advent of the larger, and brand-new Sojourn--time to give Seabourn another try. We were not disappointed. Our cruise was top-notch from start to finish and either met, or exceeded, expectations. Embarkation: Flew directly (via a short stop in Amsterdam) from Seattle to Copenhagen. Seabourn arranged a private car from the airport to the pier. We arrived a few minutes before the bulk of of fellow passengers who flew in earlier and were having lunch at local hotel(s) (One of which we passed--to see our soon-to-be companions boarding a bus.) Were on the ship in about five minutes. Right--five only minutes. A pleasant stop on the Deck 6 Grand Salon for champagne and finger sandwiches (or bigger ones, or another type-drink, if one so-wanted.) Just ask--and it was provided. Cabin: Into our vary-spacious veranda cabin within 35 minutes, with luggage waiting for us. The one "thing" we noted--which was a reoccurring "sour" note on an-otherwise pleasant cruise--was the smell of cigarette smoke. We opened-up the veranda door, turned up the air-conditioning as high as it would go--and waited. It took about three hours, but that lingering odor went away. It never returned inside our cabin ALTHOUGH--the person occupying the next-cabin over was, obviously a chain smoker. Everytime we left our suite for the hallway, literally held our breath to avoid second-hand vapors escaping into the common area. See below. With that aside-- Service: "Suite" and attendant service met our expectations. Sandy, our attendant, provided prompt, and professional service. A very pleasant young lady. This is the standard we experienced whether in a dining venue, at a lounge, while at tea, chatting with staff, or at the "Square". Efficient without pretense. Staff is well-aware of the clientele, which I would wager consisted of 85% or above Seabourn alumni. The same goes for paying guests. We respect the professionalism of staff, and do not make unreasonable demands or requests. Dining: Absolutely 5+ star. An example or two says it all: My wife likes a simple lunch consisting of broiled fish and steamed vegetables. This combo is not on the menu. No problem in either the Colonnade or Restaurant. After the first lunch, no need to even ask. I like an occasional cheeseburger or beef "dog" for lunch, even while in the Colonnade or Restaurant. And--I like a BIG hamburger patty, well-done. As for beefdogs--got to have the sauerkraut. That garnish was not present at The Grill. I had to merely ask for it--and had a surfeit of same thereafter. The chef prepared a double-sized beef patty, perfectly done [well] each time I order the cheeseburger. This alone was worth the extra tariff for an all-inclusive cruise. Dined in Restaurant 2 on three occasions. Simply delightful. Unique combinations of tasting dishes, with each explained in detail by our server(s). My wife--a gourmet cook--appreciated this attention to detail. Afternoon tea was refined and delicious, with all those little treats available. My wife wants to specifically mention the wonderful galley tour and cooking demonstration done by the chef. He took real pride in his presentation, and answering questions. Which, of course, is the perfect segue to-- Spa and Fitness: Neither my wife or I utilized the Spa. As for the Exercise Room. I usually had this area all-to myself. Worked out daily on the treadmill during the period 6:45-7:30. Perhaps one or two others joined me. Where was everyone? Top-notch equipment, which actually worked! And, individual tv screens at each machine. Public Rooms: The "Square" is functional, friendly, and complete. The staff was always available to provide services such as facilitating reservations for Restaurant 2 [Get there precisely at 6:30pm to make same for the next 48 hours]; exchanging currency; or arranging for special meals on the return plane flight. The reclining chairs made it very difficult to read--one only wanted to snooze. That is why it was nice to have a specialty coffee readily available from the Square's coffee bar. Library was ample, and stocked with recent publications. Entertainment: Here is the deal: Every PM public activity (dining and entertainment) on Sojourn is either 30 or 60 minutes "late", or at least later than one might expect on a Regent or Silversea. So--Deal with it! It is just too-late to really enjoy a "show"--singers/dancers; jugglers; acrobats (just kidding) which begins at 10:00pm. This is really not fair to these fine performers. We saw only two shows. It was so-so easy to retire to one's suite and "dial up" a plethora of vintage high-quality movies. Such is Seabourn. Shore Excursions: We booked three. One--"Footsteps of Rembrandt" at Amsterdam--was cancelled due to lack of sufficient participation. No big deal. We purchased two day-long trolley passes, visited several museums on our own, and probably saved about $300.00 in the process. Plus, had the opportunity to take a bunch of neat pictures of all the bicycles and chat with the locals. The two excursions we did take--Piano Recital at Troldhaugen and Cruising Lysefjord--were handled expeditiously. The Recital was really magical, as I enjoy playing Grieg's piano music; and my wife' favorite piano selection is "Wedding Day at Troldhaugen". That was the last selection played by a real "pro" [not me!]