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6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
We chose the Seabourn Encore for 2 reasons: we wanted to see New Zealand and after trying other 6 star lines we wanted to try another. The itinerary was great. We had to miss Phillip Island because of the weather. That was ok with us; ... Read More
We chose the Seabourn Encore for 2 reasons: we wanted to see New Zealand and after trying other 6 star lines we wanted to try another. The itinerary was great. We had to miss Phillip Island because of the weather. That was ok with us; we really appreciate the captain taking safety so seriously. The rest of the stops were good. Embarkation in Sydney was fairly easy. The ship is clean and well maintained. The cabin was beautiful, thankfully because we spent a lot of time there. We were surprised that there were no USP ports on a fairly new ship, nor did they have electric do not disturb signs. There were plenty of 220 and 110 outlets throughout the cabin; except for the bathroom. The sea days were boring to say the least. They had trivia at noon. There were a few “conversations” which were lectures not conversations. The onboard entertainers may have been good, but were so loud we had to leave to protect our hearing. The other entertainers were all very good and varied from singer to musicians to comedy. The food was uninspiring. The set menu was always a good option: Caesar salad, shrimp cocktail, steaks and lamb. The wine was cheap and the champagne was awful. We expected better than we got. The service was slow. We always had to ask for more water, even after we complained. A few days into the cruise you can fill out a form telling them what was needed. After a few days the restaurant manager talked to us about our problems, but nothing was done either in the main dining room or the other dining places. The bar service was just as bad. I guess, if they ignore you they don’t have to serve as often. The bar servers were uninformed about what was available. Thomas Keller was the specialty dining place, but was a limited menu and not any better than the other restaurants. They did have a nice laundry with 4 washer, 4 dryers and 3 irons and ironing boards. The gym while small had plenty of machines. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
We were concerned about the larger Seabourn ships since we had only sailed on the smaller ones previous to this.We liked this better....never seemed crowded except for the pool deck during sail away from Sydney Harbor.The bigger ship gave ... Read More
We were concerned about the larger Seabourn ships since we had only sailed on the smaller ones previous to this.We liked this better....never seemed crowded except for the pool deck during sail away from Sydney Harbor.The bigger ship gave more options which we enjoyed.We were 2 couples neither of which had visited Australia and New Zealand so we thought this would be a good introduction.It was,indeed. We found the service at The Restaurant and at Thomas Keller to be outstanding! The bar service at the Keller lounge (and the piano man) also great. The only drawback for these venues was that caviar service was not available .A few of The Restaurant menu highlights included leek confit, grilled scallops, ribeye steaks, grilled scampi ,spring rolls, short ribs,lobster ravioli and lamb shank. At Thomas Keller we enjoyed Dover sole,Veal t-bone,roasted whole chicken(2 people), caesar salad prepared tableside, crab cakes. House Champagne is Nicolas Feuillatte which is a tad acidic for some tastes, is perfect in a Kyr Royale. Wines included with no surcharge included Tyrell's Verdelho, St Hallets Shiraz, Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio, Kim Crawford Pinot Noir, a good overall selection.The Seaboun Square which is not on the old smaller ships is a great addition...the coffee bar wins rave reviews. The lectures were diverse, interesting, well prepared and available for rebroadcast on demand on your suites' TV. The "Ventures" team was often scheduled on deck to answer questions when they were not leading an excursion. The tour highlight was a Zodiac trip in Milford Sound, NZ surrounded by thousands of waterfalls.The bridge instruction classes were outstanding, the trivia games a lot of laughs. The main entertainers appealed to us about 50% of the time. We did not miss a night of the piano in Keller's Bar. The one major complaint we have is that when we embarked we received a photocopied revised itinerary which eliminated the port of Timaru, substituting Lyttelton.Timaru is where in Feb 2017 the Encore broke loose and hit another vessel....since then the port has begun some repairs to allow cruse ships to again use the port but not yet. Seabourn,of course knew this long before sail date and you would expect out of common courtesy they would have informed all the guests. It was our only chance to get close to Mt Cook.Perhaps it's not bait and switch,but poor management. Whew,I should really point out the super high quality of every employee we interacted with on this sailing.We wish the on shore places we visit on a daily basis could take a lesson.THANKS! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
After tying other cruise lines, we happily choose Seabourn, with this being our third cruise with them in 2.5 years. The Encore is just a year old, but still looked new and stunning. It offered us beauty and comfortable elegance. Even on ... Read More
After tying other cruise lines, we happily choose Seabourn, with this being our third cruise with them in 2.5 years. The Encore is just a year old, but still looked new and stunning. It offered us beauty and comfortable elegance. Even on sea days, we rarely ran into other passengers, it was that spacious of a ship with one of the best space-to-passenger ratio in cruising that helped feel like it was our own ship. Service remained the same outstanding Seabourn quality. Yes, we had some new crew members that weren’t perfect, but they wanted to please and do a great job. We loved our room stewardess, who was both housekeeping and butler. For us, we prefered to have one person rather than a separate butler. This way she understood who we were and what we needed, with our needs met before we even asked. The room service staff were fantastic and made sure that my evening caviar arrived automatically at 5:00. (BTW, Seabourn is the only cruise line that automatically offers unlimited free-of-change caviar.) We thought our meals and snacks were fantastic. Yes, we had one meal the was just OK, but the majority of our food was great to fabulous. The chef even made us special sandwiches, for those day we wanted comfort food. Just for readers new to cruising, because of fire hazards, room service can’t use warming carts to keep food hot when delivering ... and that was not a problem for us. Both the ship-offered wines and the ones we bought were excellent. Also, the ship’s sommelier provided outstanding service and understood our wine needs. We booked ship excursions, which were superior to anything we could have done on our own. We had small number of people, small busses, and creative adventures. The ship also provided us with excellent private tours. As on our previous cruise, the Ventures staff provided great information, unusual activities and great support. We aren’t people who expect the ship to entertain us with a packed day of on-board activities, so we found what the ship offered was perfect. We don’t cruise to take foreign language courses or to learn the computer - we’re looking to explore the places we’re visiting or catch up on great books. Our only complaint is their WiFi service. Not only did we have to pay $399.00 for unlimited service, but the ship blocked video streaming. This was not Seabourn quality. Furthermore, on busy sea days, service was slow or nonexistent. In fact, internet was always slow. With all the complaints about the internet service, hopefully Seabourn will improve this area. We are scheduled for a 25-day cruise in nine months. For us, Seabourn remains a joy to cruise with and our only cruise line of choice. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
