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46 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
With 24 cruises under my belt, across the spectrum of markets, it’s fair to call me discerning and, when it comes to luxury cruising, picky. So, having read some of the reviews on Cruise Critic, I was concerned about sailing on Seabourn ... Read More
With 24 cruises under my belt, across the spectrum of markets, it’s fair to call me discerning and, when it comes to luxury cruising, picky. So, having read some of the reviews on Cruise Critic, I was concerned about sailing on Seabourn Quest. Reports of a product that had fallen in recent years, that had become “Carnivalized”, were alarming, especially since my wife and I were spending a small fortune for a Penthouse suite on a 24-day cruise to Antarctica, Patagonia, and South Georgia Island. We kept reading about a staff that no longer went out of its way, a “never say no” ethos that had been abandoned, and food that had become mediocre. Bottom line: we needn’t have worried — this cruise, especially the service, exceeded almost every legitimate expectation we could have had, and satisfied most of the others — but because nothing is perfect, the details are worth reading. Antarctica was at the head of my bucket list, and with climate change affecting this part of the world so rapidly and unalterably, my wife and I decided not to wait any longer. We chose this itinerary/ship combination, because it was the only one that ticked all of our boxes: • The itinerary included South Georgia Island, easily the most dramatic, wildlife-rich destination in Antarctic waters. For me, there was no point in taking this cruise and spending this money if we didn’t go to South Georgia. • Seabourn Quest is the largest and most stable ship with landings in Antarctica, which was vital for my seasickness-prone spouse. • A cabin with both a balcony and a bathtub was nonnegotiable. • Seabourn Quest is, at least until Scenic Eclipse comes online, the most luxurious ship sailing in Antarctica, and who doesn’t like a different dessert soufflé every night and unlimited caviar anytime? • Seabourn's Antarctica Excursion Team abounds with researchers and experts who have honest credentials in varied sciences, some with decades of experience on the White Continent. • The first week of the itinerary, which sailed the Chilean Fjords and offered a day-long excursion flying to and driving through the majesty of Torres del Paine National Park, allowed two more dreams to come true. Unfortunately, Seabourn’s reputation is not aided by the ground game at its Seattle-based, Holland-America-run headquarters. Cruise reservation, spa reservation, and excursion reservation agents who don’t understand their product and make vague reassurances without knowing facts don’t inspire confidence; they undermine it. Simple things, like knowing whether there are differences in layouts between Penthouse Suites and Penthouse Spa Suites, or what the charges will be for using a cell phone while on board, should by definition be part of a well-trained agents’ knowledge base. Accurate details of a shore excursion should be easily available to them. Understanding what the elements of the multi-day Andrew Weill wellness program actually entail (as opposed to reading from an opaque list of classes that explains nothing) — especially when it’s by far the priciest thing on the spa menu — ought to be a given. Most importantly of all, being certain that my wife’s severe gluten allergy really can be accommodated shouldn’t require multiple phone calls on my part. It didn’t help that requests to discuss my concerns with people in management were promised and never happened, until my wonderful travel agent at Tully/Cruise Professionals intervened. When I finally had the discussion I’d wanted with a “higher-up” who had actual experience with her company’s product, I felt somewhat mollified, but not at all certain that the quality of the ship and service would be what I wanted/expected or was promised it would be. Fortunately, the ship’s operations are far better than the home office’s. Though we didn’t use the line’s air program, we did use their private car transfer service in Santiago, Chile, and it was flawless. When we arrived at the ship, boarding procedures were warm and efficient, leaving us feeling cared-for, from moment one. Seabourn Quest’s exterior is graceful and pleasing, but a sliding glass roof over the central pool/patio area would have added better balance, and more utility on a weather-intensive cruise like this. Regardless, the main pool and hot tubs are heated, and the equally warm hot tub at the bow is the best, most decadent spot on any ship from which to watch 14-story icebergs float by. Our suite was, by and large, terrific. Standard balcony “suites" would be adequate for most cruises, but for this long and involved voyage, with its constantly changing wardrobe needs (like switching from thermal underwear and a parka to a tuxedo on formal nights) we appreciated having the extra space and accoutrements. Pluses, at least in in the Penthouse category, include good water pressure in the stand-alone showers and unlimited hot water for the deep and welcome tubs; three sinks…including one in the separate WCs, superb toiletries; hefty towels and lots of hooks to hang them on; fluffy