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6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
We very much liked Seabourn. All suite cabins were great and Seabourn doesn't overcrowd their buses and tours. It seemed we could always find a seat where we wanted to go. That was very pleasant. Dining was great. You can buffet ... Read More
We very much liked Seabourn. All suite cabins were great and Seabourn doesn't overcrowd their buses and tours. It seemed we could always find a seat where we wanted to go. That was very pleasant. Dining was great. You can buffet it or sit in the dining room - eat indoors or out. Service - especially bar service - was exceptional. We took the mid-cruise tour to Angkor Wat. It was very well organized with no waiting in line at check-in to a beautiful hotel. The guide was excellent and spoke understandable English. The temples themselves were amazing. Be prepared for a long hot day but totally worth it. We were disappointed Seabourn did not allow us to book any tours with them on the day of return from Angkor Wat to Saigon (even an evening tour) so we booked our own. My one complaint is that they were very stingy with details about flight times (until we were onboard) which made it difficult to arrange tour times with another company. We were not going to miss Saigon! We took a Saigon by Night Food Tour on Vespa bikes (professional drivers) and this was one of the best tour experiences our family has had! It is absolutely in the top 5 most memorable things we've ever done on a vacation. Saigon is beautiful at night and we zoomed along the river, through flower markets and ornately lit streets. We went to several night spots (one roof top, two with live music) and 2 restaurants. The food in Vietnam is delicious. I have to admit there were a couple of times we were going through an intersection and I just closed my eyes and hung on - you know what I mean if you've ever been in Vietnam. Traffic is controlled chaos. Our Vespa drivers were skilled and courteous and the bikes were easy to get on and off of. The guide was energetic and spoke excellent English. Again, a wonderful tour. If you are a little adventurous, this may be for you. In terms of complaints about Seabourn, we have a few. One - they have very limited laundry facilities. 5 washers and dryers for over 600 passengers - so don't plan on doing your own laundry unless you don't mind waiting a long time or doing it in the middle of the night. You can certainly have your clothes laundered but it takes 1-2 days to get them back and personally I prefer laundering my personal items myself - as do many people. Two - Seabourn schedules lectures and shows at 6 pm. They call these "pre-dinner" but some people have dinner reservations from 6-7 pm at the specialty restaurant, or are getting ready for dinner. We found this time caused conflicts and forced us to cancel a specialty dinner reservation - which we couldn't rebook - so we could see a show we wanted to see. The reservation was booked before the cruise and the show was added the day ahead so no warning ahead of time. Three - the community rooms and Grand Salon are poorly designed with large pillars blocking the view of the audience of the stage or screen. People were sitting down and then constantly moving because they couldn't see. Four - The disembarkation process was disorganized. We were told along with other passengers to get to immigration early because our flights were early so we could be first in line. But there was no one there to direct people so it was a free for all to get in line. We got behind 30 other people who came in after us. Immigration was fairly quick but Seabourn gets a D for disembarkation organization. They should stagger groups of people based on their flight times like Crystal Cruises. Finally, recorded lectures could not be replayed as promised due to another Seabourn glitch so we missed some lectures we wanted to see. Not a biggie but the little things add up. I would definitely take another Seabourn cruise though. Once you understand issues peculiar to them, you can work around them. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
Seabourn is our cruise line of choice. The reasons are simple, it feels like you are on your personal yacht, the staff never uses the phrase "sorry, we can't do that", the cuisine is the best afloat on any ship sailing today ... Read More
Seabourn is our cruise line of choice. The reasons are simple, it feels like you are on your personal yacht, the staff never uses the phrase "sorry, we can't do that", the cuisine is the best afloat on any ship sailing today and last, but not least, you never feel crowded or rushed in any venue aboard. The odyssey is currently doing an itinerary that runs back and forth between Barbados and St. Maartin. The cruise was, as anticipated, wonderful and relaxing. HOWEVER, Getting to the ship to board and disembarking were rife with difficulty and unpleasantness. This was not just my bad luck, but prevalent among nearly all of the guests who we met aboard and shared stories with. After booking the cruise we discovered that you cannot get to/from these chosen ports before or after your cruise (Barbados and St. Maartin) in one day of travel. Unless you live in a city with a direct flight to the island (Miami, Washington DC, New York - basically the east coast major metros) you will have to overnight enroute in each direction. Airline costs to and from these ports and overnight hotel costs, in many cases, exceed the price of the actual cruise. Additionally, attempting to arrive or depart the same day as ships in port turn over their passengers will result in unmanageable crowds at the airports. (specifics about our experience below) St Maartin's airport was destroyed during the most recent Hurricane and despite what you may read about the Caribbean being ready for tourism and that everything is back to normal ... It is NOT. Let me recount our disembarkation experience in St. Maartin: The positive: our late afternoon airline departure time worried us. We were unable to arrange a "day pass" with any hotel on the island despite two weeks of trying prior to leaving home. With nowhere to go until our flight departure and Disembarkation from Seabourn Odyssey scheduled for 8:30 am, we were worried. Seabourn, graciously, permitted us to remain aboard the ship in comfort until after lunch. A real blessing considering what was to come. The negative: Upon disembarkation we took a taxi with our luggage to the airport thinking we could relax comfortably at the airport (a relatively short distance, but a long drive compounded by bumper to bumper, slow moving traffic - nearly an hour) our taxi driver described to us while enroute that after the hurricane so many cars were destroyed that there was a huge influx of new cars purchased with insurance money and that the old damaged cars were mostly repaired, sold and put back on the road... hence gridlock like Manhatten or Chicago during rush hour (but on single lane roads). He also informed us that we were LUCKY because up until just a few days prior, the airport operations and passenger terminal were being run from TENTS in the tropical heat. We arrived at the airport, part of the destroyed terminal building had been repaired and it was operating in compressed space. No assistance at the curb with bags, entered into the ticket area and found grand central station with hundreds of people in line for multiple carriers. We were flying first class so our shorter line took only 40 minutes to reach the front, check baggage and proceed. Next came the security and immigration line. We arrived and joined a single line in a large ante-chamber, with the line snaking back and forth to allow more passengers into it - no bypass for any sort of travel class division or TSA Pre-check thing available here. Another 45 minutes to proceed through this portion. As I approached the two clerks doing the pass along I thought it was the light at the end of the tunnel. We walked up a ramp to another level and there was another snake line with a few hundred people in it for baggage examination, x rays etc. Belts, shoes, computers everything off. One hour in THAT line and we thought "hooray, it's over" we were finally near the actual departure area. We walked about 20 yards around a turn and into a large space that was rectangular and about fifty yards wide and 25 yards deep roughly half the size of a football field. In a glass wall facing the fresh air and sunlight were several doors (no individual gate areas just some doors with a thousand or so plastic chairs arranged around the room). Every chair was occupied, little room between the rows, wheelchairs and luggage blocking everything and crowds of standing passengers waiting along every wall and every lane between chairs. these gates/doors were within feet of each other and each door was a "gate" with a number on it. This waiting area facing the gates would have been shut down by any decent fire marshall due to more than double the number of waiting passengers in that space than it was designed to accommodate. We snagged two chairs when a flight was called, and waited until our flight was ready. The boarding was called traditionally, by row number and class. We walked through the door and an airport employee gathered everyone into one disorganized group (defeating the prior procedure) and we waited in the sun for a people mover bus to arrive. When it did arrive, the bus was packed like a subway car at rush hour. If someone had died, they would have remained in a standing position. Our flight, United Airlines Flt # 1741 from St. Maartin direct to Washington DC is a daily scheduled turn around flight - fly in arriving mid day or a little later early afternoon, dump off the arrivals - load up and turn back around. The bus disgorged us and directed us to stairs leading up to the airplane door for us to struggle up carrying our hand baggage. Again no assistance for those needing it (the passengers assisted the elderly and disabled ourselves). Once aboard, we anticipated United Airlines would be a welcome change. The flight, while professionally flown, was improperly provisioned and there were inadequate meals and drinks for all passengers - Here's a bit of humor, the first class stewardess told us not to worry, delicious cookies were forthcoming. She then either burned all of the cookies or the oven failed - so half of the first class section who had no meal choices didn't even get a cookie on this 5 hour flight. But the pretzels were delicious. Arrived back into the USA and my Hartmann bag (advertised as nearly indestructible and a veteran of several international flights to Europe and Asia) was delivered for customs inspection with a wheel smashed off and rips in the side of the "indestructible" material. No doubt the same airport services staff in St. Maartin responsible for provisioning the airplane with food and drinks “loaded” the luggage, as well. My destroyed bag necessitated a LONG walk, easily a mile from the international arrivals area, through a nearly deserted late Saturday night Washington DC terminal to the United baggage claim office (would have been convenient if it was located near where their flights were arriving - alongside all of the OTHER airlines baggage offices). We made it to the hotel two hours later than anticipated, we were not allowed to check our heavy vacation packed bags through to our early morning departure flight, so we had to carry them with us to the hotel and bring them back for check in the next morning. 4 hours of sleep and back to the airport before dawn in Freezing weather, to board our final United Flight home (which was a delightful, problem free flight). IN retrospect, Seabourn's decision to necessitate boarding and disembarking at these 3rd world ports and airports is a decision that significantly diminishes the attractiveness and affordability of these itineraries. Seabourn has chosen to no longer originate or end their Caribbean and Transatlantic to Europe itineraries in US ports like Fort Lauderdale or Miami but choosing instead these awkward Caribbean ports. True, The St Maartin airport terminal was better than TENTS, however it is painfully obvious that the services that the St. Maartin Airport staff are expected to perform for this volume of passengers is significantly beyond their current capability to deliver. Hindsight is 20/20…If I had it to do over again, I would not have chosen this voyage simply because of the disastrous and unpleasant overall travel experience to and from the ship. I recently read a psychological study that evidenced that as Passengers/Customers, our remembrance of a vacation is formed in significant measure by what happens at the end of it. If things end with a pleasant experience - we will always remember that as one of our best vacations. If not... then it will be remembered as unremarkable or a disaster, as in our case. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