After an incredibly wonderful experience on the Seabourn Quest last year in Antarctica, we were cautiously optimistic that a cruise on a different Seabourn ship would live up to our expectations. Here are our thoughts – and a few ... Read More
After an incredibly wonderful experience on the Seabourn Quest last year in Antarctica, we were cautiously optimistic that a cruise on a different Seabourn ship would live up to our expectations. Here are our thoughts – and a few comparisons – organized by category: Itinerary The Sydney to Auckland itinerary is readily available on a number of cruise lines. What intrigued us about this voyage was having the Seabourn Ventures team on board. After sailing with the expedition team in Antarctica, exploring areas by zodiac and learning so much from their lectures, we were eager to repeat the experience in a new part of the world. We also liked this itinerary's two additional stops in Australia – including wonderful Melbourne – rather than heading directly to New Zealand from Sydney. The Crew We couldn't believe the crew could be as outstanding as they were on the Quest...but they were! Many of them knew our names after the first day, and everyone provided top-notch service. We ran into a couple of crew members who had been on our Antarctica cruise, which was a treat, and it seemed that Seabourn did a good job mixing experienced staffers with newer crew. No negative experiences to report. The Ship The public spaces were as comfortable as the Quest's, especially the brilliantly designed Seabourn Square. The only place where we noticed the impact of the additional 200 passengers was the Observation Lounge, especially before dinner, where it was sometimes difficult to find an open table. Our cabin was lovely, a little longer and narrower than the Quest's, but the same overall size, walk-in closet, spacious bathroom and verandah. The internet worked well, especially in the public spaces. We did hear talking and the TV from the cabin next to ours, which has never an issue on previous cruises. Laundry facilities were woefully limited, as they were on the Quest, with a laundry room only on one deck for the entire ship. I woke up very early one morning to secure the machines, as I did on the Quest, which seemed to be a good strategy! Many negative comments have been written on these Boards about the Encore's Retreat, and we would have to agree. It seems like a ridiculous concept for an "all inclusive" cruise and an incredible waste of precious space. We like to walk outside on sea days and imagined how great it would have been if we hadn't had to turn around when we reached the Retreat. The Food Food quality was outstanding in all venues. We especially enjoyed the themed nights in the Colonnade. Room service, which we used for breakfast before early excursions and a couple of dinners "in," was as wonderful as we had experienced on the Quest. Food was always on time, if not early, and the hot items were always hot. The Thomas Keller Grill was really great – a larger and more beautiful space than on the Quest – and we were especially impressed when Michael from corporate appeared at the table to carve the chicken. His enthusiasm, professionalism and attention to detail were evident as he moved about the room to make sure everything was running smoothly. The Seabourn Square coffee was even better than what we'd had on the Quest. Yuri and Gabor have to be the best baristas at sea! Our only criticism about food would be the need for a little more variety of choices and more "healthy" options. Seabourn has a healthy-living program with Dr. Andrew Weil, and it would make sense to extend this to the dining experience. Beverage service was a bit slow. It always took a while in the morning to get water and tea. Things improved for us after speaking to one of the managers. The place where beverage service really fell down was the afternoon tea in the Observation Lounge. This was a favorite on the Quest, but on the Encore, it seemed to be poorly staffed and incredibly slow. One afternoon we were really looking forward to a tea break after returning from a rainy and chilly day in town. We went directly to the lounge with our jackets and cameras, got a table, and couldn't find anyone to wait on us. After about twenty minutes, we gave up and went to Seabourn Square. Excursions Excursions with the Ventures team were incredibly memorable and extremely well done. We did several hikes – including a wonderful bird walk on the predator-free Ulva Island, where we were lucky to see the elusive New Zealand kiwi – and a beautiful zodiac cruise on Milford Sound. My favorite experience was a sunset hike on Philip Island, Australia, to watch thousands of shearwater birds return home to their nests. As we stood above the stunning shoreline just before sunset, one of the Ventures team members said, "The only thing that would make this more perfect is if we had some champagne." And then on cue, another team member reached into his backpack and revealed a bottle of champagne and glasses for all of us. A truly class act and a moment I will always remember. We booked two non-ventures excursions: A wine-tasting from Picton (vineyards were okay; an included garden tour was surprisingly good) and an outstanding excursion from Tauranga to Rotorua that included railcruising (really fun!), a fascinating Māori lecture in a forest and a walk through the geothermal park. Guides on both tours were excellent. Disappointment We missed two ports because of weather, which is always a risk on a cruise. I had hoped Seabourn would try to make up at least one of the lost days with another port, but there was no communication about whether any efforts were made. I was especially disappointed because of our experience on the Quest. We missed two days in Antarctica because of a medical emergency, and Captain Dag & Seabourn went out of their way to compensate for the loss, taking us around Cape Horn and adding another port. Communication was much better on that cruise, perhaps because it was an expedition-style voyage. It's truly the little gestures that go a long way to create a memorable experience. Read Less
25 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
all dining venues close at 8:45. If you want something to eat later--only room service. Food quality not nearly as good as Crystal & Regent (& even main stream lines like Princess) NO vegetables. No one ever knew if beef was ... Read More
