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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
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
Avide Seabourn fans, we seldom have anything but praise for the line, and although we preferred the original and smaller yachts, we continue to find ourselves on one of their ships a 30 or 40 days each year. Now … the best ocean ... Read More
Avide Seabourn fans, we seldom have anything but praise for the line, and although we preferred the original and smaller yachts, we continue to find ourselves on one of their ships a 30 or 40 days each year. Now … the best ocean vessel experiences require solid and reliable shoreside support and administration, and Seabourn's website and head office staff in Seattle are giving us a re-think on giving the line another dime or any more of our time. No less than a dozen accounting errors in pre-cruise purchases had us dealing with the shipboard back office staff every day. It was endless. Had it not been for our printed records and an American Express statement, we would have had a losing battle. Vacations are for relaxing, not for auditing the vendors accounting errors. Dear President Richard, please get your Seattle offices pencil sharpened and your website technology up to date. Cons: Smoking continues to be allowed indoors in public spaces. The retreat is an entirely useless waist of (for fee) space. Pros: Dining in all venues is 6 star, although it is much harder than it should be to get specialty reservations (much easier on Regent) so best to board with very limited expectations. Cabins are a tiny bit narrower than on the Sojourn class vessels, but the layout is nearly identical. The new dining table in the living area is a big improvement. Entertainment is sedate, but refined. 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
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
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2019
We joined the ship in Copenhagen on the 17th August and left in Stockholm calling at Tallinn and Helsinki. As way of a little background, I am in my 50s, my wife early 60s and have cruised extensively mostly with Azamara but also with ... Read More
We joined the ship in Copenhagen on the 17th August and left in Stockholm calling at Tallinn and Helsinki. As way of a little background, I am in my 50s, my wife early 60s and have cruised extensively mostly with Azamara but also with Cunard, Holland America and in our early days NCL. Firstly the ship is beautiful, well presented and lots of room. Cabins are more generously sized than other lines and our stewardess was excellent. I did not open my bottle of whisky as I would have only had a couple of shorts before the whole thing would have been poured down the drain. Multiply this by the number of cabins and what a waste, the bar was very close! I felt sorry for the recent poster who said he would not sail with Seabourn again and was immediately lambasted by Seabourn aficionados but I have to wholeheartedly agree with him. For a line that sells itself as 'ultra-luxury' I found their levels of service terribly disappointing. We were constantly waiting to be noticed, order drinks or wait for drinks. A pot of tea shouldn't take 30 minutes, when mentioned to a manager her only reply was 'are you sure its been 30 minutes?', this was a common experience at all the eateries. Service in the eateries was generally hard work, the feeling one got was that they were doing a favour by serving us. Service at the bars - especially the club - was excellent. Food was mediocre, plenty of it, but just not very exciting. We enjoyed the Sushi but found the food in the special 'Grill' not good at all with my 'Veal' being very fatty and grizzly. I did report my general disappointment in the mid cruise feedback form which prompted a reply from the Hotel Director who told me 'she had sorted my problems' which i found impressive as I had not been over specific what my concerns were. Shore excursions were very good but on the first couple of trips there was no guidance from staff as to where meet ashore - Tickets were printed 'Meet Pierside' which didn't help, before immigration or after? there was no one there anyway. The expectation was that you made your way to the coaches, on one occasion our coach went without us and we were greeted by excursion staff with the comment 'ah you're the missing ones'. As we went straight from the ship on being called to the coaches I still find it difficult to understand how we were missing. I really did want to like Seabourn but apart from the ship, which again I will say was beautiful and Handre who was fantastic, other(not so ultra-luxury) lines beat Seabourn hands down down for service, food and of course value for money. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2019
My husband and I sailed on the 8/3/19 cruise on the Ovation out of Copenhagen. This was our first time on Seabourn but I have been on over 30 cruises at the ripe age of 31, with the last 15 on the Oceania line. I am an avid traveler and ... Read More
