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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: May 2011
Norway on the Sojourn was a fantastic experience....it was the first time with Seabourn,,but not the last...everything about it was top of the line,,the cabin,food,service,entertainment,appearance,,,etc.....This itinerary was ... Read More
Norway on the Sojourn was a fantastic experience....it was the first time with Seabourn,,but not the last...everything about it was top of the line,,the cabin,food,service,entertainment,appearance,,,etc.....This itinerary was wonderful,,with lots to see and do,,and I highly recommend it,,esp.to those that have seen the Med..and Caribean,,and need something a little different...the fjords were spectacular,,the excursions interesting ..but the small towns were easy to do on own.A food lover will be happy in the variety of restaurants,,and great room service...with tasteful dishes and service to match.I had a problem with smoking,,but not as bad as I had imagined...it was strong in halls,and near the bars that allow it...its allowed in rooms and balconies,,,lucky no one near us smoked,,and room had no smell...so that would not stop me from going back...but I do think it should be stopped in cabin/balcony... Read Less
Sail Date: June 2011
I recently sailed the Seabourn Sojourn, through the Baltic Seas, and we had a great time. This was my second time cruising a Seabourn ship, and the experience was a bit different. We had cruised the Spirit that was smaller and more ... Read More
I recently sailed the Seabourn Sojourn, through the Baltic Seas, and we had a great time. This was my second time cruising a Seabourn ship, and the experience was a bit different. We had cruised the Spirit that was smaller and more personalized. The Soujourn was bigger and the small cruise experience was definitively lost a bit, which was a bit disappointing, since we are kind of quite couple, and enjoy the time spent by ourselves, even though we don't mind sometimes a bit of company.The weather was beautiful, which made the experience more enjoyable. The personal service provided by our chamber maid was as not as personal as the time we sailed the cruise. When we first arrived, we had forgotten to bring toothpaste, so we asked her to try to help us with that, and she said there was none aboard. I thought it was a small detail that should have been easily taken care of and didn't. Considering the cost of our cruise and that you can get that even in a three star hotel, I found it not at the level of service.In general the service was good, not over friendly always, except from the staff that got to know you closer, as per example the waiter/ress that came from your country of origin, that made the effort to remember your last name. But other waiters where almost rude, for example in the situation that I was very tired (due to illness) and asked a random waiter to bring me a salad from the salad bar, she just answered "go an select it yourself from the salad bar", absolutely unthinkable for the service that you are supposed to get. In all, the experience was excellent. Food was very good, not excellent, but totally enjoyable.Also, I have to say that the show on board was also very good, much better than I remembered at the Spirit. They had four singers, Broadway style, that were really good, I have to give them credit for that.I liked the new hub style lounge that the Soujourn had, that hadn't seen before, and it was very good.In all, very enjoyable cruise experience. I heard nothing but compliments from other fellow cruisers, specially the ones that were cruising the Seabourn for the first time. I guess they had no point of comparing. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2011
We just returned from a 9-day Norway cruise (round trip from Copenhagen) on the Sojourn. Although we don't have the extensive luxury cruising experience of many who post on this site, I wanted to pass along our impressions. First of ... Read More
We just returned from a 9-day Norway cruise (round trip from Copenhagen) on the Sojourn. Although we don't have the extensive luxury cruising experience of many who post on this site, I wanted to pass along our impressions. First of all, as background, my wife and I are in our mid 40's and we have a 17 year-old daughter who travels with us. While, our luxury cruise experience consists of only two cruises on Regent (Voyager Baltic, 2010 and Navigator Caribbean, 2011) and Cunard (Atlantic Crossing, Queen's Grill, 2005), we do consistently take very nice vacations and we prefer to stay in nice hotels (Four Seasons, Mandarin, Ritz-Carlton, etc.). So, to some extent, we are naturally comparing experiences on Sojourn to land-based luxury experiences as well. However, for purposes of this post, I will primarily compare our Seabourn Sojourn experience to our two prior experiences on Regent ships. While I understand that these impressions are entirely subjective and are based on a single Seabourn cruise on a single vessel, I'm passing them along for whatever they may be worth. Overall, the Norway trip was one of the best trips we've ever taken. In part, that was due to the stunning scenery and location, which would have been amazing even if we were on a non-luxury ship. In addition to the scenery, however, the high quality Seabourn experience also made this a wonderful trip. There were a number of areas in which we thought that the Seabourn experience was superior to Regent, as well as some areas where we preferred our prior Regent experience. All in all, we think that both Seabourn and Regent offer excellent experiences, but we did note some differences. AREAS WHERE WE WOULD GIVE THE NOD TO SEABOURN SOJOURN: Food This is one area where we thought that Seabourn was the clear winner. While we didn't find the difference to be that significant in the main dining room, we thought that Seabourn was far superior in the other dining venues. This was particularly true for the Colonnade, which we thought was simply superb all the way around (the buffets at breakfast and lunch, as well as the superb dinners with table service and excellent dishes prepared to order in the open kitchen). We never thought that we were "settling" for lesser food quality or diminished quality of service when we opted to dine in the Colonnade in lieu of the main dining room. By comparison, we felt that the buffet-style dinners in Regent's La Veranda were a notch-down in quality and atmosphere from the experience offered in Regent's main dining rooms. When weather conditions permitted, the Sojourn's pool grill also was open in the evening, serving excellent made-to-order steaks, lamb chops and other grilled items with table service, as well as antipastas, salads and other "side" items available as a buffet. While we have very much enjoyed Regent's Prime 7 steakhouse venue, the dining there requires a reservation and might only be available once per cruise - by contrast, we could eat in Sojourn's Colonnade or pool grill in the evening without a reservation anytime we wanted. I can't comment on Restaurant 2, as we never made it there for dinner (not because we were intentionally trying to avoid it, but simply because we never got around to it, as we found the other alternatives so appealing). Service in Dining Venues. This is another area where we would give the nod to Seabourn. It is hard to define precisely what was superior about it, but the European Seabourn dining staff somehow seemed more polished and professional. In addition, we never made a request that the dining staff was unable to grant. For example, waiters in each dining venue were happy to have decaffeinated iced tea specially prepared for my wife (she avoids caffeine but, being a Texan, she loves her iced tea). By contrast, my wife has made the same request in Regent dining venues a number of times, and the waiters have never been able to accommodate the request (in some cases, acting as though they had never heard that such a thing as decaffeinated iced tea even existed). All in all, the dining service on the Sojourn seemed to us to be essentially the same as what we would expect if staying and dining at a Four Seasons resort - spot on and highly consistent. Outdoor Public Areas of Ship We were really surprised by the wonderful outdoor "nooks and crannies" and other places to relax - from multiple hot tubs to secluded hidden deck areas, the exterior spaces on the Sojourn were incredibly well conceived and executed. We had the impression of almost being on a private yacht - really no comparison to Regent Navigator (which seemed cramped in terms of outdoor spaces) or Voyager. Stability of Ship and Lack of Vibration We sailed through some pretty rough waters in the North Sea, but the Sojourn seemed rock solid, without any hint of vibration. By contrast, we found the vibration in the rear portion of the Regent Navigator to be HIGHLY bothersome, and the Regent Voyager also seemed to have some issue with this. No Art Auctions The Sojourn had a relaxed but sophisticated on-board feeling, and thankfully no art auctions to destroy the ambiance (unlike Regent). AREAS WHERE WE WOULD GIVE THE NOD TO REGENT: Purser and Similar Services We thought that the Sojourn fell far short of the Regent standard in terms of on-board purser and similar services. While the "set up" of the personnel to assist with account/purser issues in Seabourn Square was good, there were some real problems with systems and/or execution. First of all, we had made the mistake of reserving some spa treatments and shore excursions online in advance of the cruise (not having previously sailed with Sojourn, we were afraid that these might be "sold out" if we waited until getting on board). Seabourn's website required us to pay for these in advance with a credit card. Because we had significant onboard credits from American Express, I asked onboard to apply these credits to the spa treatments and shore excursions that we had pre-reserved. The staff in Seabourn Square was unable to accommodate this. At first, they essentially indicated that we were simply out of luck, and one staff member told me repeatedly that we should have simply reserved, but not paid for, the pre-booked items when we reserved - I told them that the website seemed to indicate that we MUST prepay for the pre-booked items. Eventually, we were paid out in cash for the items we had pre-paid, but this took several days to resolve. They were unable (or unwilling) to simply reverse the credit card charges. Secondly, we asked to get a key to our daughter's suit (she's a minor), so that we would be able to access her suite if we need to do so. At first, we were told that the system would not accommodate this and that there could be only one key issued for each person in a suite. Finally, after three days, the purser was able to override the system (or something) and get us another key. These may seem like minor annoyances, but they were definitely annoyances, and these are not the type of issues with which we've ever had a hassle on Regent or at a high-end hotel on land. Bars Open During Day Only one bar (the pool bar) was open prior to 6:00 pm on the Sojourn. By contrast, on Regent we had always appreciated that there was at least one other indoor (and more convenient) bar open during the day - which was nice if returning from a long shore excursion, etc. Smoking Policy While our suites never smelled of smoke, the hallways often smelled of it when passing other cabins. Also, the observation bar could be extremely stinky from smoke when it was full of people. We much prefer Regent's smoking policy. Places to Get Coffee in the Morning While the Sojourn had excellent coffee drinks of various sorts available in Seabourn Square, one had to get the coffee from the staff member working the coffee counter and there was often a line (and a wait). This was the only thing for which I ever had to wait in a line on the Sojourn - but I hate waiting in lines. I have always enjoyed the ability to get self-service coffee (at Coffee Connection or by the pool) on Regent. This may seem minor to most people, but it's annoying to me to have to wait just to get a cup of coffee and to not have a self-service option. Suites Although this is a close one (and in most respects we found the Sojourn suites to be equivalent to the Regent suites), there were a couple of minor things that would cause us to give the nod to the Regent suites. First, the dressing area (with mirror) on the Sojourn is in the entry hallway and is completely exposed if one opens the suite door. So, when opening the door to the suite from the outside, it would be very easy to expose one's spouse, etc. to an embarrassing situation if they happen to be getting dressed. By contrast, this area in the Regent suites is at an angle, sort of "around the corner" and not exposed to the suite door. Also, while the bathrooms were very pretty, we thought that the double sink configuration was a mistake. The second sink deprived the bathroom of too much storage space and was not really useful. Once again, not a big differences in the suites. All in all, two excellent cruise lines. We likely will sail both in the future (depending on itinerary, etc.). Read Less
Sail Date: June 2012
First time on Seabourn. Booked Baltic and St. Petersburg due to itinerary, with 3 full days in St. Petersburg. I booked hotels independently in Copenhagen and Stockholm so we could extend our holiday before and after the cruise. ... Read More