bath mats; cozy, high-count bed linens; attractive etched glass doors separating bedrooms from living rooms, with separate heating-a/c zones for both spaces; lighted three-mirror vanities; solid furniture; subdued but smart fabrics; mostly good lighting; and tons of storage throughout, especially in the walk-in closets, which are stocked with enough hangars for an average Kardashain. Soundproofing is surprisingly good, whether to hallways, adjacent cabins, or balconies. Likewise, thick-glassed balcony doors keep out chilly polar drafts, but don’t require herculean efforts to open or lock. Finally, one of the most welcome perks of sailing on an all-inclusive ship is that the deluge of paper found on other cruises — most of which is selling one thing or another — is slowed to a trickle. The same holds true for p. a. announcements. Minuses can be found in unadjustable shower heads aimed to flood bathrooms when shower doors open; not nearly enough outlets and no usb ports (which is a surprise in a ship that entered service in 2011, and which could easily be remedied with power strips) long closets that aren’t lit on one end; bedroom and living room TVs that work on the same remote frequency, so that when one turns on, the other one does too; live TV channels devoted almost exclusively to news; an eclectic but confounding set of movies and TV shows on demand; and flimsy do not disturb/please make up room signs that keep falling off the door handles (yes, it’s a small thing, but you’d be amazed how annoying it can become day after day after day.) Internet is slow and expensive, but at least all rooms have wifi. Confusingly, while the day’s activities list can be accessed on the TVs, the restaurant menus are only found online...it would be better if both were in one place. Finally, it would be nice if there were a way to lock balcony doors open to let in fresh air. I cannot say enough about our stewardess, Caroline, whose charm was seemingly endless, and whose dedication to our having a clean, nurturing living space couldn’t have been made easy by how messy we became (ok, I became) as the cruise wore on. Along those lines, cleanliness is taken very seriously on this ship, a necessity so as to not contaminate the pristine environment we’re sailing in, and to prevent passenger and crew sickness. In example: a tour of the galley required thoroughly washed hands, and was off limits to anyone who had come in contact with anyone who had a respiratory or digestive illness within the previous 24 hours. By the way, contrary to other posts I’ve read on Cruise Critic, Seabourn Quest does have guest laundry facilities: four washers, four dryers, and unlimited detergent pods, on Deck 5. I won’t go into all of the public spaces — they are generally understated and pleasant and I’m sure they have been covered in detail elsewhere — but there are a few standouts, both good and bad. The single-seating dining room is almost monochromatically white, with black and highlights and a few gold touches. Though I thought this mix could be jarring and cold, it wound up being elegant and bright. Happily, there are lots of tables for two and four, with many situated along the large windows and their often dramatic Antarctic views. Seabourn Square is the restful hub of the ship, offering computers for passenger use; recliners to take in the aft sea views; a little café serving pastries, sandwiches, and the best hot chocolate on the planet; and the guest relations area, peopled with the most service-oriented team I’ve encountered on any ship. More about them, later. My favorite public spot on board is the Observation Lounge, set high on Deck 10, forward. Saturating panoramic views, easy access to the outdoors, high-tea with delectable scones, and a lively bar open til the wee hours made it the go-to spot for many passengers. One room that doesn’t work is the Grand Salon. View-obstructing columns and a way-too-shallow rake make it needlessly difficult to enjoy the nightly shows or see the Power Point presentations on Antarctica landings and wildlife. It’s a little crazy that such an old fashioned show lounge was put into such a new ship. Artwork is mostly unobtrusive, but also disjointed and/or without character…except for a few interesting sculptures of astronauts and a SCUBA diver. Food can make or break a cruise, and while Seabourn Quest’s may not rise to the level of a Michelin star, it was pretty damn good, especially considering the circumstances. Forget the usual challenges a cruise ship faces; this itinerary had a 16 day stretch between ports! 