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9 Seabourn Trans-Ocean Cruise Reviews

We recently completed an 18-day voyage from Dubai to Athens on the Seabourn Encore. This was our 6th Seabourn cruise; all previous ones were on the Quest and Odyssey. Having read many comments about the size of the Encore (many people ... Read More
We recently completed an 18-day voyage from Dubai to Athens on the Seabourn Encore. This was our 6th Seabourn cruise; all previous ones were on the Quest and Odyssey. Having read many comments about the size of the Encore (many people calling them “megaships” which we found amusing having sailed on ships carrying 3500 passengers vs. 600) we were interested to see how she compared to the smaller ships. We were very pleased with our experience. We sailed in a Wintergarden Suite which we have done on the smaller ships. There were a couple of minor glitches upon boarding (things not in the suite which should have been). These were quickly remedied and from that point on we had no other issues. The WG suite on the Encore is superior to the ones on the smaller ships in our opinion. The bathroom is greatly improved particularly with a much-improved shower. On the smaller ships it’s a circular one open on one side and we always had problems with water running everywhere. The one on Encore is larger and completely enclosed. The furniture is more comfortable as well. We loved the larger Observation Bar, also with more comfortable seating. The Thomas Keller Grill is a great space and the Colonnade is greatly improved with more seating outside and improved serving space. Seabourn Square was also larger and we enjoyed the space. There have been comments about the crowds on the larger ship. We never experienced that. We were always able to get a seat. In the restaurant we never had to wait for a table and we always choose a table for two. Service was always prompt with no delays between courses. We had two reservations at the TK Grill but we were able to walk in on two other evenings. At the Observation Bar we were always promptly served and after the first couple of nights the server knew what our choice of beverage was. We don’t go to shows so I can’t comment on them. The entertainment in the Observation Bar and the pianist in the TK Grill were very good. There were several lecturers on board and we enjoyed them very much. This was a cruise with many sea days and there were plenty of activities available, including art classes, bridge, photography and cooking demonstrations. We took several Seabourn excursions and enjoyed them. We did an overnight trip in Israel and thought it was very good despite the heat. In conclusion, we loved our cruise on the Seabourn Encore. We are booked on her sister the Ovation for our next cruise and look forward to that one. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
If anyone had told us that we would be returning to Dubai less than 6 months from our last embarkation from that port, I would have thought them crazy. But then we received a Seabourn brochure this winter that had an itinerary with ... Read More
If anyone had told us that we would be returning to Dubai less than 6 months from our last embarkation from that port, I would have thought them crazy. But then we received a Seabourn brochure this winter that had an itinerary with pricing that we could not pass up. This was the chance to try out a true “luxury” line. Even though we already had a deposit on a cruise for 2019 that would include the Suez Canal and bucket list destination Petra, travel on Seabourn’s Encore would be in a larger cabin with more amenities. So, this April, we found ourselves back in the UAE. We took advantage of Seabourn’s air as the price, after applying their air credit, was better than what we could get on our own. We made our own hotel arrangements and stayed at the JW Marriott on Abu Baker Al Siddique Road, near the metro. This time we added an extra day for a visit to the Emirate of Sharjah and also made it to Burj Khalifa and the Jumeriah Mosque in Dubai before boarding Encore on April 22. Check-in went quickly and we proceeded to lunch in the Colonnade as our cabin was not quite ready. Our first surprise was that the buffet was self serve – a definite change from any of the lines we had recently been on and the second was an oddly placed structural column in front of the hot food area. These were small matters that were soon forgotten as the announcement was made that the cabins were ready. Our guarantee cabin was on Deck 7 which is the perfect deck for quick access to Seabourn Square, which is the hub of activity for the ship. We were immediately impressed with the granite bath with its double sink, tub and separate shower, comfort height toilet with soft close lid and ample storage. The makeup vanity in the hall is perfect for hair care. It was topped with a sprig of fresh orchid and the name card of our stewardess, Patience, who appeared shortly after we arrived to introduce herself and offer a selection of designer soaps. She did an excellent job keeping our suite spotless for 19 days. There were so many great things about the cabin that it’s almost hard to remember all of them: plenty of storage space (including the walk in closet with double row for hanging and the chest of drawers), curtains that were functional and not just decorative so you could actually separate the sleeping and living areas, a full size couch, a glass table large enough to be set for proper en suite dining, the stocked bar. Ah, the bar. Seabourn totally won me over with the ice bucket kept inside the mini fridge so there are always