First time on Seabourn. Booked Baltic and St. Petersburg due to itinerary, with 3 full days in St. Petersburg. I booked hotels independently in Copenhagen and Stockholm so we could extend our holiday before and after the cruise. Booked private taxi to and from the dock before and after the cruise, since we were staying on. Also booked a private guide for 3 days in St. Petersburg, which cost us less than it would have booking similar ship excursions and we had the guide and driver's full attention. Great way to tour. Visited Copenhagen, Talinn, St. Petersburg, Helsinki (& Porvoo) and Stockholm. Boarding the ship was seamless, quick and easy. The entire staff was cordial and professional. We have nothing but praise for the service standard and service ethic of the staff we encountered. Very positive attitudes, fast on their feet, smiles all around, great command of English. Our cabin attendant was sweet and had a nice sense of humor. We are not demanding passengers, were just looking for some private "us" time due to a crazy work schedule outside vacation. The staff seemed to pick up on this and were discreet in their comings and goings. The cabin was the nicest we've had on any ship: spotless, large, lots of conveniences and thoughtful touches: makeup vanity, double sinks, tub and shower separate, a nice dining area, great AV system, walk in closet, safe, good bedside reading lamps. Bar was stocked with our requests, but we didn't really touch any of it: there were wine and spirits everywhere on board! Beautiful sunsets from our veranda. However, we did enjoy afternoon tea, or a late glass of bourbon or cognac in the Observation Lounge. We ordered room service breakfast every morning so we could get ready for early tours while we finished breakfast. Lovely, flakey croissants, crumbs everywhere, just as it should be. Used the gym once, completely deserted, could not figure out how to get the TV working on my treadmill but no worries. Stepped into Seabourn Square a few times for a bite or some help with touring suggestions. Baristas were excellent, a very nice area to relax. Dining was good, service excellent. I personally felt the food on Oceania was a bit ahead of Seabourn, but spouse felt otherwise. I like more exotic menu items and he's a little more old school: grilled meats or fish is his liking. Never had a miss while dining. Tried the patio grill one night and a sudden downpour occurred while we were choosing appetizers. In the flash of an eye, our pool deck staff had the tables moved to shelter. They were amazing and fun! Best dining experience was Restaurant 2, a bit on the wild side which we liked. Since we were off board everyday on tour, returning late in the afternoon, did not use the pool, spa, or attend activities. We did catch the champagne and caviar sail away which was a lot of fun! The ship itself was modern, spare and beautiful. Felt VERY spacious, quiet and uncrowded. We rarely saw others as we passed through the halls except during early tours. Even then, none of the mass hysteria and confusion that I recall when leaving Oceania on tour. That was very welcome. The ship ran like clockwork, the itinerary was great (would have like more time in Helsinki though: Finland is spectacularly beautiful!) Both my spouse and I would definitely take another Seabourn cruise. And while we both prefer the small sailing ship ambiance of Windstar, which has a certain romance that larger ships can't match, the Seabourn Sojourn felt a lot like a private yacht, just as they advertise. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2012
This is our first time on the Seabourn Sojourn but we have cruised three times on the Seabourn Odyssey and honestly couldn't tell the difference -- right down to the staff as there were several familiar faces. Embarkation in ... Read More
This is our first time on the Seabourn Sojourn but we have cruised three times on the Seabourn Odyssey and honestly couldn't tell the difference -- right down to the staff as there were several familiar faces. Embarkation in Copenhagen was dealt with smoothly as always and we were surprised to find we had been upgraded to an Owner's Suite 601. We had slightly mixed feelings as we had selected our suite with some care - but an upgrade is an upgrade. The obvious benefit is the space and of that we had plenty. The lounge/dining area wouldn't disgrace an apartment and having a separate bedroom is always a good thing -- as indeed is having two loos. We did however feel that more could have been done with the decor to make the whole more luxurious. The obvious downsides of 601 are that the bedroom overlooks the whirlpool at the bow so could lack privacy (not an issue in The Baltic) but more obviously it is above the anchor and this really did waken us up when docking. The first day was at sea. A top tip for this itinerary. I think I would do the cruise the opposite way i.e. from Stockholm to Copenhagen as after a busy time sightseeing we could have really enjoyed this one day at sea and made the most of the ship. Tallinn and Helsinki are great short stops and top and tail the highlight of any Baltic cruise -- St Petersburg -- brilliantly. For Russia we had booked our own guide online so only used the cruise trips for the ballet one evening. This worked perfectly. I was slightly nervous about the visa situation but it really was perfectly straightforward. As long as you had your official tickets with you each time you exited the ship the immigration process was simple and fuss free. Because the ship is docked for three days (two nights) in St Petersburg and the Baltic is so city intensive we spent far less time on board than we would normally do so didn't stretch the ship's facilities at all. As usual the food was excellent and the standard wine decent enough. We've booked our next cruise with Seabourn which I guess says it all. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2013
Our third Seabourne cruise in two years but probably our last.The destinations were great but the quality of food and service generally was much worse than on The Legend or The Oddyssey., The crew are just not as happy,in particular the ... Read More
Our third Seabourne cruise in two years but probably our last.The destinations were great but the quality of food and service generally was much worse than on The Legend or The Oddyssey., The crew are just not as happy,in particular the security staff were miserable,most restaurant staff were good,Juanita stood out as did David the Irish bar server.but unlike previous Seabourne experiences where the vast majority were outstanding. Food in all venues did not live up to expectation and nowhere near as good as our recent Azamara Journey experience . We were allocated 913 which is able to take disabled passengers(we are not disabled)This means that the bathroom is large to accommodate a wheelchair but at the expense of wardrobe space. The final straw was that having booked both Air and port transfers with Seabourn they made us debarked at 8am in Stockholm for a 45min.journey to Arlanda airport even though our flight was not due until ten past five that afternoon giving us an 8 hour wait.My complaint was met with "tough it is what it is no exceptions" Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2013
I just returned from our 7 day cruise of the Baltics. I have been on many cruises but this was my first with Seabourn. I wanted to share some thoughts while they are fresh in my mind. First of all - I loved the experience. We will ... Read More
I just returned from our 7 day cruise of the Baltics. I have been on many cruises but this was my first with Seabourn. I wanted to share some thoughts while they are fresh in my mind. First of all - I loved the experience. We will definately do another - we already bought the $1000 certificate for our use. The whole "all inclusive" thing was wonderful. I never realized how much I was aggravated on other ships by constantly pulling out my card to order a drink or sign little slips of paper all day long. The smaller ship was plenty stable and it was great that I could walk from our cabin to anywhere on the ship in less than a minute. I never waited ina line - except maybe a couple of times getting coffee from the onboard starbucks-like cafe. Service: - Outstanding. From check in (we were litterally the first to board in Copenhagen at 12:05), the cabin steward, waitstaff. All were constantly smiling, many calling us by name by day 2. Passengers: Not as old as I was expecting. Maybe because this was a port intensive cruise, I would say the average age was low to mid fifties. (We are 58) and not surprisingly obviously rather affluent. I would guess there were maybe 4 children under 10 and another 3 or 4 teenagers. That is about it. Extremely friendly - we made many friends at dinner, in the hot tub and in the caasino. Food - Dining room: I am a bit of a foodie and loved it. Very good taste and well presented. Always served very hot. Dinning room food was limited at breakfast but a very nice variety at dinner. Beef wellington and lobster were favorites. Not a big dessert person but I enjoyed the cheese course most evenings. Strangely if I had a complaint it was that portion sizes at dinner can be a bit small - even considering you had three or four courses. (For me, two double lamb chops does not an entree make!) I would leaave dinner, go tothe show and casino and would be wanting a bite to eat about midnight with no real option (I know I could have room service, but a late night pizza or sandwich bar would be a nice touch). Food - Colonade: Having been on cruise ships much larger, I have grown accustomed to avoiding the buffet. I am so glad I did not. The food was excellent at breakfast and lunch and the ability to also order ala cart was great (albeit limited). Dining staff: Generally good, with just one less that excellent server. We ate a variety of ways....twice at a table for 2, twice paired up at random with another couple and twice at a large table with crew - once witht he ship's doctor and one with a singer. Dinning experience was great at all dinners. Wines: I know wines and we have wine most nights for dinner. Most of the wines I had would be comparable with what we have at home on a nightly basis. I would imagine our typical "house" wines are in the $12 to $17 per bottle range and that is pretty much comparison for these wines. (Having said that, we will have much more upscale wines with company or a special dinner - so I know the difference) We particularly liked a Petite Chablis they served at lunch the first day and often asked for and received it during the week. There was also a nice bordeau blend and a couple of Sauvignon Blancs (some too light, some much fruitier.) I had the champagne, it was fine but I am not a big fan anyway. The Pinot was on the light side - they suggested it to pair with the prime rib - I opted for a syrah. I never felt the need nor desire to buy up to a better wine. Casino: Small as expected - one each of a roulette, blackjack, three card poker and baccarat. The staff here were the only ones I found to be less than stellar. I got the impression that they hoped we would not show up or that we would go to bed early. Often, the casino would be advertised as opening at a certain time, and the staff would show up 30 minutes later. I also found it odd that they would accept - even encourage - gratuities. Entertainment: The production shows were excellent. Very talented singers and musicians. Cruise director was fine - enjoyable but somewhat unremarkable. The female lounge singer was not very good...I ended up avoiding her where-ever she sang. The onboard activities were sparse and not well attended since this is such a port intensive cruise. We were (slightly) diappointed that the wine tasting (offered at $100 per person) did not attract the minimum 10 attendees and was cancelled. Only 2 couples attended the trivia (the four of us got prizes) and only 7 played in the blackjack tournament. Pools: They were rarely used. High temperatures averaged in the low sixties so the hottubs were the only real options. There were rarely more than a few people a day partaking. (This was a very port intensive cruise) . I loved the drink service when in the hot tub - my drink waiter david was wonderful and attentive).   Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2014
First time with Seabourn and only second cruise in total. First was with P&O which I would rate as 4star (and we would use P&O again). Seabourn was 6 star. First class professional service at all times, personal attention from ... Read More
First time with Seabourn and only second cruise in total. First was with P&O which I would rate as 4star (and we would use P&O again). Seabourn was 6 star. First class professional service at all times, personal attention from Cruise Director to the housekeeping lady. Polite, friendly and helpful, never deferential in approach. Food was excellent with plenty of choice, I have a gargantuan appetite but never left the table feeling hungry. Dress code seemed sensible and appropriate. Other guests were a delight, 40% American, many Aussies, Brits, Mexicans, Brazilians, all well heeled professional people some retired but all out for a good classy time. Cannot recommend this ship enough. It aint cheap and if you are looking for somewhere to show off your tattoos it is not here. I have not scored 5.5 for entertainment, the size of the boat does not lend itself to the all singing dancing, west end standard type of entertainment we had on P&O (which we did enjoy a lot). This is more low key, very high standard sophisticated type of entertainment, its a matter of personal choice and taste of course and there was absolutely nothing wrong with Seabourns entertainment. Last thought, its not for kids.   Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2014
My wife and I just returned from our Baltic vacation, the main portion of it being a weeklong cruise on Seabourn's Quest. This was our first Seabourn experience, and as the title says, Seabourn exceeded our expectations. First, the ... Read More