Gastro broke out on the ship and many of the cabins in lock down / isolation. It spread like wildfire. Birthday celebration cruise for my dads 90th really ruined a week each as he and I got sick Booked a triple cabin on first night ... Read More
Gastro broke out on the ship and many of the cabins in lock down / isolation. It spread like wildfire. Birthday celebration cruise for my dads 90th really ruined a week each as he and I got sick Booked a triple cabin on first night told there was a shortage of rollaway beds and that my dad may have to sleep on couch. Balcony door handle fell off twice during cruise couldn’t access balcony for nearly 2 days. Whilst experiencing very high winds and rough seas the voices creaking in cabin was so loud we didn’t sleep for 2 nights despite being midship. Service was lacking other than a few standouts (Krystel our stewardess, rhe art teacher. Maria). They held a few activities for kids which was good. Food in Collonade was average the fruit is often old rotten bananas. Food in Restauranr and Sushi good. Thomas Keller nice setting bit my steak was dry and slightly tough. Staff in food outlets didirb seem to have time or inclination to really connect with guests. I think there is less staff and they are under more pressure. If really showed. Lots of other things but having completed a Seabourn Criise around Pacifix last year which was great we were very disappointed. A lack of response by Seabourn again shows very poor service. We stopped at Bangkok Christmas Day and we were looking forward to shopping etc only to find it was a 2.5 hour car ride each way into Bangkok (false advertising). There seemed to be some general disappointment with Seabourn from fellow travellers. The word is Regent Crude line is a much better option. Read Less
15 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
We choose this cruise because we only planned ahead by 2 months and this cruise worked for our schedule. Awful from the start. Unorganized staff made it a nuisance to make anything happen. Food has been absolutely terrible. We’ve ... Read More
We choose this cruise because we only planned ahead by 2 months and this cruise worked for our schedule. Awful from the start. Unorganized staff made it a nuisance to make anything happen. Food has been absolutely terrible. We’ve never been on a cruise that had such bad food consistently throughout the trip. For the same price as crystal cruises, seabourn offers much less quality of services and amenities. On the first day, the staff was not informed on the emergency drill. They had me and my sister running back and forth needlessly, because several people gave us different information that was all incorrect. Smoking is a pain on this boat. They let people smoke cigarettes many places, but the only place you can smoke a cigar is this tiny back deck area where they don’t offer any drinks or service. Even though they sell expensive cigars. It feels like a punishment. Finding the spot was huge pain because every staff member told us a different location, which again, had us running around the boat needlessly. My friend was looking for an espresso on our first day. Once again, misinformed staff sent us in circles. We finally find the correct spot, and they say they can’t help us because they closed the esspessso machine 2min ago. They said we could get some on the floor underneath. We go there, ask the staff, and they kindly tell us we can get espresso. Then a different staff member aggressively grabs my friends shirt and pulls him back. He tells him, “You can’t be in here. You need to leave now!” My friends tried to explain the situation and he responds “well send you a double espresso to your room” and they sent coffee. Just incredibly agressive and rude. The other staff says “I didn’t know the captain was in the room.” Like that would justify what happened. Rooms are dirty. Fingernail marks in the wall. Stained carpets. Broken toilets. Shower and bath drains don’t work. Scratchy towels. Broken AC. Lights only turn on in your room if you leave your key in the wall, which has been a huge unnecessary nuisance as well. Food has been terrible. The menus are very limited. This Thomas kheller chef forces half the menu to be standardized. So you can’t customize the food to your liking. I’ve never been on cruise with such bad food. That alone is a deal breaker. The service makes it worse. Even dining in “the main restaurant” they don’t refil your drinks unless you ask. They bring the wrong food or forget orders. They use this tablet system that apparently fails all the time, according to a waitress. Today I ordered room service. Waited over an hour. After talking to 3 people, they discovered it went to the wrong room. Excursions have been fun. But we’ve been doing private excursions separate from seabourn. The one excursion we did use through seabourn was wildly mislabeled. A group of 20 people thinking they’re spending a day at the beach with powerboats, instead spend the majority of the day riding in jeeps, WHICH WAS EXACLY WHAT WE DID THE DAY BEFORE. Incredible. Before the cruise, they let you fill out this online form of what drinks you’d prefer stocked in your room. They didn’t put what I requested and just left Myers in my suite. I’ve been on seabourn sojourn, and that experience was 100x better than this. I’ve been on crystal and reagent, and those were even better. If you believe in getting what you pay for, stay away from the seabourn encore. The lady who cleans our room is awesome and so have been some of the service guys. The bartender is really cool and clearly is working very hard. Read Less
18 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
Seabourn is fabulous. It is worth every penny paid. When Seabourn says, "All inclusive" they mean all. They never say no to any request no matter how small or large. They attend to every detail and if it is not right, they ... Read More
Seabourn is fabulous. It is worth every penny paid. When Seabourn says, "All inclusive" they mean all. They never say no to any request no matter how small or large. They attend to every detail and if it is not right, they will correct it - down to every personal need in staterooms or the restaurants. Our stateroom was large compared to many other ships. We booked a wheel chair accessible room, which was big enough so that I could go everywhere easily - including the veranda. The veranda was a wonderful place for morning coffee and just relaxing. The suite had a couch and two chairs as well as a table - we had people in our room for cocktails and they sent cheese, ice, extra drinks and fruit. It came within five minutes after ordering. We arranged to have coffee delivered at the same time every day in the morning and it was never late. Service is fabulous. Within a day or two of starting the trip, the staff knew us and greeted us by name. They knew that I like Diet Coke or iced tea and, without my asking, asked me at every meal which I would prefer. I am in a wheel chair and they offered to get my food at buffets. (Incidentally, the buffets are constantly being refreshed so that the food is always freshly made.) Even hamburgers come as ordered! We had frequent caviar with dinner and there was no extra charge. Wine is freely poured at all meals - and the house selection is excellent - there is no need to get expensive premium wines. The bars offer premium brand drink, also at no charge. The restaurant selection is ample and menus are published every evening for the next day. The Sojourn is about 400 people, which is a great size. The main restaurant holds every single guest so there is no need to select a seating time. The alternative restaurants are excellent and all the food ranges from good to great. Shore excursions are excellent. I loved the helicopter ride over the Taku Glacier in Junea (it is a wheel chair accessible trip) and whale watching on a catamaran. In Sitka the Raptor Center was wonderful, as was the Fortress of the Bears. The Glacier at Tracy Arm is jaw dropping. They have getting on and off the ship down to a science. We never felt crowded or rushed. There were never lines. Embarking and debarking were a breeze at the start and end of the trip. In fact, when debarking in Vancouver, the carried our hand-held luggage and wheeled my wife (bad hip) out of the terminal and across the street to the Fairmont Hotel and tried to refuse a gratuity. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2017
Our fourth Seabourn cruise, reflecting our opinion that Seabourn is the finest line around today, How to judge the new Encore? Against other lines and ships, or against Seabourn's other, somewhat smaller vessels and extremely high ... Read More
Our fourth Seabourn cruise, reflecting our opinion that Seabourn is the finest line around today, How to judge the new Encore? Against other lines and ships, or against Seabourn's other, somewhat smaller vessels and extremely high standards? Both. Brief background: my spouse and I have been crossing and cruising for over 50 years, since we were kids. Many ships, many lines, many years. Overall, it doesn't get better than this. Ship: absolutely stunning. Encore follows the design and locational conventions of Seabourn's other ships, but with one additional deck, all-veranda suites (didn't mind the picture-windows), and larger public rooms. The decor features more wood and softer tones. Bravo, Adam Tihany - whose name is featured in all the advertising. "Cabin": Our party had two suites - one Penthouse and one Veranda. The Penthouse Suites are spacious and larger than those on other Seabourn ships - ample for two and liveable for three (a few take three passengers). Veranda Suites are a bit larger than other Seabourn ships. Both feature furnished verandas, fully stocked / restocked fridges, tubs (whirlpool in the Penthouse), marbled bathrooms ... the brochures / website will tell you more. Suites of all types are perfectly maintained. Veranda suites on the lowest deck have part-metal railings, which don't interfere much but reduce the fare a bit. Dining: The (regular) Restaurant is very handsome, and more attractive than the well-decorated Restaurants on the other ships. Tables for two, four, six, a dozen ... just ask. On this voyage, there seemed to be fewer invitations to dine with a staff member / entertainer; too bad; perhaps they were busier on the new ship. Cuisine in the Restaurant varies from very good to superb, with daily "specials" backed up by always-available menu items. Feel free to ask for two desserts, or two appys, or any combination of anything. Dishes are all prepared a la minute - no steam tables and reheating here! The free wines are sometimes good, sometimes adequate, and always described in detail: taste and see if you like it; if not, there are other free options, or the fairly-priced winelist (except for a few extravagant vintages). The Colonnade buffets for breakfast are excellent, and supplemented by on-request dishes. Lunches are themed, but also have recurring items - something for every taste. The Thomas Keller Grill is a reservations-only alternative dining venue (no extra charge) featuring mostly nice steaks and chops and excellent (proper) Caesar Salad prepped tableside. Yet, the food (except for the Caesar) isn't much better than the Restaurant, and the service is not too smooth. Reserve and do it once, and get the Salad, but don't expect The French Laundry at sea. The Keller-"inspired" dishes in the Restaurant are more interesting. Service: Always a Seabourn strong point. The hotel staff are uniformly pleasant and helpful. They really can anticipate your desires. However, Encore had a large proportion of new hires, who were friendly and earnest but not quite as skillful as the veterans. On the smaller ships, the wait staff knew your name on the second or third day out, and what you liked to eat and drink. On Encore, there was somewhat less of that familiarity due to the increased number of passengers. Seabourn offers the finest service afloat, even if Encore isn't yet at the top of its game. Entertainment: A mixed bag, as on prior voyages. The Cruise Director, whom we knew from a prior voyage, was marvelous. The resident "Seabourn Singers and Dancers" were fine. The guest artists were a bit of a letdown. Better to go up to the Observation Bar after dinner or the "show" and enjoy the piano and vocals. Ports: Embarcation and Disembarcation were amazingly efficient. Took us maybe 10 minutes to check in; more staff at dockside than there were passengers. Many tender ports on this trip; well-handled. Rough seas prevented us from making Amalfi ... so the Captain re-routed to Sorrento where all of the tour buses were waiting for us. Shore excursions from the ship are not inexpensive, but very good. At Malta, we had the curator of the megalithic temple walk us through an unexcavated site ("I have only been in here about 10 times myself. We won't explore it for another 50 years. Please don't pick up any rocks.") Fellow Passengers: Convivial, well-traveled, interesting, and less than half Americans. Though Seabourn is a sophisticated experience, there were some children (say 7 to 12) who were well-behaved and happy. In the summer, one sees a younger crowd. Not really. There is never, ever a crowd or a line on Seabourn. Else: The Retreat is a reserve-only, extra-cost option. Book a cabana for the day, relax in the shade around a hot tub, ignore CNN on the wide-screen tv, and have the staff beg to bring you more champagne. One of the few extra-cost options on board, but worth it. If you have a sea day, here is the place to spend it. Tipping really is not expected. The staff are fairly-compensated, dedicated, and enjoy helping you have a good time. (We do tip the suite stewardess and selected waitstaff.) "Would you go again?" Yes, definitely, though I'd consider one of the smaller ships. Put down a refundable deposit while on board (don't have to choose a cruise) and get a discount when you book. Most passengers do. This is a luxury line at a premium price, but worth it. Read Less