plump ice cubes available. Two bottles of our preferred liquor were provided along with set-ups and once the beer preference was established, the fridge was always fully stocked. While there were no USB charging ports, there were plenty of 110/220 outlets for all of our needs. The spacious veranda was an enjoyable spot to indulge in caviar and shrimp cocktails brought by room service The evening turn down service usually included a little surprise (NO towel animals thank you) along with the next day’s Herald, Dining Guide and obligatory chocolates, although in Seabourn’s case they are designed in collaboration with Thomas Keller and Armando Manni! On different evenings there were eye shades, a Seabourn book mark, Holy items from Jerusalem and a cute paper boat with our ship id picture set on an opened page of the World Atlas provided to each stateroom. Seabourn delights with small details. We felt the food was probably the best we’ve had at sea though there were a few disappointments with dishes not being hot enough or over done but usually things were easily corrected. We missed having a pasta station where the dish is cooked to specific requests but perhaps that would have been accommodated had we asked. The largest dining venue, the Restaurant is located mid ship and offers 4 or 5 different entrees daily in addition to the “always available” and includes vegetarian options for most courses. Dinner tends to be a drawn out affair but the time goes quickly when there is such good conversation. We accepted invitations to two hosted dinners and thoroughly enjoyed the evenings. The Grill by Thomas Keller is by reservation only and features several courses that are prepared or finished tableside. The Colonnade is popular for breakfast and lunch with several items cooked to order, though many items appear every day and there are not many desert options. Themed menus with table service are usually the norm for evening in the Colonnade. Dining on The Patio by the pool is available for lunch and dinner with a limited selection, with one evening being very good and another being less than marvelous. Sushi is a delightful small venue, both with the menu and service. Specialty coffees and small snacks are available from the baristas in Seabourn Square for a good number of hours and a proper tea is served at Tea Time in the Observation Bar. One of Seabourn’s specialties is the bread sticks and they make them by the thousands every day – so good! In case you don’t get enough to eat at a meal, there is freshly made gelato available on the patio or at Seabourn Square for much of the day. There are not many loungers around the main pool but there are hot tubs and a small pool on the rear of Deck five and another hot tube on the front of Deck 7 that provide more space for sun lovers. The bar servers attended to these areas bringing ice water and special request drinks. There are also loungers on the front of Deck 12 with no shade but it offered an excellent vantage for viewing the Suez Canal. There are also stations set up with amenities such as sun tan lotion, eyeglass wipes and bug repellent (for the Suez transit) Announcements are kept to a bare minimum so it’s helpful to keep the daily Herald handy to sort out the day's events. There were plenty of things to stay busy on our nine sea days including “Conversations” with four brilliant guest lecturers, dance lessons, two art classes per day, bridge lessons and much more. A galley tour was offered and was so popular that those on the waiting list were treated on the second tour with champagne and lead by Head Chef Giuseppe himself. If you are a fan of art auctions or bingo, Seabourn is not the line for you because you won’t find them on board. About one third of the guests were from the US, followed by Australians, Canadians and then a wide mix of travelers from Europe which made for fun teams for daily trivia. We went to slightly less than half of the evening shows which were all quite good and the Seabourn singers and dancers were excellent. Our ports included Sir Bani Yas (Abu Dhabi), Doha, Muscat, Salalah, Aqaba, Ashdod, Haifa, Santorini, and disembarked in Piraeus. We booked the Desert Island Game Drive on Sir Bani Yas through Seabourn as it is a private island with not many options. The drive is not terribly exciting except for seeing hundreds of Arabian Oryx which have been brought back from near extinction thanks to the Oryx Conservation Group. This island was also the site of Seabourn’s signature caviar in the surf and fabulous barbeque with all of the supplies being brought from the ship. Our Roll Call was very quiet compared to other lines but we were we were able to form private tours for Oman and Israel. We used private vans hired by Seabourn for Jerusalem and Galilee for customized tours that included Bethlehem in Palestine which was a sobering experience. We were comfortable doing Doha on our own and took cabs to the souk and the Museum of Islamic Art. We booked a private guide for just the two of us in Aqaba so we could make the most of our time visiting Petra and Wadi Rum. We had the thrill of being picked up by private yacht at the tender point in Thira and spent 5 hours cruising the caldera and enjoyed lunch overlooking Thirassia. After a silent disembarkation, our seamless transfer in Piraeus was handled by Seabourn with plenty of time to make our 1:30 flight to Newark via Zurich. We appreciated the attention to detail and concern for passenger comfort from the entire crew starting with Captain David Bathgate and his senior staff, cruise director Ross Roberts and assistant director Ashley Edwards, Guest Relations staff (who have the patience of saints) the hospitality team, stewardesses, seamen. The Captain was very friendly and visible, starting from when we first met him on a tender, to participating with trivia questions and judging the boat building contest. He was even present to wish us farewell on our last trip down the gangway, along with Ross, Ashley and the staff from Sushi. Ross is arguably the best cruise director we’ve had the pleasure to sail with and added much to making this a memorable journey. We really enjoyed our fellow passengers, the crew and not have to think about whether or not anything we wanted was “extra” as virtually everything is included in the fare. Hopefully there will be another Seabourn cruise in our near future. Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