My husband and I sailed on the 8/3/19 cruise on the Ovation out of Copenhagen. This was our first time on Seabourn but I have been on over 30 cruises at the ripe age of 31, with the last 15 on the Oceania line. I am an avid traveler and feel I have a critical but fair eye. I had high expectations of this line and particular ship from word of mouth recommendations and other favorable reviews. I was quite disappointed and will list out all of my reasons while still making sure to give credit where credit is due. I will start with the positives first. My overall summary of the below is at the bottom of this review. Cabin: Our cabin was very nice and spacious. Bed and pillows are comfortable, ample room with a nice walk in closet and separate seating area. Bathroom has a double sink which is very nice, shower is marble and still small but pressure very good. Bathtub a waste of space in my opinion. Balcony nice size and overall room very spacious. We were in cabin 651 on the 6th floor located toward the center of the ship which was great. Molton Brown products in the bathroom and a selection of body soap offered on the first day. Room stewardess was attentive and did a very good job. Only complaint on the first day is that the room wasn’t cleaned well. The soap in our bathroom which was a body wash had been used and there was a lot of dust and finger prints on the table in the room. Otherwise, cabin was excellent and gets high marks from me. I believe we were in category V5. Ship: the ship is beautiful. Modern, clean, more yacht-like than cruise ship. A lot of wood paneling. 600 people but still felt very quiet even on sea days. Our favorite place to relax was the cappuccino lounge on floor 7 where they had tons of seating and recliners. Decor of the ship was very simple yet elegant. WIFI: very good! Much better WIFI than any other ship I’ve been on - in room technology good. Service: this is where our experience goes down the tubes. The service on this ship was HORRIBLE!! The staff do you a major favor and if asked for something that requires them to go out at all of their way, they are rude. We had some staff that were nice (mainly in cappuccino lounge and main dining room - except for maitre de) but all and all, the service sucked. Management lacks tremendously, customer service is non existent and the staff seem poorly trained, disingenuous and disinterested. I’ve really never experienced anything like this before - had we not met several other couples who also shared the same sentiment, I would have thought I was going crazy!! A few examples - almost every meal without fail we waited 10 minutes before getting anything to drink. If we needed a sauce to accompany a meal, we waited 10 minutes. In fact, we stopped ordering sauces because it was such a lost cause & by the time it arrived our meal was over. I asked for cream with my coffee - by the time the cream came, my coffee was cold. We were almost always at a meal with an empty drink that needed refilling. No accommodating what so ever. My husband likes the salmon in the colonnade - we asked if it could be served on the patio 20 feet away and they said no, they prefer not to. At dinner in the main, I asked if i could have a croquette that came with a different entree than what I ordered and was told no, they only had a certain amount and could not accommodate me. I mean, come on! I tried to move my Thomas Keller reservation because my husband wasn’t feeling well and was told with 11 days left on the trip that they couldn’t accommodate us. Finally, after getting the guest services manager involved, we got one at an undesirable time on a different day but at this point, we took what we could get. These may seem Iike minor gripes but we encountered them several times per day and was a major turnoff and took a lot away from the experience. The overall staff attitude was rude and requests of them felt like inconveniences. This in itself was bad enough to never return to this ship. As I said previously, several other couples experienced the same rude service. My husbands Camera was lost day 1 and finally arrived at our cabin with a cracked and dented lens. We requested compensation for the lens. Seabourn asked us to provide the link to the lens - which we did directly from the website - to prove it was $500. They tried to tell us it was a $200 lens (they had the wrong lens) and refused to refund us. We have yet to resolve this issue with them. Food - We are major foodies and we’re quite disappointed in the food on this ship. I will say that the quality is there in a lot of areas (not all) but the execution is not. Breakfast was good but the same every day. Not a bad thing, but boring after a while. A decent selection and probably the best meal. Lunch was a mixed bag. Salad bar always had nice items and the grill items - fish, burgers, hot dog, etc always very tasty and fresh. Meat quality good, fish quality good. My only complaint on the fish was it never had any seasoning or flavor - this was a major theme for most items on board - but I would still prefer to add salt vs. having the sodium and preservative packed food a lot of ships have, so this wasn’t a major complaint. All lunch hot food served in the chaffing dishes were slop and never hot. We almost never ate any of the prepared food served at lunch because it was room temperature and unappealing. Dinner : main dining room was respectable but not great. We didn’t have one meal there that was really delicious. Temperature was an issue and seasoning was non existent. I’ve never put so much salt on my food in my life. Service mixed. Our first night there we waited about 15 minutes before anyone came to our table. Finally the waitress comes over with an iPad looking down and says “what can i get you” - no greeting, no introduction. Very impersonal feeling. Sushi was nothing to write home about. A lot of rice and uninspired. I actually overheard someone say “it’s not as bad as gas station sushi” - I’ll leave it at that. The colonnade was OK - probably our least favorite. They do special nights like rib night or clam bake night and they look beautiful but just don’t quite execute it well. For example : rib night - the ribs came out in a beautiful Staub cast iron pan presented family style and looked delicious. Unfortunately, the ribs were dry, cold and had clearly been sitting on a heat lamp for an hour +. We sent it back and got a new rack that was the same dry and Luke warm ribs this time with some bbq sauce slathered on top. To put the icing on the cake, the assistant maitre de came over and instead of apologizing that the food came out lacking temperature and dry, explained that the ribs weren’t Texas style but st.louis style and weren’t supposed to fall off the bone..I mean ..really ? I’m not expecting anything more than a simple apology or some sort of follow up to see if the second round was better. Instead, I was blamed for expecting them to fall off the bone and they didn’t. I didn’t need ribs that fell off the bone, just didn’t want to eat something as dry as wood. The Patio by the pool in our opinion offered the best most innovative meals but even those fell short on flavor and execution. We also had a Northern Europe itinerary with a lot of rain and cool weather and found ourselves eating outside in the windy cold weather because the patio was the best choice. Thomas Keller which is the specialty restaurant was very good for a steakhouse on a cruise ship. I would say this is likely the best option on board. Food delicious but once again, service lacking. Not attentive and seemed to do you a big favor. We found in all restaurants that the deserts were mediocre and most didn’t taste cooked on board. I don’t think I had one desert I loved. I also found the breads were uninspired. In summary : good quality ingredients (for the most part ) that aren’t executed well. Oceania food trumps Seabourn by a landslide. A few other items to note: Older crowd, no children. Except for us (in our early 30s), most people were 65+. Not good or bad, just our cruise demographic. Free laundry was a nice feature with Miele commercial washers and dryers and complimentary detergent. Gym was small but clean, coffee on board was very good. Entertainment was respectable. Nice job at including different daily activities. Excursions - expensive but well organized. I read the ship docs at ports further away from the destinations to save on docking fees. Not sure if this is true. We did a few excursions - food provided on them was mediocre and limited and tours very pricey. Spa - didn’t use but quite expensive. Very few discounts offered throughout cruise. They had a “promotion” that if you do 3 treatments from a select number of services you get 10% off first, 20% off second and 30% off third. Note this is per cabin and not per stateroom. I know all cruise spas are expensive but this was more than canyon ranch on Oceania. I may have left stuff out but to summarize my overall impressions: cabin and ship top notch and classy, food better than the celebrity level lines but nothing special. Service was so bad it border-lined on offensive and as a result, I will likely not return to Seabourn. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
New ship is lovely but larger size is a mistake. Addition of Thomas Keller restaurant and 150 additional passengers was a major error. Added square footage was in the wrong place and they could not seat everyone in the main dining room! ... Read More