27 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
Seabourn customers feel a strong sense of brand ownership and so are generally not amenable to change. Having cruised 4 times previously on Sojourn we boarded Encore with an open mind. The ship has a lot to live up to, Seabourn set the bar ... Read More
Seabourn customers feel a strong sense of brand ownership and so are generally not amenable to change. Having cruised 4 times previously on Sojourn we boarded Encore with an open mind. The ship has a lot to live up to, Seabourn set the bar pretty high. First impressions are of timber, textured fabrics, leather and stone. I immediately thought of boat shows and premium British motorboat manufacturers. There are lots of great spaces and some clever detailing, the area above the Observation lounge bar, the wood cladding to the central staircase, the panelling inside the lifts (elevators), even the public toilets. Passenger numbers are up from Sojourn, 600 as against 450 but we were still greeted by name throughout the day by the ship's crew. Ultimately it is these men & women who make or break a cruise and they were all focussed on ensuring our happiness. We never felt the public spaces were over crowded either. There are now 2 shows a night, 8.30pm and 10.00pm, more dining venues, extended deck spaces and the whole ship manages potential extra capacity well. Embarkation was the usual silky smooth experience. Hearing staff offer Flemish to Belgian clients next to us rather than the expected French or German demonstrates how far Seabourn are willing to go. Speaking of dining the highlight of any cruise must surely be the food. As well as the main dining room where we ate very well and the Colonnade which ran a series of speciality nights including a very popular Indian night there were 2 new options, the Thomas Keller Grill and Sushi. The TK grill has generated many column inches of debate on Cruise Critic. Having eaten there 5 times during our 34 night cruise I can say that for us it was a total success. The Rib Eye steak is almost too good - how can I ever eat steak again. The prawn cocktail starter featured prawns bigger than my fingers. The service was friendly with some nice table side theatre. The TK Grill Bar was a hit amongst every cruiser we spoke to. Bobby behind the bar and Katy on piano / vocals were a dream team. Sushi was also a great alternative to more traditional dinner options. The girls working in Sushi are super friendly and offer a guiding hand through what might be unfamiliar territory. The food was gorgeous with very talented specialist chefs. Lunchtime they offered Bento boxes with chicken or salmon. We never managed to eat in the Patio Grill at night but enjoyed several lunches there. The fries are still the crispiest on the high seas and the hot dogs just as I remember them. Entertainment wise Seabourn can never compete directly with mainstream lines such as Royal Caribbean with their multi million pound stages and expansive casts but they punch well above their weight. The 4 crew cast shows were a notch up on previous Seabourn productions and offered a broad appeal. We were lucky in having a very strong line up of singers and dancers who not only entertained on stage but also added immense value around the ship at social events. Hanré the cruise director and Jacqueline the assistant CD went above and beyond the call of duty to ensure the happiness and well being of their flock. There were a number of guest entertainers who offered a diverse range of acts from classical musicians, magicians, comedians, even a Beatles tribute act. Something for everyone. Not everything was my particular cup of tea but more often I was pleasantly surprised rather than disappointed. I managed to make small inroads into learning the game of bridge. I'm probably 20 years too young and far to cheerful to be any good but under the tutelage of Katherine and her friend Veronica there were times when we cried with laughter as we learnt in our small beginners class. A real bonus to an already excellent cruise. Ports of call were OK but at times not spectacular particularly Mangalore, but we already knew that when we booked. Essentially this was a re-positioning and shakedown cruise. On the latter I was pleasantly surprised at the readiness of the vessel. Odd bits here and there gave a window to some hard work behind the scenes but no more disruption than routine maintenance on a ship that's been in service for a while. Our cabin was standard Seabourn fare which is to say class leading. Deck 6 around 300 square feet, separate bath and shower, his & hers wash basins, walk in wardrobe, seating / dining area, decent balcony, full service flat screen TV with free on demand movies. We also paid $400 for unlimited internet throughout our 34 days which worked as well as might be expected for a ship. Some of the spaces on Encore have been more controversial than others. The Retreat angers many who feel it creates a 2 tier community. I'm a bit more relaxed, there has always been a pay to play space on Sojourn above the Spa. I had a look round the retreat and it's lovely but never found enough hours in the day to make sense of using it. We also like meeting people around the ship. The bar in the Club came under a bit of flack because the bar staff had to keep retreating behind closed doors in the kitchen to mix drinks due to the design of the bar area. We never went thirsty and as ever the staff did their utmost to overcome the challenge. A bit of tweaking required but we still managed to strike up new friendships and in my case make a sorry excuse for dancing ! There were 2 house bands looking after us in the club. We didn't use the shore excursion team. I find the tours expensive and they start too early in the morning even when the ship doesn't leave until late at night. A taxi can generally be had for less than the cost of a single ticket from the excursion team. For that reason I haven't marked them. Overall a great cruise and it was with a heavy heart that we disembarked in Singapore. It would have been easy to stay longer ! My abiding memory would have to be the hard working and caring crew who constantly went above and beyond to make sure we had a great time. [youtube]HYAqTzEeOzE[/youtube] Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2016
We cruise more for the ports than any other factor. We have cruised many times on many lines. Last year we did an 18 day cruise on the seabourn Sojourn from Dubai to Singapore. A very good cruise with good staff and service. This year we ... Read More
We cruise more for the ports than any other factor. We have cruised many times on many lines. Last year we did an 18 day cruise on the seabourn Sojourn from Dubai to Singapore. A very good cruise with good staff and service. This year we did a 21 day cruise on the Seabourn Odyssey from Monaco to Lisbon. The main purpose was to go to Morocco for our first time. Unfortunately the weather generally throughout was poor. A fair bit of rain and quite cool. Interestingly Seabourn has this cruise one month earlier this year (2017). That should make all the difference. What made the cruise were the staff and food. Even better than last year and I wouldn't have thought that possible. Every single member of staff was friendly and helpful. We ate in all venues but often at night at the pool grill. They had heaters there and offered blankets. We preferred the more informal setting and the food suited us. We definirtely will sail Seabourn again. Read Less
29 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2015
We just completed our first cruise on Seabourn -- a 14 day Norwegian fjords journey on the Quest which gave us a good mix of sightseeing and sea days. We were extremely happy with our first Seabourn experience, from the ship itself, the ... Read More
We just completed our first cruise on Seabourn -- a 14 day Norwegian fjords journey on the Quest which gave us a good mix of sightseeing and sea days. We were extremely happy with our first Seabourn experience, from the ship itself, the food & drink, the staff, and the destination. For a point of reference, we've traveled on Regent for half a dozen cruises previously, and in the review I'll touch on a few points of comparison with Regent for others who might be considering either of these lines. We've always enjoyed Regent for the same reasons so many Seabourn cruisers love this line: the size of the ship, the quality of service, the quality of food and drink. It's been a few years since our last Regent cruise, but my feeling on our last Regent cruise was that the quality of food and service on Regent had slipped a little since our earliest experiences (back when it was Radisson). So we were eager to see how we liked Seabourn, and whether the nearly-uniform positive comments on the Cruise Critic Seabourn forum could measure up. The answer: We enjoyed almost everything about Seabourn and the Quest. We thought the food was excellent throughout. The staff was exceptional: friendly, getting to know our names (even when we never identified ourselves) and our preferences. The ship seemed in perfect condition. We found the Quest very much on a par with the Regent Voyager and Mariner; we felt "at home" almost immediately, despite never having been on a Seabourn ship before. Of course, the Seabourn ships are smaller -- 450 passengers versus 700 on the Regent ships -- but the overall feel is the same. (That's a credit to Regent, that 50% more passengers doesn't feel more crowded.) The larger Regent ships definitely have a nicer theater, and they have a grand atrium that the Seabourn Quest lacks -- but those differences were pretty inconsequential in terms of enjoyment of the ship. (The pillars in the Quest's theater are a minor annoyance.) Seabourn Square -- the area with customer service and excursions staff, as well as the espresso bar, library, and many seating areas -- beats the Coffee Conection on the Regent ships. Overall, we found the Quest very comparable in most respects with what we have experienced on the Regent ships. The staterooms were very comparable to the Regent ships. I appreciated the larger-than-average safe in the closet on the Quest; the Regent Voyager has a slightly larger walk-in closet, but we found the Quest closet big enough to meet our needs (and we had a LOT of clothing since we were traveling to the Arctic). I liked the the sizable bathroom on the Quest, but wished I could trade the space of the tub -- which we don't use -- for a larger-than-tiny shower; the shower was adequate, but small. We ate lunch most days in the Colonnade or Patio Grill, and dinner most nights in the Restaurant, and found the food quite uniformly good -- very good to outstanding at every meal, with no clunkers. Some of the daily fresh fish lunch specials at the Patio Grill were every bit as excellent as main courses at dinner in The Restaurant. Restaurant 2, the high-end alternative restaurant, is a nice, intimate, alternative to the main dining room, but it does have a somewhat quirky concept of multiple small portions paired for each course. I had read that many Seabourn regulars aren't keen about Restaurant 2 for this reason, and seeing the menus, I now understand. It's worth going to Seabourn Square on the first day of a cruise to get a list of the different Restaurant 2 menus offered on your cruise -- they have 5 or 6 that rotate, usually a two-day intervals. Some were rather unappealing to us. If you see a "Signatures" day listed, that's