16 days without being able to replenish the supply of fresh fruits and vegetables, 16 days without going ashore to get the catch of the day from local fishermen, 16 days of running ever lower on salad and eggs and meat. That the quality remained as high as it did is stunning. I’m not saying there wasn’t a decline over that time, but it was much less dramatic than I could have ever expected. Beef onboard was among the best anywhere, not just on a cruise ship. My wife had filet mignon one night that could literally be cut with a fork, and was as as flavorful as — no, check that, more flavorful than — any ribeye I’ve ever had, stateside. Likewise, poultry (other than the bland “classic” chicken breast) had more taste than is usually found in the U.S., and almost commensurate with that of Europe and South America. Seafood was remarkably good, especially at the beginning of the cruise when fresh, local fish was alternately delicate and savory, and the accompanying sauces were distinct, but rarely overpowering. The caviar surprised me with its quality. Veggies tended to be overcooked and salads were still a bit behind the times — small and anchored by romaine and other less tasty lettuces — but they managed to be available all the way through the end of the cruise. Breads and pastries were a high point, with some of the most involuntary-yummy-noise-making, eye-rolling-up-into-my head desserts I’ve ever had (Kaiserschmarrn, anyone?) Wines were only ok — and the champagne was pretty poor — but they were included in the cruise price and the sommelier tried awfully hard, so I can’t complain too much. Most importantly, beginning the second day of the cruise, there was almost always at least one person (usually many more) on the wait staff at each venue who knew our names, understood the severity of my wife’s food allergy, and went out of their way to find or create items that she could have and that would be as satisfying as the food I was eating. Our gratitude was constant, and by the end of the cruise, we’d come to think of several of them as our friends. Of course, each dining space had its own ambience: The main restaurant offered consistently refined, yet somehow unpretentious, cuisine. Off-menu requests were accommodated with kindness, anytime I asked. We were so well taken care of at The Patio — an open-air grill by the pool — that we regularly ate there, even when it was below freezing and we had to dine wearing parkas, hats, and gloves. The Thomas Keller Grill, a set-menu, no-cost but reservation-required spot on Deck 8 was superb. The flavors were so good, and the food felt so nourishing in our bodies, that we couldn’t help overeating (how the heck did they make gluten-free bread that satisfying?!?) The Collonade — offering buffets for breakfast and lunch, and themed sit-down dinners — was our least favorite. Omelets were cooked in oil, instead of butter, and the range of gluten-free options were more limited than elsewhere…though they did have gluten-free pancakes. 
Room service ran 24-hours, and we could order pretty much anything that was available in the restaurants. We marveled at the servers, many of whom worked in multiple restaurants on the same day (did they ever sleep?) They seemed to be everywhere, moving with practiced, comfortable speed, and apparently sincere smiles. This is clearly hard, hard work, but it didn’t look like a soul-sucking chore, the way it often does on other ships. They made us feel welcome. Still, as extraordinary as the wait staff was, there was nothing that could have prepared me for the Expedition Team. I’m not sure how many of them there were — perhaps two dozen — but the most telling thing I can tell you is that they received a standing ovation of unending gratitude from the passengers at our last evening recap in the lounge. These men and women worked so hard to make sure we had the best possible experience, that we were left speechless, some of us crying. When I first decided on Seabourn, I was concerned that a luxury ship’s Expedition Team wouldn’t be as well-credentialed or passionate as, say, National Geographic’s or Quark’s. Those worries were unfounded. Many of this team had worked for National Geographic and other well-known scientific organizations, and/or spent seasons on the ice doing legitimate research. Experts in penguins and whales and albatrosses and sea ice and geology and plant life and Shackleton and history and climate science and sociology and photography and other disciplines I’m sure I’m forgetting, shared their enthusiasm with us and put themselves on the line for us every day. Each passenger got either a landing or a Zodiac tour each day. (Smaller ships do have an advantage over Seabourn Quest, here, usually affording guests two landings or tours/day. So, my wife and I opted to pay for optional kayaking tours, giving us a second daily exposure to the continent and its wildlife. We weren’t sorry. Paddling around and through curious, swirling fur seals & breaching penguins, and floating by rolling, crackling-from-the-inside, azure-colored icebergs are memories that will never leave us.) The Expedition Team, and a deeply committed ship’s crew — many of whom I’m guessing we wouldn’t see on a “normal” cruise — loaded us into our Zodiacs efficiently and with great consciousness for our safety. When we arrived on shore, an even larger team was there, to make sure we landed safely, while others were stationed throughout the day's site to answer questions, offer commentary, help us with our cameras, or simply to stand there with us, silently taking in the awe. They waited in advantageous spots, pointing our eyes toward the unbearable cuteness of day-old gentoo penguin chicks ducking under their parents’ bellies for warmth, and preventing the more careless of us from venturing too close to wildlife that doesn’t need to be stressed by giant bipeds in bright orange parkas. Onboard, the crew and staff didn’t merely go through the motions of environmental protection, but took pride in going as “dark” as possible at night to prevent bird strikes, and made damn sure that we brought no organic material on