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17 Seabourn Middle East Cruise Reviews

Fellow Cruisers, It has now been a further three weeks of cruising on the Seabourn Ovation for my wife and I and I have begun to like this ship quite a bit. Cruising on a relatively small ship (600 or less passengers) means that the ... Read More
Fellow Cruisers, It has now been a further three weeks of cruising on the Seabourn Ovation for my wife and I and I have begun to like this ship quite a bit. Cruising on a relatively small ship (600 or less passengers) means that the staff and fellow guests get to know you and vice versa in a short period of time. This makes for a more congenial and friendly family type atmosphere. Since my last review, it seems that the service on board still remains a challenge in some areas of the main restaurant and for a couple of waiters in the various bars. But in general I am much happier with the Seabourn Ovation now. The Cruise Director, Handré is perhaps the best that I have come across in my 40 or so cruises. He is extremely hard working and can be heard making the safety and shore announcements from the bridge, overseeing the trivia, announcing the entertainment and generally coordinating all the various events. He then still has time to perform (he is a gifted pianist and composer) and conduct personalised small group enrichment programs such as “how to tie bowties” and “how to fold a pocket square correctly”. Another shipboard star is the Executive Chef, Jes Paskins, who is a true talent both as a chef and as a fun loving foodie. His caviar in the surf (and pool) as well as his many theme nights are delightful fun. For a small ship, the Seabourn Ovation makes use of all of its spaces. The deck parties are amazing and the shows are very well done by the resident entertainment team and the guest artists. Of course, once in a while, there are some duds such as the quartet of ladies known as “Ida” who perform in the style of the Three Tenors or El Divo. Sadly they miss the mark. Did I mention the trivia? Handré and his team bring this iconic cruise staple event to a new level of entertainment with fun twists and prizes galore (sometimes for every participant and not just the winners). The cabins are amazing and the housekeeping staff a pleasure. In the “old days” Seabourn only hired pretty young Scandinavian room stewardesses but today they hire from around the world and I am pleased to confirm that they are still pretty, young and charming. But, lest you get the wrong impression, nobody is flirtatious, just pleasant and friendly. This is definitely not a Frat ship. It is a 5 star floating luxury hotel. Keep this ship in mind and on your short list if its itinerary suits. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
Having recently returned from our second Seabourn cruise, we debarked the ship after 19 days wanting to stay on board. Alas, "duty calls", including back to work. Now, after settling in at home, herewith, in no particular, order, ... Read More
Having recently returned from our second Seabourn cruise, we debarked the ship after 19 days wanting to stay on board. Alas, "duty calls", including back to work. Now, after settling in at home, herewith, in no particular, order, are my impressions of our trip. Last year (December 2017) we tried Seabourn for the very first time, on the Odyssey for a Caribbean cruise. Interested readers can find my review for that trip. Suffice to say, we were by no means overwhelmed by Seabourn on that trip. Yet this most recent cruise met and in many ways exceeded our expectations. As a result, we indeed look forward to returning to Seabourn in the future. We sailed October 20, 2018 from Athens to Dubai, including a day on the Suez canal. When we booked this trip way back earlier this year, we knew that we were most interested in Greece before-hand, and Israel as ports of call. For the rest of the trip, for the most part for us "the ship was the destination", with the goal to relax, enjoy excellent food and service on a fine floating resort, and recharge. In that way, the Encore did not disappoint. A few comments first on Athens and the Ports: we very much enjoyed our three days prior to the cruise exploring Athens. People were friendly, the food was very good, and the museums and tours we did fascinating (Acropolis, Parthenon, etc.). Athens is a great place to begin a cruise! We did get off the ship in Israel. The first port of Haifa was a long port day, thankfully, so we used that day to go to Jerusalem, with a private car and guide our travel agent arranged. The next day (Ashdod) we were supposed to be in port until 3PM, with a back-on-board time of 2:30. Yet that changed to back-on-board of 1:30 due to a directive from the Suez authorities. That in our view made things very tight, so we remained on board and treated this as a sea day. Hopefully Seabourn can in future confirm a longer stay there, as there is much to see in a less rushed fashion. Unlike many, we did not venture to Petra. Due to arthritis issues, I did not want to try it. We were not alone as I was told those remaining on board numbered 150 people. Thankfully, Seabourn continues to make all facilities available, including not closing the dining room for lunch on port days. Those who went to Petra with whom we spoke told us they enjoyed it very much so, if you can do it, by all means, go for it! Yet they also confirmed that it was a lot of difficult walking on a hot day. We did get off in Oman (Muskat) and took the "hop-on/off" bus...ok, "been there, done that, got the t-shirt". We thereafter remained on board other than for the beach party at Sir Bany Yas island in the UAE. That was our last stop before disembarkation, and it was a lovely day ashore. A BBQ lunch served in a beautiful setting, after the famous "caviar in the surf". Ah, bliss! Our shipboard experiences: We had a regular verandah cabin on deck 8. Before sailing upgrades were offered to the PH category yet,for us, these were too expensive. While the regular verandah cabins on the Encore are a touch narrower than are the regular verandahs on the Odyssey, we still found the space to be quite adequate. Keep in mind that we are used to the larger "Neptune Suites" on Holland America ships. So, if we can be content for 19 days in a regular verandah cabin on the Encore, I suspect that most people can. Part of the reason for our satisfaction is in how well, ergonomically, the suites are laid out. There is little wasted space. A few things we did not realize until near the end of our trip: the main dining or multi-purpose table in the suite moves! It can be pulled out from the wall for much easier access (unlike, if I recall correctly, on the Odyssey sized ships where it is fixed in place). It is not obvious, or at least was not to us (and, we know, a few others too), that the table can be moved. The chairs are otherwise a tad tight in the space. Yet they are comfortable. The sofa and bed were also quite comfortable, as was the verandah. Our cabin was quite far forward, yet even when there was some "motion of the ocean", we just took the pills freely available at Seabourn Square (ask the guest relations staff) and were fine. On arrival on day one, our in-room preferences were not all present, but were quickly arranged by the stewardess. Unfortunately, our stewardess was otherwise not as capable as the one we had last year. At the evening turn-down, towels were several times forgotten, leading me to call for these to be delivered when we returned from the show, and her cleaning was slap-dash in some respects. I addressed this in my survey. Yet this was really only the one area where we had a few issues. Hardly a deal-breaker! We found the ship itself to be beautiful. It has an elegant look and feel. Even on the many sea days that we had, I did not find difficulty in getting space at one of the pools. My preference was the small plunge pool on deck 5, which offers many shady spots. Alas, as the sun moved, so must those seeking shade, but so be it. The one problematic issue with that area is that smoking is allowed on one side of deck 5--unfortunately, the smoke from those indulging did not know enough to stay on its own side, so would waft across, making it less than pleasant (there was a lady who almost chain-smoked in the afternoons). While I acknowledge that there must be one spot for smokers to indulge (or else folks will likely break the rules and light up anywhere), it should be limited to the upper deck sky bar, in my opinion, not by either pool. Bar service at the pool was excellent--staff were regularly swinging by with trays of "pool drinks" (Pina coladas, etc). Yet one could order anything one wanted and it would be promptly delivered, with a smile. Indeed, bar service generally was very good indeed. In the evenings, my "Rob Roy" was made as I liked it, with the Scotch I prefer (or I could try it with a single malt, etc.). My wife also got her cocktail as she preferred. We particularly enjoyed hanging out in the Thomas Keller ("TK") bar, enjoying the stylings of the pianist while having a pre-dinner cocktail. It was a very pleasant venue, not found on the smaller ships, and a nice addition to this class of ships. We found the dining experiences to be varied and well done for the most part. Were there a few glitches? Of course, as after all, in 19 days things can go a little wrong once in a while. Yet overall, it was excellent and, when there was an issue, it was quickly addressed and rectified. One advantage to having a drink in the TK bar was that, as late diners (usually after 8PM) when venturing into the bar around 7:30, we would ask the hostess to let us know if there was pending availability for a table for two. Often, there was. So, in addition to our one reservation at TK, we in total dined there five times, working our way through the menu. Overall, we found TK to be a nice venue for dinner--the food was well prepared and elegantly served in nice surroundings. It made a change for dinner. Yet we also enjoyed the dining room. With the larger atrium, it has a more airy and open feel than on the smaller ships. We enjoyed one theme dinner at the Colonnade (TK rib night, naturally!) and also dined there the first night for the lovely roast beef. We often had lunch in the dining room--a nice and quiet