their "best of the best" menu (although it's not detailed on the printed menu), and we ended up choosing one of those nights to dine at Restaurant 2 -- and thoroughly enjoyed it. This may all be moot by next year, when Seabourn's announced partnership with chef Thomas Keller is anticipated to bring about a change to the Restaurant 2 menus. It's certainly worth trying on at least one night if you're new to Seabourn, and try to reserve for a day with the Signatures menu unless one of the other ones really appeals to you. We got to experience a "galley lunch" near the end of our cruise, and that was fantastic. The food staff turns the main dining room PLUS the entire galley into an amazingly beautiful and bountiful buffet with virtually everything in the ship's repertoire out for dining. I know some people don't like buffet dining, but this is an EXPERIENCE not to be missed. They don't do this every cruise -- I think only on 10+ day cruises with a sea day towards the end of the cruise -- but if you're on a Seabourn cruise that offers a galley lunch, don't miss it! Another Seabourn specialty is "Shopping with the Chef", where a small group of passengers goes with the Executive Chef to a food market in a port to obtain some local specialities. Since only about 16 people can get on one of these outings, it's popular and hard to get on. In our case, they apparently filled the quota with Seabourn regulars and never advertised it in the daily program (that was one of the only slips in service we experienced from Seabourn on this cruise), but because we had attended a cooking demonstration with the chef earlier in the cruise, we knew it was coming when we were in Bergen. We had gone off the ship on our own and were wandering in the city's fish market when we saw Executive Chef Jes, in his full chef's whites, and several crew members and fellow passengers come up along side us -- so we tagged along (trying to stay unobtrusively in the back to not interfere with the passengers that we officially part of the experience). Jess smiled at us and allowed us to follow them into several stores, as he picked out local seafood to buy, and got the merchants to offer free tastes to us Seabourners. If you're on a Seabourn cruise and get an opportunity to go Shopping With the Chef, do it. (And if your Executive Chef is Jes, he is truly a rock star and a blast to be around!) I had been prepared to be a little disappointed with the included wines based on reading comments on the Cruise Critic Seabourn forum in the months leading up to our cruise months, but we found we could easily find both white and red wines we quite enjoyed. If I didn't particularly enjoy the wine they were pouring at lunch or dinner, I just asked for an alternate wine and they always obliged. Once I knew certain wines I particularly liked, I could mention them by name and they would fetch them. (This is typical of Seabourn service. One day we were eating lunch at the Patio Grill and a couple next to us was asking about British porter beers other than the Guiness they have at all the ship's bars; after saying they don't stock other porters, the waiter went off for awhile and returned with two bottles from a different bar somewhere on the ship, and told them of some other beer they could get them the next day. The couple asked if they could get a few bottles for their room -- and the reply was "of course!" Impressive.) We enjoyed having an Expeditions staff aboard, as they did a number of interesting lectures, and we went on one of their new "Ventures" expeditions by zodiac, which was a blast. (An expensive blast! But it proved worthwhile. More on that below.) They also pretty much sold us on an Antartica trip in our future! We enjoyed the shows by the Seabourn singers; apparently they're new shows and a new formula -- six singers, lots of tight harmonies -- instead of a mix of singer and dancers. Good choice to trade dancers for more/better singers, in my opinion. We also enjoyed talking with the singers and a member of the band in The Club after the shows at night. The guest entertainers on other nights were a mixed bag; one comedian we liked a lot, one singer/comedienne not so much. Most of the ship's passengers called it a night after the shows (or before!); we usually retired to The Club for a nightcap, and we were two of only about 20 people there. We're perhaps a little younger than the average Seaboard passengers, and we were in "the land of the midnight sun", so we enjoyed staying until the end around midnight or 12:30 most nights. Because the sun set late, or for several days not at all, the views were frequently great even at midnight. I often popped out the door of the Club to the aft deck for picture-taking. Meanwhile, the bar staff in the Club had few people to serve, so our glasses never emptied until we begged them to stop. And because we were "regulars", by about the third day, they knew what we were drinking after dinner, and our drinks were often at our table literally within seconds of us sitting down. Talk about being spoiled! Passengers on our Norway cruise were about half American, one-quarter Australian, and one-quarter mixed among 20 other nationalities. We met some nice folks -- and none who were annoying or unhappy. In the end, we felt this was probably a half-notch better than our most recent Regent cruises -- not by much, but in some small ways (uniformly good food quality and friendliness of staff, especially), and at this point, I think I'd look to Seabourn first when we're ready for our next cruise. That's my wrap up on Seabourn and the Quest, but for anyone considering a Norwegian fjords cruise, I'll conclude this review with a description of what we did in the various ports. By far my favorite port day was our day in the small town of SVOLVAER. The town itself is nothing exceptional, but if you are game for it, and you have favorable weather as we did, rent a car for the day in the Lofoten Islands. The scenery here was SPECTACULAR, among the best scenic driving we've experienced anywhere. It's like driving in the Rocky Mountains or Alps -- with ocean all around! And you won't believe the sand beaches and turquoise color of the water. Google "Lofoten Islands images" to get an idea how great it is. The ship offers a tour to the Viking museum, which covers the first part of the islands, but the scenery gets significantly better as you drive further south. There are basically just two roads which run along the eastern and western sides of the first island, and then they merge together further south, so you really can't get lost. Depending how many stops you make along the way, you can hopefully get down to the little town of Reine (I can't paste a link here, but Google Reine to see how pretty it is), or 10 km further to the end of the road in the town of A (which we didn't make it to because I had to turn around and head back). Driving straight through, it's about 2 hours down to A and 2 hours back -- but if you stop to take pictures every mile or so, it's slower going! (Our car had a GPS in it, which made it foolproof, and it was good for helping me calculate when we had to turn around to get back to the ship in time; we had to head back after reaching Reine to not cut it too close.) There's not much traffic on the roads, so it's very easy driving. I reserved in advance from Hertz, but there was a local company with cars to rent at the dock if you want to leave it to chance when you arrive. The rental car cost about $125, so even with expensive gas, it cost less for four of us than an excursion from the ship for one of us. This was by far my favorite sightseeing day of the trip. I only wish the ship was in port a little longer on this day so we had more time to enjoy the scenery. Of course, everything is weather dependent -- we had great weather this day, and not-so-great weather on two of our other top sightseeing days. (If you do this, you can request box lunches by calling room service the day before. It's a simple sandwich, cookie and fruit, but it saved us the time of stopping somewhere for lunch.) In OLDEN, we took the 8-hour "Geiranger and the Roof of Norway" excursion, and I highly recommend it. The day was broken up enough that it didn't feel like a typical 8-hour bus trip, which I know many of us aren't too keen on. The hour-long ferry ride through Geirangerfjord is spectacular, but we unfortunately had a very cloudy day and didn't quite get the stunning views I had hoped for. (I'm not sure why they couldn't improvise a bit instead of sending the bus up to the top Mount Dalsnibba when it was apparent to all that the top of the mountain was well into the clouds; we got there, turned around and came back down. I guess the is the nature of planned excursions.) But this trip was still worth it -- and if you're lucky enough to have good weather, it's a can't-miss excursion. We didn't do an excursion in BERGEN. It's a very walkable city. We walked to see the fish market, and then took the funicular up to Mount Floien. If you feel like stretching your legs a bit, there's a nice park at the top of the funicular, where you can walk along smooth trails for a short or long hike. (There's a pretty little mountain lake less than a 10-minute walk from the funicular station.) Since it supposedly rains 310 days a year in Bergen, we were happy to have one of the rare days without any rain... and even sun at times. In FLAM, we did the "Mountains and Valleys By Train" excursion. The Flamsbana train is definitely worth seeing -- although I felt it wasn't as special a train trip as several we've been on in the US (like the White Pass & Yukon in Alaska or the Durango & Silverton in Colorado). Maybe I'd feel differently if we had a bright sunny day here, but it was another cloudy one. In ALESUND, we didn't do a ship's tour, and just walked around the pretty town. And climbed the 418 steps of Mount Aksla for a wonderful panoramic view of the town and surrounding islands on a beautiful, clear day. We also walked in TROMSO -- across the bridge to the Arctic Cathedral (we took a city bus back because it was raining off-and-on). This was probably my least-favorite port call; not bad, but not special -- again, perhaps due to the weather. In HONNINGSVAG, the main thing to do is to go to the North Cape (Nordkapp). It's a bit of a tourist trap, but how often will you get to the top of the world? My parents, who we traveled with, took the bus trip; my wife and I opted to take the "Ventures by Seabourn" zodiac trip. We had some trepidation about being out on the open sea early in the morning and being cold and wet, but it was really great even though we did have some occasional light rain. We saw an astounding number of birds. Most of our group did the hike up to the top of Nordkapp, but it was a strenuous hike up a narrow path with some slippery rocks. My wife started out hiking but was slipping on the rocks and decided to go back to the ship via the zodiacs. (I know the Expeditions crew learned a bit on our trip, since this was brand new for Seabourn, so I expect they'll do a few things differently with the landing spot and the description of the hike for future cruises.) I enjoyed the hike, but some passengers felt it was tougher than advertised. The good thing is that they were happy to take back anyone on the zodiacs who decided the hike was too strenuous; they staff took great care of everyone, and my wife had the sun come out and got some spectacular views from the water going back while the rest of us were huffing and puffing up the side of the mountain. We both ended up very glad we did this excursion instead of the basic bus trip to the visitor center. (Although it was gray and cloudy when we were at Nordkapp, in the evening when the ship left Honningsvag, the captain sailed out and around Nordkapp; the skies were clear and we got absolutely spectacular views, as the captain paused and did a 360 degree circle with the ship. They let us know this was unusual weather for the North Cape, but it was awesome to see it in the sun after being so cloudy earlier in the day.) In STAVANGER, we did the Lysefjord Cruise to Pulpit Rock. Had this been a sunny day, it would have been truly spectacular. Unfortunately, this day was cloudy as well, so it dulled the beauty a bit. We briefly saw the top of Pulpit Rock at the base of the clouds. The boat for this trip is a very nice, smooth, modern catamaran, and it picks you up right next to where the ship is docked. This is also a very nice, walkable city; make sure you take a short walk from where the ship is docked to the old part of the city for a short walk along Ovrestrandgate to see some very pretty houses and gardens. We were extremely happy with our Seabourn experience, with the Quest, and with the itinerary cruising the Norwegian fjords. I highly recommend it to anyone considering it. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2013