our clothes from the rest of the world to Antarctica, or even form one part of the continent to the other. Yes, it's law, but they took it seriously. Perhaps most heartening to me, people with mobility issues were treated like human beings, and if there was any way possible for them to get into the Zodiacs and onto the beaches, it happened. That dedication to our having the best experience possible extended throughout the ship’s complement, right up to the captain. Midway through one day, when the seas became too rough for more than half of the ship’s guests to get their landings, the captain and expedition leader — an earnest, heartful, committed man named Iggy — found an alternate site so that everyone could at least have some experience that day. On other ships, the answer could easily have been, “I’m sorry, sir, we tried. There’s nothing we can do.” That’s not the way things are done on the Quest. Similarly, when ice flows prevented us from getting to the bay where we were supposed to have our last landing on Antarctica, the captain and Iggy decided to hightail it to South Georgia, where instead of having just two days of landings and tours, we had an unprecedented four. Another day, when a pod of humpback whales were spotted breaching and diving in the distance, Seabourn Quest steamed to meet them and stayed in their company for, I think, 30 minutes or more (time kinda stood still, just then) giving us passengers thrill after thrill after thrill as the humpbacks leapt into the air, over and again, apparently showing off for a most appreciative audience’s pleasure. Seabourn even employs an ice captain (perhaps this is normal, but it seemed pretty cool to me) who navigated us through the indescribably dramatic Lemaire Channel, serpentining around potentially dangerous icebergs, that kept changing their position with the wind and current, just to give us passengers awe-filled views it had never occurred to me to imagine. It's an incredibly tricky needle to thread, requiring extraordinary anticipation, considering currents, winds, and that cruise ships take a long time to turn. And if that commitment seems unusual, or like it would be relegated just to the higher-ups, I have to say that there was an energy on Seabourn Quest that was different from any other ship I have been on, and permeated virtually the entire crew. If I had to define it, I think it would be, “self-respect.” From the moment we boarded, my wife and I sensed it. There was almost none of the usual, resentment-filled, “I’m here to serve you because I desperately need the money but I didn’t know how hard they would work me, and I can’t stand being here, but I’ll smile anyway” undertone with this crew. Some of it, I assume, has something to do with shorter, more humane contracts, and better pay that takes away the pressure of having having to perform for and solicit tips. But there's an ineffable quality that goes beyond the material. These people didn’t behave like they were “one down” from us. They know they are human beings, our equals and they are apparently treated that way. Yes, they were working and we were on vacation, but they shared themselves openly with us, reveled in the scenes passing by as much as we did (and got at least some chances to experience it for themselves) and seemed to appreciate that we were all having such a unique and precious experience, together. The feeling of caring and camaraderie is especially alive in the Guest Services team: Hannah, Janice, Banita, Lauren, and William (who while on tour with my wife and me, unobtrusively took a photo of us while we were marveling at the majesty before us, printed it, and had it delivered to our cabin). It lives in people like Ylena and Chris on the shore excursion team, and Sebastien, Lindsay, Jean Paul, Francisco, Darko, Marcos, Liliya, Chloé, Lloyd, Shay, Stefan, and dozens more on the wait staff whose names are eluding me at the moment. It lives in Michelle, a Stewardess who told me that she has been on Seabourn Quest for nine years, and that she wouldn’t take a transfer to another ship, even though she yearns to sail in warmer climes. She knows there is something unique about this vessel, a way the captain and hotel manager, treat their crew and staff that sets the tone for the way most everyone treats each other in their floating home. And perhaps there is something to the idea suggested to me by Jan, the cruise director, that passengers who take this cruise add to the unique energy of Seabourn Quest, because we are by definition a little different, a little more adventurous, curious, and flexible than usual cruisers, and that this unique itinerary, in which we all — crew, staff, and guest — were sharing a singular experience, linked everyone in a way that might not have happened on an average sailing. There are a few areas where that aura is a little strained: spa and gift shop employees while just as kind and warm as anyone else on the Quest, tend to hard sell, which is a discomfiting contrast to the rest of the ship — I’m guessing they’re on commission; and the room service staff — though again nice — seems more put-upon in the way I’m used to experiencing on cruises. Perhaps they are overworked? One last critique/thought: I would love it if Seabourn would break the inexplicable luxury line rule, that passé, lowest-common-denominator, pablum production shows and headliners are good enough for a captive audience, and trust that their passengers — a generally well-off, sophisticated, independent-minded bunch of humans — want and can handle entertainment that is as current, inspiring, artistic and multi-dimensional as the destinations and expeditions that attract us to their ships in the first place. But these are anomalies on an otherwise wonderful cruise. As Michelle, the Stewardess, succinctly put it when describing what makes this ship different from the others, “Quest is best.” Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