Not to belabor a review sent to Seabourn, but the ship, although pretty, new and with good design elements, did not meet our expectations. The cabin was fine as was the ships layout with the possible exception of more room at the main ... Read More
Not to belabor a review sent to Seabourn, but the ship, although pretty, new and with good design elements, did not meet our expectations. The cabin was fine as was the ships layout with the possible exception of more room at the main pool area. Five or Six stars? No, more of a Holland America experience for twice the price. Service was good to poor and depended on the day. Training of the crew was going on all the time and many were brand new to any ship experience. Sounds like the company has expanded, poached crew from other ships and then needed much more to fill its ranks. Service was haphazard with greatness shown occasionally but not what one expects at the price point. Interesting note: there is no bar open except the pool bar until the late afternoon. So, if you wanted to be cool inside, you had to go up top to get a drink and on this cruise from Singapore to Dubai, it was warm. Food was good one day and then poor the next. Example: on a top rated ship, should you not expect more than 3 salad dressings? For yanks, there was no ranch dressing, a staple among Americans of all ages. The balsamic served was thick and was either built around mayonnaise or thickened with wall paste? Top rated food? The Keller restaurant was good but not jaw dropping. French Laundry? No more of a high end Outback but with good service. Excursions for the trip were all over the place. Technical issues caused us to not even get off at Phuket, which is no loss anyway from previous trips in the area. Yet, we had a tour canceled in one location and then a few days later, new tours were offered but too late for us to change. Need to get their act together on this aspect of cruising in these waters. Oman was the best port and the biggest surprise. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants a true Arabian experience as opposed to the over the top Dubai, with its Vegas atmosphere without the gambling. I will go back to Silversea and Crystal for my high end cruises. I was looking forward to this experience and it was not to my liking. Many of the cruisers we met on this trip were long term Seabourn loyalists and most complained about this ship and the many differences to their smaller ships. Size, evidently, does matter. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
We cruised from Singapore to Sydney to experience the ship rather than the Itinerary as we had sailed this section 3 years ago on the Odyssey. Overall the ship was not of the highest standard possible. There were a number of rust spots on ... Read More
We cruised from Singapore to Sydney to experience the ship rather than the Itinerary as we had sailed this section 3 years ago on the Odyssey. Overall the ship was not of the highest standard possible. There were a number of rust spots on some of the pipes above our balcony which had left a stain on the balcony wall. This stain remained the entire cruise. One of the emergency exit signs fell off the wall near the whirlpool on deck seven and lay on the ground for 3 days until we advised an officer doing a deck inspection. The sign was not affixed to the wall but sat on top of the fire hose box and then fell to the ground again. A number of the towels in the pool area had rust marks on them and at least one towel in the gym had a hole in it. Somebody clearly is not doing their overseeing job correctly. We started by eating breakfast and lunch on the lower deck of the Colonnade. The service down there was that poor that we eventually left. The service on the upper deck was much more efficient. Clearly the waiter on the lower deck was just waiting to get to Sydney to finish his contract. One night I ordered green beans with my dinner in the Colonnade only to be informed that they had none, yet there was a green bean salad the next lunch day and we had not been to port in between. Similarly I was severed a Chocolate Pot de Creme with out the cream and there was supposedly no Malibu Rum on board from 2 days after Singapore. Again somebody does not appear to be doing enough supervision. My cabin robe had a stain on it from spilt food day 1 and was not changed for 17 days, 2 nights we had no chocolates on the bed at night and one time change was not done on the cabin clock. Again I point the finger at poor supervision. The breakfasts were continually overcooked and meat was of a various degrees of finish. We both ordered a dish medium, one came burnt the other dripping blood. When I raised this with the Executive chef he said that was not possible and wanted to put the blame on the waiter. After having Julia Gillard on board as a guest speaker who is Chairperson of Beyond Blue the "comedian" the next night proceeded to make jokes about a subject which is a major cause of depression in older men. The same "comedian" sat near us at dinner and proceeded to harass each waitress that served him. Shore excursions were ridiculously expensive. I broached most of these subjects with senior officers with no response and also in my post cruise survey to Seabourn. I am yet to hear from Seabourn. Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