all dining venues close at 8:45. If you want something to eat later--only room service. Food quality not nearly as good as Crystal & Regent (& even main stream lines like Princess) NO vegetables. No one ever knew if beef was farm raised or if the fish was wild caught or farmed. The Grill was the best of all the dining. There were vegetable sides on the menu & the food was much better. The enrichment activities were average except for the bridge instructor Denise, who was the best of any cruises on which I have sailed. Service was mediocre at best. The bartenders were elated when asked for a glass of champagne rather than having to mix a drink. The Ventures snorkeling excursion was at a beach--not the usual kind that take you to an area in the water where there is colorful aquatic sea life The best part of the cruise was the Thermal Suite. The heated stone beds, sauna & steam plus a private deck with cabanas--& it was always empty. Maybe that is why they had no bar service there. When i tried to get service & said i was on the outside deck of the Thermal Suite, they had no idea what I was talking about. This was my first cruise on Seabourn & it is also my last. I'll stick with Crystal & Regent, which are both far superior. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
we chose this cruise because we did not want to drive australia and new zealand but still wanted to see both countries first hand. the ship is not even one year old and is deluxe. we arrived in sydney 3 days early and did our own ... Read More
we chose this cruise because we did not want to drive australia and new zealand but still wanted to see both countries first hand. the ship is not even one year old and is deluxe. we arrived in sydney 3 days early and did our own exploration. the food was very good and the service was usually but NOT ALWAYS, responsive. breakfast was a challenge to get FAST service and especially hot coffee (a bit of an irritant to those of us needing their caffeine fix). the staff, except for the excursions department, was very responsive. the seabourn guest services department in charge of excursions was a BIG disappointment. we could not get permission to disembark at milford sound to dunedin BUT we know of passengers that did get permission to disembark!! A DOUBLE STANDARD THAT HAS NOT BEEN EXPLAINED BY SEABOURN!! since this was an area of new zealand we wanted to explore ourselves, it was a bitter disappointment!! and another excursion in wellington was NOT executed as described in the excursion brochure and it took 3 inquiries for seabourn "guest services" to refund payment for our lost day. it seemed as the seabourn excursion department was intent on making a profit instead of enhancing our cruise experience. dining was very good but not better than expected from a highly rated cruise line. entertainment was good. service was spotty but mostly good. Read Less
14 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2017
Very much liked the smaller ships. Would not go on the bigger ship again. Staff from our previous cruises tried hard, and were great. Too many inexperienced crew.Hygiene standards slipped badly. Guests not using the hand gel and abusing ... Read More
Very much liked the smaller ships. Would not go on the bigger ship again. Staff from our previous cruises tried hard, and were great. Too many inexperienced crew.Hygiene standards slipped badly. Guests not using the hand gel and abusing crew who asked them to do so. Hotel Manager and Captain should have done more. Thomas Keller Restaurant not good, food drowned in salt. The Restaurant and Colonnade consistently good. The suite was narrower and less practical than in the smaller ships. No laundry. Wifi poor and expensive. The ship was full from Sydney, Seabourn had been discounting the Bali to Singapore leg, which did not please those of us who had paid up ahead. Handre, the Cruise Director to Bali was, as always, excellent. Food and Wines were good, Sushi was great, which showed up the missed opportunity that is Thomas Keller. Do not see the point of The Retreat, Pool smaller ( I think), certainly less shade, and more passengers. I wonder whether Carnival really understand this market, which is very different from the rest of their fleet. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2017
We are pretty experienced small ship cruisers and we’ve cruised with Seabourn just 3 times before – Odyssey & Sojourn – and thought that everything about those ships was absolutely great – the best designed ships we’ve been ... Read More
We are pretty experienced small ship cruisers and we’ve cruised with Seabourn just 3 times before – Odyssey & Sojourn – and thought that everything about those ships was absolutely great – the best designed ships we’ve been on – great food – great service - pretty much everything great. So our expectation for the much heralded Seabourn Encore was pretty high – the reality was a big disappointment With a change in size from 450 guests on the smaller ships to 600 guests we were expecting everything to be scaled up accordingly but that is not what they have done. Unfortunately the statistics don’t tell the whole story as even though the quoted space per passenger is not that different the ship is a lot busier and seems much more crowded that the smaller ships. I think it's down to the layout with some areas being underutilised and if they were to exclude the space of the extra cost & hardly used Retreat the space per passenger figure would tell a different story. I can’t find any figures but staffing levels must be different as the service levels are noticeably worse than the smaller ships - OK in the restaurants but particularly noticeable in the public areas including the pool deck. No longer that feeling of luxury as waiters drift around taking orders – it was up to the bar myself on several occasions! Dining is generally good although service was patchy and inconsistent. We tried all venues with the most disappointing (in the context of the billing) being the Thomas Keller Grill – it’s a nice room and the service is pretty good, but it’s a very ordinary grill and having dined at Thomas Keller’s restaurants we were expecting something special. That said some great Thomas Keller dishes were an option from time to time in The Restaurant. Limiting guests to one reservation in The Grill on a cruise trying to create an air of exclusivity is a bit of a nonsense as twice we saw people turn up without a reservation being shown immediately to a table. We enjoyed Sushi very much – small venue so sometimes a wait, but worth it. We struggled with The Colonnade as at times it became overcrowded. That was mainly an issue at breakfast when the weather meant the outside tables weren’t usable. Even though there’s a Maitre D’ you are left to your own devices to find a table on this ship making it all a bit unseemly in the scramble when busy. Bizarrely, on such days, The Restaurant, also open for breakfast, is not geared for more than a few tables so we found the wait there even longer. We did enjoy dinner on the pool deck The entertainment is good but quite a big change with 2 shows a night as the theatre is too small for the number of guests. The theatre uses the space of 1 deck (rather than 2 decks on other cruise lines) so to give any sort of rake in the seating it ends up as small compared to the number of guests. So that changes the dynamics of the evening. If you dine as a couple then starting early you can make the first show but for a large group or for a later dinner it’s the later show, too late for many We certainly won’t be travelling on Encore again. Our bigger concern is that the approach adopted on Encore will permeate to the small ships that we love. I think we’re safer looking elsewhere Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2017