This was our second cruise with Seabourn. The first was fabulous, prior to the Carnival ownership change. The cabin was the same, but our steward was not there when we arrived. In fact, it took some time to find out who it was. She, and ... Read More
This was our second cruise with Seabourn. The first was fabulous, prior to the Carnival ownership change. The cabin was the same, but our steward was not there when we arrived. In fact, it took some time to find out who it was. She, and her colleagues appeared to be run off their feet. We asked a couple of times for additions to the bar fridge - one being sparkling water with a screw top (which we had when we arrived), so we could reseal it. Not available. This set the tone for the whole trip. A lovely rose at lunch lasted about three days and could not be seen again. A fine weiss beer, lasted about three days also. The dining room meals were around four selections, and incredibly repetitive. No more special meals on request; no more twenty page a la cart menu. Discussion with other loyal Seabourn clientele repeated similar opinions. Check the brochure - the passenger staff ratio, once proudly boasted by Seabourn, has disappeared. But that's not the worst bit, and I'm no snob. Evenings, particularly in the bars, a large number of the passengers felt the need to behave incredibly offensively. So drunk, so loud, obscene language; one women nearly broke my foot with her 15cm high heals then fell over with her dress around her neck. She, and her friends, thought it was hilarious. Never again. Read Less
36 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2016
The Quest is a fantastic ship. Large enough to offer many of the things we enjoy on larger ships but small enough to get into areas (including the Antarctic Peninsula) that most cruise ships cannot. Our cabin was lovely and plenty large in ... Read More
The Quest is a fantastic ship. Large enough to offer many of the things we enjoy on larger ships but small enough to get into areas (including the Antarctic Peninsula) that most cruise ships cannot. Our cabin was lovely and plenty large in area, storage, etc. for our 3 week cruise. I saw one comment about the small shower stalls and, yes, they are tiny but the water pressure is excellent and, unless you are very large, you can make do with the shower size. There is also a large and deep soaking bathtub in each bathroom. The staff is the best we have ever met. From the Master who was frequently in public areas talking with passengers to the Cruise Director who did everything from introducing the entertainment to leading the trivia contests to helping kayakers get into their gear to directing the passengers for tours and landings to..., to the wait staff who quickly learned our names and food and drink preferences to the ladies in Seabourn Square who handled any and all questions and needs, to the stewardess who kept our room clean and neat to.... The food was consistently very good to excellent. We had no trouble booking the special restaurant as we did that early. If we wanted another bottle of liquor or wine in our room, it was delivered very quickly. Unless a passenger wants something from the special wine list, all food and drink is included, including at Restaurant 2. Tipping is not required nor expected but we did give a bit extra to our stewardess and to the waiter and his second since we saw them so much and they were terrific. Meals are open seating but we liked one table for two and sat there whenever in the main dining room. Seabourn goes out of its way to get passengers to know each other such as having a "block party" early on where passengers are invited to go into the hall outside of their cabins and meet their neighbors. Wine is served and all seemed to enjoy the visiting. Passengers are invited to dine with the expedition team, the entertainers, etc. we had a lovely dinner with one of the expedition team members and also with the couple who have been onboard for many antarctic cruises taking pictures, telling their incredible story, and helping one and all on the best ways to take pictures in such amazing settings. Pat and Rosemarie Keough were a very special addition to the Seabourn team and we hope that Seabourn continues to have them aboard for future Antarctic voyages! While there were 3 formal nights, dressing to the nines was never required. On the first and third formal nights, most men were in tuxedos or suits but there were plenty in jackets and ties. On the middle formal night, we noticed many men simply wearing a jacket. On the rest of the nights, "elegant casual" was the code and few were crass enough to wear jeans in the dining venues, although some did do that. We wish that Seabourn would stick to their printed