venue, although we tried the buffet at the Colonnade a few times too. Breakfast was via room service (for the most part prompt and well done) or a light snack at Seabourn Square. The caviar was often a tasty treat while getting ready for dinner. The best coffee was found at the Square! Other drinks such as brewed ice tea (meaning, not from a mix) were also available. Service overall was warm and welcoming. While we never met the hotel director, clearly, he runs a tight operation. We enjoyed meeting Jovan, the F & B director, and a few other managers. Everyone, from officers to servers at the pool bar, were always smiling and willing to do whatever they could to enhance your holiday. It was very cosseting and made returning to reality (starting with the airport!) that much harder! Entertainment was well done. The cast of singers were truly talented. In addition to the usual evening shows after dinner, two 6PM performances during the cruise were offered. One featured opera singing by the singers. The Seabourn band was also very good in the Grand Salon. Pianist John in the TK bar was excellent, as were the duo in the Observation bar. We found the "techno-pop" music in the Club to be far too loud, making conversation impossible. The young foursome were not bad per se, just too loud for us. So we did not hang out there. Guest entertainers were also for the most part quite talented. The Barricade Boys in particular were great. Also great was the Cruise Director Chelsea, and her assistant Henri. Both had a very engaging way with their passengers, making us all feel special. Some of the "conversations", referring to the guest lecturers, were better than others. Some were not to my taste--reminiscent of the university undergrad lectures which I often slept through. After doing that again once or twice, I decided to "cut class" and head directly to the pool. Yet others seemed to enjoy some of the lectures. A word on embarkation, which was a sore point last year for us. This time on the Encore it was truly "easy-peasy". We left our hotel in Athens at noon and were having lunch at the Colonnade by 1:20 PM. The rooms were announced as ready shortly before 2PM. Luggage arrived promptly. In other words, this was as it should be, and virtually stress-free. It was the sign of a well-run operation, so kudos to them! Disembarkation, on the other hand, was less stellar. Our stewardess banged on our door precisely at 8AM, when we were making our final checks in drawers, etc., to ensure that nothing was left behind. She had other rooms to clean and, if we were not gone by say, 8:15, then a gentle knock would be appropriate to check up on us. Yet we found her brusque approach disconcerting, to say the least. We also hope that Seabourn could emulate other lines (such as its sister company Holland America) which allow a later departure from the rooms. As the rooms are not available for new guests until 2PM, a 9 AM cut off to exit the suites for debarking guests instead of 8AM ought to allow enough time (a five hour window) to prepare the rooms, I would think. In any case, our plan was to leave our room at 8AM, and go to the dining room for a last breakfast, which we did. Fortified by a hearty breakfast, well served by the usual team, we easily left the ship (a very short and orderly exit line), claimed our bags, and found the Seabourn-arranged driver who was waiting for us with my last name on a card (very reassuring). Our post-cruise stay, also booked via Seabourn, was fine too. I will review the hotels we enjoyed in Athens and Dubai on the sister web-site, TripAdvisor, in due course. All in all, this was a great cruise, on a lovely ship, with a great crew. Fellow passengers were also most pleasant, and we enjoyed meeting a number of nice people. Hopefully next year, we can do it again on Seabourn. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
We just returned from an amazing voyage to Arabia. 19 days voyage. what can I say. spectacular. suites are super large, big tvs with lots of entertainment choices. we booked suite 1014 category V6 and loved the location. everyday ... Read More
We just returned from an amazing voyage to Arabia. 19 days voyage. what can I say. spectacular. suites are super large, big tvs with lots of entertainment choices. we booked suite 1014 category V6 and loved the location. everyday when we went for dinner we would see the pool lit up and just made us smile. it was truly magical. my husband described the feeling of being in the ship, like being in your country club. in our case, they knew our names, and greeted us all the time by our names. they knew our food preferences and always made sure we were accommodated. Thomas Keller Grill was superb. We found the dining room to be a little slow for our taste. if we wanted to leave by a certain time we would tell the maitre d ahead of time. we like to eat by 7PM and go to the show at 8:45PM. most of the time it worked perfectly. we ate once in the evening at the patio grill and it was great. I know of plenty of people that never got dressed up for dinner and just ate dinner at the patio and the colonnade. colonnade had a sit down area instead of buffet and also an outside patio. we chose to have cappuccinos in the morning in our suite but go for breakfast at the patio of the colonnade every day . truly delightful. we ate lunch most days either at the sushi restaurant or the patio. LOVED. excursions were great. we did 4 of them with the cruise. there was caviar on the surf at an island of Abu Dhabi . super fun. temperatures for this cruise is for people that like warm weather like I do. some days temps were 100 such in muscat. cannot wait to return. we did put a deposit for a future cruise , and this deposit will give us 5% in a future cruise that we book and we have 4 years to book or we get our money back. we know and saw lots of people playing trivia, and that a big thing. they had many teams, and it was competitive. also, bridge was big. art classes were busy, which I never went, and lots of guests went to the lectures . they were super interesting and you could watch them live in your suite, or later in your tv with on demand. we met Wonderfull people and there quite a diverse array of passengers from every country. met some nice single people and first time cruisers and they were all having a fabulous time. Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
We chose this cruise for the seadays. We did the same cruise in reverse in November 2015 on the Sojourn. We wanted to try out the larger ship, we also had sailed on the Odyssey last November. First impressions? it is a bigger ship. The ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the seadays. We did the same cruise in reverse in November 2015 on the Sojourn. We wanted to try out the larger ship, we also had sailed on the Odyssey last November. First impressions? it is a bigger ship. The ceilings seem a little lower, particularly in the Restaurant, the cabins a little narrower and the Club on Level 5 a little smaller with the casino now being exposed. Mind you we never saw the Casino being used. In fact the Restaurant seems much quieter so the lower ceiling may be there for a purpose. There is no laundry. However we were told due to demand one will be fitted. I hope given the size of the ship one means two. Within a few days we were won over. The ship has a classier feel. It never felt over crowded although the Colonnade and pool deck could get a bit busy. It was the atmosphere on the Encore and the magnificent staff that did it. Every single one of them was enthusiastic and helpful. We have never encountered such a team. Their enthusiasm rubbed off on the passengers. Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves and interacted well. Food throughout was excellent. The Thomas Keller is a better speciality restaurant than Restaurant 2. We ate at Thomas Keller twice. The menu does not change. However the food and service in the Restaurant is so good it is hard to imagine it being bettered. We often ate at night at the Pool Grill. Simple, informal and under the stars. We would generally have a pre dinner drink at the Observation Bar. Again good service with substantial finger food available. Breakfast at the Colonnade was always good with lots of choice. In part there was table service available. Entertainment. Probably the best we have had on any cruise. There were two shows nightly for forty five minutes. The "early" show at 8.45pm is a new time. The show repeats at 10.00pm. The guest lecturers onboard were the best we have ever experienced. Lots of lectures (called conversations by Seabourn) by very informative people. Generally the topics related to the history of the areas in which we were sailing Overall the Encore is an even better and classier ship than the older three. Perhaps, due to size, it is a little less personal, but the enthusiasm of the crew and service shine out. Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
The Seabourn Encore is a gorgeous ship inside (except the Club - more on that later); and will certainly be the new star of the fleet when she is up to scratch, fully-stocked and staff trained. BUT based on our recent experience aboard her ... Read More
The Seabourn Encore is a gorgeous ship inside (except the Club - more on that later); and will certainly be the new star of the fleet when she is up to scratch, fully-stocked and staff trained. BUT based on our recent experience aboard her first voyage, there are a few wrinkles to be worked out. The designer while talented with colour, texture and pattern, apparently wasn't an overly-practical man, nor did he consult with experienced crew when designing their workspaces, so expect to witness awkward encounters as barmen stumble around one another in their Goldfish Bowl bar in Observation (a stunning space otherwise); and other "traffic flow" issues. Don't expect full-length hanging spaces or mirrors in your suite, either. The lighting system in the suites is bewildering and unlabelled. The only way to hear midday announcements is to open your cabin door and stand in the hallway (really!). Electrical plugs are sometimes in very odd places or missing from logical places (our suite 800 didn't have one by the desk). The small pool area was crowded on our half-full voyage...cannot imagine what it will be like on a full voyage. The public spaces are all stunning and an improvement on the other ships, except Seabourn Square and the Club. The Square has now been made very open, which means any private conversation with the desk staff (say about money) will be overheard by everyone passing by; and the new design means that it is impossible to see who is free to serve you, so it's a total free-for-all to get help. That's a real problem on busy days. The Club has now been com-mingled with the Casino, so is no longer an intimate space, but is affected by the flashing lights of the slots. On the plus side, food is excellent (menus are repetitive, however, which may have been due to the inadequate stocks on our trip) and the best crew are really good. Thomas Keller is a bit overrated in our view (very limited menu and very salty food), but Sushi is amazing! The gym is terrific. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