First time on Seabourn, picked because Silversea's Australia-New Zealand cruise was sold out. Will return to Silverseas. Encore is a fine-looking ship, the biggest, at 600 passengers, in Seabourn's fleet. The problem may stem ... Read More
First time on Seabourn, picked because Silversea's Australia-New Zealand cruise was sold out. Will return to Silverseas. Encore is a fine-looking ship, the biggest, at 600 passengers, in Seabourn's fleet. The problem may stem from the size and the tough task of taking some of your best people from other ships and putting them on Seabourn. Basically, there were too few cabin attendants and too few wait staff in most of the dining areas. An exception was Seabourn Square, manned by fine baristas, always smiling and joking. Embarkation was about as usual, a bit of wait, but on a fully booked cruise, to be expected. The itinerary was good, as were some of the lectures on navigation and tips on what to look for. The highlight was Milford Sound, truly spectacular and very reminiscent of the fjords of Norway. The Encore's own shore excursions were plentiful and handled well. We also did some of own with private agencies. All in all, I was disappointed, considering the hefty price. My hope is Silverseas does not make the same mistake with the Muse. They've been wonderful so far with Silver Wind (one cruise) and Silver Whisper (two cruises). Read Less
28 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2017
We chose this cruise as we had always wanted to see Australia and New Zealand and this seemed the ideal opportunity to do so on board the new Seabourn flagship, Encore. The embarkation process was very efficient and first impressions of ... Read More
We chose this cruise as we had always wanted to see Australia and New Zealand and this seemed the ideal opportunity to do so on board the new Seabourn flagship, Encore. The embarkation process was very efficient and first impressions of her were very positive. The public areas, the dining rooms and bars and the facilities on board looked great. However, and this is a big one, there is NO guest laundry on board this ship. As we had arrived in Sydney 5 days prior to boarding, we had hoped to use this facility which is available on the Odyssey class vessels. As Silver Members, we had one free bag of laundry which was stuffed to the very limit. After that, it would be $50 for each full bag of laundry. Needless to say, we did not use this facility. I would not like to have been on board for any greater length of time. The food in the Colonnade (for breakfast and lunch) and the main restaurant was of an exceptionally high standard, much better than I remember from previous Seabourn cruises.However, I did not like the buffet style approach to dinner in the Colonnade and we only dined here once as guests of the cruise director. A big selling point is the Thomas Keller grill, exclusive to Seabourn. We dined twice there but have to say we were not very impressed. The staff seemed disorganised - the greeter also cleared and reset tables, thereby leaving other arriving diners to wait - the service was variable and the choice of main meals did not change at all during the cruise. Also, the portion sizes were too large - this was not 'fine dining' by European standards. The steak was fantastic but it would have fed a family of 4!! We were also disappointed by the selection of complimentary wines on board. We were sailing into two of the great wine producing areas of the world but there was hardly an Australian or New Zealand wine to be seen. The so-called specialty wines (for which a supplement was charged) were really what you might buy at home for a good Sunday dinner - but you were charged a lot of money for them. When we asked for a dessert wine, we were told there was none on board. Really, on a 6 star luxury cruise ship? Poor service there although this was eventually provided. The entertainment was of a really high standard with a variety to suit most tastes and this cannot be faulted. Activities were very limited, with few opportunities for guests and staff to interact e.g golf competition etc. I was not impressed by the quality or the content of the lectures provided. There was little in the way of the enrichment promised by the company. We had three consecutive sea days with little to provide distraction from the crossing of the Tasman Sea. Service was very hit and miss. The Square is where all guest enquiries are dealt with. Given that we had 582 guests on board, to have only 3 (and usually only 2) people dealing with all enquiries - destinations, internet, shore excursions, purser issues etc- is ridiculous. Also, the design of the guest services area is poor. Basically, they sit at desks which are at 90 degrees to each other. There was no obvious system for queueing and service was tardy. Given that this is supposed to be a luxury experience, why do you have to pay for internet access? Both Regent and Silversea (with whom we have sailed) both now have free internet access across the fleet. Seabourn must address this issue or risk losing our custom. There was also the issue of privacy as, when using the ship's 3 public computers, anyone passing could see your on-line activities. There was no dedicated printer so anything you did print off, guess what, you had to join the queue at guest services for them to collect it from 'the behind the scenes' printer. Service in the restaurant was also of variable. Some were excellent and very attentive whilst at other stations, you had to go in search of your waiter. We did complain and the issue was addressed but I fear other guests were then put at the stations about which we had concerns. The itinerary matched all our expectations and the ports of call were really interesting. However, the Seabourn excursions were not value for money in that the tour descriptor did not match the reality (it is like reading the description of a house you are trying to sell and wonder why you would ever want to leave it since it is so good) and the destinations manager seemed quite disinterested. For example, we went on an excursion to Christchurch. We had to be in the Grand Salon at 09.00. You were not allowed to take any food off the ship (due to strict bio-security laws -no issue with that). However, it was almost 13.30 before we had the opportunity to eat and that was only achieved by abandoning the double-decker bus tour of the city. This is not the quality of service I expect from this company. Our previous sailings with Seabourn had always left us wanting to come back for more. After this experience, I would seriously doubt if I will be taking another Seabourn cruise in the foreseeable future. Our overall experience was summed up by my wife who said that 'Encore was a ship obviously designed by a man'! Read Less
32 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2017
Having sailed on Seabourn 3 prior times , on the Seabourn Legend(200 passengers) and twice on Quest and Oydessey( 400 passengers) , we were hoping for the same level of service on the Encore (586 passengers on our cruise). Unfortunately, ... Read More