My wife and I just returned from our Baltic vacation, the main portion of it being a weeklong cruise on Seabourn's Quest. This was our first Seabourn experience, and as the title says, Seabourn exceeded our expectations. First, the physical stuff. The ship is quite young as it went into service in June 2011. The ship was in great shape, as we saw no indications of the all too common unsightly wear and tear you can see on older vessels. We had a standard suite (#729 -- great, mid-ship location) that was plenty large enough for us -- there was no "squeezing" between the end of bed and the wall or dresser, something we've experienced on other ships. The suite's sitting area was fine, too, including a couch, table, two chairs and a handy ottoman that could used as a mobile table to snacks or any other use. The veranda seemed to extend further out than others, so it was very nice, too. The suites offer a good-sized walk-in closet that actually hand enough nice wooden hangers for our clothes; it houses the safe, water vests, extra blankets and pillows, too. The bathroom was simply elegant, too -- granite throughout, nice lighting, two sinks, a shower, a separate tub and the toilet, of course. Second, the staff service. In a nutshell, simply outstanding from embarkation through disembarkation. It seemed to us that the staff fully intends to provide an incredibly high level of customer service -- they want you to have a special experience, and they succeeded with us. Friendly, yet professional, was the provided by all of the staff, from the food servers, room stewardesses, bartenders and the other support staff that are always available. What was tangible is that not once did we experience a "that's not my job" attitude; they either handled it or made sure your need was addressed by the right person. I give big kudos to the staff for their execution, and also to the management team that developed the service standards and the required training and follow-up for the staff. Staff and management are on the same page at Seabourn. Third, the dining experiences. Seabourn's Quest offer "The Restaurant", which is the main formal dining room; The Colonnade, for still very good quality food in buffet style so that you can dine more casually; and of course the deck restaurant for the quick and easy food (burgers, pizzas, and other offerings of the day). We enjoyed each of them very much. The Restaurant offers a Chef's recommendation each night, as well as their standard fare -- we found the quality excellent. Most nights, a jacket is required, which is OK, I suppose. I'd prefer no jacket required jut to lighten the packing load, but I understand the intent. And when I wanted to go casual, to the Colonnade or deck we went. And the room service is excellent, too. Each late afternoon day, we enjoyed a terrific shrimp cocktail or a cheese plate along with a glass of wine. Fourth, the excursions. They are nice and expensive. We stuck to Seabourn excursions this cruise and they handled the process very well. We've used private excursions on previous non-Seabourn cruises, and to be frank, they offer a lot of benefits. Also expensive, but you can direct timing to your liking. The group excursions, however, get you preferred entry at most locations, so that's a plus. Overall, we loved our first sojourn with Seabourn on Quest. We had a terrific similar experience five years ago on Regent's Navigator, and a rather disappointing time on Crystal's Symphony last year (some interactions with two or three staff members really negated an otherwise good cruise experience). I would highly recommend Seabourn to anyone considering them for a cruise. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2014
Booking: Tried to book my suite and airfare online. Glitches in their system booked 3 suites and then cancelled my air from Austin, Texas. After several phone calls and approximately 4 hours with discourteous personnel, it was worked out. ... Read More
Booking: Tried to book my suite and airfare online. Glitches in their system booked 3 suites and then cancelled my air from Austin, Texas. After several phone calls and approximately 4 hours with discourteous personnel, it was worked out. Flight to Port: Concern over short layover in Chicago. Another discourteous Seabourn clerk said, "We don't book flights you can't make. But you can purchase your own flight if you're concerned." We barely made the connection, by running, but we got to Copenhagen with NO luggage. Dining: Main Dining room was more than expected~ more time, 3 hours…for a 3 course meal. Food presentation was great, but taste was only adequate…disappointing. Shore Excursions: Not a diverse choice. Took a bicycle tour in Estonia, that should have been labeled strenuous. One cyclist was hit by a drop arm, knocked off his bike and bloodied… Entertainment: so, so… Cabin: Wonderful, spacious bathrooms, walk-in closet, great Stewardess! Disembarkation, Driver, Hotel: Driver picked us up in Dover on time. However, he rarely went to London and was lost for 45 minutes. When he did find the Grosvenor, he dropped us off on the wrong side. Booking fouled up, again. Had to fuss to get another room, and then for $700 it faced a tarred roof and engine room. The Seabourn agent on site had not a clue what her duties were! Reparations: Seabourn gave me a whopping $2000 toward my next cruise….I had spent $20,000. on this one. NEVER AGAIN!!   Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2014
We went on our 2nd Seabourn Quest trip in two years. This time, we chose a 12day trip up to the Northern Europe/Baltic Sea for our honeymoon. We have loved our experience with Seabourn however, our last trip will probably be the last ... Read More
We went on our 2nd Seabourn Quest trip in two years. This time, we chose a 12day trip up to the Northern Europe/Baltic Sea for our honeymoon. We have loved our experience with Seabourn however, our last trip will probably be the last unless they change their smoking policy. They allow smoking inside! Yes, inside the Observation Bar after 8:00 PM which is one of the nicest places to be prior to and after dinner. In this case, it was only one or two couples smoking. Besides from not being able to enjoy an after dinner drink (or two), we had smoke pouring into our Penthouse Suite which was located on the same level (top floor). We decided to stay in one evening and enjoy room service and watch a couple of movies. The smoke was so bad that night, we had to cover our door and vents with towels and pillows to prevent the smoke from coming in to our room. The Seabourn crew immediately responded with a great working air purifier but come on! Both my husband and I suffered from Asthma all night and part of the following day. The other complaint is that they will close a very large workout area for one personal training session. We were all cramped into a very tiny space and were locked out of large room during these sessions. Quite a few of us wondered if Seabourn is trying to make their guests happy with adequate workout space or funding a personal trainer who charges $110 an hour? Otherwise, we love Seabourn and are hoping that they will change their no smoking policy to no smoking with the exception of the designated outside areas. The world has changed their policy to not allowing smoking inside so we can't understand why it's taking Seabourn to get the message!   Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2014
This won't be a gushing infomercial, nor will I find fault with the tiniest detail. As with any cruise there was plenty of Good and some Bad so overall we had a wonderful trip, not least because the weather was perfect for the entire ... Read More
This won't be a gushing infomercial, nor will I find fault with the tiniest detail. As with any cruise there was plenty of Good and some Bad so overall we had a wonderful trip, not least because the weather was perfect for the entire 2 weeks with clear blue skies, warm temps and glass flat seas. Even the locals said it was unprecedented and it certainly enabled everyone to enjoy the magnificent Norwegian fjords scenery and the eerie midnight sun. This was our first Seabourn cruise, chosen mainly for the itinerary, but we are experienced Regent and Crystal cruisers so I think we can make some objective comments and comparisons. Pre Cruise Hotel : The Admiral, Copenhagen. A converted former wharf side warehouse (NB, no aircon) in a very good location near all the historic downtown sights. However, the water "view" is now dominated/obscured by a large multi storey car park currently under construction. Luckily we were there on a weekend so the builders weren't poring concrete but noise/dust would be a major problem on weekdays. It wasn't especially cheap (welcome to Scandinavia) but the lavish buffet breakfast made it worth every cent. Ship : Beautiful, well laid out and easy to "navigate". Plenty of public rooms and places to settle inside and out for a drink, or a book, or just to take in the ocean and views. The pool is very stylish and there are several other hot tubs/spas around the ship so nowhere feels too crowded. We especially liked the Seabourn Square "hub" concept where we could consult guest or destination services, use a computer, grab a very good coffee from a barista, find a book or newspaper, generally hang out. Suite : A verandah suite which was very spacious (even bigger than Regent) with a blissfully comfortable bed, plenty of storage and a marble clad bathroom with tub and separate shower stall. It puts the cramped accommodation on Crystal to shame I'm afraid. Our friendly stewardess was very efficient and seemed to get everything organised as if by magic. The fridge was restocked promptly and any other requests fulfilled with minimum fuss. Restaurants : Several dining options which you can choose whenever you like. No fixed dining! (Take note Crystal). The main dining room is elegant and light and the food/service to a very high standard. We don't "cruise to eat" and we aren't "foodies" so maybe we aren't as exacting as others but we didn't have a bad experience in any venue. Restaurant 2 is an interesting "tasting menu" concept which might be a little theatrical (pretentious?) for some but the food was beautifully prepared, presented and it was delicious. The Colonnade breakfast buffet and less formal lunch/dinner venue was just right and the rear verandah area was a lovely spot, especially in that spectacular weather and scenary. The poolside Grill was great for a lunchtime salad, burger, snack and informal dinner too. We had room service dinner in our suite a couple of times and couldn't fault it. Seabourn fries/chips must be the best on land or sea! Wines were good quality and well chosen so we didn't find it necessary to order any of the premium bottles. Bars : Again, several options inside and out. The Observation Bar is a great place to enjoy the sail away and pre-dinner cocktails and tapas as is the outside Sky Bar. The Club, as the name suggests, is a more low key venue which livens up after dinner when the dance band strikes up. You can also grab a luxurious afternoon tea there. There is also a Pool Grill bar with excellent waiters constantly patrolling with trays of refreshing drinks and cocktails. You can stock your fridge with practically anything you like so there's no excuse for being thirsty! Shops : Surprisingly large and well stocked. Spa : We didn't partake of any special treatments or hair dressing etc but heard glowing reports from those who did. The actual spa facility is a calm haven with a lovely restful atmosphere and professional staff. Prices were not excessive and good value. Staff : Friendly and professional at all levels although we did sometimes feel that Guest Services had difficulty grasping what we were trying to ask, especially if it was slightly outside the box. "Computer says No" or maybe a language problem? Service was generally prompt and efficient although it seemed to take an inordinately long time to get a simple pot of tea at breakfast. The maitres 'd were very cooperative and not at all intimidating (take note Crystal). Charming Cruise Director Handre was very visible without being intrusive and really knows how to do his deceptively difficult job. Entertainment : We aren't really into the cast production shows but the one we saw was OK if you like that kind of thing. The band was versatile and skilful and seemed able to handle everything they were required to do. The pianist in the Observation Bar was good, and the Club solo guitarist was very good indeed. We enjoyed a great piano guest soloist and a comedian/impressionist. Guest lecturers gave interesting and informative talks on a wide range of subjects although the political agenda of one was perhaps a little too obvious and currently sensitive for some. No gentlemen hosts for the dancing queens to enjoy but there didn't appear to be many hardcore dancers on this trip anyway. Chicken and egg? Trivia was popular and very competitive as usual. Excursions : Over the years we have learned to be very selective when or if to choose ships excursions. They are often overpriced and not very interesting bus tours so we tend to do some advance research and take a private tour from the pier to places we want to see. In very small fjord-side villages or even larger towns it was just as enjoyable to go for a stroll and explore for ourselves. We spoke to a number of more energetic types who went on hiking excursions and said they were well organised. The "must do" on this trip is the scenic railway in Flam which on this occasion proved to be rather chaotic as there was another large cruise ship in town and so lots of people milling around and jumping the gueue! The People : A really friendly bunch! Several nationalities represented and everyone seemed to be having a wonderful (well behaved!) time. It was always easy to strike up a conversation and socialise generally. Only one couple (and there's always one) made it abundantly clear to the point of rudeness they had no wish to talk to anyone so they were left alone to their solitary selves. We did try! Smoking : Unfortunately this was a major issue at times as Seabourn inexplicably allows smoking on private verandas as well as the designated public smoking areas. Our suite was located downwind from some heavy smokers who seemed to be out there morning, noon and night and rendering our verandah unuseable. Smoking is also allowed in the Observation Bar after 8pm and one solitary smoker did so every night which effectively emptied the place. We did mention it to the Hotel Manager but since the smokers weren't breaking any rules there wasn't much he could so except unofficially sympathise. Seabourn really does have to fall in line with the other luxury cruise lines on this important issue. Verdict : Probably the best cruise of the many we've taken. Yes, the perfect weather helped but there was that magical and elusive relaxed, happy vibe of people having a great shared experience on a lovely ship. We've already booked for 2015 and 2016. We'd consider Regent again for the right itinerary but I'm afraid Crystal just doesn't compare now. Seabourn certainly isn't the cheapest but it's probably one of the best and represents excellent value for money.   Read Less