Being past Seabourn clients, we wanted to test drive this new ship and with a great price on offer for the first leg of its inaugural run, couldn't resist signing up even though the itinerary was not super enticing. Took the Flight ... Read More
Being past Seabourn clients, we wanted to test drive this new ship and with a great price on offer for the first leg of its inaugural run, couldn't resist signing up even though the itinerary was not super enticing. Took the Flight Ease program as well for convenience as finding our own flights out of Dubai was a bit of a challenge - and we were well rewarded for it. The very competitive price included an overnight at Athens at the Grande Bretagne and overnight in Dubai at the Intercontinental Festival City. The ship was beautiful, without a doubt. Wide corridors, standard veranda suites were spacious compared to the older ones in this fleet. Public areas also well designed. Usual layout for Seabourn Square with the Baristas working away from 5:30am to late in the evening offering all kinds of coffees including alcoholic ones! Dining room very attractively done although the much flaunted chandeliers were probably lost on us. Thomas Keller had its own restaurant on deck 8 rear and often even outside the Thomas Keller restaurant, there were theme nights in the Colonnade that featured Keller ideas and in the Restaurant, there were samples of his dishes. The Colonnade was well done and more attractively designed than in the other Odyssey type ships. There was even a Sushi restaurant offering very good fare accompanied by hot or cold sake. The Club on deck 5 seems smaller but each night, the energetic quartet played songs from the era of the majority of the passengers. The shows were quite good, comparable to other smaller ships in terms of variety and quality. One Beatles era show drew many in the audience to get up and dance and was probably the best received of all the presentations. The last night in Muscat was one where we were treated to a typical Seabourn affair : meet the crew and poolside dancing with very nice appetizers pre dinner. Service was up to its impeccable Seabourn standards. They no longer nauseate you with repeatedly calling you by your name within 1 day of boarding but there is no doubt that the wait staff is expected to know who you are within a short time of embarcation. The cruise director Handre was a veteran at his job and was the consummate cruise director: professional, affable, humorous but not obtrusive in any way. His assistant, Jacqueline was almost as good and was obviously his protegee. After an expectedly popular shore excursion at Petra, in typical Seabourn fashion, some 200 staff lined up to greet the returning guests as they got off the buses by the gangway, accompanied by music and cheering even though it took place late afternoon in the brisk wind. You can't forget things like that. Having said all these good things, I have to mention the bad. 1) There were no guest laundry on board! none were planned for. The majority of the passengers just shook their heads in astonishment. When you are on board for 16 or more days, on a cruise line that like the rest of the industry always provided laundries for their guests, it was an eye opener. Oh sure, you can send out your laundry at $50 a bag..... 2)The Sushi restaurant, although open for lunch, did not serve sushi except at dinner ! You can only have Bento boxes......They never ever made that known on the daily dining venue list. Incomprehensible. 3) Underneath the outdoor dining of the Colonnade (which was located on 9), there was a similar al fresco dining area also belonging to the Colonnade. This was barely used as few knew of it and fewer wanted to walk up to 9 to get their food from the buffet. The concept was puzzling. Furthermore, the outside area was 90% covered, so that sun lovers that choose to dine alfresco has to contend with shade. 4) Our suite had double sinks that would not drain properly, and it took 2 days before they were adjusted to useable conditions. Also a non-functioning bedside light took 3 days to be remedied. The day after it was repaired, we had a knock on the door in the afternoon and there were two engineers who came to fix the already fixed light.??? 5)The eating area (The Patio) on the pool deck was placed on the aft end of the pool deck and so when the ship was sailing, any breeze was magnified at that end of the deck. If the tables and the serving area had been located on the bow end of the pool deck, we would have had more meals there. We had the most delicious steak and Nigerian prawn dinner there one evening. All the more ironic since the previous night, we ate at Thomas Keller and had a tough and less than mediocre rib eye steak. 6)The Thomas Keller restaurant was a tremendous disappointment to us. We were not alone in that opinion. One is greeted with a dose of pompous air when arriving for dinner. The menu is not extraordinarily varied. The wait person immediately pointed out the wine list (not mentioning that one could have the many complementary wines that are available on board) encouraging extra charges in the name of "Thomas Keller thinks that these wines pair better with his dishes". We ate there twice and there were less airs the second night but we remained unimpressed with the whole thing. I would never eat at a Thomas Keller restaurant again. 7) The very last comment refers to The Retreat. On deck 11, where there used to be an open area with golf putting and loungers has all been enclosed by a series of cabanas with a private hot tub. The passengers had the choice of paying a significant premium to be pampered for half or a full day. That became an immense white elephant. I don't think it ever paid for its overhead during our time on board. Just think about it, if all your drinks are free and you have several hot tubs elsewhere to use as well as a spa that offers a variety of treatments already, Which business school to you have to go to in order to realize that it makes no sense to build this area? Several passengers in private conversations suggested that they should convert the cabanas to laundries for the guests. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
This was our first Seabourn Cruise, and what better way to begin than on Seabourns newest ship, Encore. We held high expectations, and we were not disappointed, We arrived in Athens a few days beforehand, and stayed at the Grande ... Read More
This was our first Seabourn Cruise, and what better way to begin than on Seabourns newest ship, Encore. We held high expectations, and we were not disappointed, We arrived in Athens a few days beforehand, and stayed at the Grande Bretagne, as did a number of other Encore guests, who had booked through Seabourn The embarkation was smooth, we were quickly welcomed on board, by Handre the Cruise Director and other crew. Guests were invited to lunch in the Colonade Restaurant, and soon enough our suites were ready. Our suite, 908, was far enough away from the elevators, but close enough to the pool area. It was of a generous size and tastefully decorated. The bathroom was well appointed with twin basins and a large bath, which we never used. The room lighting was initially confusing and power points were few. For a brand new ship, it lacked the technology we would of expected ( ie: USB ports). The towels were thick and fluffy, and obviously brand new, as were the sheets and other items in the room. The balcony was roomy and comfortable. The closet lighting was inadequate and there was not enough hanging space, and we could not have used it as a dressing room., We met our stewardess, and in conversation we asked about clothes pressing. She told us as there was no self service laundry on the ship, pressing was complimentary, however after we were billed, we had serveral conversations with the front desk before they agreed to remove it from our account. We were told that a laundry was going to be installed on deck 5, probably before the Singapore sail We dined that night at Sushi and thoroughly enjoyed the food, albeit a limited menu. Staff were very welcoming, enjoyed the sake was excellent. We dined at the Thomas Keller Grill the next night and found it a great dining pleasure, and dined there several more times. The Elysian Lamb was excellent, and we enjoyed everything that we ordered on each visit, however during the cruise many guests complained about Grill, mainly, we believe, because they were not willing to be flexible with simple requests. The main restaurant the staff were very pleasant and put in great effort. The food was always presented well and tasted delicious, howvever the food was very mildly spiced so as to appeal to a majority of palates. You cant please everyone! Many guests preferred to dine as a table of 2 or 4, and we felt comfortable with this rather than at larger tables. Breakfast was always at the Collonade Restaurant. I learnt after 2 days to skip a caffe latte, and order tea instead, as it the coffee always took far too long to arrive. As with other ships and hotels, having to make your own toast is an issue, but the staff were always happy to do it for you avoiding any hassle. The staff were always very pleasant and helpful, and the lunch buffet was always popular and of quality ingredients. We also lunched in the Main dining room, and it was much quieter and enjoyable. As Seabourn has a all inclusive