Having sailed on Seabourn 3 prior times , on the Seabourn Legend(200 passengers) and twice on Quest and Oydessey( 400 passengers) , we were hoping for the same level of service on the Encore (586 passengers on our cruise). Unfortunately, the service level was below expectations as compared to previous cruises. Not sure if understaffed, but definitely inexperienced staff abound. There were about 6 -8 staff onboard that seemed experienced and attentive. Too often had to wait for service especially around the pool for drinks or any other needs. Colonade theme dinners at night were a disappointment. Thomas Keller restaurant good but not great. Food can be salty. Complimentary wine served is of very very poor quality and mostly poured from screw capped bottles, (although there are some very good wines from screw capped bottles, none served by Seabourn). Not sure why they would serve Fois Gras , Rack of Lamb, Venison , Prime Filets , Lobster with such poor quality wines. Yes you can buy better wines, BUT WHY SHOULD YOU HAVE TO. Sushi Restaurant has excellent staff but sushi only served at night. Lunch has a Bento Box, NO SUSHI. The Sushi restaurant also only holds 30 people so it should have Sushi at lunch as well. Internet still very slow. Still need adjustments on automatic doors not opening when you approach. NO LAUNDRY a problem ! In general, the staff is not up to standards of Seabourn at this point. Retreat not something I believe was used much. The Club too small and bar set up for waiters to make drinks was poor. On the positive side, the ship was beautiful, Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2017
Our fourth Seabourn; this one to Australia-New Zealand. (Previously: Norway; then Mediterranean/Adriatic, then Antarctic (Wow), then this one, somewhat less overwhelming than the last. New ship, the Encore, c. 600 passengers. ... Read More
Our fourth Seabourn; this one to Australia-New Zealand. (Previously: Norway; then Mediterranean/Adriatic, then Antarctic (Wow), then this one, somewhat less overwhelming than the last. New ship, the Encore, c. 600 passengers. Substantially larger than the previous class of ships (Odyssey/Sojourn/Quest) which in turn were bigger than the previous ones: Spirit et al.) Yes, there are more passengers and yes you know it when you're on board, yet they've done a nice job of enlarging the scale of the ship without much changing the ambience. Best: Katy Schott (must be the best cocktail pianist at sea); the main Restaurant --4th level (remarkable to be able to serve all those people so graciously at the level of a great hotel dining room pretty much all at the same time -- while rarely anywhere near a market); stabilizers (smooth ride even when they were saying something about rough water); the various bars; the well appointed cabins and their closets, bathrooms, and terraces; the pleasant, apparently happy, rather well turned out and "mature" guests. Worst Complimentary wine by the glass (mediocre when you're very lucky); public announcements (they didn't seem to know when one should be broadcast in public areas only and when they should have been piped into every room to be sure every passenger got the message); the Thomas Keller restaurant, which, in three tries, never got, I thought, quite beyond pretentious (cf. main restaurant, above); expensive wi-fi that sometimes worked. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2015
Seabourn has beautiful ships and their small passenger complement makes it easy to meet new people. There are drawbacks with small ships...among them are small casinos and limited speakers and entertainment. That is offset by the fact that ... Read More
Seabourn has beautiful ships and their small passenger complement makes it easy to meet new people. There are drawbacks with small ships...among them are small casinos and limited speakers and entertainment. That is offset by the fact that you have 5 star dining, and you eat when you want to, and generally whatever you want to. Smaller ships also can go into smaller ports, which is a huge advantage these days when it is commonplace to see several huge cruise ships all pulling into the same port at the same time. Seabourn sometimes takes advantage of this difference, and sometimes not. Had this been my first experience with Seabourn I might have given it five stars, but it wasn't, and I didn't. Here's why: Seabourn services the "squeaking wheel" very well. If a guest is especially demanding, they get noticed and get better service. We have seen this over and over again on this and previous cruises. People who demand special meals, multiple selections, special drinks, lots of room service, etc. get quickly "known". And they are catered to. But the quiet unobtrusive guests will not find themselves quite so pampered. They will find spotty service in the main restaurant, (sometimes horribly, maddeningly slow), and they will notice that their name is not known to any crew members for a week or longer. Shortcomings include horrid and expensive internet services. I will never figure out why, on an "all inclusive" cruise they charge such outrageously high charges for such outrageously poor and slow internet services. Their "tour packages" are generally poor. If there's nothing there, they will sell you a 4 hour or an 8 hour bus ride anyway. I'd say half the tours are a total waste of time and money. As to on board entertainment: On our 32 day cruise, they fired the bridge instructor on day 2 of our 2nd 16 day leg. From then on they offered "Teach yourself how to play bridge". They also had an expert aboard to speak about the Battle of the Coral Sea, among other topics, and he started by inferring that America had a lousy commander (MacArthur), lousy Admirals, and that Pearl Harbor was bombed on December 8! I understand a small ship can't have big orchestras and shows, but they can have a bridge instructor that is passable and a speaker that knows what he's talking about. There are other slippages, compared with the "old" Seabourn. We were asked if we wanted company for dinner one night, I said "yes" and were then seated at a table by ourselves; on another night I reserved a table for 6 and when I showed up with my guests, they had no reservation; on another night I asked for TWO lobster tails for dinner and they brought 1 1 /2. Ten days later they had lobster again, I asked for 2 tails and again got 1 1 /2. I was particularly miffed because this was the ONLY special requests I have ever made in over 100 days on Seabourn, while other guests are demanding and getting entire meals for 10 made to their own custom requests. Bottom line: Be a "squeaking wheel"...demand a lot. Ask for a lot. You'll get known and they will all cater to you (at the expense of every other passsenger). But that's not how a 5 star establishment should operate. Hence 4 stars. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2013
Let me start out by saying my wife and I thoroughly enjoyed our Seabourn cruise. For those Seabourn loyalist and those new to Seabourn you can take heart that Seabourn is trying very hard to maintain its quality in the present world ... Read More