New ship is lovely but larger size is a mistake. Addition of Thomas Keller restaurant and 150 additional passengers was a major error. Added square footage was in the wrong place and they could not seat everyone in the main dining room! The Thomas Keller was one of the worst restaurants at sea i have experienced. Decor was lovely but the food has been better at Denny's. The additional 150 passengers totally changes the feeling of the ship. This may have also have been impacted by more European passenger makeup but the ship was full of a bunch. of snobs. No sense of comradery. The Japanese Restaurant food was OK but far from good. The Retreat is a joke - expensive and seldom used. In general the crew was good - a great captain, bar tenders and pool side servers were excellent but our cabin stewards was poor at best and the waiters and management ti the main dining room were not ally ways helpful. New tenders ware great - much improved access. The itinerary was great- we attended most of the enrichment lectures and they were lacking. Olive oil lecture was a waste of time. 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
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
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
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
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: 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
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
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2019
We’ve been on Odyssey twice before, which we very much enjoyed, and were interested to compare the newer Ovation. There is no comparison. Ovation wins hands down. The decor is magnificent: really classy and all gleaming. The larger ... Read More
We’ve been on Odyssey twice before, which we very much enjoyed, and were interested to compare the newer Ovation. There is no comparison. Ovation wins hands down. The decor is magnificent: really classy and all gleaming. The larger Thomas Keller works very well and we just adored the sushi restaurant - beautifully fitted out. The deck outside The Grill is a great secret terrace for when the Colonnade gets busy, with its own salad bar too. Think of it as a free version of The Retreat on the top deck! We love the way Seabourn Square has been rethought - it looks wonderful and it’s a great place to hang out. Even though space per passenger is a little lower on the Ovation, it feels the opposite. We couldn’t believe the cruise was full (it was, apparently) as it seemed so quiet most of the time. Captain Stig was the best we have had...always present and friendly. The crew were engaged, almost all incredibly welcoming and friendly...and much better at name recognition than on previous Seabourn cruises. Much has already been said on here about the legendary Handré, the cruise director. It’s all true. He is brilliant at his job and always out and about. A true professional. Food was excellent (we particularly enjoyed the specialities brought on board from Helsinki). Entertainment and enrichment was good. The new caviar is great but I can’t say that the new champagne is an improvement. It’s cheap and tastes it. We were very happy with the included wines and stuck to them. We plumped for a V5 cabin this time (having had an Owners Suite before) and were not disappointed. They are plenty spacious enough, well designed and quiet, with loads of storage space. The only thing we wished for was a coffee machine in the room. Stewardess service was excellent although we could have done with more toiletries (this was quickly rectified). Overall a wonderful cruise and we aim to get back on the Ovation again. If only Seabourn could have done something about the weather! Read Less
Sail Date: August 2019
Spacious rooms and bathroom. Easy boarding and first class treatment from airport pick up to end of cruise. Several places for drinks all day, nice afternoon tea time, small casino open mostly when at sea. Talented entertainers on board ... Read More
Spacious rooms and bathroom. Easy boarding and first class treatment from airport pick up to end of cruise. Several places for drinks all day, nice afternoon tea time, small casino open mostly when at sea. Talented entertainers on board with bands at several venues during the day and evening. Nice options for meals from casual to dressy. Room service for breakfast a must, always right on time. Breakfast buffet was always the same but good if you are in a hurry. Booked excursions thru Seabourn and they were all small groups of no more than 20 people. Left on time or before if everyone was there. All sites visited in St Petersburg were very crowded. Walked thru Tallinn, Estonia on our own, it is walking distance to port. Helsinki not much to see, would have skipped the city excursion and just ridden shuttle into town and walked around a little. After we left ship with private driver to hotel just walked around Stockholm on our own. Sheraton Stockholm very easy walk to old town and nice hotel. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2019
Our main reasons for choosing the Ovation included some (but not all) of the destinations, notably Scotland, the relatively small scale of the ship (600 passengers), the suites (spacious, spotless, and beautifully appointed) the common ... Read More