policy, the quality of wine and spirits was excellent and any discerning palate would agree. The policy of asking for a special meal to be prepared the next night if the ingredients were available is a good option and we did have Thai food prepared one night which we shared with onboard friends. Most nights began at the Observation bar, and we enjoyed the music of Darlene and Raleigh, a very pleasant and talented couple.Other performers were pleasant, and always made an effort to interact with guests in their free time. We took Seabourn shore excursions in Crete, Israel and Petra. On the way back from Petra we were treated halfway through the journey to champagne and caviar, a Seabourn experience, and to top it all off we were welcomed back aboard the ship by all the crew who lined a red carpet. We felt like A list celebrities as we reboarded the ship. Also, whenever we took a Seabourn excursion, the coaches were full sized coaches but only two thirds occupied for each persons comfort, a great policy. Handre, the Cruise Director, and his assistant Jacqueline always had a smile on their faces and we enjoyed their company. We enjoyed playing Trivia on sea days, and unlike other cruises, we had to retain our original team for the entire cruise. We were also invited to dine with the Captain at his table one night. It felt very special to get the invitation. The Encore has a 'retreat' with 16 private cabanas, and is charged at $350US per day. One couple extolled the virtues of the retreat, to the extent that we felt they were on commission, but we could not see the value or the need. We found that afternoons on sea days lacked much in the way of activities, so many people just lounged by the pool, while others took the opportunity to play bridge Many guests are regular Seabourn cruisers and are fiercely loyal, more so than for other cruise lines. Some guests did not like the size of the new ship or amount of guests onboard. They will know which ships to cruise on in the future. Again some guests need to be more flexible. The front desk is a ridiculous set up with several entrances thereby no one knows who will be served next. The whole cruise was a delight. There were a few kinks, but overall a great introduction to Seabourn, We wonder how different Seabourn Ovation sister ship will be when it is launched soon. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
First the negative: I would have rated this cruise as a 5-Star one, but Seabourn's corporate police allowing smoking in so many places makes it hard to really rate the cruise line positively. They allow smoking on all of the ... Read More
First the negative: I would have rated this cruise as a 5-Star one, but Seabourn's corporate police allowing smoking in so many places makes it hard to really rate the cruise line positively. They allow smoking on all of the balconies, which make one's use of the balconies hit and miss. Despite a corporate policy against smoking in the cabins, it is almost certainly going on because we could smell smoke in the hallways.There are also a lot of outdoor places that allow smoking, causing one to have to carefully plan their travels through the ship to avoid such places. Want to use the very nice Observation Bar? Don't try it in the evening unless you like smoke. For those who don't like second-hand smoke, make sure you do not reserve a cabin on Deck 10, because they left the Observation Bar door open, and your hallway may be filled with second-hand smoke. The Food and Beverage on board is inconsistent. We had some really outstanding food, and some pretty terrible food. The service in the restaurants can be dreadfully slow, and it was a rare experience not to have to seek out a waitstaff to refill my water. This should be done routinely, but was rarely offered. Now the positive: This was a very nice small-ship experience. Rarely a line to stand in. Friendly and courteous fellow guests. Staff mostly attentive and friendly. No hard sells to take pictures or buy extras. The stateroom was in fine shape, although the bed should have been replaced some years ago. The selections of complimentary wines and other alcohol were drinkable. No need for us to buy up to premium bottle. This was a pleasant surprise as we can be very discriminating with our wine, spirits, and champagne selections. The bar staff try their best to accommodate your personal drink recipes. We enjoyed room service, and they did an excellent job of making it a special experience, setting a linen table cloth with all the trimmings. While we did not attend a lot of the entertainment, the comedian we saw was fantastic. The enrichment speakers were a mixed bag, but Sir Tony, a ex-British diplomat was great. We may return to Seabourn. We would definitely return if they changed their smoking policy. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
I have always wanted to visit Petra. This cruise included Petra plus The Holy Land and the Suez Canal,all new to me. We have taken several trips on Seabourn and love everything about it. The rooms are comfortable and have enough space ... Read More
I have always wanted to visit Petra. This cruise included Petra plus The Holy Land and the Suez Canal,all new to me. We have taken several trips on Seabourn and love everything about it. The rooms are comfortable and have enough space which is apparently not always the case. The staff makes a tremendous effort to be cheerful,and helpful. By the third day one is greeted by name. Roberto, in the restaurant, seems personally sadened if you don't want dessert! Emma always knows which wine you prefer. Our stewardess Sitha, was so pleasant in spite of having so many messy cabins to tidy. Even though The Sojourn is a relatively small ship, the entertainment is excellent. We were thrilled to find Anthony Stuart LLoyd on this trip. We had loved him on another cruise and enthused about him to friends. He has a first class voice and puts on a terrific show with something for everyone from opera to Broadway. The young folks in the Sojoun singers and dancers group are wonderful,energetic and so talented. The only problem was the heat. My suggestion would be to do this trip in January. Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
We have cruised many times, but this was our first Seabourn cruise. We chose it primarily for the ports which included Middle East, India, Thailand ending in Singapore. It was not that Seabourn was mind blowing at every level, but rather ... Read More
We have cruised many times, but this was our first Seabourn cruise. We chose it primarily for the ports which included Middle East, India, Thailand ending in Singapore. It was not that Seabourn was mind blowing at every level, but rather it was very good at every level be it service, food, boarding or indeed any area. Our balcony cabin may have been slightly larger than on the average cruise boat and likewise the bathroom. Where the cabin excelled was the large walk in wardrobe. The bed and pillows were very comfortable. All staff were fantastic. A professional note was set throughout. Yes, there are a few things which Seabourn could improve. They will not supply a list of the available wines so you have to guess. As the cruise progresses you learn more of what is available and other passengers tell you of their discoveries. Only on the last night did we learn of a better Bordeaux available. Cabin attendants Re simply that. They basically are cleaners. Our experience on other cruise lines has been the attendant was a little like a concierge. Perhaps the highlight was the fellow passengers. We have never travelled with such a pleasant, urbane and well travelled group. Food uniformly very good throughout. By the end of the.cruise we were enjoying the informality of the Patio Grill at night enjoying the balmy weather. Whilst on board we paid a deposit for our next cruise. Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
We just returned from a fantastic Middle East cruise on the Sojourn. The cruise could not have been better despite an ominous start due to a late change in the itinerary which left out all Egyptian ports and substituted them with a second ... Read More
We just returned from a fantastic Middle East cruise on the Sojourn. The cruise could not have been better despite an ominous start due to a late change in the itinerary which left out all Egyptian ports and substituted them with a second day in Israel, a day in Kusadasi and a day in Mykonos (something we managed to solve by organizing a pre-cruise short trip to Cairo and Luxor). This was our third cruise on Seabourn (Odyssey in 2009 and Spirit in 2012) and the best one yet. In fact, we saw significant improvements, particularly in the service and in the attention paid to the small details; something we truly appreciate and which makes us much more likely to cruise with Seabourn going forward rather than return to Crystal, our line of choice for the past seven years. There were approximately 360 pax on the 18 night cruise from Mumbai to Athens. There were as many sea days (mostly at the beginning) as there were port days, which we like, as cruising is our way to see the world but also to recharge our batteries from full-time working lives. Service - attentive, genuine. From our stewardess Nikolett who was prompt and thoughtful and did many little things to make our experience even nicer, to baristas Monika and Reesi serving lattes at the Square with big smiles on their faces, Maria Paula, Paulo, Eugenio and many others from dining services who were calling us by name and remembering our preferences from day one. Handre, our cruise director, is a gem; always there, always helpful and happy. The officers, including the captain, were all very approachable and congenial. Our stewardess was at our cabin within minutes of us embarking and had a chilled bottle of champagne, a fresh appy and the selection of soaps. I told her I really enjoyed taking baths and she immediately brought extra Molton Brown suds for me. Cabin - perfect. We had a V6 midship (had booked a V1 guarantee) which proved to be in an excellent location for accessing all areas of the ship. The cabin was spotless, spacious and we particularly enjoyed the walk-in closet which kept all of our clothes and shoes organized and out of the way, and the bathroom with its soaker tub which we really