29 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2015
We just completed our first cruise on Seabourn -- a 14 day Norwegian fjords journey on the Quest which gave us a good mix of sightseeing and sea days. We were extremely happy with our first Seabourn experience, from the ship itself, the ... Read More
We just completed our first cruise on Seabourn -- a 14 day Norwegian fjords journey on the Quest which gave us a good mix of sightseeing and sea days. We were extremely happy with our first Seabourn experience, from the ship itself, the food & drink, the staff, and the destination. For a point of reference, we've traveled on Regent for half a dozen cruises previously, and in the review I'll touch on a few points of comparison with Regent for others who might be considering either of these lines. We've always enjoyed Regent for the same reasons so many Seabourn cruisers love this line: the size of the ship, the quality of service, the quality of food and drink. It's been a few years since our last Regent cruise, but my feeling on our last Regent cruise was that the quality of food and service on Regent had slipped a little since our earliest experiences (back when it was Radisson). So we were eager to see how we liked Seabourn, and whether the nearly-uniform positive comments on the Cruise Critic Seabourn forum could measure up. The answer: We enjoyed almost everything about Seabourn and the Quest. We thought the food was excellent throughout. The staff was exceptional: friendly, getting to know our names (even when we never identified ourselves) and our preferences. The ship seemed in perfect condition. We found the Quest very much on a par with the Regent Voyager and Mariner; we felt "at home" almost immediately, despite never having been on a Seabourn ship before. Of course, the Seabourn ships are smaller -- 450 passengers versus 700 on the Regent ships -- but the overall feel is the same. (That's a credit to Regent, that 50% more passengers doesn't feel more crowded.) The larger Regent ships definitely have a nicer theater, and they have a grand atrium that the Seabourn Quest lacks -- but those differences were pretty inconsequential in terms of enjoyment of the ship. (The pillars in the Quest's theater are a minor annoyance.) Seabourn Square -- the area with customer service and excursions staff, as well as the espresso bar, library, and many seating areas -- beats the Coffee Conection on the Regent ships. Overall, we found the Quest very comparable in most respects with what we have experienced on the Regent ships. The staterooms were very comparable to the Regent ships. I appreciated the larger-than-average safe in the closet on the Quest; the Regent Voyager has a slightly larger walk-in closet, but we found the Quest closet big enough to meet our needs (and we had a LOT of clothing since we were traveling to the Arctic). I liked the the sizable bathroom on the Quest, but wished I could trade the space of the tub -- which we don't use -- for a larger-than-tiny shower; the shower was adequate, but small. We ate lunch most days in the Colonnade or Patio Grill, and dinner most nights in the Restaurant, and found the food quite uniformly good -- very good to outstanding at every meal, with no clunkers. Some of the daily fresh fish lunch specials at the Patio Grill were every bit as excellent as main courses at dinner in The Restaurant. Restaurant 2, the high-end alternative restaurant, is a nice, intimate, alternative to the main dining room, but it does have a somewhat quirky concept of multiple small portions paired for each course. I had read that many Seabourn regulars aren't keen about Restaurant 2 for this reason, and seeing the menus, I now understand. It's worth going to Seabourn Square on the first day of a cruise to get a list of the different Restaurant 2 menus offered on your cruise -- they have 5 or 6 that rotate, usually a two-day intervals. Some were rather unappealing to us. If you see a "Signatures" day listed, that's their "best of the best" menu (although it's not detailed on the printed menu), and we ended up choosing one of those nights to dine at Restaurant 2 -- and thoroughly enjoyed it. This may all be moot by next year, when Seabourn's announced partnership with chef Thomas Keller is anticipated to bring about a change to the Restaurant 2 menus. It's certainly worth trying on at least one night if you're new to Seabourn, and try to reserve for a day with the Signatures menu unless one of the other ones really appeals to you. We got to experience a "galley lunch" near the end of our cruise, and that was fantastic. The food staff turns the main dining room PLUS the entire galley into an amazingly beautiful and bountiful buffet with virtually everything in the ship's repertoire out for dining. I know some people don't like buffet dining, but this is an EXPERIENCE not to be missed. They don't do this every cruise -- I think only on 10+ day cruises with a sea day towards the end of the cruise -- but if you're on a Seabourn cruise that offers a galley lunch, don't miss it! Another Seabourn specialty is "Shopping with the Chef", where a small group of passengers goes with the Executive Chef to a food market in a port to obtain some local specialities. Since only about 16 people can get on one of these outings, it's popular and hard to get on. In our case, they apparently filled the quota with Seabourn regulars and never advertised it in the daily program (that was one of the only slips in service we experienced from Seabourn on this cruise), but because we had attended a cooking demonstration with the chef earlier in the cruise, we knew it was coming when we were in Bergen. We had gone off the ship on our own and were wandering in the city's fish market when we saw Executive Chef Jes, in his full chef's whites, and several crew members and fellow passengers come up along side us -- so we tagged along (trying to stay unobtrusively in the back to not interfere with the passengers that we officially part of the experience). Jess smiled at us and allowed us to follow them into several stores, as he picked out local seafood to buy, and got the merchants to offer free tastes to us Seabourners. If you're on a Seabourn cruise and get an opportunity to go Shopping With the Chef, do it. (And if your Executive Chef is Jes, he is truly a rock star and a blast to be around!) I had been prepared to be a little disappointed with the included wines based on reading comments on the Cruise Critic Seabourn forum in the months leading up to our cruise months, but we found we could easily find both white and red wines we quite enjoyed. If I didn't particularly enjoy the wine they were pouring at lunch or dinner, I just asked for an alternate wine and they always obliged. Once I knew certain wines I particularly liked, I could mention them by name and they would fetch them. (This is typical of Seabourn service. One day we were eating lunch at the Patio Grill and a couple next to us was asking about British porter beers other than the Guiness they have at all the ship's bars; after saying they don't stock other porters, the waiter went off for awhile and returned with two bottles from a different bar somewhere on the ship, and told them of some other beer they could get them the next day. The couple asked if they could get a few bottles for their room -- and the reply was "of course!" Impressive.) We enjoyed having an Expeditions staff aboard, as they did a number of interesting lectures, and we went on one of their new "Ventures" expeditions by zodiac, which was a blast. (An expensive blast! But it proved worthwhile. More on that below.) They also pretty much sold us on an Antartica trip in our future! We enjoyed the shows by the Seabourn singers; apparently they're new shows and a new formula -- six singers, lots of tight harmonies -- instead of a mix of singer and dancers. Good choice to trade dancers for more/better singers, in my opinion. We also enjoyed talking with the singers and a member of the band in The Club after the shows at night. The guest entertainers on other nights were a mixed bag; one comedian we liked a lot, one singer/comedienne not so much. Most of the ship's passengers called it a night after the shows (or before!); we usually retired to The Club for a nightcap, and we were two of only about 20 people there. We're perhaps a little younger than the average Seaboard passengers, and we were in "the land of the midnight sun", so we enjoyed staying until the end around midnight or 12:30 most nights. Because the sun set late, or for several days not at all, the views were frequently great even at midnight. I often popped out the door of the Club to the aft deck for picture-taking. Meanwhile, the bar staff in the Club had few people to serve, so our glasses never emptied until we begged them to stop. And because we were "regulars", by about the third day, they knew what we were drinking after dinner, and our drinks were often at our table literally within seconds of us sitting down. Talk about being spoiled! Passengers on our Norway cruise were about half American, one-quarter Australian, and one-quarter mixed among 20 other nationalities. We met some nice folks -- and none who were annoying or unhappy. In the end, we felt this was probably a half-notch better than our most recent Regent cruises -- not by much, but in some small ways (uniformly good food quality and friendliness of staff, especially), and at this point, I think I'd look to Seabourn first when we're ready for our next cruise. That's my wrap up on Seabourn and the Quest, but for anyone considering a Norwegian fjords cruise, I'll conclude this review with a description of what we did in the various ports. By far my favorite port day was our day in the small town of SVOLVAER. The town itself is nothing exceptional, but if you are game for it, and you have favorable weather as we did, rent a car for the day in the Lofoten Islands. The scenery here was SPECTACULAR, among the best scenic driving we've experienced anywhere. It's like driving in the Rocky Mountains or Alps -- with ocean all around! And you won't believe the sand beaches and turquoise color of the water. Google "Lofoten Islands images" to get an idea how great it is. The ship offers a tour to the Viking museum, which covers the first part of the islands, but the scenery gets significantly better as you drive further south. There are basically just two roads which run along the eastern and western sides of the first island, and then they merge together further south, so you really can't get lost. Depending how many stops you make along the way, you can hopefully get down to the little town of Reine (I can't paste a link here, but Google Reine to see how pretty it is), or 10 km further to the end of the road in the town of A (which we didn't make it to because I had to turn around and head back). Driving straight through, it's about 2 hours down to A and 2 hours back -- but if you stop to take pictures every mile or so, it's slower going! (Our car had a GPS in it, which made it foolproof, and it was good for helping me calculate when we had to turn around to get back to the ship in time; we had to head back after reaching Reine to not cut it too close.) There's not much traffic on the roads, so it's very easy driving. I reserved in advance from Hertz, but there was a local company with cars to rent at the dock if you want to leave it to chance when you arrive. The rental car cost about $125, so even with expensive gas, it cost less for four of us than an excursion from the ship for one of us. This was by far my favorite sightseeing day of the trip. I only wish the ship was in port a little longer on this day so we had more time to enjoy the scenery. Of course, everything is weather dependent -- we had great weather this day, and not-so-great weather on two of our other top sightseeing days. (If you do this, you can request box lunches by calling room service the day before. It's a simple sandwich, cookie and fruit, but it saved us the time of stopping somewhere for lunch.) In OLDEN, we took the 8-hour "Geiranger and the Roof of Norway" excursion, and I highly recommend it. The day was broken up enough that it didn't feel like a typical 8-hour bus trip, which I know many of us aren't too keen on. The hour-long ferry ride through Geirangerfjord is spectacular, but we unfortunately had a very cloudy day and didn't quite get the stunning views I had hoped for. (I'm not sure why they couldn't improvise a bit instead of sending the bus up to the top Mount Dalsnibba when it was apparent to all that the top of the mountain was well into the clouds; we got there, turned around and came back down. I guess the is the nature of planned excursions.) But this trip was still worth it -- and if you're lucky enough to have good weather, it's a can't-miss excursion. We didn't do an excursion in BERGEN. It's a very walkable city. We walked to see the fish market, and then took the funicular up to Mount Floien. If you feel like stretching your legs a bit, there's a nice park at the top of the funicular, where you can walk along smooth trails for a short or long hike. (There's a pretty little mountain lake less than a 10-minute walk from the funicular station.) Since it supposedly rains 310 days a year in Bergen, we were happy to have one of the rare days without any rain... and even sun at times. In FLAM, we did the "Mountains and Valleys By Train" excursion. The Flamsbana train is definitely worth seeing -- although I felt it wasn't as special a train trip as several we've been on in the US (like the White Pass & Yukon in Alaska or the Durango & Silverton in Colorado). Maybe I'd feel differently if we had a bright sunny day here, but it was another cloudy one. In ALESUND, we didn't do a ship's tour, and just walked around the pretty town. And climbed the 418 steps of Mount Aksla for a wonderful panoramic view of the town and surrounding islands