Our main reasons for choosing the Ovation included some (but not all) of the destinations, notably Scotland, the relatively small scale of the ship (600 passengers), the suites (spacious, spotless, and beautifully appointed) the common areas (ditto), the beverage plan (free everything unless you want to splurge) , and a generally older and well to do clientele. (We fit the former but not the latter). Once aboard we also appreciated the crew and staff (unfailingly friendly and polite, including our suite stewardess Ana Carolina), the Square, a combination library, coffee bar, and guest services area, dinner at Thomas Keller’s Grill, afternoon tea in the Observation Bar, and breakfasts in the Colonnade. Since we aren’t dressy and clubby types, we didn’t eat at The Restaurant , and eschewed the formals and clubby things. The shore excursions were pricey and just ok, and if you want WiFi you pay for it. The ship offers a laundry and dry cleaning service for a fee, but also includes a laundromat (free) which came in handy on our two week sail. Some of the ports of call were less than thrilling, but Oslo and Scotland made the trip worthwhile. If you visit Scotland in August you should definitely go to the Royal Scottish Tattoo in Edinburgh. The price of this cruise was relatively steep, but if you want to be cosseted, Seabourn is definitely worth the indulgence. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2019
Second sailing on Seabourn and totally pleased with our experience. I thoroughly disagree with the previous HORRIBLE review. Couldn’t have asked for more with attentive staff, always personally greeted by name, invited three evenings ... Read More
Second sailing on Seabourn and totally pleased with our experience. I thoroughly disagree with the previous HORRIBLE review. Couldn’t have asked for more with attentive staff, always personally greeted by name, invited three evenings to hosted tables in the dining room which provides a personal touch with staff. We never experienced a rude employee... quite the opposite. NO is not in their vocabulary.. always went out of their way to please everyone. We changed ports in one location ... not to save money but for safety reasons to avoid tendering with rough seas. Main reason for booking this itinerary was to attend the Royal Military Tattoo in Edinburgh. Seabourn did an incredible job securing tickets in the Royal Gallery (for an additional cost) which Included reception, covered seating, transportation etc. totally worth the added expense. They do a wonderful job with Signature Events to make Seabourn stand out among other luxury lines. Perhaps the unsatisfied review was too young to appreciate the Seabourn service. Yes, they do appeal to a more mature age group... very few children on board but a variety of activities. We have traveled extensively on various cruise lines... you’ll always have some disgruntled passengers looking for a free cruise... We were on the same cruise and totally enjoyed the entire experience. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2019
Seabourn does it right. Wonderful service, great suite, great food, embarkation was a 15 minute pleasure. disembarkation went smoothly until the coach we were on had no more room for our luggage, so a little stressful waiting on the next ... Read More
Seabourn does it right. Wonderful service, great suite, great food, embarkation was a 15 minute pleasure. disembarkation went smoothly until the coach we were on had no more room for our luggage, so a little stressful waiting on the next coach to see if our luggage made it to the airport in Copenhagen. twenty minutes later it arrived on the next bus. At our age, Mid to late 60s, jet lag from Georgia was a horror. Three or four days to fully recover. All of the restaurants on the ship were great, and the service at most was outstanding. Some of the ports were a bit lacking, the highlight of the trip for us was Northern Scotland, and most importantly, the Shetland Islands. The average age on this cruise was at least 75. Lots of folks with canes and walking assists. Did not try the pool or hot tubs, as the weather was cool. Our days were either rainy or perfect. Had great food at the Earth and Ocean, but most evenings it was too cool for us to eat in the open air. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
The experience onboard Seabourn Ovation was overall great. However, the spa needs to workout their booking procedures and accounting. I'll begin with the challenging first, we booked The Retreat for sea day and it was a beautiful ... Read More