appreciated when we were battling a nasty cold or after a long day in port. Food. Generally very good, a few excellent meals and a couple of not so good ones. We really enjoyed the Colonnade for breakfast and lunch almost every day; sometimes from the buffet and sometimes ordering a la carte from the set menu. The Restaurant food is mostly very good but is missing something; a bit more creativity in the selections and presentation perhaps? We did not go to Restaurant 2 as the week during which the menu seemed to our liking was also the busiest with lots of long days in port. This is perhaps the only area where we felt there is quite a bit of room for improvement the recent announcement regarding the partnership with Thomas Keller should solve these issues. Outdoor areas – great and varied. Our very favourite is the whirlpool at the front of deck 6 from where we enjoyed many sunsets with a cold cocktail in hand. There are cold drinks, chilled towels and sunscreen regularly brought about. It is always easy to find a nice spot to lounge with a good book, particularly the areas on aft decks 5 and 7. We (and many others) made good use of the jogging track (deck 5) as the weather was very good throughout. The Ship – in great condition. Did not see any significant wear and tear, minor maintenance being done all the time. The ship is due in dry-dock in May and I understand they will be mostly adding the “Spa Suites” which the other two ships now have and some fixes to the fitness centre which has poor ventilation/air conditioning and repairing/replacing some of the fitness equipment. Not sure what else is scheduled to be done. I must add that I found the size of the ship just about perfect, nothing more than a couple of minutes away and plenty of venues for everything. Seabourn Square – handy and pleasant. Great place for an early morning coffee and pastry, reading the news or working on my blog in the comfy recliners at the back. Also the go-to place for anything and everything. Lost my reading glasses? no problem, here is a loaner pair for the rest of the cruise. Music and Dancing – plenty and good. No shortage of venues and opportunities for dancing or simply listening to the guitar (Eli) or piano player (Wayne). Entertainment – commensurate with the size of the ship. The shows were enjoyable although not high caliber. The entertainers were talented and pleasant but not extraordinary. Two of the three lecturers on board were very good (one not so much) and had really interesting and well-presented lectures or “conversations”. Fellow passengers – pleasant and friendly. A nice mix with the majority in their 60s and 70s, a small number in their 50s and almost none below that. Generally lively and active, lots of folks in the gym regularly. Shore excursions – well done. We did a number of them on this itinerary and found them well organized, every tour guide was knowledgeable and spoke very good English. There was cold water available all the time and the group sizes varied between 15 and 25 or so. Although the ship excursions are more expensive than if done independently, we felt we got value for our money knowing that we were in a region where unexpected events happen (for example the horrible the attack on tourists at the museum in Cyprus the week before we left) and wanted to make sure we would never be left behind if returning late to the ship or get any assistance we could need on shore, for example. Signature event – Beautiful evening concert at Ephesus. This is a very nice complimentary event put on by Seabourn. Approximately 350 pax attended as the Aegean Chamber Orchestra played a lovely program with the Amphitheatre in the background. Wine was served continuously and small spreads of olives and nuts waited at nicely decorated tables for four. As night falls the monuments are illuminated and the character of the site changes completely from that during daytime. When the concert was over we were loaded onto buses for the half hour ride back to Kusadasi. There was a big “Welcome Home” party waiting on the dock with the band playing, hot chocolate and baileys in Champaign flutes handed out. It was really very nice. Embarkation - weird. This is the first time we've ever experienced embarkation in Mumbai. Contrary to every other port we've been to, the entire process seemed to be in the hands of the Indian military and not Seabourn personnel. It wasn’t horrible but it wasn’t great either. Disembarkation - painless. Got off the ship quickly and just as quickly retrieved our luggage. We had purchased the transfer to the Athens airport (cheaper than hiring a taxi) and it was very smooth. To summarize, was everything perfect? Of course not, nothing ever is. There was a missed port (Crete) due to losing an entire day waiting to transit the Suez Canal (weather on the Mediterranean was holding up the south-bound convoy). The captain (and other officers) handled the entire thing very well giving timely information and proper explanations when asked. My fish was overcooked one time, every other time it was cooked to perfection. One night I didn’t care for the white wine offered so I asked for another one; no problem. Everyone’s experience is different however, including a couple who had a horrible start to the cruise when the ship left Mumbai without them two hours earlier than scheduled (they had been delayed arriving from Katmandu but could have made it to the ship had it departed at the scheduled time). They were ultimately satisfied with Seabourn’s handling of the situation and the efforts made to compensate them (they were only able to embark in Oman four days later) and I don’t know how I would have reacted in their circumstances. A big negative, smoking on board. Even though it did not personally affect us overly much, the smoking policy needs to change; there are still many areas of the ship (including cabin verandas) where smoking is permitted and this often has an impact on non-smokers’ enjoyment of the cruise. We are looking forward to our next cruise on Seabourn and excited about their upcoming new ships. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
After botched (complimentary) transfer (we were in an owner's suite) and dreadful embarkation experience (computers down again (that's three times in the last three cruises)) we boarded after an hour's wait. Yes, the ... Read More
After botched (complimentary) transfer (we were in an owner's suite) and dreadful embarkation experience (computers down again (that's three times in the last three cruises)) we boarded after an hour's wait. Yes, the kid's took our luggage and walked us to the elevator to the dining room - not to the restaurant and no-- not to your room - the old, well loved boarding tradition is long, long gone. Stuck with the dreadful buffet, then sitting in Seabourn Square tip 2:00 when the rooms were ready. (Okay, they eject you from your room at 8:00 am at end of cruise - why does it take 6 hours to make up rooms?) Short form: Odyssey = worn out. No maintenance done since our January 2014 cruise. Going into dry dock at end of cruise - but lots and lots of deferred maintenance. Does that include stained carpet?, stains on sofa? worn out chair upholstery? Rust everywhere outside, Felt like a 3 star cruise line ( we were in an Owner's Suite)... Everything worn out. Let's move on -- After being told that there would be a safety drill at 5:00 - 20 of us (all experienced cruisers) went down five minutes early -- as we have done for the last, let's just say more than 20 cruises and were verbally assaulted by the SENVO who said "Don't you Listen" - this we got hurled at us for going down "early", instead of returning to our stateroom when the alert began and then going down to the dining room (the "lifeboat assembly station"). We had never been treated that badly by anyone on any cruise line. So - when the alarm did ring - 20 minutes later, they actually started the drill narrative . So we are verbally assaulted for being 5 minutes early to an even that was 20 minutes late? If Seabourn and their SENVO were really concerned re. safety - why did they start the drill with 20% of the passengers filing in, all talking at the top of their lungs - you missed 20% of the drill instruction! Food - dreadful. Room service dreadful. Guest Services dreadful. Shore excursions - the absolute WORST - avoid them at any cost. Advice to the wise.....Book your own! Shore excursions are EXACTLY the same as Holland America -nothing special for the luxury cruiser - and overpriced. The accompanying staff member has never been on the excursion ... and can answer no questions.... and as far as we could tell.... added nothing to the experience... and were certainly not advocating for the travelers. It's a perk for the crew - nothing in it for the guest. Disembarkation - the worst experience ever. We were given a completely WRONG set of disembarkation instructions. And waited 30 minutes until someone figured out what to do with our Luggage Forward bags (our complimentary "van" waited ) - of course we had to walk 400 yards to the van. We have three more cruises planned with Seabourn (cancelled the July Odyssey cruise after a day on board). Such a bad experience we're off cruising at all. If this is 5 star and "intuitive" service - we'll fly coach -- that's what the Seabourn experience is down too. Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
Our experience with Cruising for the first time was wonderful. Seabourn Vessels are beautiful, the staff is amazing and food exceeded our expectations. We were definitely of the younger demographic on this Seabourn Itinerary. We are 37 ... Read More