on a beautiful, clear day. We also walked in TROMSO -- across the bridge to the Arctic Cathedral (we took a city bus back because it was raining off-and-on). This was probably my least-favorite port call; not bad, but not special -- again, perhaps due to the weather. In HONNINGSVAG, the main thing to do is to go to the North Cape (Nordkapp). It's a bit of a tourist trap, but how often will you get to the top of the world? My parents, who we traveled with, took the bus trip; my wife and I opted to take the "Ventures by Seabourn" zodiac trip. We had some trepidation about being out on the open sea early in the morning and being cold and wet, but it was really great even though we did have some occasional light rain. We saw an astounding number of birds. Most of our group did the hike up to the top of Nordkapp, but it was a strenuous hike up a narrow path with some slippery rocks. My wife started out hiking but was slipping on the rocks and decided to go back to the ship via the zodiacs. (I know the Expeditions crew learned a bit on our trip, since this was brand new for Seabourn, so I expect they'll do a few things differently with the landing spot and the description of the hike for future cruises.) I enjoyed the hike, but some passengers felt it was tougher than advertised. The good thing is that they were happy to take back anyone on the zodiacs who decided the hike was too strenuous; they staff took great care of everyone, and my wife had the sun come out and got some spectacular views from the water going back while the rest of us were huffing and puffing up the side of the mountain. We both ended up very glad we did this excursion instead of the basic bus trip to the visitor center. (Although it was gray and cloudy when we were at Nordkapp, in the evening when the ship left Honningsvag, the captain sailed out and around Nordkapp; the skies were clear and we got absolutely spectacular views, as the captain paused and did a 360 degree circle with the ship. They let us know this was unusual weather for the North Cape, but it was awesome to see it in the sun after being so cloudy earlier in the day.) In STAVANGER, we did the Lysefjord Cruise to Pulpit Rock. Had this been a sunny day, it would have been truly spectacular. Unfortunately, this day was cloudy as well, so it dulled the beauty a bit. We briefly saw the top of Pulpit Rock at the base of the clouds. The boat for this trip is a very nice, smooth, modern catamaran, and it picks you up right next to where the ship is docked. This is also a very nice, walkable city; make sure you take a short walk from where the ship is docked to the old part of the city for a short walk along Ovrestrandgate to see some very pretty houses and gardens. We were extremely happy with our Seabourn experience, with the Quest, and with the itinerary cruising the Norwegian fjords. I highly recommend it to anyone considering it. Read Less
17 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2015
The 4 couples that made up our travel group are well traveled and have cruised previously, most notably, on Regent and Crystal. None of us had been on Seabourn before and we wanted another luxury experience for this Baltic Cruise so we ... Read More
The 4 couples that made up our travel group are well traveled and have cruised previously, most notably, on Regent and Crystal. None of us had been on Seabourn before and we wanted another luxury experience for this Baltic Cruise so we selected the Seabourn Quest. On balance, we truly enjoyed our experience, but I don't think any of us would say we "loved it" the way so many previous cruise critic reviewers said we would. The ship itself is well laid out but the decor of both the main dining room and the observation bar were a disappointment. The dining room felt overly crowded and was very noisy (the hard wood floors didn't help). The observation bar was minimalist modern, but the furniture was down right uncomfortable so I grew tired of it rather quickly. All of us expected a much more elegantly appointed ship. Our suites, however, were wonderful. Two couples opted for Penthouse suites while the other two were in veranda suites. We loved the layout, the furnishings, the comfort of the beds and the bathrooms were superb. The poolside area was great and so was its bar and restaurant. I personally very much enjoyed the library/coffee area. What is missing from the Quest, however, is the nooks and crannies we have been able to find on other ships that allow you to slip away for more privacy. We had been told to expect excellent service and while service continued to improve each day, we had a number of mishaps which were disturbing. Room service was 45 minutes late on one occasion and never arrived on another. One couple held a cocktail party in their penthouse suite for the 8 of us and they ordered wine, champagne and assorted appetizers the previous day. When it did not arrive as scheduled, they called and were told that it had been delivered but no one was there to receive it. Really? After the phone call it did arrive within about 10 minutes. In another mishap, one of our travel mates was in tears because the suite staff mistakingly threw out a large zip lock bag containing a knitting project she had been working on for over a year. When we were returning from an excursion, she noticed several men unloading trash from the ship. On a whim, she asked if any of them had seen it. We were actually incredulous that one of the guys did remember seeing it and had set it aside. So there was a happy ending thanks to the efforts of this one person. We had also been told that the wait staff would call you by name after the first day or so and would remember your drink preferences. Not so. We ate dinner in the main restaurant at the same table with the same wait staff 4 nights, and we always went to the observation bar afterwards. No one ever knew who we were or called us by name or remembered our preferences for anything. All in all, a disappointment from our expectations. The food on Seabourn is a cut above the other cruise lines we had been on and it was a great treat for me to have caviar and champagne every afternoon. However, there were mishaps in the main dining room as well. On the formal night, 6 of us ordered the lobster and 4 of us sent it back because, while nicely presented, it was mushy and tasteless. On the last night, 3 of us ordered quail and while no one sent it back, it was dry and tasteless. Some of us had taken the galley tour and we realized just how difficult it is to put out consistently great food so we were somewhat forgiving about these mishaps. But, Seabourn, you really should do better. We thought Restaurant 2 was outstanding and the service was impeccable. On the Sail Away, my husband and I arrived late and all the caviar was gone; however, when one of the servers say my disappointment, he asked where we would be sitting and I pointed it out. Within minutes we had a lovely tray of caviar with all the trimmings. How nice was that. Wine choices were also quite good. On other cruise lines we've had to pay extra for premium wines. That was not necessary on Seabourn; the daily selections were excellent. A note about shore excursions. If you are sailing to St. Petersburg, as we did, then hire an independent, licensed Russian guide and driver. This was far less expensive for our group then if we had arranged for excursions off the ship. The experience was magical and our guide was so knowledgeable. We had 3 very full days of sightseeing plus 2 night activities including the opera. While we were exhausted by the end of it, we saw just about everything there is to see in this amazing city. All in all, the cruise was very good. Perhaps our expectations were too high, but Seabourn presents itself as being #1 in the small ship luxury cruise line category and frankly, I'm not sure its worth the additional expense. While we will continue to sail in the luxury cruise category, I would probably only chose Seabourn again based on the itinerary being offered but in making that decision I would also consider value for money. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2016
We chose to sail on the Quest to Norway having had a fantastic cruise on the Quest in the fall of 2015 through Maine and the Canadian Maritimes. That cruise was awesome, and we loved the ship, the crew, the guests and the dining. The ... Read More
We chose to sail on the Quest to Norway having had a fantastic cruise on the Quest in the fall of 2015 through Maine and the Canadian Maritimes. That cruise was awesome, and we loved the ship, the crew, the guests and the dining. The Quest is a beautiful ship, and easy to call it home for our trip. The cabin, however, was not thoroughly cleaned when we embarked. Our stewardess on this trip spoke poor English, and was difficult to communicate with. This was one of the reasons we are not giving this cruise 5 stars. But we were very cozy after settling in. The weather was still cold as this cruise went above the Arctic Circle to the North Cape, so we had brought along extra blankets and needed them. Still, we were able to use the balcony many days, and enjoyed the fantastic scenery and the Midnight Sun. We were not happy with the changes in the dining aboard the Quest with the new Thomas Keller menus. We did not mind the change from Restaurant 2 to the TK Grill, but did not like the changes in the Restaurant and the Colonnade. In the Colonnade there were four Thomas Keller nights serving meals such as ribs and fried chicken. We vastly preferred the regular Colonnade menus and felt cheated out of the local seafood that we expected on a cruise through Scandinavia. If you like French Haute Cuisine and foie gras you may like the other TK menus, but we did not. We found the dining options more restricted and stressful. There was also not the seamless service in the dining areas that we had had before. We will be watching to see how Seabourn handles the TK menus, especially in the Colonnade, before we book another Seabourn cruise. Still, we had many wonderful evenings in the Restaurant and the Colonnade, and many good options for breakfast including coffee and pastries in the Seabourn Square. The itinerary and shore excursions were fantastic. Our Captain was very experienced and hailed from Denmark. One of the reasons we like Seabourn is their Scandinavian captains. We really loved seeing Arctic Norway, and had three wonderful days in Copenhagen!! Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2016
This is the second time we have sailed on Seabourn. We sailed the first time on the smaller ship The Legend, which is now owned by Windstar. We were little apprehensive sailing on The Quest which is twice the size of The legend but to be ... Read More
This is the second time we have sailed on Seabourn. We sailed the first time on the smaller ship The Legend, which is now owned by Windstar. We were little apprehensive sailing on The Quest which is twice the size of The legend but to be honest we were not disappointed and in fact preferred The Quest which has lots of extra space and facilities. There were 450 guests on board and never did I feel that our own personal space was restricted. The Quest is a beautiful maintained ship and has the feel of a luxury floating hotel. The Staff were all young and enthusatic whilst led by senior’s who led by example, assisting where necessary and during special onboard events would serve food and drinks to the guests. The Captain was outstanding and was always visible and approachable. His officers were equally visible and they all worked together as one multicultural family. The seniors called us by name after day two and although the majority of staff didnt they always remembered our drink preference’s both in the bar and restaurant’s. 'No' is not a word you will ever hear on Seabourn. If they haven’t got what you would like in one restaurant they will find it from elsewhere or make sure that it is available the next day for you. We were sad to leave the ship which after two weeks had become like a second home. One place that we partically loved was sitting in The Square. They have leather reclining chairs which had great views from the aft of the ship. We did not pay for internet but were pleasantly surprised that portable Ipads were available loaded with a selection of newspapers for all nationalites. I have never seen this facility available before on other cruise lines so was a very pleasant surprise. I was able to read my daily newspaper in comfort of a reclining chair at The Square whilst sipping a freshly brewed coffee from The Square Barista. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2016
We look for open seating dining, great service, and exceptional cuisine as well as a small ship. We enjoy good shows, but, shows and a large casino are not a major criteria when choosing a cruise line. At this point, we have found that ... Read More
We look for open seating dining, great service, and exceptional cuisine as well as a small ship. We enjoy good shows, but, shows and a large casino are not a major criteria when choosing a cruise line. At this point, we have found that Seabourn and Silversea are the two lines that best meet our criteria best. The Norwegian fjord cruise was excellent. Seabourn has a marina and offers a series of zodiac an kiak tours which was a great addition to the normal tours on the itinerary. All in all, a great cruise experience. The staff was very attentive and the restaurants each had themes every night making for interesting dining. The Thomas Keller Grill was an exceptional dining experience. Suites were comfortable and there was more than enough storage space. Little things like fresh fruit brought to the room every day adds a lot to the overall experience. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2016
We picked this cruise line because of the itinerary. We wanted the opportunity to visit St. Petersburg for 3 full days instead of the usual 2 days. We booked our own private tours while in St. Petersburg but used the ship's tour in ... Read More