We have cruised on Seabourn Legend, SeaDream I, Silversea Spirit, Silver Explorer, [former] Clipper Odyssey, Paul Gaugin, and various other and larger ships. All considered, this cruise on Quest was disappointing. To sum up briefly: ... Read More
We have cruised on Seabourn Legend, SeaDream I, Silversea Spirit, Silver Explorer, [former] Clipper Odyssey, Paul Gaugin, and various other and larger ships. All considered, this cruise on Quest was disappointing. To sum up briefly: Cuisine diverse and very good, but not consistently so and rarely excellent. A Bloody Mary without garnishing celery or olive is, perhaps,, a very picayune illustration! Service also inconsistent, sometimes disjointed: confused or overzealous attention sometimes intrusive. Cabins: Great! Entertainment: Very Good. Expedition Staff and lecturers: outstanding. Shore experiences: Weather prevented our Malvinas [Falklands] landing and excursion there. Mother Nature also contributed to the disappointment with our Antarctic experience; weather forced cancellation of two of five scheduled landings and a medical evacuation compelled another. Two hours on Antarctic ice was not enough; for the adventurer who wants more genuine thrill, this cruise was unfulfilling. Weather, again, forced cancellation of our Ushuaia activity! As is often the case, the brochure description of some of the excursions, e.g. "The Natural Beauty of Patagonia," a hike out of Puerto Chacobuco, Chile, belied our actual experience, on an uninspiring path, at a snail's pace, and a palltry repast of lamb bone afterwards. Someone looking for a more complete but comfortable experience in Antarctica might better choose a smaller expedition ship with comparable class, e.g. Silver Explorer, Hanseatic, even Linblad's Explorer, etc. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2013
The Seabourn Quest, a small ship with a maximum of 450 passengers, having several dining venues. One can eat on deck, weather permitting, go to Restaurant 2 with a reservation, or the Colonade which serves all three meals or lastly, the ... Read More
The Seabourn Quest, a small ship with a maximum of 450 passengers, having several dining venues. One can eat on deck, weather permitting, go to Restaurant 2 with a reservation, or the Colonade which serves all three meals or lastly, the main dining room which one should avoid, not for the quality of the food, but for the helter skelter service where one can expect to dine for 3 or more hours. Wine is included with lunch and dinner; however the proper glass that it is poured in is not. Unless one orders a premium wine by the glass or a bottle one does not get the proper glass that goes with that particular wine. Why, simply Company Policy, not to risk breaking a more expensive glass unless the passenger is paying extra for that glass of wine. There is no Butler service in the more expensive suites as one will find on the competition's ships., only one cabin steward to tend to your desires. Well thought out, large walk in closet, large bath with separate shower and whirlpool tub. Three sinks with a separate sink in a closeted toilet. Gratuities are included which may be the reason for the poor performance noted in the main dining room as tables are not assigned and one will be seated at different tables every night when there is a mad rush at 7:30PM to be seated. The staff on the whole is under 30 years of age and lacks the professional dedication of those professional waiters one finds on the competition. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2013
Just came back from a 10 day cruise on Quest which left Athens and ended up in Monte Carlo. This was our second Seabourn cruise. Two years ago we cruised on the Legend, one of the smaller ships, and we were concerned we wouldn't be ... Read More
Just came back from a 10 day cruise on Quest which left Athens and ended up in Monte Carlo. This was our second Seabourn cruise. Two years ago we cruised on the Legend, one of the smaller ships, and we were concerned we wouldn't be able to replicate the Legend experience on one of the bigger ships. We arrived in Athens from New York the night before the ship sailed, and visited the Acopolis early the next morning. Not to be missed is the relatively new Parthenon Museum....it has won several architectural awards, and the exhibits are amazing. Boarding the ship was easy.....we arrived dockside at 2:15pm and were the only passengers there. Check in and security took 5 minutes and we walked right on the ship into our suite. Within a couple of minutes our room steward arrived with glasses of champagne and canapes, plus a choice of toiletries and shower soap. Our suite was on deck 4, as we don't see the value in having a balcony. It was near the rear exit to The Restaurant, but still in its own corridor, so noise was never an issue. A quick walk to dinner! We explored the ship before the general muster, and still being a relatively small ship it didn't take long to get around. The ship is still in good condition two years after being launched. There was a crew change in Athens, and in the coming week my wife and I felt that the rejoining crew were a bit rusty.....just little but noticable things that we didn't experience on the Legend. The edge seemed off the service a few times. One day on the pool deck we plainly heard four crew members arguing about something.Of the 450 passengers, Americans were in the majority, followed by Brits then Aussies, the remainder being spread over several countries. Everyone was friendly and we had lots of tableside conversations with an interesting mix of people. It's amazing that so many were onboard for 20 or 30 day cruises. We missed two ports due to the swell making tender operations difficult....the two alternative ports, where the ship could dock, were Cesmay in Turkey and Bastia in Corsica....both were kind of blah we felt and not really worth visiting. The highlight was undoubtedly Kudasi, where we visited the Terraced Houses (a must see) and came back in the evening for the concert. The latter was wonderful, and the crew lined up on the dock to welcome us all back, which was a nice touch. A close second was the tour of Taormina and Mt. Etna, which included a very nice lunch..two kinds of pasta and lots of red wine! We can now cross Santorini off our "must visit" list.....three ships were there, including the Quest, so it was very crowded. We took a local bus to some of the other villages, which were less crowded and more scenic, and to get away from the smell of donkey dung! The food onboard was good, as well as the house ines offered. The Galley lunch was fun and allowed us a glimpse of the kitchens. We had lunch most days outside in the Colonnade restaurant, which was lovely. I enjoyed the meal we had in Restaurant 2 but my wife thought it was too rich. Although I don't mind dressing up on vacation, I though that the dress code was a bit excessive - jackets every evening in the The Restaurant except on the first and last evenings. A jacket free evening in the middle of the cruise would have been welcome. Same as our first cruise, we didn't open the liquor in our suite...I only had 2 beers from the fridge during the 10 days. Entertainment was low key, but we knew to expect that. It was disappointing that there wasn't more dancing after dinner. When we got off the ship in Monte Carlo the captain was at the bottom of the gangplank to wish us farewell...another nice touch. All in all a great cruise, just some minor nitpicks on service. The bigger ship still felt small like the Legend. We put a deposit down for a future Seabourn cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2013
Reading some recent entries on Cruise Critic about Odyssey and this cruise in particular, it makes me and my wife wonder whether we were on the same ship and cruise as these other people. To sum it up succinctly, this cruise line really ... Read More
Reading some recent entries on Cruise Critic about Odyssey and this cruise in particular, it makes me and my wife wonder whether we were on the same ship and cruise as these other people. To sum it up succinctly, this cruise line really leaves its competitors in this class of cruising far behind. In every possible way the Odyssey excelled. My wife and I picked up the ship in Bali and got off in Auckland, 32 days later. It was the longest cruise we have ever taken. And we were so pleased at every turn. Lets start with the ship itself. At 450 passengers and just over 30,000 tons, as I recall, it is the perfect size, at one third the passenger size of the new Oceania ships, so a lot more intimate. As is its reputation and why we took it. For the recent critic who said no crew person knew them by name, did they stay in their cabin all the time?? Having sailed Silversea many times, and Oceania, and Regent, we were blown away by the fact that it took only a few days of sailing and we were known by name on sight by countless staff throughout the ship. Of course this happens a lot easier as a process if one eats many meals in the main restaurant, but wherever we went we were greeted by our last names, always preceded by a very polite "good morning" or "good afternoon" Mr and Mrs. At the pool, where the attendants who mostly serve the drinks but also move some chairs around, they are not dressed in sloppy shirts or uniforms, as one critic recently noted. Sure they work hard, and in 95 degree heat and a blazing sun each can shed a drop of perspiration or two, but they were nice, well dressed, very capable and careful to please. Drinks galore, both alcoholic and non. Always coming around and asking for an order or replacement drinks. We have sailed on many cruises and cruise lines where we saw that it was not a happy ship or a happy crew. Not the Odyssey. It begins with the Captain and this feeling permeates its way down to all who work on board. Every one is always smiling and so pleasant. Always so willing to take the extra step. This is a very happy crew, and for some critics to say that some crew members expressed excitement about getting off the ship after many along months of basically 24/7 service, that somehow this is evidence that the crew does not like working on the ship is just foolishness. Crew and staff miss their families and are eager to get home, but most from my conversations with them want to come back on the Odyssey when their breaks are over and rejoin their Odyssey family. They say this, and I any my wife are convinced it is true. One becomes a pretty good judge of honesty at sea after completing as many cruises as we have and speaking with so many crew members. Lets go to the food. Outstanding is the only word that comes to mind. Most of my comments are addressed to the main restaurant. The meals are better on the average by far than most top rated restaurants in most major cities. Most people we talked to on board agreed with this. In fact we heard nothing but raves. Wide selection of specials each day, and if there is nothing there to one's liking, one can always order from the Odyssey menu from its standard dishes, which includes filet mignon and lamb chops daily, plus fish and many other dishes. Also excellent and different, tasty vegetarian selections.The dishes are very attractively plated and served from the kitchen with a lot of attention to detail. Labor intensive might be the better term. If the size of the portions is not to one's liking, a second ( or third!!) order of the same dish is happily accommodated from the excellent wait staff, although I would have to say the sizes were perfect in nearly every situation. American are too used to overwhelming portions, and thus overwhelming waistlines. These portions are more European in design, and very adequate. Caviar, and a very high quality of it, whatever its source, flows freely upon request, and is standard on some nights. If not Russian sevruga, it is of equal quality, and the servings are not skimpy. The dining service is excellent, with a captain and two assistants at each dining section, plus constant roving supervision from top flight Maitre D' Julian and his senior assistants. He loves to talk to guests, as do the rest of the management and service team and always with a smile and so courteous. Curtains break up the large room nicely, so it does not feel too large as is the case in many other dining rooms on other ships. The main dining room opens at 7 each night, despite the misinformed statement from another recent cruise critic. It closes to new guests at 9pm, although passengers finishing their meals can sit and enjoy food and service well past that time. The buffet is fast, tasty, comfortable inside or out, very varied and pleasant, with daily changes of hot dishes for lunch and dinner each day, plus special nights like "French" or "Italian" throughout each