The experience onboard Seabourn Ovation was overall great. However, the spa needs to workout their booking procedures and accounting. I'll begin with the challenging first, we booked The Retreat for sea day and it was a beautiful and private area. We noticed the massage/treatment cabana setup and was excited about getting a massage while there. Unfortunately, the massage/treatment area was for show only. There were no available treatments for anyone in The Retreat, except for maybe a manicure at 7:30pm. Perhaps it is our fault for not booking everything in advance; however, when you're actually in The Retreat it puts you in a different mindset. I believe the spa should have a dedicated masseur/masseuse available at some point for guests of The Retreat. Also, food service took forever and I had to go downstairs for a bite to eat and bring back some proper chocolate chip cookies. It's a great concept, just get it right! In regard to onboard dining, the food was absolutely delicious. We were very impressed by The Grill (Thomas Keller). We tried it onboard Seabourn Odyssey and wasn't overly impressed but Seabourn Ovation got it right! WELL DONE! Our verandah suite was perfect at all times, and we loved our stateroom attendant. Since we wanted to go to Moscow, we did book a private tour for the entire time we were in St Petersburg. We would have purchased through Seabourn but the Moscow excursion wasn't available in advance (or maybe I missed it). Moscow was absolutely INCREDIBLE! It should be a must while you're in Russia. The Entertainment was great but I believe it's time to replace the Tim Rice show. It was great but not one you want to see on every cruise. In regard to the staff, they all get 5 stars! It was sad to leave the ship but we are looking forward to our next Seabourn cruise. Also, a special thank you to Shoreside Guest Relations for solving our issues. Well done to them, too! Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
My wife and I have done more than our share of Seabourn cruises. If you check my Cruise Critic history, you'll find a less than enthusiastic review of our last Seabourn cruise aboard the Odyssey last November. This cruise was ... Read More
My wife and I have done more than our share of Seabourn cruises. If you check my Cruise Critic history, you'll find a less than enthusiastic review of our last Seabourn cruise aboard the Odyssey last November. This cruise was entirely the opposite. Three years ago we chose a Norway cruise in late June. The weather was OK but we were a little tentative about heading that far north that late in the season (departure Sept. 1), but we decided to give it a go with the new Ovation. From the moment we arrived we realized that Seabourn had gotten things correct. The ship is brand new and service was excellent. We had not a single service exception whereas we experienced many last November aboard Odyssey. Our cabin was excellent. It was indistinguishable from the standard veranda suites on the older Odyssey class ships. We booked a V1 and ended up with a V5. There is absolutely no difference between the standard staterooms other than floor location, with the exception of the 5th deck rooms not having a full glass view below the railing on the veranda. I would never recommend paying for a different standard suite as they are all entirely the same with the curtains drawn. Seabourn will charge up to 2 to 4 thousand PP additional for a V6 vs a V1 on the average 2 week cruise. Clearly not worth it as it doesn't provide any additional benefits other than location. We found the food to be excellent. Jacques was great on all fronts, but we weren't left wanting more nights as other venues did such a good job. Up to this cruise (well over 100 nights) we had never dined in the Colonnade for dinner on any Seabourn ship. We tried that on several nights including one special Colonnade night where they featured Ribs by Thomas Keller. One word to the wise - reservations are required on the special evenings. We almost didn't get in as we didn't realize (our fault for not reading the instructions) that these occasional special evenings required it. Seabourn deserves credit for another new touch since our last cruise. On return from tours in Alesund, a large percentage of the crew, lead by the captain, were out to greet all returning passengers. The music played contemporary, upbeat music, and the crew applauded the returning passengers as they walked between lines of the crew. Champagne and hot chocolate toddys were available and every guest had a big smile from a special event that must be a real pain for the crew members to put on. Our captain was far more than a safety specialist and ship driver. He regularly interacted with passengers and was eager to hear about experiences. On that note, our staff captain recognized my wife and I as soon as we boarded., (staff captains, AKA 1st officer,) are not known for being passenger oriented, but Stefan sought us out and even invited us to dinner one night. Norway is an excellent location for a cruise. You are not greeted by hoards of locals trying to sell you a tour or a trinket. In my opinion, the scenery is better than Alaska, where I lived for 2 years. Several highlights stick out: Trollfjord is truly amazing. The ship enters a 1-2 mile fjord that looks way too small for the ship to fit into. It does fit and the entry is timed during cocktail hour providing an experience that is almost worth the price of the cruise. Weather towards the top of Norway was beyond Excellent. In Tromso, we experienced a chamber of commerce day with warm temperatures and blue skies. That night as, promised, the captain woke the ship around midnight to alert everyone of the presence of northern lights. We were