We picked this cruise line because of the itinerary. We wanted the opportunity to visit St. Petersburg for 3 full days instead of the usual 2 days. We booked our own private tours while in St. Petersburg but used the ship's tour in Estonia and Helsinki. We were very pleased with the knowledge of both guides. The other reason we chose Seabourn was the Thomas Keller dining experience Seabourn offered, a foodie's paradise. We were totally blown away with the various Keller inspired dining venues. The chef and his crew did not disappoint in any of the exquisite meals prepared. The crew was friendly and knowledgable from how the food are prepared to explaining differences in caviar sourcing. Both galley and kitchen tours were informative and well presented. What makes this smaller ship attractive is the size. There are no huge crowd during embarkation or disembarkation, no crowd dining. The ship is able to get into the smaller ports thereby closer to all attractions. In St. Petersburg, we were docked in the city. Most attractions were just a few minutes away by car. The larger ships must dock further away and sometimes 2-3 hours drive to any given destination. The verandah cabins on deck 6 were spacious and very well appointed. We were able to have caviar in our cabin or outside deck most late afternoon before dinner. Deck 6 is also a central location for all the dining venues, pool, bar, library and salon. Overall, cruise service, cabin, lectures and dining were superb. Read Less
23 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2016
Captain Geirg Arne Thue Nilsen Cruise Director Handre Potgieter Guest entertainers Neal Austin (magician-comedian), Stevie Jo (comedian) and Paul Emmanuel (singer) Executive Chef Andreas Lang This was my third SB cruise (I had ... Read More
Captain Geirg Arne Thue Nilsen Cruise Director Handre Potgieter Guest entertainers Neal Austin (magician-comedian), Stevie Jo (comedian) and Paul Emmanuel (singer) Executive Chef Andreas Lang This was my third SB cruise (I had two prior, BTB, on the Odyssey in September 2015) and DH’s first. We have only done about a dozen cruises, mostly on luxury lines, so the review below compares this cruise with our prior composite and limited experiences. Overall we were both pleased with our experiences on the Quest in this cool, mostly gray, green, and white hauntingly beautiful part of the world. However, there is some room for improvement in food and service on the Quest (especially food). We rate it a 4.3 overall on a scale of 1 to 5, (and thus round down to 4 on the overall scale). EMBARKATION: very smooth and easy, no waiting, friendly welcoming personnel in Copenhagen, to whom we surrendered our larger bags. Arrived shortly after 12 PM and then went to a a welcoming buffet at the Colonnade indoor/outdoor dining venue. Sat outside with a view of the harbor in comfortable chairs, ordered our drinks, and by the time we came back from the buffet with our first plates, the drinks were there. At 2PM overhead notice informed us that suites were ready. All our luggage was in the suite and the mini-bar was accurately stocked with what we had pre-ordered. I had also pre-ordered a foam topper for the mattress (confirmed 3 times in advance), anticipating the bed would be too hard, like it was on the Odyssey. It was not there initially, but was put on that evening. It was only a 1-inch thick irregular foam piece, so it was good that the mattress was not as hard as it was on the Odyssey or it would not have been enough cushion, and more negotiations would have been required. Our stewardess “Danielle" was welcoming and efficient without being falsely friendly. She took notes regarding our basic requests for the journey and consistently honored them. GENERAL ATMOSPHERE : Relaxing overall. The ship was well-maintained and very clean, nothing was broken, though a lot of the furniture, just like on the Odyssey, although stylish, is uncomfortable for me (stiff main entertainment lounge/Grand Salon chairs, and mostly stiff observation lounge and MDR chairs). Overall, with some exceptions, there was an unhurried atmosphere. There were no to few lines the entire cruise, other than occasional short lines at the buffets or for tenders. Sometimes the Colonnade and MDR had slower than ideal table service at peak hours, and table availability at peak hours was sometimes scarce, with matching service problems, but generally we were not negatively conditioned to anticipate space stress in the overall spacious public venues. Passengers were generally pleasant and well-mannered, with a few notable and crude exceptions (e.g., there were some pushy, inconsiderate and domineering people, e.g., with intrusive selfie sticks, and/or who either repeatedly inserted themselves into the front disability seats on the excursions buses though they were very clearly not disabled, or who otherwise made a point of asserting their alpha-importance and “control" as much as possible, in loud voices) . The nationality breakdown on the distributed guest list reported 243 Americans, 55 from UK, 55 from Australia, 13 from Belgium, 8 from Canada, and other nationalities were in single digits. Average age seemed to be in the early 60’s, give or take a few years depending on plastic surgery status, almost no children. Pax were mostly well-off do-everything-together couples, or couples traveling with other couples, and a couple families. Most pax were reasonably mobile, though given our ages, it was not surprising that many casually complained about assorted health issue trials and tribulations and discomforts, while others appeared to cope with their apparent health demons in silence. 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. DRESS CODE: Pax usually followed the designated dress codes (usually “elegant casual”, though there were a couple “formal” nights with jacket required on which most pax wore suits and ties rather than tuxedos). There were some rare pax who occasionally showed up in ugly baggy blue jeans, workout fleece sweatshirts, thick down vests, thongs, T-shirts with writing, or a backwards baseball hat at the “elegant casual” dinners. FOOD AND BEVERAGE: Food opinions are subjective, of course, but overall we found the food on this cruise good though not outstanding, and definitely good enough to do a SB cruise again, though the food and included wines were not as good as on my Odyssey BTB last September. I would not sail again on this ship primarily for the food experience. The food quality and variety also did not come close to the food on Hapag Lloyd’s Europa 2 a few months ago (see my separate review on that, Cape Town to Cape Town). Every night dinner personnel tried to push an included sauvignon blanc or equivalent as the white of the day, not our favorites, but we knew enough to decline and were able to find both white and red included acceptable wines that were usually drinkable though not particularly interesting. There was also a decently priced special order wine list, though sometimes there were significant delays and confusion in securing our non-included choices. I did not see many pax ordering for-pay wines at dinners. Included champagne was Nicholas Feuillatte brut reserve. We ate at The Grill restaurant the first night where they served the new highly touted Thomas Keller (TK) menu, included in the fare. It was fine, but nothing spectacular. First came celery sticks with radishes and cucumber pieces and green goddess dressing, all fresh but not unique celestial, we can get these at home. Our baby asparagus appetizer with hollandaise sauce was next, delicate and subtle, fine. Our rack of lamb for two, with creamy mashed potatoes, was large and very fatty and was ok for us, but a couple Brits we met did not care for it and referred to it distastefully as “mutton”. Loud and annoying music pulsated overhead, apparently to create a 50’s and 60’s cool diner vibe and atmosphere (we asked to turn it down, and they did, a little). I had no desire to return. I regretted that the delightful and unique old R2 small-plates-with-pairings restaurant has been discontinued. The food in the MDR was usually prettily plated, but not spectacular in taste, and there were very limited choices with variable quality. All the fish dishes except for the excellent tender salmon options tasted mostly the same to me from day to day, bland, watery and salty (though I like salt). A few nights the MDR had a TK menu insert option for appetizer, main and dessert. The caviar special on the TK menu was not to my liking at all, bland, and the TK appetizer with firm spinach gnocchi and a soft-boiled egg on top with a cheese sauce and a strip of bacon did not do much for me either, nor did the TK watery chocolate dessert. However, the Siberian caviar served on sail-away one evening was terrific, though tightly rationed as people obediently lined up to get their little bites. Sometimes there were odd ingredient combinations, e.g., lemon and thyme mousse for dessert, that just did not work for us. I had a very good cauliflower potage a couple times, and generally the cream soups offered were all good, though usually served lukewarm. 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 or clam bake. People we met during the cruise who had done the “family style” TK in the Colonnade one night complained that the amount of salad offered for six people was woefully small, and required great efforts by pax and waiter to expand portions. Our own experience in the Colonnade at the “Ad Hoc” TK event was ok though underwhelming: a giant “gem lettuce salad" with slow baked beets, radish, fried capers, and chopped egg was presented in one bowl family style to six people, but with only a couple tablespoons of the green goddess dressing in two separate containers (requests to replentish the dressing in adequate amounts were not totally successful). Main course was tender “hickory smoked BBQ ribs” with braised greens, baked beans, corn pone, and whipped honey butter; then came “cabot clothbound cheddar” with maldon flat bread and blue apron ale mustard; and dessert was “potted cheesecake” with poached blueberries and vanilla chantilly. All this basic "comfort food" was good though I’m not sure it was worth all the fuss. Servers wore jeans, and poured generic white or red wine into stemless glasses. With some difficulty, we ordered off the wine list to get something that could stand up to the ribs. Hip music blared over our heads, and the friendly though a little confused personnel were unable or unwilling to do anything about the sunlight that started glaring in from the window and baking us. We like trying a little bit of many things, so our favorite venue was the Colonnade, on non-TK nights, and for lunch. There was a different theme in the Colonnade each day, e.g., French, German, Japanese, Tuscan Market, pasta, etc. , mostly decent, except for “Baltic” day where waiters greeted us with the mantra “Welcome to Russia” and wore fake fur Russian-style hats, some with a Soviet red star, one hat was hot pink, another zebra-colored. The hats were as silly as the imitation and failed “Russian" food offerings (which did not include caviar), including the lukewarm borscht and non-Kiev "chicken Kiev". Japanese night offerings in the Colonnade were the most disappointing (though we are picky as we live in a neighborhood resplendent with terrific Japanese cuisine). Miso soup tasted like plain beef broth, the tempura on the lobster “tempura” appetizer resembled the coating used on KFC extra-crispy chicken placed on rubbery lobster, beef teriyaki was just a slab of beef with soy sauce, and the grilled shrimp in red sauce were like those in a reheated mail-order frozen dinner. Breakfast buffet was o.k. for filling the stomachs of people with usual American tastes, nothing special was offered on the basic uninteresting breads, cheeses (2), or meats (3), and 1 fish (smoked salmon) that were offered, but there was Greek yoghurt and there were made-to-order options for table service basic omelettes, pancakes and waffles. The eggs benedict were forgettable (they were much better on the Odyssey). I also had lunch in the MDR once (open for an hour each day every day this cruise) which was very relaxing, with mostly attentive service once they noticed me (seafood chowder, juicy Swedish meatballs, strawberry Napoleon), compared with the always hectic and at times somewhat understaffed prime-time Colonnade. We tried the TK “Napa Burger” at the Patio Grill, which was very juicy, with quality meat, properly cooked, good fries to go with it, great service. I am not sure why the room service burgers are not also “Napa Burger” quality. Room service offerings were basic and arrived on time and as expected (caesar salad, grilled NY cut sirloin, club sandwich, hamburgers, creamy tomato soup, etc). Breakfast and SB Square pastries and breads in general on board were so-so (other than on the few days when French baguettes were baked for dinner ) as was the very light ice cream, which was nothing like the daily to-die-for Italian ice cream specials with whipped cream options on the Europa 2. Snacks and coffees at Seabourn Square varied in quality, e.g., not uncommonly the espresso drinks were given to me lukewarm, though always with a friendly smile, and I definitely appreciated having these between-meal options available. I was happy to see that the calm Observation Bar also starts offering 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 been caffeinated. Observation bar snacks we tried before dinner twice were meager and uninteresting, e.g., little chunks of cheese in oil, pieces of ham, nuts, so we did not go back for them. Tea choices at tea-time were limited to about a dozen (compared with >30 mostly loose-leaf on the Europa 2), regular coffee was generally drinkable though often weak. Sweets at tea-time were generally on the dry side, sandwiches were plain, scones with clotted cream and jam were ok. I had several very good Irish coffees prepared for me in various venues. SERVICE The best way to describe SB service is that it is generally efficient and unobtrusive, and I did not often find myself getting annoyed with service deficiencies (exceptions noted). The stewardesses and eating venues personnel seemed generally well-trained, well-organized and attentive without being intrusive, and