cruise. Breakfast is quick and substantial. Special hot dishes are available from the kitchen, and the pancakes are Divine. At night this becomes a sit down restaurant for a fare somewhat simpler than the Main restaurant, and in a more casual style. Again, the staff means to please in every way it can, with the same friendly and efficient service one gets in the Main Dining room. And speaking of casual, we happen to like the mix of formal nights and elegantly casual nights, with a few resort casual nights thrown in. We like getting a little dressed, and I wear a blazer or another jacket when not in tuxedo. It makes for a very handsome and elegant crowd. Most of the guests on board were nicely dressed for dinner in the main restaurant, with those not wishing to get "dressed" doing things more casually at the Colonade or the Patio grill. To each, one has a choice of attire and venue. The patio grill dining area on the pool deck is not too large, common with other pool grills on other cruise lines of comparable size, and they try to mix up the daily choices in addition to the standard fare of hamburgers, but for what it is it is more than sufficient, comments to the contrary from some naysayers notwithstanding. For those dissatisfied, there is the buffet Collonade a short distance away on the same deck.The patio grill is also open at night for those who prefer a more casual setting with more simple grilled foods and other selections. There is also an excellent coffee and tea bar off of Seabourn Square that is open for these fresh brewed specialty beverages plus croissants, light sandwiches, pastries, cookies, and ice cream from 6am to late each night, with a short closing at 6pm, so people who find the other restaurants closed during the day can get something to hold them over until dinner. Plus daily tea and pastry, sandwich service at the Tea. The one comment I saw from a recent cruise critic complaining about nothing open on the ship for people coming back late from excursions was just misinformation, plus Marcus in the Collonade keeps the place open after its scheduled closing time of 2pm if there are excursions still out there. We were amazed when we found this out that the ship accommodates its guests in this special way so no one has to walk away from lunch. We found the specialty restaurant Restaurant Two a little too fussy for our taste, although we very much like modern cuisine and the small plates concept. We would prefer this format be changed to either an Italian specialty restaurant or an Asian Fusion place. Throughout the ship in all bars and restaurants and on the pool deck is of course complimentary wines, champagnes and mixed alcohol drinks. The standard champagne Nicolas Feuillatte is of a very high quality. The wines at lunch and dinner both red and white were of an acceptable to good quality, with some better than others, like Santa Margarita pinot grigio daily, although we would have referred more Australian and New Zealand wines served earlier in the cruise. There is also a good sauterne dessert wine, which goes very nicely with the foie gras appetizer as well as with the fabulous desserts the pasty chefs prepare. Up to now my wife and I thought that Oceania food was the best we had ever experienced at sea, particularly on the new larger ships under Jacques Pepin's direction, but this cruise and the chef's creations have changed our minds about that. Gourmet fancier, or basic meat and potato person, this ship has it all on or off the menu for everyone's tastes. Lets say a word or two about fellow travelers on board. Generally, because this is a six star rated line and ship, one finds a more upscale, more affluent passenger than on other lines. Comparable to Silversea, Crystal or Regent passengers. Affluence as we all know does not always mean good breeding or civility, greater intelligence, knowledge, life experiences and make for more interesting conversations, but we found this generally more times than not to be the case in our travels. One goes traveling in the hopes of finding interesting traveling companions to share experiences, wile away the long sea days and dinners, and we felt Odyssey provided this opportunity better than others on which we have recently sailed with its passenger mix. Having said that, it is of course true that one can find intelligent and more interesting conversationalists in many places among many people of varied backgrounds. Now comes the Entertainment. It boggles our mind that recent cruise critics have labelled the entertainment aboard this ship as only 3's. We have to strongly disagree. It is a sure 5 plus. It was better on the second leg beginning in Sydney than the first leg, with a new troupe coming on board, but both were a solid 5. World class comedians, concert pianists, magicians, plus most importantly a group of six of the most talented singers and dancers we have ever seen in any stage or nightclub setting, whether or not at sea, these were amazing. What performances they put on, replete with great costumes and fabulous choreography. Great voices and excellent productions. And a terrific show band that provided the music throughout. And speaking of music on board, no loud, shrill, pulsating music played on the pa system on the pool deck that has been the cause of ruining other cruises we have been on over the years, particularly on the larger ships. The ship itself is nicely appointed throughout in all the public and private areas and venues. Yes it is true the interior decor of public areas does not match the artwork on the new larger Oceania vessels, but is very nice indeed although simpler. The standard cabin with veranda is a very healthy 365 sq ft, which is larger by far than most competitors, and as far as we know the largest cabin at sea for this standard cabin for this class of ship. Large separate walk in closet.......not found in comparable cabin on Oceania and Crystal. The bathrooms are a joy to behold, with double sinks and a bathtub and separate shower stall. Best we have seen. Some competitor which shall go nameless has only room for one person to be in the bathroom at one time, and are in fact claustrophobic. And the sitting area is large and very comfortable with a couch and two chairs. The veranda is larger than most we have seen. The excursions were for the most part good and interesting, and fairly priced. The tendering to go ashore on maybe six occasions on a 32 day cruise was not oppressive, as one recent cruise critic recently stated. We all wished this anchoring was not necessary, but with small ports having no docking facilities, this is to be expected. Some tender rides were of a longer duration that we would have preferred, but this also is not unusual and something the Odyssey Captain had no control over. And speaking of the Captain, for those of us who had the pleasure of getting to know him, he is a gem and a credit to this cruise line. Interesting and informative, and very gracious, he sets the tone for the ship and the cruise line he represents. It is a happy ship, with a happy staff and crew, beaming out positive vibes to the passengers on board, with the best cruise director, John Howell, we have ever experienced. We had some excellent lecturers on board, particularly the pair we picked up in Sydney. Two Australians with great knowledge and interesting and excellent presentation skills. The retired naval captain had deep knowledge of famous sea battles and commanders, like Admirals Horatio Nelson in Victory at Trafalgar, as well as the WW 2 Battle of the Coral Sea, through which we were sailing. and the MD imparted important information about our destinations in an interesting delivery style, although neither excelled in Liar's Poker, thank God - considering their occupations. To our amazement when we boarded, Smoking is permitted in the staterooms and in certain public venues. Only this cruise line and Crystal permit this, and we hold out a great deal of hope that this cruise line having heard the message from the vast super majority of its sailing passengers, gets the message and changes this. It is unhealthy and a nasty habit, that no one should have to endure from second hand smoke recirculated throughout the ship and in corridors. Fortunately on this cruise, it was not a problem for us, but it should be addressed and hopefully very soon. All in all, a marvelous experience. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2012
Escorted my mother on a truly wonderful adventure in the Baltics. The August weather could not have been more perfect the entire time we were there, we packed expecting cool weather but every day was warm and sunny. But every port we ... Read More
Escorted my mother on a truly wonderful adventure in the Baltics. The August weather could not have been more perfect the entire time we were there, we packed expecting cool weather but every day was warm and sunny. But every port we went to the people complained on how crummy the weather had been during the previous months so we lucked out. The Sojourn is a beautiful ship with huge cabins, it really was like having an apartment at sea. The food is pretty good, and I am sure better than most cruise lines. We only had one bad meal, too bad it was the Chef's Special Dinner night, the main course was a bit salty and the service was extremely slow. Although we had a larger party set up by our tour company the dinner should have not taken 3 and a half hours, and water glasses should have be refilled. It's a pity because that was the only night we ate in the main dining room. We dined in Restaurant 2 on our second night and I found the food to be very good, modern small tastes, but we were stuffed by the end of the meal. Most nights we dinned at the Colonnade or Patio Grill. The Colonnade is great for breakfast they have a decent buffet of scrambled eggs, hash browns, beans, grilled tomatoes, sausages, fresh fruit, cereal, pastries, breads, cold cuts, cheeses, yogurt and fish. And you may also order dishes like omelets, benedicts, lamb chops, minutes steaks and other special dishes table side. The staff and crew, with the exception of the one night in the dining room were always friendly and attentive. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2012
I'd like to center this review on the food--which was great! I'll get to that last. You might want to skip ahead, if that's what you're looking to read about. Definitely an affluent "over 50" crowd. About a ... Read More
I'd like to center this review on the food--which was great! I'll get to that last. You might want to skip ahead, if that's what you're looking to read about. Definitely an affluent "over 50" crowd. About a 50/50 mix of European and Americans onboard. We brought our two kids, ages 20 and 21. They found about 6 others that age onboard, and all befriended each other. There were a handful of couples in their 30's and 40's as well. Service was great. Almost every employee was genuinely super polite. I won't talk much about the destinations. You can easily look those up elsewhere. But, generally, we docked, or tendered around 8 am, and left port either around 5 pm, or occasionally 10 pm. We took one paid excursion which was good. A nurse from the ship seemed to be there to ensure that the tour was up to Seabourn's specs. I found that to be interesting. (She wasn't there on her own off time, but rather as a rep from the ship.) Our guide was a local Turk, a school teacher: knowledgable and funny. My only negative comment is that when we left each port, the "sail away" party was one guy on an acoustic guitar! This may reflect the "over 50" crowd...I hear other sail away parties are genuine parties. But, we were onboard when the Quest was celebrating it's one year anniversary. THAT was a party: unlimited black caviar, high quality smoked salmon, and champagne. Then, after dinner, the party continued with chocolate truffles, and amazing sweets. ALL food and drinks are free 24/7. Johnnie Black, Chivas, Grey Goose--ALL top Shelf...Fantastic! (I don't drink: what a waste, right? My wife drinks wine, and was very happy about the selection.) All coffees, expressos, capuchinos are included as well. Onto the food...Here's the bottom line: we live in New York, where high quality food is very common, and not super expensive. By high quality I mean shrimp, scallops, lobster, filet mignon, T-bone and rib eye steaks, quality smoked salmon, fresh tuna and lamb chops. Let me say that except on the last night on Celebrity when steak and tuna were offered, NONE of these items were available on the Royal Carribbean or Norwegian Cruises that we took. All were available on Seabourn. The lobster and tuna were in a little short supply, but we had Nigerian shrimps which are the size of medium lobsters on multiple nights. The same for steaks, scallops, salmon, and lamb chops: plentiful. The desserts were very high quality. Especially on the one year anniversary party. Amazingly, an older couple who had sailed on other high end cruise lines were disappointed with the food! Let me say that we have never sailed with Crystal or Regency; only NCL, Royal C, and Celebrity. The selection and quality of foods during breakfast and lunch was amazing as well. But, you only have a 2-3 hour window in which to eat. Nothing is put out all day as is done on the other cruise lines. Room service is available 24/7 and includes shrimp and steak. There are 4 restaurants from which to choose for dinner. One is an outdoor grill; two are sit downs, and one requires reservations--no extra money, just reservations. This restaurant, Restaurant 2, is very similar to Per Se in Manhattan: it is a tasting menu. While fresh tuna was offered in the Salad Nicoise, and sushi, it was in slightly short supply in my (spoiled!) opinion. not so for enormous shrimp, steaks, and scallops. You could order these items for every meal! Lobster was served only once. Hope this helps!! Thanks, 76Mike Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2012