Let me start out by saying my wife and I thoroughly enjoyed our Seabourn cruise. For those Seabourn loyalist and those new to Seabourn you can take heart that Seabourn is trying very hard to maintain its quality in the present world economy. However, there still is much room for improvement to make this cruise line worthy of its six stars. I will give the good and not so good in this review, but lets start at the beginning. My wife and I looked forward to this trip for over a year, and we wanted to see both New Zealand and Australia. The 36 day cruise was a way to see both countries at the same time. I normally plan our own air arrangements, and this trip was no different. We flew out of Phoenix, AZ Sunday February 3rd on Hawaiian airlines with a 24 hour layover in Honolulu. We liked this idea as it broke up the normal very long and boring flight from LA to Sydney. I not only got a great price, but was able to walk the beach in Honolulu and relax before our next leg to Sydney. Our travel agent recommended the Parc hotel which was one of two recommendations our agent made that I wish I had not taken. I'll get to the second recommendation later. Our hotel was close to the beach, but our room was over a delivery area, and we had truck noise most of the night. The hotel catered to the Asian market, especially with the included breakfast buffet. it was composed almost entirely of soups, noodles, and other eastern delicacies. A nice looking hotel, but we will not stay there again. We arrived in Sydney on Tuesday ( we left on Monday February 4th from Honolulu with the international date line taking a day away on our flight). Our flight was smooth and turned out Hawaiian Airline was an excellent choice for us to travel to Australia. However, at Sydney we were bugged sprayed and had to sit at the gate for 10 minutes breathing the spray before we disembarked. There was a lot of coughing while everyone was inhaling the spray. I found out later that Australia still allows DDT for killing bugs, and my guess is that is what they used. Australia (and New Zealand for that matter of fact too) goes to great lengths to prevent any bugs from entering their countries. They are very protective of their produce, and want to make sure no diseases have a chance to decimate their crops. Since both countries are surrounded by water, they have a much better chance of isolating infestations entering than most countries with common land boarders do. We had one interesting experience to demonstrate the Australian's determination to stop any fruit or foods entering into their country. As we went through customs at the airport, we were directed to set our luggage on the floor and step away. They then had the cutest beagles sniff our bags. To our surprise, the beagle stopped by our carry on back pack and sat down. That we found out was the sign that something wasn't right. They went through our bag, but couldn't find anything that was a food. After about ten minutes and some questions, we figured out that my wife had put a ripe apple in the back pack when leaving two days earlier in Phoenix. She had eaten the apple before we arrived in Honolulu, but the smell was picked up by the beagles many hours after the apple had been taken out. So be forewarned not to bring any food items into Australia. There are heavy finds if they think you are trying to skirt the law. Thankfully, they let us go on through. After getting past the "beagle" test we had our first taste of Seabourn service. Happily as soon as we rounded the corner from customs, there was a man holding a sign with our names on it. Quickly we were whisked away in our private car to the Shangri-La hotel where we spent the next two nights before boarding the Odyssey. Exploring Sydney was fabulous, and while I won't go into any depth about our roaming the streets it is a city that I would highly recommend visiting and spending some time there. The hotel was a package we purchased from Seabourn, and the location and amenities (especially the buffet breakfast) made it a great choice. First impressions We were picked up by our private car around eleven thirty in the morning and driven to Glebe Island where the Odyssey was waiting for us. My first view of the Odyssey let me know we made a great choice. Not only is the ship beautiful on the outside, it has a great design on the inside. Add to this the fact that it is well cared for by the crew, and you have a great ship for a cruise. My favorite spot was Seabourn Square. You can't do the Seabourn Square justice with any description or even pictures. This was the center point for everything from coffee, tea, finger sandwiches, ice cream, computers, newspapers, books, guest services, and shopping. An array of tables and approximately 100 chairs including motorized reclining lounge chairs make this a favorite place for everyone. When you add in the outside deck area at the aft of Seabourn Square you have one of the best gathering place on any ship. Another of my favorites was the observation bar where we indulged in the afternoon tea. I loved the deck off the bar at the bow of the ship. This is a great space to watch the ship entering or leaving a harbor and looking at the scenery as you sail past islands. A third favorite was the Club. This is a very intimate bar and gathering place for trivia, dancing, and entertainment. The aft deck off the Club was also one of my favorite with a small pool and two whirlpools. A self serve drink station with ice, glasses, and a variety of soft drinks made it feel more like your back yard than a cruise ship. Finally, the Colonnade was our favorite place for breakfast and lunch. It has great seating (we especially liked the high top tables), and the veranda was large enough for several tables to accommodate anyone that wanted to eat outside. I'll mention other areas later that have their own special appeal when I discuss the food and spa venues. The Cabins Every suite up to the PH category is identical. They are very well designed except for the electrical outlets. We counted three single 120 v outlets (including one in the bathroom) and only one outlet was functional. The other two were either too close to the light switch for anything but the smallest plug-in to work or were in such a location to make it almost unusable. Bring a power bar or adapter to plug in for your computer and phones or you will have to rotate all of your rechargeable appliances. When you get past the outlets, the rest of the cabin is excellent. The shower and bath tub in a large room with two sinks feels spacious. There were plenty of drawers, and for the first time on a cruise my wife didn't fill all the shelves. The walk in closet was adequate, and had additional drawers and a safe. I will give one warning for those that might consider a guarantee v1 category cabin. This was the second travel agent recommendation I regretted as I was not upgraded. We were assigned v1 cabin 503, which was the furthest forward cabin on this level. What should have been an adequate cabin ended up in sleepless nights. In my opinion there was a design flaw with an adjoining hallway to our cabin. In the middle of the night I heard what I thought was some one entering our room. I found that the staff exit door latch closed on the same wall as our cabin. This made the same noise as if we opened and closed our own door. There were staff cabins behind this door, which added to the late night traffic. The result was that at