. It was a shame we had to leave that venue. Enrichment Lectures: Dr. Donald Behnke was great! By popular demand (encouraged by a ground-swell started by my wife and me) he was "allowed" to present an additional lecture. He knows his stuff (Opera; Broadway) and presents it in a down-to-earth manner. Missing Ports: Aalesund, Molde, and Olden, Norway. Easy off-easy-on. Nice walk through the scenic towns. Disembarkation: Again, without a hitch at Dover. We were called off the ship at the precise time (9:00am) indicated on our luggage tags. Seabourn's arranged private car was there to provide a speedy trip to Heathrow for the non-stop return to Seattle. Value for Money: We got what we paid for. No complaints. Smoking policy: This is one area Seabourn must address, as much in the interests of its staff and cabin attendants, as for paying guests. The Sojourn brochure we received stated no smoking anywhere in any dining venue, whether inside or outside. This included Deck 8's Patio Bar and Patio Grill areas. BUT--there were the ashtrays on tables used by Grill and Bar patrons. And, folks were lighting up. This, literally, chased us off that area. What gives? As mentioned above--the cabin next to ours literally wreaked with cigarette smoke. On more than a few occasions, the door to that suite was open when we were coming and going to our room, as our attendant was providing services. How can Seabourn allow its suite attendants to be constantly exposed to this situation? It is bad-enough to hold one's breath when walking by; but we had the luxury of being able to escape the smell. This smoking reality is the subject of a letter my wife and I are sending to Seabourn management. This was the only negative aspect of our cruise. It is simply a matter of health. That health pertaining to Seabourn's employees. Yes, we will be sailing with Seabourn (on the bigger ships) again. Hopefully, management will properly address concerns which I hope other alumni will continue to raise regarding smoking policy. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2010
Normally I wouldn't take the maiden voyage of any cruise ship because they haven't worked out the kinks with the ship and staff yet. When I saw the destinations of the Sojourn's maiden voyage, I thought why not, it's ... Read More
Normally I wouldn't take the maiden voyage of any cruise ship because they haven't worked out the kinks with the ship and staff yet. When I saw the destinations of the Sojourn's maiden voyage, I thought why not, it's Seabourn. I was absolutely right. This voyage was awesome. Yes, there were a few minor issues with the ship - doors that whistled, bathroom rugs that tripped you - but overall it was up to Seabourn's usual high standards. The rooms were great with a just a few problems. The couch was too narrow and hard for afternoon naps. The comfortable veranda furniture was a tad too big for the small veranda but we didn't use it much because of the cold weather. The bathroom was wonderful - two sinks, bathtub and separate shower. The rug had no rubber backing and continually caused me to trip if I was wearing shoes. So twice a day after our room was serviced, we just picked it up and hung it over the bathtub. We only ate in three of the four dinning venues. The fourth required reservations and offered a menu beyond our Texas-trained pallets. We never had a disappointing meal. Both dinning and room service staff were fantastic. Our sail away was from Greenwich- right on the Thames - instead of the usual UK ports. What a night. We had a wonderful first dinner and then were treated to fireworks as we sailed down the Thames. As this was the maiden voyage, the President of Seabourn was aboard and always visible and approachable. We had two special Seabourn events - one in in Iceland and one in Amsterdam. They were very different experiences and perfect for this maiden voyage. We had one of our stops in Iceland cancelled due to poor weather but because this was Seabourn, by noon that day, they arranged a new stop at the Shetland Islands and it was a wonderful day. I can't say enough about the staff and crew. Though this ship holds 400 passengers rather than the 108 of their smaller ships, many of the wait staff knew my name. The captain was very visible and would stop to chat. The Sojourn is a beautiful ship but I would be happy sailing on a tug boat that had these wonderfully warm and professional people working it. Read Less
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