I cruised with my 28 year old daughter from March 31 to April 6 on the beautiful Seabourn Sojourn. We left from Monte Carlo and went to Marseille, Sete, Barcelona,and Elba. This is a wonderful cruise for people who enjoy fine food, ... Read More
I cruised with my 28 year old daughter from March 31 to April 6 on the beautiful Seabourn Sojourn. We left from Monte Carlo and went to Marseille, Sete, Barcelona,and Elba. This is a wonderful cruise for people who enjoy fine food, excellent service, large cabins, and open bars. The all inclusive concept is indeed that; room service, all service, all drinks, a fully stocked refrigerator with drinks and alcohol, and movies were all included. The ship is gorgeous and immaculate, our cabin was a balcony suite that was very well appointed. The food on the ship was exceptional. It was very high quality and beautifully prepared. We ate lobster tails, caviar, lamb, crab legs, and drank champagne. The service was amazing, very kind and accommodating. Perhaps my one criticism was that the entertainment, particularly the "show" was very poor quality; the singers were off key and no one in the show danced well. In addition, the dance music group did the same set each time they performed, old disco music. We couldn't believe that a ship of this high standing has such poor entertainment. I would not hesitate to recommend the Sojourn unless you are looking for a party ship. Be prepared to feel lucky to be able to enjoy such a special experience. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2011
SEABOURN ODYSSEY CRUISE 31.10.11 TO 07.11.11 This was our third Seabourn Cruise this year, having sailed on Sojourn and Quest earlier in the year. We flew to Istanbul the day before embarkation and stayed in ... Read More
SEABOURN ODYSSEY CRUISE 31.10.11 TO 07.11.11 This was our third Seabourn Cruise this year, having sailed on Sojourn and Quest earlier in the year. We flew to Istanbul the day before embarkation and stayed in the Senator Best Western, this hotel was recommended by British Airways. We were met by a prearranged courier service who took us to the hotel, a very efficient service. The hotel was very clean and comfortable; our only problem was that it was situated right next to a Mosque, so we were awakened very early by the Call to Prayer from the speakers. We were then taken to the ship by the same taxi service we had had the night before, again on time and very efficient. Our arrival at the dock at 2pm was greeted by a very long queue for check in, I must say that Seabourn must take note, fortunately for us the weather was dry but rather windy, but if it had been raining then passengers would get very wet, there was no shelter until you got inside the actual check in area. Even though there were more than four people in the area checking passengers passports only one was working, and even he was too busy talking to so that passengers had a very long wait. Once through this check we were soon onboard with the normal service you would expect from Seabourn. We were escorted straight to our suite, and when the lift doors opened we were greeted by name from the Maitre'D from our cruise on Quest, a gentleman by the name of Nicolas. We then found out that he had recently been promoted to Head of Training. I cannot believe that the staff remember people's names like this, they must see thousands of passengers over the weeks they are onboard. Our suite was as normal, everything in place including the onboard bar stocked to our requests. We were then introduced to our Stewardess, Ana, again nothing seemed too much trouble for her, requests made were soon fulfilled. Our sail away from Istanbul was magical, it had started to go dark and all the lights were on and we were greeted by the Cruise Director, Mr. John Barron and his deputy Mr. Garry Timms, both of these gentlemen proved over the cruise how likable they are. I can see why passengers have such good words to say about these two as each day progressed they became more like lost friends. We were even invited to a hosted table in the MDR by the two. The ship in general was clean and tidy, and the staff could not do enough for you, many times we were greeted by name, and asked if everything was to our liking, you only had to ask and they went out of their way to accommodate you. Little things on the Odyssey were slightly different than her two younger sisters, main one for us was the spa area. On both Sojourn and Quest they have done away with the free Ladies and Gents steam room, but on the Odyssey they had both steam room and sauna in the ladies and gents changing area. We think we can see why this is, and it must be the money. On Sojourn and Quest they charged to use the stream room and at 30 dollars a day was in our opinion is rather a lot. Many of the passengers commented on this and felt that they should have kept the design the same for all three ships. Food again was good to excellent throughout, the only problem we found, was that they ran out of "Berries" We talked to the Chef and he said that due to the recent strikes in Piraeus (Greece) some of the containers had not been able to get through. We also had an evening in Ephesus which was well attended, but due to the time of year it did get very cold towards the end of the evening. As usual when we returned to Odyssey we had the traditional "Welcome Home" where the staff comes out to greet you "Home" along with the usual hot toddies. Our Itinerary was as follows:- ISTANBUL LESBOS KUSADASI MYKONOS RHODES PATMOS MILOS ATHENS Soon it was all too soon to disembark Odyssey and hope that it will be not too long to board yet another of Seabourn Yachts. Thanks must go to John Barron, Cruise Director, Garry Timms, Deputy Cruise Director, Our waiters Tony and Vaughan, and Angela in the Colonnade our Stewardess Ana and the whole of the crew, including bar tenders, entertainers etc etc. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2011
We just returned from a 9-day Norway cruise (round trip from Copenhagen) on the Sojourn. Although we don't have the extensive luxury cruising experience of many who post on this site, I wanted to pass along our impressions. First of ... Read More
We just returned from a 9-day Norway cruise (round trip from Copenhagen) on the Sojourn. Although we don't have the extensive luxury cruising experience of many who post on this site, I wanted to pass along our impressions. First of all, as background, my wife and I are in our mid 40's and we have a 17 year-old daughter who travels with us. While, our luxury cruise experience consists of only two cruises on Regent (Voyager Baltic, 2010 and Navigator Caribbean, 2011) and Cunard (Atlantic Crossing, Queen's Grill, 2005), we do consistently take very nice vacations and we prefer to stay in nice hotels (Four Seasons, Mandarin, Ritz-Carlton, etc.). So, to some extent, we are naturally comparing experiences on Sojourn to land-based luxury experiences as well. However, for purposes of this post, I will primarily compare our Seabourn Sojourn experience to our two prior experiences on Regent ships. While I understand that these impressions are entirely subjective and are based on a single Seabourn cruise on a single vessel, I'm passing them along for whatever they may be worth. Overall, the Norway trip was one of the best trips we've ever taken. In part, that was due to the stunning scenery and location, which would have been amazing even if we were on a non-luxury ship. In addition to the scenery, however, the high quality Seabourn experience also made this a wonderful trip. There were a number of areas in which we thought that the Seabourn experience was superior to Regent, as well as some areas where we preferred our prior Regent experience. All in all, we think that both Seabourn and Regent offer excellent experiences, but we did note some differences. AREAS WHERE WE WOULD GIVE THE NOD TO SEABOURN SOJOURN: Food This is one area where we thought that Seabourn was the clear winner. While we didn't find the difference to be that significant in the main dining room, we thought that Seabourn was far superior in the other dining venues. This was particularly true for the Colonnade, which we thought was simply superb all the way around (the buffets at breakfast and lunch, as well as the superb dinners with table service and excellent dishes prepared to order in the open kitchen). We never thought that we were "settling" for lesser food quality or diminished quality of service when we opted to dine in the Colonnade in lieu of the main dining room. By comparison, we felt that the buffet-style dinners in Regent's La Veranda were a notch-down in quality and atmosphere from the experience offered in Regent's main dining rooms. When weather conditions permitted, the Sojourn's pool grill also was open in the evening, serving excellent made-to-order steaks, lamb chops and other grilled items with table service, as well as antipastas, salads and other "side" items available as a buffet. While we have very much enjoyed Regent's Prime 7 steakhouse venue, the dining there requires a reservation and might only be available once per cruise - by contrast, we could eat in Sojourn's Colonnade or pool grill in the evening without a reservation anytime we wanted. I can't comment on Restaurant 2, as we never made it there for dinner (not because we were intentionally trying to avoid it, but simply because we never got around to it, as we found the other alternatives so appealing). Service in Dining Venues. This is another area where we would give the nod to Seabourn. It is hard to define precisely what was superior about it, but the European Seabourn dining staff somehow seemed more polished and professional. In addition, we never made a request that the dining staff was unable to grant. For example, waiters in each dining venue were happy to have decaffeinated iced tea specially prepared for my wife (she avoids caffeine but, being a Texan, she loves her iced tea). By contrast, my wife has made the same request in Regent dining venues a number of times, and the waiters have never been able to accommodate the request (in some cases, acting as though they had never heard that such a thing as decaffeinated iced tea even existed). All in all, the dining service on the Sojourn seemed to us to be essentially the same as what we would expect if staying and dining at a Four Seasons resort - spot on and highly consistent. Outdoor Public Areas of Ship We were really surprised by the wonderful outdoor "nooks and crannies" and other places to relax - from multiple hot tubs to secluded hidden deck areas, the exterior spaces on the Sojourn were incredibly well conceived and executed. We had the impression of almost being on a private yacht - really no comparison to Regent Navigator (which seemed cramped in terms of outdoor spaces) or Voyager. Stability of Ship and Lack of Vibration We sailed through some pretty rough waters in the North Sea, but the Sojourn seemed rock solid, without any hint of vibration. By contrast, we found the vibration in the rear portion of the Regent Navigator to be HIGHLY bothersome, and the Regent Voyager also seemed to have some issue with this. No Art Auctions The Sojourn had a relaxed but sophisticated on-board feeling, and thankfully no art auctions to destroy the ambiance (unlike Regent). AREAS WHERE WE WOULD GIVE THE NOD TO REGENT: Purser and Similar Services We thought that the Sojourn fell far short of the Regent standard in terms of on-board purser and similar services. While the "set up" of the personnel to assist with account/purser issues in Seabourn Square was good, there were some real problems with systems and/or execution. First of all, we had made the mistake of reserving some