all times of the night and early morning I was awakened with a noise that sounded like someone entering our cabin. We requested a different cabin, but since the ship was filled we toughed it out until the next cruise segment where we paid to change cabins. In the future I would never guarantee anything less that a v2 category. Food This is always the most subjective area of any cruise line. Two people on the same cruise can rate the dinning experience from excellent to poor. On this thirty six day cruise we had some excellent meals and service and at other times we left uninspired. There were four dinning areas (excluding the Seabourn Square) and each had its good and not so good points. We question the dinning hours as we preferred earlier times for breakfast and dinner. The earliest venue that opened in the evening was seven PM, with two not opening until seven thirty. In the morning we found that eight was the norm on most days with the Colonnade opening at seven thirty on some port days. We would have preferred standardized seven thirty morning hours (with some adjustment for early arrival on port days). For the evening dinning hours seven thirty is too late for our liking. We would have been satisfied with a seven PM opening for all the venues even though we would have prefer a six thirty opening for at least one venue. The Restaurant always opened at seven PM, so we found ourselves eating at this venue even when we would have preferred another venue's menu. I know this is not an issue with everyone, but it was our opinion that an earlier opening time would make the dinning experience better. I also have to mention that the ingredients used by all the food services were top notch. As an example, I asked our room stewardess to leave some tomato juice in our refrigerator each day. I was surprised that I found a glass of juice each day in the refrigerator with a cover over the glass rather than a sealed mini can. It wasn't until later in the cruise, that our stewardess apologized that she couldn't furnish the juice until after eleven AM because the restaurant was not going to squeeze the tomato juice until then. We found much the same attention to all of the food. The best quality food products available were used in the preparation. The Pool Grill - we enjoyed this venue for a casual lunch or dinner that combined table service with a buffet for appetizers, salads, and deserts. While limited in choices, they were always prepared and presented exceptionally well. We found the soup (many times a chilled fruit soup) a favorite that was not always available at the other restaurants. Desert was usually limited by visiting the adjoining Pool Bar for ice cream and cookies. However homemade ice cream is nothing to sneeze at. I should mention here that the bar service was outstanding at all of the venues. You never had to worry about your wine glass or drink getting too low. There has been expanded discussion on the quality of the wines, but no one should worry about the service or the staff's willingness to try to make you happy. The Colonnade- We ate all of our breakfasts and most lunches here except when ordering room service. Service was excellent, and could have been considered outstanding if not for occasional lapses of some of the junior wait staff. We especially liked sitting at the "high top tables" near the aft of the room and looking out over the terrace veranda. Their chocolate chip pancakes were great, and there was enough variety that nothing was repeated too often. In the evening when we didn't mind waiting till seven thirty (usually after we attended an early entertainment program) we liked the Colonnade for a more relaxing evening. There were a variety of theme dinners held at this restaurant. Sometimes we decided not to eat here simply because it didn't sound like a menu we would appreciate. However, when we did eat at the Colonnade we were very pleased. Portions at the Colonnade seemed much larger than at the other venues. Whenever I asked for a petite portion I swore they looked for the biggest piece of steak or fish they could find to serve me. The Restaurant - I should explain that normally we are not big fans of the more formal dining room. However, we did eat here on several occasions and we had some great meals. It was also here that we had some of our poorest meals. We talked with a few of the Seabourn regulars and they felt, as we did, that the service was spotty. Much of this seemed to be a function of too many inexperienced wait staff. Water glasses were sometimes not kept filled, and resulted in us asking for refills. This is the first luxury cruise line I had ever had to ask anyone to fill our water glass. Another example of inconsistent service was when my wife and I both ordered a special meal a day in advance. I ordered a fried calamari lettuce salad with fried onion rings, and she ordered a spinach salad as our main course. My salad and onion rings were excellent as I had spelled out exactly how I wanted it prepared, while her salad arrived plainly with nothing more that spinach leaves in a bowl. She was expecting some type of garnish to be included. To our waiter's credit, he brought strawberries and nuts to add to the salad when my wife told him she was disappointed. We thought the staff should have asked a few more question when she ordered her salad. Expectations were certainly not met, and we learned a lesson that if you want something not on the menu you better make sure the staff is aware of your expectations. The menu at The Restaurant was not as varied as much as we had hoped. Now that may sound strange if you saw the menu, as there were four pages listing various suggestion. However, one page was always the same "Classic" menu. Salmon, steak, and chicken. We seldom ordered off of this page. Several of the other menus had various suggestions of the same thing. As an example the Chef's recommendation might have sea bass with potatoes and vegetables, and the light fare might have the same thing listed with no potatoes. The only salad listed on the menu was a Caesar. At no time did they ever offer a mix salad or spinach salad. Therefore the reason we had a "special" order request mentioned above. On the positive side, proportions here were just to our liking, and the deserts were varied and excellent. We found an excellent waiter (Chris) that we usually requested, and enjoyed the service when we sat at one of his tables. Restaurant 2 - We ate here twice during our cruise, and might have made reservations more if the first meal had been as good as the last. I asked Guest Services how many different "tasting" menus the Restaurant used. We were told that they were using seven different menus that rotated every two days, but they had other menus that might be added on different itineraries. Proportions were small, but when you sum all of the courses up you didn't go hungry. We didn't hear too many positive comments from the Seabourn regulars we met. They mentioned the presentations were too pretentious. My own feelings are that I didn't mind the presentations, but how the wait staff explained the different foods did make a difference. On our first visit, I felt the staff was presenting a memorized script. However, on the second visit I felt they knew about the food they were presenting. Needless to say the second visit was much more appealing. I