A long review! Let me say up front; it was a wonderful cruise. I will share the good and the bad, and in spite of some hiccups, we already booked another Seabourn cruise while onboard. As you read this review, for perspective, please know ... Read More
A long review! Let me say up front; it was a wonderful cruise. I will share the good and the bad, and in spite of some hiccups, we already booked another Seabourn cruise while onboard. As you read this review, for perspective, please know that we are not difficult nor do we require anything special. We are in our 60’s and have sailed on more than 60 cruises including 3 on Seabourn.
We arrived at the pier for embarkation to find that the US Coast Guard chose this day to do a full inspection of the ship (by the way, the Quest received 100 out of 100 — the first time ever for a cruise ship so needless to say the captain and crew were ecstatic, although exhausted) as well as face-to-face immigration meetings with every crew member. Therefore, embarkation was slightly delayed. While many in the terminal groused and were quite cranky, we felt Seaboard did an exceptional job of organizing the terminal area to insure that people were boarded in order of their arrival time at the pier. Refreshments were available to try to make everyone as comfortable as possible. When embarkation began around 12:30 there was one man, unfortunately an American, who burst in front of everyone and refused to wait his turn. The hostess tried to speak with him, but he was so rude. We just told her to let him go. While the wait in the terminal was only about an hour, the suites would not be ready until 3:00 (however the Spa Suites were ready at 2:00), but food and relaxation were abundant once on board.
The ship is lovely and immaculate. The staff were friendly and accommodating. Captain Nilsen was a warm and approachable. He was informative and entertaining. The other officers and staff were also excellent with the exception of the dining room Maitre d’ (you will have to read on to read about that!).
Suite: We were fortunate to have reserved one of the Penthouse Spa Suites a year in advance for our transatlantic crossing from Ft. Lauderdale to Barcelona. The Penthouse Spa Suite was wonderful. Very spacious and comfortable with everything you could want for on a cruise ship and more. The stairs up to the 4 suites from the Spa are a bit tricky, but once you go up and down a couple of times, they are easy to navigate. (Mind you we were not wearing high heels!) We had read many concerns about the soot on the verandah, but we did not experience this at all. It may have been because we were at sea for 13 of the 14 days and the wind was blowing in the “right” direction. The pads on the furniture, however, did give off a beige “powder” so be sure to use towels when sitting on them. We were told that soot can still be a problem on port intensive itineraries. We were in one of the corner suites,1090, and loved the panoramic view from the corner. Another bonus, and we truly loved this, was the extra window in the bedroom. It made the bedroom bright and you felt like you were right in the ocean (well, technically you are!). The “spa treats” were plentiful— like the teas, juices, dried fruits and nuts, and the daily spa water…. but nothing you couldn’t live without. We enjoyed the added amenity of complimentary access to the Serene Area and used it regularly. It was also nice to simply walk down the stairs to go to the spa and the gym. I used the gym every day and enjoyed the classes that were provided by the onboard trainer (James). I bought the package of “Boot Camp” classes which was like having a private trainer as the class was limited to 7 people. However, all that activity did not prevent me from gaining weight!
We did have a hiccup in the suite. We went to take showers and there was no hot water. We called and reported the problem. To make a very long story shorter, this happened for three days in a row. Each time we were either about to bathe, or were in the process, when the hot water stopped. It was finally resolved on day three. The hotel manager (Gunter) was extremely apologetic and thanked us for our patience. He said there was a valve problem (just in our suite) but that this should have never happened and he wanted us to know that our inconvenience was not acceptable. I assured him that while frustrating, all was resolved and we were enjoying our suite. On the fifth evening he called our suite to check on us and apologized again. This time, the doorbell rang and we were presented with a bottle of Dom Perignon champagne with a note from him apologizing yet again. Now that’s an apology!
Our stewardess, Natalya, was outstanding. She was in and out discretely and made sure that everything in the suite was replenished appropriately. She even made sure that our refrigerator was stocked with cold bottles of champagne every day. There was a bit of overkill with the towel animals, but she meant well.
BTW: If you like having binoculars either bring your own or “borrow” them from Guest Services. They stopped placing them in suites because they were disappearing. They put a “hold” on your account for $400 until they binoculars are returned.