forewarned of the coming announcement and we never heard a single complaint as everyone wanted to see the northern lights. In Honnisvagg (Nordcap) we had a clear day again. We were told that this was the first day in 3 weeks that they had seen the sun. We took an excursion to Nordcap which was great given the weather. Interestingly, Seabourn organized a crew excursion with several buses of crew. Crew members were obviously appreciative for their time out and many greeted us by name, even though they were on their own time. My guess is that this is how they get employees with positive attitudes. The rain did arrive by the time we got to southern Norway but we knew we had to pay the piper at some point. Seas were calm crossing the North Sea and arrival into Dover was uneventful. If I had to voice one complaint (obviously for corporate) it would be with the suite allocation of the new Encore class ships. My wife and I previously booked or upgraded to a Penthouse suite. The new ships have fewer of these larger rooms than do the smaller ships. At the same time they rose prices on the premium suites to an exorbitant level. On our cruise, the Penthouse, with 50% more square footage cost 3.5 times what we paid for our V1 (remember all V suites are essentially the same). These price increases had the net effect of driving us back downstairs as the standard suites are just fine with around 300 square feet. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
It was a great trip on the Seabourn Ovation for this Seabourn first-timer. Similar but different experience to a cruise on Silversea a few years ago. The ship was bright and shiny like all things brand new and yes there were small teething ... Read More
It was a great trip on the Seabourn Ovation for this Seabourn first-timer. Similar but different experience to a cruise on Silversea a few years ago. The ship was bright and shiny like all things brand new and yes there were small teething problems still being addressed as one should expect with a great team working hard to make sure everything was as it should be. The ship is visually very impressive and beautifully appointed. A delight to be aboard! Suite - The standard ‘verandah suite', was well appointed with everything you need and has good space considering we didn’t really spend much time there. Of course it's always nice to arrive to a bottle of Champagne on ice. The bathroom was excellent with dual basins, fitted out with bath as well although I do wonder how many guests actually use the it. I suspect it becomes a good hand-washing drying space as there is a very well positioned pull-out clothes line above. The housekeeping staff work hard and try very hard to make things perfect. No, there is not a butler which may be nice for some, but I’m not sure we needed or wanted one - maybe just for initial meet and greet. Again its your individual perspective on what a cruise ship should provide that makes it difficult for any company to provide a complete package for all. Food - The food on board was generally very good - there is always something one can criticise -but for me, the quality was mainly very good or better. I have to say that the Thomas Keller Grill experience is really very good - ahh those yummy prawns - and not being from the US and albeit a ‘foodie’, the name Thomas Keller was unfamiliar to me. I like the fact you can book this venue and I understand exactly why, but this appeared to annoy some of the ‘experienced’ cruisers who just seem to want to breeze in to any dining venue at will. Controlling your daily reservations flow also helps control service and food delivery but the smaller restaurant capacity also dictates how many times a passenger may potentially dine there. Except to say bookings were strictly controlled and I did strike some attitude trying to make a booking of 4 to invite others to dinner without knowing our guests suite number. The Grill service was excellent though with exceptional wait staff and an appealing environment with lovely quality simple food executed very well. We loved Thomas Keller themed nights in Colonnade too as they were ‘help your self platters’ in centre of table - good food, well executed - billed as ‘American Home Style’. Again others said it was too casual but I thought it was a perfect balance to the more formal restaurant environments and it was only one night a week I believe with a la carte menus available at other times. I suppose I see a ‘changing of the guard’ with more modern food service style options appealing to a slightly younger range of people. But some customers prefer a more traditional formal food service in all the venues it seems. A great addition to Seabourn ships is the Sushi restaurant. A good place for a simple dinner/lunch option and it was popular. Service was excellent with bubbly friendly staff, food was acceptably good, but not quite where it should be - but we’re tough Asian food critics too. Room for improvement there but more with their ‘formal night’ ‘Kaiseki-ryōru menu which fell well