statement that jeans are not to be worn after 6pm in any dining venue but c'est la vie these days. The ports before and after Antarctica were interesting but nothing, in our opinion, that special. On the other hand, Antarctica was beyond spectacular. One really has to experience it to understand its beauty and grandeur. Seabourn makes it possible for all aboard to enjoy the days in this wonderful place either through the several landings on the continent where passengers can walk around, hike a bit, etc. with knowledgeable and experienced expedition teams to help or on zodiak tours where we could get within yards of icebergs, seals, penguins, etc. or on kayak tours for those who wished to try that. One person was in a wheelchair and another had a broken leg. The crew carried them onto the zodiac and gave them tours around the area while the rest of us did our landings. We were very impressed with Seabourn and this will not be our last cruise with them! Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2014
The Antarctica was very high on our "bucket list"so glad we waited for the Seabourn experience to take this amazing adventure. We sailed on the last departure of the season...the best for last! Not only the wonderful Seabourn ... Read More
The Antarctica was very high on our "bucket list"so glad we waited for the Seabourn experience to take this amazing adventure. We sailed on the last departure of the season...the best for last! Not only the wonderful Seabourn treatment but an excellent expedition team lead by Robin West...we were really informed on the way down with wonderful interesting lectures...Geoff with his humorous take on history! Learned about penguin poo! Comes in different colors...watch your step! The actual embarking into the zodiacs was a well oiled machine...quick and helpful all along the way...amazing to move so many "older people" so quickly! We were really impressed with the attention to detail, way to go Seabourn! Capt Larsen was wonderful giving us so many trills like the whales that were all around us...so close you could smell their fish breath!!! Our 3rd time on deck 6...great location to everything..especially to the Grand Salon...cabin size is great, even with all the Antarctica gear we had plenty of space...bathroom is roomy....we had some Drakes Passage weather with wild seas but we were quiet comfy. This is an amazing cruise...not possible to tell in words you have to see for yourself! Make sure you have the Lobster Tempura!!!! a standout among standouts! Only problem was the 2 chain smokers at the end of the hall....stinky for the rest of us....BAN SMOKING SEABOURN!!!!! Read Less
Sail Date: December 2013
Seabourn really excelled on this trip. This was our first trip with Seabourn and I must say that we were completely sold on their service and excellence. It was evident that a lot of foresight had been invested in these 4 Antarctica ... Read More
Seabourn really excelled on this trip. This was our first trip with Seabourn and I must say that we were completely sold on their service and excellence. It was evident that a lot of foresight had been invested in these 4 Antarctica sailings. From the overhead heaters installed throughout the outdoor spaces to the blankets and beanies, it seemed like everything had been thought of to ensure maintaining Seabourn's trademark luxury. As most people mention, entering your suite for the first time is an experience. We have cruised on many different lines and were very impressed with the quality and décor of the suites. They are tastefully elegant and provide a nice sanctuary, specifically on a cruise of such length. The bathrooms are well appointed with double sinks, a separate tub, etc. The bedding is comfortable and cozy and the overall size of the suite is great. One of our favorite touches was the interactive tv system. While we made it to most lectures, sometimes we felt like relaxing and it was great that the lectures were recorded and available on demand in our rooms. This allowed us to not feel like we were missing something, resulting in a nice mix of education and relaxation. Of course, sailing away with a bottle of Champagne was a great way to start the relaxation :) One of my favorite parts of this trip were the educational opportunities. I must take a moment to give credit to the top of the line Expedition team assembled by Seabourn. This group of 15 were the best of the best and were more than qualified to share their insights to Antarctica. The lectures were fantastic and we loved how approachable they were. All were willing to spend time discussing their favorite topics and in particular, we loved the two professional photographers. We learned so much from them and despite being on a ship with 400 passengers, it felt as though we had private photography coaches. Robin, the Expedition Leader, had so much experience and truly made the trip great. When it came time to disembark guests onto the zodiacs, the team was professional, organized and efficient. It couldn't have been easy with that many guests of differing abilities. The food on board was outstanding. We often found ourselves eating dinner at the Colonade since we preferred the many ethnic themed nights. There were always plenty of options and in 24 days, we never found ourselves tiring of the food. We ate at the Patio Grill a few