did not appear exhausted, except at peak hours when they sometimes struggled to keep up with wine refills and plate clearings, and typically did not check if we liked our entrees or had issues with the food until it was time for dessert, i.e., when too late, as they just did not have time. We had no difficulty communicating in English with the mostly hard-working and responsive primarily European and South American front-line personnel in the various venues (many from eastern Europe). The “do not disturb” sign on the cabin door was always respected (unlike some experiences we had on Silver Sea). My experiences in the bars when I went to imbibe by myself a few times were unfortunately not optimal, e.g., I watched one bartender (apparently beloved by others, so YMMV) rush together my Cosmo drink so quickly that it was not at all cold when served and was underdosed on the eye-balled alcohol. When he served DH and me in the Colonnade, he acted equally rushed and careless with our wines. In the Observation Lounge I was kept waiting for my drink for over 15 minutes one afternoon before dinner, and when I finally asked about it the confused waiter briefly left, came back and then smiled, stating “it is ready now”, when it was clear they had not even started on it, instead of saying they had just forgotten and apologizing. On another day, during afternoon tea, it was also a bit of a battle for my good-natured but persistent dining companion from the UK to receive his desired scones. It also appeared that it would have been useful to be a “regular” known to, and on first name basis with, the bartenders and some service personnel, but this is the case on all luxury lines which deal with frequent cruisers, as opposed to newbies. Fresh fruit was initially brought to our room daily, though we did not ask for it, and for a while it continued to come in large quantities even when we told personnel we did not need anymore bananas or apples. A couple we met, however, reported they were struggling to get fruit. Laundry and dry cleaning services are available on board ($50 per stuffed laundry bag, 2 day service, 50% uncharge for same-day service on items), nothing was permanently lost or transformed into a child’s size. 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. I asked to always have six bath towels and four wash rags in the bathroom, without need to change them daily, and they were always reliably there, no fuss. SB Square personnel appeared competent and helpful and professional, no complaints, but we also did not have any major issues to resolve. SPA, EXERCISE AREA, AND POOLS: as is all the rage on ships, loud and pulsating music was playing not just in the exercise area, but also in the manicure/pedicure/hair care area, which was not very relaxing. One lady working there was clearly very unhappy with her position and looking forward to leaving, but still did a very good job on the service I asked for. DH enjoyed his massages, but not the hard-sell on products (e.g., $179 for 10 packages of bath salts). DH also repeatedly enjoyed the relatively private hot tub in the bow on deck 6 (which was actually HOT, unlike on the Europa 2, where it was deliberately kept just luke-warm below body temperature), which appeared to be oddly popular with doctor cruisers on board (one night he met a radiologist in the tub, the next an ophthalmologist, the third an oncologist, the fourth a cardiologist, and I know there was a dermatologist on board too though she did not make it to the tub to meet DH). There were also four other hot tubs (two in the very public area near the main pool, and two more near the smaller pool on Deck 5 aft outside the Club lounge). The pool was nicely heated but not used much, presumably because this cruise the weather was cool. Music at the pool area was subdued and unintrusive. I toured the “serene” area of the spa area but did not find the rock hard loungers at all serene for my sore muscles, so I did not use it. DH used the fitness center, it was fine, usually uncrowded, with an ocean view. ENTERTAINMENT: Generally overall not to my taste this cruise. There was no classical music featured on any night. There was a British comedian-magician named Neal Austin who fancied himself to be comedically outrageous, but whom I did not find amusing, nor did I find the British comedian Stevie Jo generally amusing (though I admit I chuckled a few times). Most other nights offered assorted forgettable pop and crooner music by SB singers who attempted to sing Elton John, Billy Joel and Stevie Wonder songs but somehow could not convey the correct emotions with their voices and styles. Their best performance was “Crossroads”, a blend of country and rock/pop. There were, however, plenty of “lounge lizard” musical offerings in the lounges, per usual on luxury cruise lines that cater to older people. Silver Sea, Regent, and Crystal had better main stage entertainment for our tastes, in our limited experience, and the Europa 2 absolutely did. In-room TV satellite service was unavailable much of the cruise as we were in the fjords with limited reception, which helped enforce the escapist nature of cruising. There were dozens of free in-room movies, however, with something for everyone, unless one desired something adult or X rated which we did not. The one TV in our basic suite was unfortunately very small, and in the middle of the room, presumably so you could see it from both the bed and the rock-hard sofa, but the view was always just from the side. There were also other activities, e.g., trivia, and a cooking demo, which we did not attend. A bridge tour was offered for free, but DH got there 2 minutes after departure time so he missed it. There were a couple “shopping with the chef” days posted in the Herald, but we did not attend. A galley tour was offered for free, we missed it. There were a couple uninspired lectures, e.g., about Norway scenery and birds and about the excursion basics, also available on the room TVs, but I am not sure that paying the guest lecturers for free cruises (with their partners) can be justified for what little they did here. One evening at 6PM there was a “meet your neighbors in the hall” event (we stayed in our suite, I was taking an enjoyable bubble bath using the ship’s very nice Molton Brown products ) and on the rainy day morning sail-in at Bergen, there was a “come in your bathrobe to the bow of deck 6 for mimosas and coffee" (I came for the coffee, in a warm down coat, only 1 person was there in a robe). In Eidfjord some cute Norwegian folk dancers also came on board wearing their $4000 folk dress costumes to dance and play fiddle and accordion for about 45 minutes and talk about Norwegian music history, this was interesting, followed by gravlax and caviar in the Bar. We had brought plenty of kindle/ipad books and had no problem finding things to do in between ports. INTERNET ship wifi was usually slow, sometimes non-existent, as is the case on all cruise lines I have been on, neither worse nor better, but generally was good enough to at least sometimes check messages, on-line newspapers, and work issues back home, and was faster during times when people were either asleep or in port on excursions and less people were trying to get on the ship’s wifi. We opted for the unlimited plan for $399 for the 12 days of the cruise to avoid the stress of sensing the clock ticking and price rising while on-line with a slow connection, but only one person in the suite could be on at a time. PORTS AND EXCURSIONS Weather was variable on this cruise and involved a lot of rain. Anyone coming to Scandinavia should anticipate at least some rain, if not a lot of it, and the excursions will thus not all look like on postcards you see. But even with rainy weather, excursions were enjoyable. We spent 4 nights pre-cruise in sunny Copenhagen at the Marriott Copenhagen (one of two SB’s choice hotels) and easily could have spent more to see this lovely city. The Marriott (executive floor) is not perfect but was adequate, comfortable. Highly recommended off the beaten path things to do beyond the usual obvious city tour sites you cannot miss with Hop-On and Hop-off buses, or a basic private tour which we did, are the Hirschsprung Museum (private collection of striking, mostly dark, brooding 18th century Danish art with an excellent self-audioguide); the Louisiana Museum of art outside Copenhagen (modern, beautiful oceanside venue with sculpture gardens and with an excellent view smorgasbord area); and Fredericksburg castle (many old portraits and tapestries). On the funky Christianshaven island part of Copenhagen, we had a special meal at the "56-degrees" restaurant (fixed menu with wine pairings, beautiful outdoor dining venue and service, it was an easy cab ride from the Marriott). We also toured the Carlsberg Brewery which has a giant beer bottle collection, and a collection of historic buildings. We did a lot of SB-organized excursions, despite high cost, to save organizational stresses and time figuring out what to do in places we have never been. I received 10% off the excursions as a SB “silver.” Excursions with SB were primarily on generally comfortable and clean buses with reclining seats and WC, usually limited to about 26 people per bus (only one half-day excursion had 36 pax in the bus). We noted the usual reluctance of European bus drivers to run AC or open doors and windows to allow air to circulate while waiting to depart. Guide quality varied, and surprisingly many were not Norwegian-born (we had Spanish, Italian, and American ex-pats on various tours). ALBORG, Denmark — we did the SB excursion "Back to the Vikings", on which we saw a Viking grave site and museum (Lindholm), learned about the various slaves Vikings had, and sampled little Viking snacks including ham, pork rinds, excellent herring sampler (I could have made a meal of it), and local honey on bread. 4/5 stars for the tour. FLAM — this was a tender port for us (Tenders on the Quest are loud and have uncomfortable seating, compared with the Odyssey). We did the early morning Flam Railway — comfortable train chairs, WC on board; we stopped at a waterfall (Kjosfossen) half-way up and while in a big crowd of people, watched a young lady “troll” (who looked like a bored teen with a summer job) sing and dance. Then we headed higher up and had sugary cake and coffee at the historic inn at the top (Vatnahalsen Mountain Hotel), with a little extra time to walk around. In crowded Flam itself back at the bottom one could buy various street vendor sausages (elk, whale, goat, etc.). or dine in one of the tourist restaurants. 4/5 stars for the excursion. ALESUND, Norway — "The Islands of Giske and Godoy" excursion. We saw many bridges and tunnels that are engineering marvels. Best part was the Giske church and cemetery from 1150, which the dark, overcast day highlighted well. We had a sugary pancake and cream cake with coffee at the under-renovation lighthouse near Alnes, (no forks) and unfortunately also endured the company of some aggressive fellow-cruisers who demanded to buy “one of each” of the available cakes (which required purchase of the entire cakes) because they did not like what was served for the SB group. However, after insisting on buying the entire cakes, they then haggled with the hapless waitress about $1.50 extra on the final price tag,loudly insisting they should get more than “crumbs” for their high cost. 3/5 stars for the tour overall, (4/5 for the scenery and sites, 2/5 for the excursion guide who spoke so slooowly that she put people to sleep, 1/5 for the fellow cruisers for embarrassing behavior). There are clearly both advantages and disadvantages to being thrust together with strangers on cruise excursions. MOLDE, Norway — "The Atlantic Ocean Road and Haholmen Island” excursion. Excellent 5/5 half-day tour of local islands and archipelago, made better by great weather to accompany our “Viking ship” open air trip to Goat Island (Geitoya), which had a replica of the famous Saga Siglar environmental-message ship. We saw a movie about the ship’s construction and eco-sailings, (and its demise at sea), then had a 2 cubic-inch piece of very sweet cake and coffee (again, oddly no forks), returned around 1:30PM to the Quest, which was late for lunch so one has to plan ahead if one gets hungry easily, as the Colonnade closes for lunch at 2 and personnel there always make a point of clearing away the buffets right on time. GEIRANGER, Norway — "The Best of Geirangerfjord", 8.5 hours. This was a long bus trip over twisty mountain roads, with classic hairpin turns, to assorted scenic vistas, some quite high up above the timber zone (bring a warm jacket and hat). +WC on the bus. Lunch around 12:30 was at a very nice upscale tourist hotel where everyone en-masse was served lukewarm but flavorful cream of white asparagus soup, cod in a cream sauce, and low-fat vanilla ice cream with generic chocolate sauce, then stroll time, over the course of 1 hour and 20 minutes. The day culminated in a scenic 3-language one-hour ferry ride back to Geirangen, with many waterfalls and scenes of old abandoned cliffside farms where one could sit on the open deck or indoors in comfortable chairs. 4/5 tour. MOLDE, Norway — DH did the SB sponsored “Hike to Briksdal Glacier” (rated 3 little men in strenuousness on a scale of 1 to 3) which he enjoyed, 5/5 quality, while I vegged out in town and for 20 Euros rode for 1 hour and 10 minutes around the lake on the tame “Olden Sightseeing” Disneyland-like little train car that waited outside the quay soliciting customers (the people recruiting for the ride will inevitably tell you it is leaving in “a couple minutes”, even though it may not leave for a half hour, depending on how full it is). BERGEN, Norway — we did not do any excursions on this mostly rainy Sunday, just walked this charming town on our own past the colorful fresh fish market (which had a variety of fresh crabs, fish, paella, fish and chips, as well as more whale and goat smoked sausage) and past the old fire-prone downtown buildings, then up to the university district where we had a pleasant light lunch of grilled tender fresh Norwegian salmon with cucumber and young potatoes with yoghurt sauce at a comfortable outdoor but covered centrally located casual restaurant called Loge Haven, where we listened to a street band play international tunes, and people-watched. We also spent a lot of time in the Konde 3 museum which has a good-sized provocative Monch collection, with a very interesting short guided tour (in English at 12 PM and 2PM). Did not have time to make it to the unusual leprosy museum we’d read about, or the museum about the Norwegian resistance v. Germans in WW2, or any of the other many museums you can immerse yourself in here. SB offered a hiking trip (in the rain) as well as an excursion up the funicular, which you could also do on your own, though there were not many views available with the cloudy weather. Eidfjord, Norway — “Scenic Fossil and Voringsfoss Waterall” excursion, 3 hours. 