Our experience with Cruising for the first time was wonderful. Seabourn Vessels are beautiful, the staff is amazing and food exceeded our expectations. We were definitely of the younger demographic on this Seabourn Itinerary. We are 37 and 42. We love to travel and experience life to it's fullest. We have a lot of previous travel experiences all over the world. We have never taken the opportunity to Cruise and quite frankly we were very unsure if a cruise vacation was for us. I have some motion sickness issues and we were not sure how we would feel about sea days. We knew going into a cruise that we did not want to be on a ship with 3000 other people. We also knew that we did not want a ship that catered to children specifically. We chose this itinerary based on sail dates and it going to some unusual locations. We embarked in Dubai, U.A.E. - we stayed at the Intercontinental Dubai Festival City. This hotel was fabulous. It is a bit of a distance to downtown and the old city, but the hotel is wonderful. Their breakfast buffet is probably the best I have ever had. Embarkation was a breeze. It took about 45 minutes to get on board and we understood from others in this line that this was a very long wait compared to usual. Seabourn Odyssey is a beauty. Again far exceeded out expectations. The MDR is gorgeous. It is fabulous to sit out on the Colonnade for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner. The Patio Grill is a wonderful more casual experience for poolside eats and fun. We never made it to Restaurant 2 so I can not comment. The Spa was wonderful. The Salon is very professional. The gym is very well equipped. We even managed to work out several times on the ship. There are several different entertainment venues all very nice. The entertainment staff had an itinerary everyday for what the days activities were. We took part in several of them a few times. We did the golf putting challenges, trivia, watched tug of war, there were many lectures on the locations we were travelling to, there was Mah Jong, Scrabble, Shuffleboard. I understand there were many fitness classes as well, but we did not partake. There was a pre-dinner show every day and a after dinner show every evening. The shows that were provided by Seabourn are clearly not intended for our age category. We went to several, but often just chose not.There was 2 acts that were really good in our opinion of course, but other than that we could have just opted out. Wendy and the band were great and Derek the guitarist was wonderful to listen to at the Patio grill and the club. The service that we received on our cruise was impeccable. The room steward was amazing. They all said hello and were friendly as you passed through the hallways. The service staff at restaurants were fabulous. Even the news ones in training sure did their best. The entertainment crew were hilarious. They kept things very fresh. The only thing that we noted on service was if you have the wine packages of wanted to order wine off of the wine list, it was hard to get to speak with a Sommelier. It appeared that there was too much demand at one time for the amount of Sommeliers. Once you had their attention they were great. Oh and the bridge crew, what little we saw of them was great, but we were on a very time intensive cruise for those guys and gals, so I was glad they were doing their job rather than socializing with us. Room Service was great, always very quick and really as good as room service ever can be. I just like having breakfast on the veranda. Port Excursions - I organized most of our port excursions outside of Seabourn. They were fabulous. I did not line up a excursion for Israel before we got on the ship for various reasons, so we opted to go with a private tour though Seabourn. Not only was it quite a bit more expensive than I could have done on my own, they did not provide a driver and a guide, which the other company would have. The reasoning was that the guides first language was English. We are fairly sure his first language was not English and it is much better to have a driver and a guide as this way the guide can concentrate on guiding you and the driver can concentrate on driving. I would likely not recommend others to use this service. We did not go on any group tours. Our stateroom was beautiful. My husband chose to upgrade us at the last minute to an owner's suite. It was amazing! We had lots of room to stretch out. The Balcony was beautiful. It was usually fairly windy, but I did get the chance to enjoy some amazing breakfasts out there. Also star watching at night was amazing. We entertained a few times. Would we do it again? If we were travelling with others, it would be good to have a bit of extra space to gather. If we were not we would likely not do it again. Dining was fabulous. We were actually impressed by the way they were able to continuously change the menu so that the passengers did not get bored. Yes there was some overlap between restaurants, but after the galley tour we understood why this may happen from time to time. We do highly recommend the galley tour! It was fascinating. Those galley girls and guys are amazing! The only complaint that we would have for dining would be that we think that the dress code for men is a bit too much. out of 18 days there were only 3 nights were a jacket was not required for men. When you are out in the hot hot sun all day the last thing a man would like to do is go put on a suit. Now of course we think that being required to wear slacks and a shirt is totally fine, the jacket is a bit overkill. We ate in our room a few nights because of the dress code. All in all we were amazed at how much we enjoyed our cruise. We had many days at sea, we loved them. We were never bored, there are always things going on. We had good water conditions from what I understand, so motion was not really an issue which I was very happy about. The people we met on our cruise for the most part were amazing and interesting people from all over the world. We did get a brief chance to chat with the Captain and he was intriguing and a great conversationalist. We loved not have to charge things to a room card, the all inclusive of Seabourn is a definite seller. We would not do a cruise without it. My husband loved to lock his wallet in the safe for 5 days. We Disembarked in Civitavecchia (Rome), The process was smooth and simple. We were sad to see the ship disappear in the rear view window! Would we do Seabourn again? YES! Would we cruise again? Yes! Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
We made a last minute booking on the Seabourn Odyssey out of Singapore and bound for Dubai. We were disappointed when booking that the only suites left were ocean view A1, however when we boarded and sailed we realised that the internal ... Read More
We made a last minute booking on the Seabourn Odyssey out of Singapore and bound for Dubai. We were disappointed when booking that the only suites left were ocean view A1, however when we boarded and sailed we realised that the internal layout is the same as the verandah suites, less the verandah but with a 5 feet window. We didn't feel disadvantaged at all. Embarkation for us was very smooth, but there were problems with some of the computers which held up embarkation process for some passengers. Ocean view suite very well laid out - bathroom with shower and bath, and two handbasins and roomy enough for the two of us. A dinky little dressing table with drawer in the suite itself - very handy. King size bed - very comfortable - a table and two tub chairs big enough for room service meals, and a nice sofa. Plenty of cupboard space, and even a large walk in robe with a safe. Excellent amenities. Our suite was kept in spotless order from our room steward - she was however new and this did cause some problems with replenishing (soft drinks, bathrobes after being laundered, and soap etc.) Dining was a mixed bag - the Main Dining Room fare we didn't feel overall was as good as we would have expected, however the meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) in the casual Colonnades (inside and outside on the deck) were always outstanding, as was the service. We liked that in the evenings, the Colonnades turned into a classy dining venue with white cloths and candles on the tables - it was especially wonderful out on the back deck on warm evenings. We tried room service a couple of times - it was very good, and the room service breakfast was always on time, and to our amazement - hot. A couple of nights we tried the Grill Restaurant on the deck but it was generally windy so we preferred the Colonnades where it seemed to have more protection. We tried the gym but it was crowded, especially on the treadmills, and we felt that they could have allowed a bigger space with more of the popular treadmills. The shore excursions varied - the full day in Mumbai was amazing - Goa was good as was Cochin, but I wouldn't bother with Mangalore if I had a choice. Both tours in Oman were good but not spectacular. We especially liked the Bridge lessons with our card-playing Frank as the teacher - he was a great teacher and a wonderful joke-teller!! Considering the size of the ship and the number of guests (650) we were pleasantly surprised that the shows on the whole were great - we missed a couple of nights, but overall they were worth seeing. The Odyssey Singers and Dancers were excellent as well. We loved the Odyssey - one criticism of Seabourn is the policy (mentioned in another March review) of the men having to wear jackets on all but 3 evenings. Given that this was a "warm" cruise, we felt it not appropriate, and a bit old fashioned. Personally also I didn't like the quaint idea in the Main Dining Room of ladies being escorted to a table, with their partner trailing along behind. This was in fact one of the reasons (apart from the food) which kept us out of the Main Dining Room. However in saying this, we thoroughly enjoyed the Odyssey and can highly recommend it. Would we sail again with Seabourn - yes we will, and have in fact paid a deposit on board to sail on another voyage of our choice. Well done Seabourn. Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
A FIRST-CLASS Seabourn experience. Stayed overnight at the Athenaeum Intercontinental. Excellent hotel / location. Transfers / information on arrival very good. Embarkation: Quick and easy - having lunch and first cocktail by 2pm. Great ... Read More