times despite the cold temperatures and were always comfortable. The main restaurant was delicious and the service excelled. My only complaint/comment here is that it appeared as though the design of the dining room captured noise, in particular if you were in one of the two large center areas. It was very difficult to hear your tablemates and we heard a number of people commenting on this. For the record, we are a couple in our late 20s so I don't think it was our hearing :) Now, for Antarctica. I think it is important to remember that perception and expectation are a huge part of travel, especially when cruising to a place as rugged and remote as Antarctica. We had heard the stories of the Inaugural cruise just prior to ours and had been reading the Seabourn Blog. The Inaugural ran into weather, ice and other issues and were not able to get many of their landings on Antarctica. We had set ourselves with the expectation that if we could get to land just once we would be happy. As luck would have it, this trip would end up being a "brochure" cruise and would exceed every expectation could have dreamed of. We were fortunate enough to cross the Drake Passage in record time, land all 4 out of 5 times in Antarctica (the 5th was a zodiac cruise which turned out to be well worth it), land twice in South Georgia and even add a third "bonus" zodiac cruise due to our timely crossing of the Drake Passage! My point here is that it is all about expectations and Seabourn did a great job of setting us up for the worst and then over delivering on the experience. Each day we felt the anticipation and excitement build about the upcoming day and the Seabourn staff, along with the Expedition staff, did an outstanding job of managing those expectations. Overall, this trip exceeded our every expectation. From the outstanding service to the accommodations, everything was over-delivered. We will definitely be back with Seabourn again and would recommend, in particular the Antarctica product, to anyone looking to experience the world while still maintaining a luxurious vacation. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2013
The Seabourn Quest is an excellent sized ship and this Antarctic cruise was supreme . The ship is big enough to handle any seas on the way to Antarctica, but has a small enough customer population, and a big enough staff to make service ... Read More
The Seabourn Quest is an excellent sized ship and this Antarctic cruise was supreme . The ship is big enough to handle any seas on the way to Antarctica, but has a small enough customer population, and a big enough staff to make service quite personal. The excursions along the west coast of South America and in Punta Arenas were very well done. Locations were fabulous, and the hosts were very good at telling their story and even in sharing their families with us. The Antarctic excursions on the zodiacs were excellent. The expertise level of the guides and boat handlers was unexpectedly high (and I was in the Navy, and know good seamanship). The safety and weather preparations for guests and the sights made this portion of the cruise one of our best we have ever been on! The ship's dining, though, is aiming for way too high to be practical. First of all, this is the only ship I have ever been on that regularly refuses entry to clients not wearing certain clothes. Who works for who here?! I bring dark suits, a separate sport coat and a tux along, and always dress nicely .But getting off of a walk at 25 degrees on an iceberg, and then being kicked out of the dining room because today I didn't wear a jacket is really out of proportion. Aiming all dress requirements and menu selections at "haute cuisine " made the whole dining experience negative for me. Seabourn has gone so far the whole dining experience is now pompous, like someone who is pushing too hard. When I have to wade through artificial French names for everything and there are no real dishes that are recognizable, the menu is unacceptable. The chef's work and the food presentation is generally superior- don't get me wrong. I eat at fancy restaurants the world over, OK, but for a long cruise (like a month) I want a good selection of meat and potato standards mixed in with the attempts at winning rich clients over.. For one thing, never try to find a good steak on a Seabourn or Holland America line. They have no good cuts, and all meat is cooked rare or tartar If you want good steak, go to the Outback Restaurant. I will say this, their soups are consistently fabulous and the dining room staff is unparalleled for being friendly. The Antarctic excursions made this cruise worth it for me, but I the dining experience will keep me from going back to Seabourn. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2013
News on Antarctic cruises tends to favour the report of problems, such as being stuck in the ice, or beset with bad weather in Drake Passage. No bad news for this cruise - quiet seas, excellent weather, five days in Antarctica and 3 days ... Read More