3/5 overall. This involved a short ride to a major local dam, then to a hotel where we had coffee and more uninspiring Norwegian sugary cake at the old family hotel that is right above a magnificent and powerful very inspiring waterfall, then back to the ship. Construction is going on right now, so that in the future one will be able to walk over the waterfall on a glass floor. Stavanger, Norway — “Old and new Stavanger” excursion took us around the town in a bus and to an interesting open air exhibit of pre-Viking Iron Age life, then on to the fascinating Petroleum Museum where you could easily spend several hours on the exhibits and simulated oil drilling platforms, great for kids and techies. We then had a short guided walk through old Stavanger where one can also easily walk around oneself and tour cute shops and restaurants not far from the ship. 4/5 tour. IN SUMMARY, we enjoyed the cruise, the itinerary, and generally very good SB service, but were just a bit disappointed in the uninspired food offerings. But we realize no cruise is perfect, and were impressed enough that we will be keeping our SB Quest cruise booking in the spring of 2017, hoping food quality improves. We have posted some pictures of the cruise and the ports in this wonderful area. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2017
Overall our trip exceeded our expectations. Nevertheless, we thought it would be important to provide comments based on our experiences and alert you to areas that need improvement, i.e., Before the Cruise, Room, Servers, Food, and ... Read More
Overall our trip exceeded our expectations. Nevertheless, we thought it would be important to provide comments based on our experiences and alert you to areas that need improvement, i.e., Before the Cruise, Room, Servers, Food, and Activities. Before the Cruise • The webpage did not work well. Links did not work, pages were inaccessible, and there were too many times that the page was down for “regular maintenance”. • The materials sent were not helpful; too much and too redundant and not sufficiently customized. • It would have been helpful to know in advance that dry cleaning was not available on the cruise. • Price for internet use has to be more reasonable; access to the internet is essential for most of us. Room The room worked well for us— very comfortable bed, excellent way to adjust lights, good hangars. Having a balcony with a full view was very important and made a big difference. There were sufficient plugs for our electronics. Much to our pleasant surprise, if desired, two people could shower together. Area for Improvement: • The laundry service could have been better. We ended up having to hand wash an item as the laundry was concerned it would be damaged if they tried to get the stain out. We found that all it needed was a little bit of soap and water. Staff: We enjoyed that staff throughout the ship wonderful were consistently friendly, accurate, and pleasantly attentive. Areas for Improvement: • Rigidity by Restaurant hostess: If the room is empty why not give a window seat? • If it is late and most people have had dinner why not give 2 people a table for 4? • Set tables that have a view and not just the ones to make it convenient to serve. Food: We appreciated being able to dine when we wanted, where we wanted, and just the two of us when desired. Breakfast or dinner at The Restaurant ranged between very good and excellent. Truly enjoyed lamb chops for breakfast. Room service was very good. Having toured the kitchen we had a good understanding of why room service was more prompt and accurate than eating at The Restaurant. Thomas Keller restaurant was very good but not spectacular. Some of the dinners at The Restaurant were actually better, e.g., salmon, steak, duck breast, lovely sóuffles, and salads. We enjoyed having champagne with all of our meals and the frozen ice cream sticks dipped in dark chocolate were exceptional. During Tea both the food and service were excellent. Areas for Improvement: • Lunch at The Restaurant was uneven (ice cream was served half melted; veal was dry). • The Restaurant should have more whole grain breads. • It would have been better to have menus that benefited from the local food, e.g., Norwegian waffles for breakfast, more salmon and crab dishes. • Colonade dinner featured Paella. It was terrible; was more like rice with seafood on top and not a drop of saffron. Beyond disappointing. • Good idea to add the tea scones as a breakfast item. Activities: The hotel manager was consistently exceptional in how he took care of us and all the guests. We found the shows entertaining and the lectures interesting. The dance classes (especially the lady) were lots of fun and helped to amp up our steps. The Seabourn singers were good and put on an admirable effort. In the Beauty Salon the stylist and colorist did a great job. Areas for Improvement: • We did not appreciate the Spa trying to sell additional add-ons, e.g., the shoe inserts. It seemed too much of a hustle. • The staff at Seabourn Square were pleasant and as helpful as they could be but they needed to have better knowledge of what there was to see and do in each port and better skills at using the Internet to gather information, e.g., car rental service. It seemed as if each one had their own set of resources and the information was not shared. A shared database similar to what the restaurants have for servers would be very helpful. • Not a good idea to promote tours that were fully booked in advance. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2017
We WERE Seabourn loyalists but this cruise was just bad. No personal service, completely disorganized, a cruise director we almost never saw and when we did failed to say hello in the halls, food promised that never appeared. Each shore ... Read More
We WERE Seabourn loyalists but this cruise was just bad. No personal service, completely disorganized, a cruise director we almost never saw and when we did failed to say hello in the halls, food promised that never appeared. Each shore excursion was chaos - you had to go down the row of buses looking for your tour as there was no one to direct you. Disembarkation was chaos - a long line of passengers waiting to leave (after it was announced we could leave) while new staff were scanned in for a very long time. Long lines to find a table at breakfast. Long waits for drinks at the bar. The dress code (no jeans after 6) was completely ignored - even the staff commented on it. We booked another cruise on the ship but cancelled the day we got home. We are now looking at other cruise lines and will be very reluctant to book again. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2017
First of all, it was the two week cruise which we got for free because we have 250 plus sail days, and so we picked the most expensive (or one of the most expensive) venue. Secondly, everyone who cruises the fjords of Norway is blown away ... Read More
First of all, it was the two week cruise which we got for free because we have 250 plus sail days, and so we picked the most expensive (or one of the most expensive) venue. Secondly, everyone who cruises the fjords of Norway is blown away by the natural beauty, and so were we. Not only was the landscape spectacular, second to what we experienced in Antarctica on the same ship in December/January, but the cities we visited were also quite picturesque. Scandinavia is very civilized and clean. As usual, the food and service were excellent not just in the dining room but also in the Thomas Keller Grill and in the Colonnade, the nights where there are the Ad Hoc menus. A word of caution with the Grill is to share the entrees because they are, contrary to the servings in the Restaurant, large. The eggplant parmesan is amazing, as are the artichoke, the Caesar salad,), the roast chicken, and the meats. The menu is pretty much fixed, but there are always specials among the entrees and appetizers. The entertainment is also wonderful, not only the cast, but also the guest artists, with the sole exception of the Norwegian folk lore show, which was dreadful. Usually, I enjoy the local talent, but this time, they had a group of women without much talent or soul. Of note is the spectacular Tim Rice show with familiar and beautiful tunes from his shows. I always enjoy the gym classes, and this time, the gym instructor from Latvia (Enjis) was in a league of his own by creating workout routines that were amazingly effective in thirty minutes. I lost four more pounds on the trip, all the while eating to my heart's content and consuming wine only at dinner. Assiduously avoiding the elevator at all cost is also key to keeping off the unwanted avoirdupoids. I am continuing with his regimen here on land because it was so effective. Admittedly, Seabourn is my cruising "drug" of choise, and I have limited exiperience with any other line, its being Regent. What I love about Seabourn is the personal touches, the fact that everyone knows your name a la Cheers, and the international cast of characters that work on the ship, which allows me to keep my languages current. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2017
When we travel broad, it has to be for a least a month in order to make the cost of flying Business Class and getting over jet lag worth it. We received the Norway two weeks as our gift from Seabourn for having sailed over 250 nights with ... Read More
When we travel broad, it has to be for a least a month in order to make the cost of flying Business Class and getting over jet lag worth it. We received the Norway two weeks as our gift from Seabourn for having sailed over 250 nights with them, and thus it was logical to add on another seven days in order to do the Baltic, where I had never been. I was not at all disappointed because not only did St. Petersburg live up to all the hype and its reputation, but also Helsinki and Tallinn were great surprises. We did very few excursions organized by the ship on the Norway portion of the cruise because we were spending a lot to avail ourselves of all that Russia had to offer. We packed our three days there with excursions, morning and afternoon, and they were all worth it, with excellent guides, who not only were knowledgable but also had amazing commands of English and wonderful senses of humor. Everything I had to say about the cruise is definitely applicable to this cruise. The one thing to add was the difference in demographics. I have never been on a Seabourn cruise where the median age skewed so young. There were 20 passengers under 21 along with young and youngish marrieds and singles in their thirties, forties, and fifties. It was interesting that there was less of a sense of camaraderie than on the typical Seabourn cruise. We really socialized far less than usual. I suppose that the brevity of the cruise is one important factor in explaining the diverse clientele. We actually received a Tiffany crystal candle holder as a prize for having the most sail days, an honor that our friend Carole had garnered on the Norway section of the cruise with three times as many days as we. Obviously, the Baltic is a cruise that true cruisers do early in their careers. I am not going to repeat what I said in reviewing Norway because everything is applicable and accessible in that review. Read Less
16 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
With a desire for an upmarket ship, which spent 3 days in St Petersburg, my husband and I chose the brand new Seabourn Ovation. At the time of booking, it had not yet hit the water. This 7 day cruise from Copenhagen to Stockholm, also had ... Read More
With a desire for an upmarket ship, which spent 3 days in St Petersburg, my husband and I chose the brand new Seabourn Ovation. At the time of booking, it had not yet hit the water. This 7 day cruise from Copenhagen to Stockholm, also had a day in Tallin ,Estonia and a half day in Helsinki, Finland, with one day at sea.Embarkation was easy at 2 pm, with a delicious buffet lunch waiting..We had a verandah suite on deck 7. On arrival, I noticed that the floor had not been vacuumed and they were hairs in the bathtub. When I contacted housekeeping this was quickly rectified. The suites are well thought out with lots of storage space, but if the bathroom door is open and you open the front door, they smash together. I had chosen to be in the middle of deck 7 as I wanted a quiet room away from any high traffic areas. However, the poor internal design of the ship meant the doors slammed, which could be heard at all hours, footsteps from above caused loud noise and strong vibrations in the room, and people could be heard in the next cabins. Several people I spoke to who,unfortunately were given rooms that interconnected with others had it even worse and made complaints. What a shame that the latest luxury liner did not use the latest technology for soundproofing. On the positive side, all the staff were exceptional in all areas. The food was of a very high quality, and I recommend the afternoon tea scones as well as the gelato. However, a lot of the food felt somewhat old fashioned, and I think they would benefit from some more modern cuisine, such as Asian fusion. The guest entertainers were excellent, including a mentalist and an award- winning pianist. Read Less
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