short of what it should be rather than the more simple menu offered day to day. We loved the Patio dining option - a relaxed casual on deck dining space beside the pool with good variety seven day menus at night, small buffet salad and meat options for lunch. Service was generally always friendly, welcoming and attentive. I imagine this area is very popular on the warmer cruises but a number of people like us didn’t mind the cooler experience on deck some evenings and the staff had blankets wraps available to keep us all warm on the cooler nights. The Restaurant was a mostly a good experience too except there was a hiccup on the first formal night where some food and or service issues were obvious and staff were stressed, under the pump and some customers were complaining. We were in and out early that night but I could feel the stress of the evening unfolding. Subsequent Restaurant dinners experiences were mostly very good especially considering the concentrated volume they contend with on a nightly basis. The Restaurant has diverse and different menus every day supporting the ‘Classic’ fare which were welcome. The Souffles I must say are a very popular dessert as there were always plenty going by. Breakfast in the Restaurant was a nice quiet option too, compared the much busier and livelier Colonnade. Both offered good breakfast options. Standouts - The standouts for me were firstly the Cruise Director - well known and loved by regulars. Handre was excellent and a master in that role keeping everyone happy and making them all feel special. Very polished. I certainly hope that Seabourn are paying him plenty. As well as a being on a brand new ship, the live shows in my opinion were very very good and again it’s subjective but mostly all were excellent or at worst, very good. Seabourn Ovation has these very expensive new ‘LED walls’ which which make up the whole rear of the stage and they can do some spectacular high resolution visuals. The excellent and fun 'An Evening with Sir Tim Rice' show was a great example of using this technology as Sir Tim ‘interacted’ with the live show from the side or behind on these Led panels. The performers on board were all better than very good and sang/danced/played their hearts out. That includes entertainers in the piano bar in The Grill and Observation Bar. All excellent. The band in the Club at night probably could have been much better in hindsight and I felt this space was dreary during the day with the dark sun filter curtains and not welcoming for me. Trivia was always fun - although our team never seemed to win the wonderful prizes on offer. Crew - were generally very good to excellent. They all try very hard to make everything perfect for the guests and it’s a hard gig I understand - but it was warming to genuinely hear some crew actually say ‘I love my job’. That alone helps set the attitude for everyone else on board and helps put things in perspective when considering first world problems. Let’s not forget the wonderful Captain, officers and non service crew who were constantly around the ship interacting with all their guests. As well, you get to meet some interesting people on a cruise like this - people from all walks of life, often with fascinating stories to share enriching the experience. Generally, what a great experience it was. Traveling the world is never going to be perfect as you and I know, except to say these competitive Cruise companies put themselves out there saying it’s 6 star/fine dining/inclusive this and that with stunning marketing machines generating fantastic slogans and photos promising the earth- charging high end fees - so I suppose the customer has a right to say when they feel something is not quite up to the mark. I also understand that regular cruisers have a different expectation than we did with our L-Plates and I can say it appears to be a very diverse and difficult customer base at times. But the expensive and annoying Internet charge was a common topic for some used to free Internet on other cruise lines. A moot point indeed and something Seabourn should address sooner than later. No you won’t see every port/city/town in detail but we did get to go to a lot of places we wouldn’t have even considered like lovely Arendal in Norway, Ventspills in Latvia - so nice being the only cruise ship in a small town unlike stunning Tallinn, Estonia, where we shared the over-run town with about 20 onshore tour groups from the three other bigger cruise ships. But that is the value of cruising on a small ship in the smaller ports, and I have no desire to go on the bigger ones at this stage- as nice as they may be with more onboard activities etc - sometimes they just flood the smaller towns with tourists. I think the emerging market is definitely ports of call that the big ships cannot get to. 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
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
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
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