Dining: We had very nice meals and good service, with the exception of The Restaurant. Yes, the main dining venue. The waiters have too many tables to provide good service. I am used to more attentive service. I recall that on most ships, if you get up from the table to use the restroom; when you return to your seat your napkin is refolded and someone is there to pull out your chair and re-seat you. This was not the case in any venues. The main dining room was so bad we only dined there a few times. The first time, we were given a table for two sandwiched in between two tables of 8. The arms of the diners next to us were actually extending over to our table! I asked to be moved and saw there was an open table for 2 next to the window. I asked about that table and was told it was not available! Not available? So we were given a table for 2 on the isle next to a four top. We ordered our dinner and after waiting 35 minutes, our appetizer of escargot finally arrived. However, one dish arrived steaming hot and the other arrived ice cold. I asked one of the busboys to fetch our waiter and then one of the Assist. Maitre d’s arrived at our table. We told him we had been waiting 35 minutes for our appetizer and then one came cold. He was polite, apologetic, and told us he would oversee our dinner. After that, everything came in a timely manner (if not rushed) and at proper temperature and served by HIM. We only saw our waiter one more time and that was to take our desert order. It was a very uncomfortable evening. The next day I saw the same Assist. Maitre d’ in The Colonnade at lunch time and thanked him for intervening with our dinner the previous night. I told him that we were so uncomfortable that we decided we would not come back to the dining room. He asked me for the details about our seating and was genuinely shocked. He told me there are no reserved tables and asked me who seated us the first time and then who re-seated us (the first time it was one of the Maitre d’s and the second time it was the hostess). He apologized profusely and asked that we give them another chance because that is not how it should be on a Seaboard ship. I told him we might, if I could convince my spouse to try again. Apparently he shared our experience with other “managers” because in every venue we went to after that they would come up to us and tell us how sorry they were about our dining room experience. And the hostess who told us that we couldn’t have the window table was now fawning over us! I didn’t want anything special, just good service. I think the dining room is severely understaffed. This kind of attention to details is what used to make the premium lines different. We gave the restaurant a second chance and were incredulous to experience, yet again, that one of the main courses (bacon wrapped scallops) arrived with uncooked bacon, raw scallops, and cold. Another Assist. Maitre d’ was summonsed and she simply picked up the plate and said “I will bring you a fresh one.” No apologies and no awareness that one of us was sitting with an entree while the other entree was whisked away. Proper etiquette would have been to remove both entrees and return with new ones once corrected. Again, this is not rocket science and this is the kind of service one would expect in any restaurant. When the “fresh entree” was brought to the table (I had already eaten my entire dinner) she blamed the kitchen and said that “Chef Martin was busy and didn’t check the entree before it went out.” What a bunch of nonsense. No apology; nothing. Another Assist. Maitre d’ (Dusan) came to our table and was shocked that this had happened to us again. He apologized and asked for details. He was shocked that this had happened to us two times in a row. We told him we would not be back in the dining room again on this cruise. He said that if we ask for his section, he would guarantee perfect service. At that point the female Maitre d’ in our section who picked up the cold plate, got angry at him and said “well, good for him— but he has no control over the kitchen!” Well, we did go back and we did sit in Dusan’s section and the service was perfect. But as we told Dusan, it should always be perfect for everyone. Then we ran into a former waited who remember us from the Sojourn. He had been promoted to an Assist. Maitre d’ on the Quest and asked us to come and sit in his section on the last evening. We did, and again this time we had excellent service. But I believe the two “good” nights were only a result of the bad experience the other two nights. Lesson learned: don’t sit quietly when the service is poor, speak up.
The dinners and service in The Colonnade were excellent. The food on the ship was really well done and in our opinion better than the food on Silversea (which we were loyal to for many years). The Colonnade, the Patio Grill, Restaurant 2 (by the way… the “Wine Journey” was outstanding and a bargain at $55 pp.) and room service (we ate breakfast in our suite or on our verandah most mornings and had dinner in our suite twice) were always enjoyable with great service.
Entertainment: We didn’t expect anything special (Seabourn is not known for their entertainment) but the singer Christine Andreas was amazing. She is a Tony nominated Broadway singer/actress and her shows were outstanding and a highlight. She happened to be in the Boot Camp classes with me and was a kick in there as well. The lecturers were also quite interesting. The various singers, combos throughout the ship in the evenings were fine. We did not see any of the stage shows so I can’t comment on that. There was plenty of trivia, bridge, mahjong, needlepoint, etc. It was your typical transatlantic crossing where most of us were on board to enjoy the ship and quiet times to read, relax, and/or reflect.
Seabourn Square: The baristas and the entire atmosphere of the Square is so enjoyable. The news readers were great to be able to get copies of newspapers if you were so inclined. The internet was reliable and reasonably fast for crossing the Atlantic. I brought my own MacBook Air and received great reception in our suite as well. I purchased the 3 hour package for $39.95 which was more than adequate to check email during the entire cruise. I even had time left over!
Ports: As this was a crossing, the only port we stopped at was Funchal. We had been there many times, but still enjoyed it. It such a lovely and clean town and was a welcomed change after 9 days at sea. We had good weather and knew that the Sea Gods were watching over us, as we had sunny skies and calm seas for most of the trip (just rough seas the last few days).
Disembarkation: Easy as pie with Captain Nilson at the gangway shaking hands with everyone as we disembarked.
Overall, Seabourn does not disappoint. We recommend the line without reservation. Read Less