A FIRST-CLASS Seabourn experience. Stayed overnight at the Athenaeum Intercontinental. Excellent hotel / location. Transfers / information on arrival very good. Embarkation: Quick and easy - having lunch and first cocktail by 2pm. Great Sailaway party. Enrichment Lectures - I cannot comment on these as I did not attend, but there were plenty on offer for those who wanted to attend. Activities programme - there was a lot on offer each day, catering for a wide variety of interests. Cabin and cabin staff: First class. Nothing was too much trouble. Cabin spacious, clean, quiet and extremely comfortable. My stewardess went out of her way to make sure that everything was perfect. Food/Beverage: Excellent choice and service. All staff went out of their way to please. The bar staff always remembered my favourite drinks. The service in Seabourn Square was marvellous as was the service in all restaurants. Any additional requests were met with a smile and they were only too pleased to do whatever they could to help. Entertainment: Brilliant. Pierre, the pianist who played in the Observation Bar was wonderful. Rachel and the Odyssey Band who played in the Club and on deck were first class. They responded very quickly to requests for songs and if they didn't know them, made sure that they did a night or two later. Rachel is probably the best singer I have ever heard in the Club on Seabourn. The shows featuring the Seabourn Singers were excellent as were Irynna and Dmitry the dance instructors. The cruise director, assistant cruise director and social hostess (John, Brent and Annabel) were amazing. I was worn out just looking at them. They were always out and about - from early morning till late at night - circulating, talking to guests and dealing with any queries/problems and keeping us in order at Trivia! The shows they organised in the Club were brilliant as was the Rock the Boat evening. Seabourn have the friendliest, most competent staff of all the cruise lines I have sailed with. Well done. Overall, this was the best Seabourn cruise yet. All the guests seemed to mingle and get on well and there was a "family party" atmosphere to the whole cruise. It was Brilliant. Read Less
Sail Date November 2012
What a cruise of excitement, disappointment and finally enjoyment.This was our second cruise with Seabourn, after the wonderful Odyssey Aegean and Dalmatian Delights we first cruised on in 2009, which I previously posted a review on. As ... Read More
What a cruise of excitement, disappointment and finally enjoyment.This was our second cruise with Seabourn, after the wonderful Odyssey Aegean and Dalmatian Delights we first cruised on in 2009, which I previously posted a review on. As many have stated, the hardest decision to make, is to decide to go on your first cruise, the easiest decision is to book your second.Our second cruise was on the newly released Sojourn, World Cruise segment 5 from Dubai to Rome starting on 26th March 2011 where destinations included Egypt, Oman, Jordan, Israel, Greece and Italy. Of particular interest to us, were the "bucket list" locations of Luxor, the Pyramids and Petra.Accordingly, our excitement when we first booked this cruise. As we steadily approached our departure date, our excitement turned to concern when the Egyptian crisis started, wondering if we would still be going. After continually being told by Seabourn that the cruise was going to continue unaltered, our excitement continued until 13 days before departure, where Seabourn altered the itinerary on their web page.Disappointment set upon us with the cruise, without prior warning or notice being provided to our travel agent or us directly, the key ports of Safaga (Luxor), Sharm el Sheik and Alexandria (Cairo) were cancelled. What disappointment and frustration we experienced, with the timing advice and response to our enquires and emails from Seabourn. Very disappointing indeed which is evidenced within a series of posts with the Seabourn forum posts within Cruisecritic.So with this in mind, we commenced our transit onto our cruise.I wondered, how would the Sojourn and its crew perform, given our wonderful experience on the Odyssey. What has changed and was it for the better ?As soon as we arrived at the Dubai port we were welcome by the crew again in a manner, that gave you the feeling that they have known you for some time. A glass of refreshing juice in a champagne glass is handed to you whilst you check in which was again quick, professional and painless.We quickly arrived in our suite, this time a V6 suite number 827 on the eighth level. As I travelled through the ship to our suite, it felt like coming home, as the Sojourn was exactly like the Odyssey in build configuration. God, it felt good to be back on board.The features of the suite were exactly the same as the Odyssey. Every need is provided, from the opening of a bottle of champagne when you first arrive to the soap in the bathroom. After a quick embrace of happiness we ventured out to look around.We quickly noticed that this ship was a far better build quality than the Odyssey, (Again my engineering background is coming through here). The ship was far more polished and complete, no doubt due to the fact that this ship was ahead of construction program. No bubbling of internal wall panels, no visible rust spots and replacement of those silly automatic opening doors on level 8 with a traditional turn of the lever and pull the door open and shut. We also sensed the harmony amongst the crew, well organized, efficient, balanced, friendly and happy. They displayed far more familiarity with the ship, its needs and daily operations. It was clear, the lessons of the Odyssey were noted and enacted upon on the Sojourn.The ship may have a value of $ 350 Million, but it is nothing in comparison to its wonderful crew lead by their hotel manager Vitor. The crew is young, enthusiast and truly wonderful team of individual personnel.At times, the crew endured clients that well, are simply rude and difficult to deal with. We witnessed an occasion in the Restaurant when a client split a container of milk all over the place. Immediately, 3 crew members went onto their knees and quickly cleaned up the spillage without hesitation. This particular client amazingly ignored them, did not offer assistance, even attempt to move out of their way or apologize in anyway. We couldn't believe the arrogance of this person and found it so sad that the crew have to serve clients of this nature. There was also another occasion, when my wife overheard a fellow cruiser over breakfast on our last cruise day, when a member of the crew expressed sadness over that person leaving and he replied, "what do you care, there will be another traveller after I leave". Professionally, the crew member simply smiled and wished him well in the future. I personally would have told him to "go and jump".Whilst these occasions are few and far in between, we offer them as examples of how temperament this crew is and how they have been trained to serve. They genuinely do care and openly display affection to our needs and health. If you happen to be suffering in health, they caringly ask if there is something they can do, arrange for the doctor, etc. There is no doubt they we viewed them as an extension of our family whilst on the cruise and were quiet saddened to leave them, but look forward to returning to embrace them again in the future.As per the Odyssey, there are 4 Restaurants on the ship starting with "The Restaurant" with a "al carte" rotating menu choice. This restaurant requires no booking and at no time, were we not able to be seated. Food was equally as refined and excellent on every single occasion.Restaurant 2 remains with a menu set with a variety of degustation with 24 hour booking notice. On this occasion I found the eating experience just a little too rich for my liking. The restaurant wasn't as full as it was on the Odyssey and I wondered whether Seabourn were best served, to possibly alter the theme of this restaurant to something that cruisers would be accustomed to, such as a specialized seafood or a steak restaurant.The Colonnade has altered its previous need to book, which was very pleasing given the last frustrations we experienced on the Odyssey. This restaurant also serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. Of the three, it remains as the most casual restaurant and has a menu with two choices per course plus a traditional classic choice menu.Finally the Patio Grill, is a restaurant in the open air adjacent to the swimming pool on deck 8. Again, Seabourn altered the previous booking requirement for this restaurant during dinner times. A good change indeed which I frequented on numerous occasions.Overall whilst the food was of high quality, I felt it was slightly below the standard we experienced on the Odyssey. I put this down to the fact, that as we travelled through the Middle East in lieu of the Mediterranean, where the food availability in terms of freshness and quality was probably not as good.Unlike the Odyssey which was a new and larger ship at the time, the crew during meal times was calm and well organized. No running, dropping of plates and mistaken orders. The efficiency teething problems I experienced on the Odyssey, were well and truly ironed out.Being a wine buff, I regretfully found the wines to be below par to what I was used to. Some familiar Australian wines were offered which frankly, were not of a standard in keeping with the ships standing. On this occasion, we once with other guests, decided to resort to the "exclusive" and additional wine choices available. This was a little disappointing and I hope this will be considered by Seabourn into the future.During the day, there were lots of activities within the ship to keep guests entertained, which was beneficial, given that we had a lot of days at sea. I was told by many die hard bridge players that the bridge masters were simply fantastic, with all guests rushing in for their daily bridge games. Quiet amusing actually, seeing everyone rushing their breakfast, to venture to the card room. The only complaint I heard was that the air conditioning in the room was too cold. Night entertainment at the Club on Deck 5, the Lounge on Deck 6 and the Observation Bar of Deck 10 with piano music was excellent. The highlight of the cruise was when we had an Arabian night pool party night. The pool area was transformed with props, decorations, Pyramids, camels, etc. All guests become part of the party dressing up in Arabian outfits. Even Captain Karlo suitably donned an Arabian Head piece. It truly was a magnificent night with all guests reflecting on it over the next 2 to 3 days.Then after slowly removing our initial disappointment of our altered itinerary, it was announced that we would in fact, be returning back to our original itinerary due to a change in the US issued travel alert (mind you, Britain and Australia had altered it sometime before them). Egypt, here we come !. What a joyous occasion for all on the ship when Captain Karlo announced this over the ship's speaker system. At an instant, the cruise feeling went from very good to excellent. Smiles all round. We couldn't help but feel some regret for the passengers of Spirit, many of which we communicated with before departure, which was doing a similar leg, ahead of us by some 4 to 5 days. We haven't spoken to anyone from the Spirit, since returning, but we believe the change in travel alert was too late for them to alter their itinerary back.We did however have an experience where the Sojourn and the Spirit crossed paths in the ocean and circled each other like romancing doves. What an experience it was to see each other, cruisers waving away and happily snapping photos of each other. On this cruise, we noted the higher presence of the Captain and his crew. We frequently saw them in the gym, sitting next to us during dinner or simply undertaking periodical walk through and wishing everyone well. Whilst always serious and level headed, the captain too was a highlight with his slow, deep voice over the speaker system. I wouldn't have anyone else at the wheel through the dangerous waters of the Middle East than Captain Karlo.The Cruise Director Jan, was also far more enjoyable and energetic to the cruise director we had on the Odyssey. How she maintained that level of energy, after a long world cruise was a credit to her indeed.Of the wonderful services we experienced, what negatives were there ?.One thing that did frustrate me and other cruisers was the speed of the internet, it was slow as a snail. Surely they could do something to speed this up, which was quickly chewing away the time allotted to internet packages we purchased. The other was the choice of channels on the TV, for 20 days we viewed no sports channel and frankly, I had enough of the CNN, Fox news and BBC view of what was happening in the world. I would have killed for a sports channel to provide something other than the depressing news of Libya, The American economy and the Ivory Coast crisis. We're on holidays !, please show us a few games of golf, football and baseball. We hope next time we are on a cruise, ESPN or foxsports is also on the TV and the internet bandwidth is dramatically increased. We noted within some cruisecritic posts the issue of discoloured water. I actually ventured down to the laundry on level 5 and noted its compact, yet sufficient service. We encountered similar problems with some stains being left on white clothing due to the water discoloration. Some cruisers had then chosen to use the in house laundry. We decided to try it again and the stains went away. Finally, we cannot hide our disappointment with the office personnel of Seabourn. We find it so hard to comprehend the vast difference between them and the wonderful team on board the ships. If the office personnel could be 50 % as attentive, caring and compassionate to the ship's crew, well simply, this would be an absolutely perfect cruise line.Would these issues stop me from returning to Seabourn ? Of course not. We have become part of the loyal team that exists within the Seabourn family after only two cruises. Would we be courageous enough to try other cruise lines like Silverseas, Regent or Celebrity cruisers ? Possibly,,,, but not now, as we have placed another on board discount deposit for our next cruise.As I recover from my jetlag, I have tried to reflect on what my thoughts are on this ship and its crew during a totally different cruise destination to that previously I enjoyed, being the Mediterranean. I cannot overstate the wonderful crew, we both love them and look forward to seeing them again and very soon we hope.Yes it was a roller coaster of emotion from booking to actually travelling. I can however happily report, that at the end of the day, we were not disappointed. We ticked off our "bucket list" items, enjoyed the ship, it's crew and again gained another 5 kilos of weight !. The ship has improved in numerous areas, with a slight and I mean slight, decrease in wine quality and food freshness. If they can attend to this and have some improvement in the internet service, well why would choose any other cruise line ?.My wife of now 27 years now believes she has two yachts. That is of course, until we venture onto the Quest, where I imagine it will expand to three. Read Less
Sail Date March 2011
This was our first time on Seabourn after being on Silversea twice and several other lines. We never wanted to be on their smaller "yachts" and were very excited when the larger and brand new Odyssey came online + an itinerary ... Read More
This was our first time on Seabourn after being on Silversea twice and several other lines. We never wanted to be on their smaller "yachts" and were very excited when the larger and brand new Odyssey came online + an itinerary that took us to all new places...some on our "bucket list" ie, Dubai, Luxor, Petra, and the pyramids. Itineraries are a very personal thing so I won't elaborate on our ports or shore excursions (except one below). I will say that it's the ONLY way we would have wanted to see this part of the world! We felt safe on the water even in pirate territory and on every bus; some with armed police, as all the excursions make for long bus rides. The razor/constantine wire along the sides upon embarkation in Dubai was a little daunting at first but our captain explained they do anything and everything to ensure the safety of the ship and it's passengers/crew. Our captain, Mark Dexter, was a delightfully cheery man despite this being the last segment of the inaugural World Cruise of 104 days. THE SHIP: She is beautiful, very easy to navigate, with the staterooms being very spacious (much like Silversea) with loads of storage, comfy beds, nice baths, and big enough walk-in closets. Suffice it to say, the suites ARE as advertised. We didn't have any problems except with our safe 2 days in, which got promptly replaced the next a.m. Avoid a room w/a connecting door as you will hear your neighbors music, TV, every cough, sneeze, and most conversations louder than pillow talk. We heard not a peep from the other side of the room; it was the door that leaked. This ship does have vibration problems as other's have mentioned; it's supposedly going into dry dock in Nov. It really never bothered me but it was the talk of the ship amongst others. Someone else mentioned the poor layout of the Grand Salon with the large columns blocking views of the stage. We ditto that! It was as if no one gave these a thought when putting them in and I can't believe they are structural. Take them out!! I'll say also that we LOVE to dress for dinner and so appreciate that Seabourn is sticking to Black Tie Optional nights. It gripes me that several men blatantly chose to disregard the dress code w/out so much as a coat in the Restaurant on Casual Elegant nights. The staff was always gracious about bringing a coat to the guest...some just hung it on the back of the chair. Some people just have no class and feel they are above it. There are other dining options that allow casual dress any night of the week. Those men were simply rude! The pool area was well used but always had lounges open. They NEED cushions however, as they are very hard. Four towels almost did the trick. We have had cushions on much lesser ships. FOOD + SERVICE: We found it pretty darn fantastic on all levels! The Restaurant has a large menu that changes daily; in 16 days we never saw the same menu twice. The "standards" are always available and the vegetarian entrees kept me very pleased. The bartenders anticipated your every wish, our cabin stewards were prompt with cleaning and turn down service, you never needed to look for a drink around the pool, the cooks at the Pool Grill even made me a grilled cheese sandwich which isn't on the menu. They will try to accommodate your every wish. The same goes in the Colonnade for breakfast and lunch...incredible selections there! We ate in Restaurant 2 only once; it was delightful. We never ate dinner in the Colonnade. Each night is "country themed" and we just never hit the right night/country combination. The Seabourn Square, Deck 7 is a one-stop area for great coffee drinks, more computers than I've ever seen, a wonderful library, and 4 staffed desks for anything you need from shore excursions to future cruises to rectifying a problem. ENTERTAINMENT + SPA: The one show I saw (hubby went to bed) was very good and the Seabourn Singers are excellent. Here is my biggest complaint about the entire cruise: There is simply nothing to do between 7:45-9:30pm except eat. If you like to eat early and be entertained after dinner, forget it on this ship. No music, no dancing, no entertainment of any kind and the main show of the night doesn't start until 10:00pm, which is late to get started when there isn't anything giving you a reason to stay up. Hence, we were in bed watching a movie most nights by 9pm. I feel badly for the entertainers who work hard to put on a great show to a quarter or half filled room. Any ship of any size or quality should have some kind of entertainment ALL evening without 2 hr gaps. The spa is nice but nothing special. My massage was weak and not what I wanted and the treatment rooms are too bright. I used the gym a lot and never found it overly crowded but I avoided 8-10am. My husband said the men's locker room was barely adequate and only 2 would fit into the sauna or steam at a time. I think it's poorly laid out with a lot of room wasted for their private cabanas & whirlpool. I doubt those are in high demand as they are expensive, but don't know for sure. You had to walk through the spa entrance to get to the salon and gym, making it not feel very exclusive or private. Embark/Disembark was a breeze and overall I give the ship, staff, food, service very high marks. One shore excursion was a flop and after many complaints were voiced, they offered us all 1/2 refund. Maybe they will improve "Snorkeling in the Ros Mohammad Natl Park" for future cruises; if not don't waste the time because the coral reefs and fish were most non-existent. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
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