do think Seabourn should consider revamping this restaurant and go to something like an Italian or Asian theme restaurant. When one hears so many negative comments during a cruise about Restaurant 2, it is time for a change. Room Service - I have to mention that we were very pleased with room service even though room service is not considered a separate venue. The hot food was always hot when it arrived, and it was always on time. If you ask for a 7:15 breakfast it will be there no later than 7:15. Seabourn gets an A plus here. Shore Excursions We did use Seabourn for all of our shore excursions, and as mentioned by other Seabourn reviewers they are expensive. Expect to add at least four to six hundred dollars a port to your cost when using Seabourn(per couple). Some excursions were more expensive, but not very many were less than $200 a person. On two occasions we had less than adequate transportation provided. Once resulting in a disabled coach that caused the ship to be late leaving the port, and one coach that had a pipe dragging at the rear of the engine along with a terrible noise coming from the chaise that made us think we were going to be stranded again. On the latter one we were given a 30 per cent discount, but not because of the coach. The guide took us to the wrong restaurant because he didn't look over his itinerary and we were over an hour late for lunch. While no one starved to death by waiting, the restaurant had started preparing our food based on our guide's phone call saying we were almost there. It certainly did effect the quality of the food when we arrived. Seabourn doesn't get an "A" here. You might expect transportation in some parts of the world not be first class, but there is no reason Seabourn couldn't provide first class coaches in New Zealand and Australia. Other than these two excursions we enjoyed our trips. Guides were excellent on all but the one mentioned above. Don't miss a day on the Great Barrier Reef if you visit Australia! Even if you don't snorkel or dive, you should go on a boat or air tour as this is a great once in a life time experience. New Zealand's scenery is also something you should not miss. We especially like the Jet Boat excursion which was one of the highlights. Which excursion you take is a personal preference, but don't sit on the ship at port. Get out and see the sights and people in these two countries as they have a lot to offer. Spa - Despite being warned by other Seabourn reviewers, I decided to sign up for the Spa package for the entire cruise. This cost $300 per couple, and since we had 36 days with several sea days I thought it would be a good idea. In theory it was a great idea, but in reality we didn't get our money's worth. The spa package for those not familiar with Seabourn included two semi-private areas that included a hot tub, sunning and relaxing areas, a thermal pool, water-bed, a place where you could have tea and other drinks etc. The facilities looked great, and if the hot tub had been hot and the thermal pool had been functioning how we thought a thermal pool should work, it might have been worth the money. However, Seabourn has the most of the same facilities free and in abundant supply throughout the ship. There really is no need to sign up. I am guessing Seabourn is trying to figure a way to bring in more revenue with these areas, and they will be changes in the future. Other Spa amenities were very good, including the exercise gym, and locker room sauna and steam room. Final thoughts Seabourn has a great product to sell. The ship is outstanding, and the staff (for the most part) is outstanding. Pre and post cruise programs were top notch. Cabins (except as noted) were great. With all this going for it, Seabourn still needs some work. Food service is spotty, menus could be improved, Restaurant 2 needs revamping, and shore excursions need a boost. Would I book again? Certainly, but it has to be the right itinerary and the right price. If Seabourn improves some of the areas above, I would take a cruise just to take a cruise with them. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2013
High on our "bucket list" down under was calling. We used Seabourn pre-pkg & air program. The only "glitch" was our car in SYD...no one was there! A lovely lady, Fay, finally came to our rescue and stayed with us ... Read More
High on our "bucket list" down under was calling. We used Seabourn pre-pkg & air program. The only "glitch" was our car in SYD...no one was there! A lovely lady, Fay, finally came to our rescue and stayed with us until the car arrived. About 90 minutes late! Oh well when we got to the hotel at 11:00am we were able to check right in! We enjoyed our 2 nights in Sydney, boarding the Odyssey was a breeze we had a delicious lunch in the buffet area. Loved our suite, walk in closet was wonderful and so many drawers,very comfortable indeed. Deck 6 is a great location nothing is very far...ship is a great size at 450 pax plenty of places to chill out. Really loved the Square and specialty coffee bar..relaxing spot with library, recliners, newspapers...and good conversation. The food everywhere is wonderful...famous bread sticks, they make 1250 per day! Pizza oven around the pool area...thin crust!We tried all the different "restaurants" for dinner. Restaurant 2 was over the top gourmet! I actually liked the MDR better, the Colonade for dinner is a nice option,as is the outdoor grille! We had some really stand out dinners like veal tenderlion with sweetbreads! amazing beef, so tender, and the sole, melt in your mouth...don't even get me started on desserts!! The portions are reasonable. Wine was good, if you didn't like what they offered they are happy to provide another wine. Service was friendly, and thoughtful, tho on a very few nights the kitchen seemed a bit backed-up and it took some time between courses, but staff was great about communicating. Activities were well thought out with excellent speakers, we learned a lot! and the entertainment was great! Our Cruise Director Susan, wonderful! as were Brett, Michelle, & Ashley...well done. Our fellow passengers were a very pleasant lot, friendly, interesting to talk to. We did have a mishap that caused the Wifi to be inop for 5 days...some pax really freaked out...and were very grumpy about it...remember when we didn't have it????? Shore excursions were for the most part well organized, tho suggest in New Zealand you book in advance. Some of the ports were quite hot & humid for us desert people...but on the up side we sweat off a lot of the free booze! Had a great time playing trivia with our fun team! Just needed more sea days! One crew member that really stood out Oala, from Poland but now living in Scotland! She is the very best. Just moved into the Seabourn Square as a Barrista We already booked our next Seabourn Cruise! We also sail with our family on Crystal, but like the cabins much better and the friendly staff on Seabourn! One last thing, disembarkation: we were on the air package so off on a bus to a hotel in Bali for lunch, then to the airport where we had a fellow with a luggage cart waiting for us, who stayed with us thru security, check-in, airport tax paying, all the way to the lounge...now that is Seabourn service! Well done, the Bali airport is rather a zoo! Read Less
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