spa treatments and shore excursions online in advance of the cruise (not having previously sailed with Sojourn, we were afraid that these might be "sold out" if we waited until getting on board). Seabourn's website required us to pay for these in advance with a credit card. Because we had significant onboard credits from American Express, I asked onboard to apply these credits to the spa treatments and shore excursions that we had pre-reserved. The staff in Seabourn Square was unable to accommodate this. At first, they essentially indicated that we were simply out of luck, and one staff member told me repeatedly that we should have simply reserved, but not paid for, the pre-booked items when we reserved - I told them that the website seemed to indicate that we MUST prepay for the pre-booked items. Eventually, we were paid out in cash for the items we had pre-paid, but this took several days to resolve. They were unable (or unwilling) to simply reverse the credit card charges. Secondly, we asked to get a key to our daughter's suit (she's a minor), so that we would be able to access her suite if we need to do so. At first, we were told that the system would not accommodate this and that there could be only one key issued for each person in a suite. Finally, after three days, the purser was able to override the system (or something) and get us another key. These may seem like minor annoyances, but they were definitely annoyances, and these are not the type of issues with which we've ever had a hassle on Regent or at a high-end hotel on land. Bars Open During Day Only one bar (the pool bar) was open prior to 6:00 pm on the Sojourn. By contrast, on Regent we had always appreciated that there was at least one other indoor (and more convenient) bar open during the day - which was nice if returning from a long shore excursion, etc. Smoking Policy While our suites never smelled of smoke, the hallways often smelled of it when passing other cabins. Also, the observation bar could be extremely stinky from smoke when it was full of people. We much prefer Regent's smoking policy. Places to Get Coffee in the Morning While the Sojourn had excellent coffee drinks of various sorts available in Seabourn Square, one had to get the coffee from the staff member working the coffee counter and there was often a line (and a wait). This was the only thing for which I ever had to wait in a line on the Sojourn - but I hate waiting in lines. I have always enjoyed the ability to get self-service coffee (at Coffee Connection or by the pool) on Regent. This may seem minor to most people, but it's annoying to me to have to wait just to get a cup of coffee and to not have a self-service option. Suites Although this is a close one (and in most respects we found the Sojourn suites to be equivalent to the Regent suites), there were a couple of minor things that would cause us to give the nod to the Regent suites. First, the dressing area (with mirror) on the Sojourn is in the entry hallway and is completely exposed if one opens the suite door. So, when opening the door to the suite from the outside, it would be very easy to expose one's spouse, etc. to an embarrassing situation if they happen to be getting dressed. By contrast, this area in the Regent suites is at an angle, sort of "around the corner" and not exposed to the suite door. Also, while the bathrooms were very pretty, we thought that the double sink configuration was a mistake. The second sink deprived the bathroom of too much storage space and was not really useful. Once again, not a big differences in the suites. All in all, two excellent cruise lines. We likely will sail both in the future (depending on itinerary, etc.). Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2010
My wife and I have been cruising since 1995, including multiple experiences with Seabourn, Silversea and Regent--but also with larger Holland America and Princess ships, and one very-forgettable Celebrity Alaska cruise. We have some ... Read More
My wife and I have been cruising since 1995, including multiple experiences with Seabourn, Silversea and Regent--but also with larger Holland America and Princess ships, and one very-forgettable Celebrity Alaska cruise. We have some perspective as to reasonable expectations which come from spending more "upfront" going with an all-inclusive "boutique" smaller ship; vs. the mid-size varieties where one winds up paying extra for a soft drink or a special coffee + "suggested gratuities" or automatically-added-on payments to staff + wine with dinner + extra charges for specialty dining venues + on-and on. Up until last month, our most recent Seabourn experience was in 2000 with the "Sun" on a 19-day repositioning cruise from Ft. Lauderdale to Bercelona--with 900 other guests. (The Sun remained under the Seabourn label for about three years; wisely, it was then handed-off to another nameplate. Currently, that ship is a Holland America vessel.) That's 900 passengers. Do the math. We had been spoiled by prior cruises on Seabourn's "Legend" (around 195 guests). Naturally, we expected some service changes, but were unprepared for the realities of about 600+ other Seabourn alumni on that voyage "pushing back" with the staff when dealing with the realities of diminished service. The staff did it very best; and I would bet the other 300 passengers with no prior experience with Seabourn had a very pleasant experience. We--and about 600 others--did not. So--it was to Regent and Silversea. However--with the advent of the larger, and brand-new Sojourn--time to give Seabourn another try. We were not disappointed. Our cruise was top-notch from start to finish and either met, or exceeded, expectations. Embarkation: Flew directly (via a short stop in Amsterdam) from Seattle to Copenhagen. Seabourn arranged a private car from the airport to the pier. We arrived a few minutes before the bulk of of fellow passengers who flew in earlier and were having lunch at local hotel(s) (One of which we passed--to see our soon-to-be companions boarding a bus.) Were on the ship in about five minutes. Right--five only minutes. A pleasant stop on the Deck 6 Grand Salon for champagne and finger sandwiches (or bigger ones, or another type-drink, if one so-wanted.) Just ask--and it was provided. Cabin: Into our vary-spacious veranda cabin within 35 minutes, with luggage waiting for us. The one "thing" we noted--which was a reoccurring "sour" note on an-otherwise pleasant cruise--was the smell of cigarette smoke. We opened-up the veranda door, turned up the air-conditioning as high as it would go--and waited. It took about three hours, but that lingering odor went away. It never returned inside our cabin ALTHOUGH--the person occupying the next-cabin over was, obviously a chain smoker. Everytime we left our suite for the hallway, literally held our breath to avoid second-hand vapors escaping into the common area. See below. With that aside-- Service: "Suite" and attendant service met our expectations. Sandy, our attendant, provided prompt, and professional service. A very pleasant young lady. This is the standard we experienced whether in a dining venue, at a lounge, while at tea, chatting with staff, or at the "Square". Efficient without pretense. Staff is well-aware of the clientele, which I would wager consisted of 85% or above Seabourn alumni. The same goes for paying guests. We respect the professionalism of staff, and do not make unreasonable demands or requests. Dining: Absolutely 5+ star. An example or two says it all: My wife likes a simple lunch consisting of broiled fish and steamed vegetables. This combo is not on the menu. No problem in either the Colonnade or Restaurant. After the first lunch, no need to even ask. I like an occasional cheeseburger or beef "dog" for lunch, even while in the Colonnade or Restaurant. And--I like a BIG hamburger patty, well-done. As for beefdogs--got to have the sauerkraut. That garnish was not present at The Grill. I had to merely ask for it--and had a surfeit of same thereafter. The chef prepared a double-sized beef patty, perfectly done [well] each time I order the cheeseburger. This alone was worth the extra tariff for an all-inclusive cruise. Dined in Restaurant 2 on three occasions. Simply delightful. Unique combinations of tasting dishes, with each explained in detail by our server(s). My wife--a gourmet cook--appreciated this attention to detail. Afternoon tea was refined and delicious, with all those little treats available. My wife wants to specifically mention the wonderful galley tour and cooking demonstration done by the chef. He took real pride in his presentation, and answering questions. Which, of course, is the perfect segue to-- Spa and Fitness: Neither my wife or I utilized the Spa. As for the Exercise Room. I usually had this area all-to myself. Worked out daily on the treadmill during the period 6:45-7:30. Perhaps one or two others joined me. Where was everyone? Top-notch equipment, which actually worked! And, individual tv screens at each machine. Public Rooms: The "Square" is functional, friendly, and complete. The staff was always available to provide services such as facilitating reservations for Restaurant 2 [Get there precisely at 6:30pm to make same for the next 48 hours]; exchanging currency; or arranging for special meals on the return plane flight. The reclining chairs made it very difficult to read--one only wanted to snooze. That is why it was nice to have a specialty coffee readily available from the Square's coffee bar. Library was ample, and stocked with recent publications. Entertainment: Here is the deal: Every PM public activity (dining and entertainment) on Sojourn is either 30 or 60 minutes "late", or at least later than one might expect on a Regent or Silversea. So--Deal with it! It is just too-late to really enjoy a "show"--singers/dancers; jugglers; acrobats (just kidding) which begins at 10:00pm. This is really not fair to these fine performers. We saw only two shows. It was so-so easy to retire to one's suite and "dial up" a plethora of vintage high-quality movies. Such is Seabourn. Shore Excursions: We booked three. One--"Footsteps of Rembrandt" at Amsterdam--was cancelled due to lack of sufficient participation. No big deal. We purchased two day-long trolley passes, visited several museums on our own, and probably saved about $300.00 in the process. Plus, had the opportunity to take a bunch of neat pictures of all the bicycles and chat with the locals. The two excursions we did take--Piano Recital at Troldhaugen and Cruising Lysefjord--were handled expeditiously. The Recital was really magical, as I enjoy playing Grieg's piano music; and my wife' favorite piano selection is "Wedding Day at Troldhaugen". That was the last selection played by a real "pro" [not me!]. It was a shame we had to leave that venue. Enrichment Lectures: Dr. Donald Behnke was great! By popular demand (encouraged by a ground-swell started by my wife and me) he was "allowed" to present an additional lecture. He knows his stuff (Opera; Broadway) and presents it in a down-to-earth manner. Missing Ports: Aalesund, Molde, and Olden, Norway. Easy off-easy-on. Nice walk through the scenic towns. Disembarkation: Again, without a hitch at Dover. We were called off the ship at the precise time (9:00am) indicated on our luggage tags. Seabourn's arranged private car was there to provide a speedy trip to Heathrow for the non-stop return to Seattle. Value for Money: We got what we paid for. No complaints. Smoking policy: This is one area Seabourn must address, as much in the interests of its staff and cabin attendants, as for paying guests. The Sojourn brochure we received stated no smoking anywhere in any dining venue, whether inside or outside. This included Deck 8's Patio Bar and Patio Grill areas. BUT--there were the ashtrays on tables used by Grill and Bar patrons. And, folks were lighting up. This, literally, chased us off that area. What gives? As mentioned above--the cabin next to ours literally wreaked with cigarette smoke. On more than a few occasions, the door to that suite was open when we were coming and going to our room, as our attendant was providing services. How can Seabourn allow its suite attendants to be constantly exposed to this situation? It is bad-enough to hold one's breath when walking by; but we had the luxury of being able to escape the smell. This smoking reality is the subject of a letter my wife and I are sending to Seabourn management. This was the only negative aspect of our cruise. It is simply a matter of health. That health pertaining to Seabourn's employees. Yes, we will be sailing with Seabourn (on the bigger ships) again. Hopefully, management will properly address concerns which I hope other alumni will continue to raise regarding smoking policy. Read Less
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