News on Antarctic cruises tends to favour the report of problems, such as being stuck in the ice, or beset with bad weather in Drake Passage. No bad news for this cruise - quiet seas, excellent weather, five days in Antarctica and 3 days in South Georgia - more landings and zodiac cruises than anticipated, more wildlife than could be imagined. Expedition staff include a number of scientists with considerable polar experience, a couple of professional photographers, and some very capable zodiac 'drivers'. This is our fourth Seabourn cruise, and going to Antarctic has not compromised all the usual pleasures - even managed to dine al fresco at the Patio Grill while sailing off Antarctic Peninsula, albeit with parkas and beanies. My only Seabourn gripe is the muzak - sailing through such grandeur demands better than the typical and pervasive fare, or perhaps even turn it off. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2013
My husband and I researched all the Antarctic cruise choices thoroughly. Some ships are very small without stabilizers but they allow passengers to make zodiac landings. Other ships are large but because of the limitations of the IAATO ... Read More
My husband and I researched all the Antarctic cruise choices thoroughly. Some ships are very small without stabilizers but they allow passengers to make zodiac landings. Other ships are large but because of the limitations of the IAATO rules which state that only 100 people are allowed to go ashore at one time, they do not make any landings. We picked Seabourn Quest because it is mid-sized, offered zodiac landings in the Antarctic, plus we knew we would be more comfortable and we thought they would look after us well. The Antarctic is an unforgiving place, the Drake Passage is one of the worse bodies of water in the world, and we wanted a ship with a strengthened hull and good stabilizers. The itinerary was excellent: busy but with some days at sea to rest a bit. We began in Valparaiso and made our way down along the Western side of South America. The Chilean Fjords are lovely, and shore excursions there interesting and fun. But everyone started to get more and more excited when the captain announced that, because there was an opening with good weather, he wanted to make a run across the Drake to the Antarctic peninsula sooner than scheduled. We would be in Ushuaia a day ahead and then head south. At Ushuaia we took on an extra pilot with experience in ice filled waters, who had previously served with the US Coast Guard in Alaska. So now we had 2 pilots, plus there was a large expedition team of naturalists, zodiac drivers, and researchers on board to help. The Quest took about 400 passengers, so we rotated in groups to land once we arrived at the Antarctic peninsula, and it worked out very well. We were always carefully looked after. They helped us in and out of our gear, helped with antiseptic washing down of clothing, equipment and the like, and were scrupulous in efforts to prevent contamination of the environment. We had extra landings whenever the weather permitted, and went to South Georgia a day earlier than scheduled, so had more time there where we saw more amazing wildlife. Captain Larsen was very flexible with the schedule, and seized every opportunity he could to show us more and more places. But we had to be flexible too - one day we were out in zodiacs when he blew the ship's whistle and all the zodiacs had to hurry back to the ship. We had to leave there quickly, because the wind had changed direction and sea ice was starting to close in around the ship. (At about this same time we were getting reports of a ship trapped in ice in the Roth Sea, and icebreakers had been unable to reach it.) We had wonderful lecturers, many with years and years of experience in the Antarctic. Of course Seabourn serves great food and the liquor is all included, whatever you want. Yes, Seabourn is a luxury line and as the saying goes, you get what you pay for. But I will remember this trip as the trip of a lifetime. It was worth every penny. I can not think of one "con" about this cruise. Everything was wonderful.   Read Less
Sail Date: February 2013
My wife and I are experienced travelers with limited cruising experience and we had an extraordinary time on this cruise. The facilities, atmosphere, cuisine, and staff were outstanding. We were pleased with the gentle manner in which ... Read More
My wife and I are experienced travelers with limited cruising experience and we had an extraordinary time on this cruise. The facilities, atmosphere, cuisine, and staff were outstanding. We were pleased with the gentle manner in which people are encouraged to mingle. Invitations to hosted dinners are offered as are invitations to join others in the dining room as you enter. Either of these invitations is easily declined if you're not in the mood. The food was excellent, varied, and available in well thought out portions. The staff at all levels are extremely service oriented and a pleasure to deal with. We were surprised to see how many addressed us by name after only a few days. We encountered many people on this cruise who had far more cruising experience than we did and had settled on Seabourn as their line of choice which we could easily understand. There was only one glitch in the cruise and that dealt with disembarkation in Buenos Aires. Our passports were not stamped as entering Argentina which caused a problem as we tried to leave and required intervention of the Argentina immigration officials. We have notified Seabourn of this issue and are waiting for a response from them. Read Less
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