This was a sixteen day cruise that started in Dubai and ended in Singapore. We choose this cruise not for the itinerary but the experience of sailing on the Seabourne Encore. The ship exceeded our expectations it has a very well designed ... Read More
This was a sixteen day cruise that started in Dubai and ended in Singapore. We choose this cruise not for the itinerary but the experience of sailing on the Seabourne Encore. The ship exceeded our expectations it has a very well designed lay out and feels much bigger than it is. The crew was friendly, attentive and very professional. The restaurants (4) had varied menus and rank among the best we have had on any cruise. The entertainment was of high caliber and varied, also we had no trouble getting sitting for the shows. One design flaw is they have some structural supports that blocks some seats in the showroom. They had 4 different speakers that sailed on most of cruise and they gave really interesting talks on all the sea days. The ports in the middle east were interesting but not really worth going back to. The Indian ports on the other hand starting with Mumbai has lots history but it has bad air pollution and horrendous traffic which impacts touring. Mangalore is really an industrial seaport and has very little to offer. Cochin our last Indian stop is one of the best places in India for a visit lots of history and interesting things to see and buy. Colombo was very interesting and scenic and I would go back. Singapore I have been to before and is one of the worlds great cities, my daughter and family also live there so that was another reason we picked this cruise. Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
Prior cruise on Odyssey was excellent. No highlights on this cruise only disappointments Food standard and quality appalling! One culinary disaster after another! Expecting that everyone choses to eat this over sugared American food ... Read More
Prior cruise on Odyssey was excellent. No highlights on this cruise only disappointments Food standard and quality appalling! One culinary disaster after another! Expecting that everyone choses to eat this over sugared American food is too much for Australian. Many complaints by other passengers regarding the poor cuisine! What happened to the caviar it is now rationed!!!! What happened to the lobster tails which were so prevalent on Odyssey? Complimentary wines (actually paid for in ticket) cheap supermarket wines Lack of fruit at breakfast unforgivable - some morning a choice of three fruits including a bowl of apples! All in all the whole dining experience on ship including Thomas Keller very poor! The area outside Thomas Keller Grill is a waste. Star were very discontented which followed through in the service in all venues of the ship. Felt like we were on a staff training ship. Not big enough public areas on ship to cantor for 600 passengers especial around pool and in The Square. Areas for 450 passengers like Odyssey having to cater for 600 passengers. Will never ever take another Seabourn Cruise! Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
I had an enjoyable Cruise from Athens to Sydney. Personnel outstanding, Food of a higher Level than thought. Wines of very good quality, but offered at higher temperatures than would be appropriate, a pity. This new ship has somme ... Read More
I had an enjoyable Cruise from Athens to Sydney. Personnel outstanding, Food of a higher Level than thought. Wines of very good quality, but offered at higher temperatures than would be appropriate, a pity. This new ship has somme deficiencies: No teak decks on Verandas, in tropic climate with sun, it is impossible to stand barefoot on your terrace, too hot! Plastic! Also on Deck 7 forward area no teak at all, same problems in sunny weather. In a ship of this renommé, teak is mandatory! Veranda suites (more cabins than suites..) are too small and give a cramped feeling. The serving person has problems to get into the cabin with a tray. The walk in wardrobe is not worth its name, to small and hangers must be positioned diagonally to get arranged... Ceilings are very low, in cabin and elsewhere. There is a Grillroom under the name of Thomas Keller, completely useless. A Grill is the simplest cuisine possible, also under a famous name. All is Show there, the food not outstanding, and for Europeans just not adequate. Better is The Restaurant which is nicely decorated and for once no disturbing sound/noise because of the layout of this room. The Internet on board is still a mess, no capacity, too expensive for speed, and position of the ship is not adjusted automatically by the server. So at the end of your cruise, you have to adjust the position of all Fotos taken with iPad/iPhone. Thanks for work at home... One thing is great in this ship, the public space. You never feel crowded. But you miss that space in your room! Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
The first of Seabourn's "larger" ships changed too many of the things that made the previous generation special. The common areas, floor by floor: 12 - the new Retreat area is peculiar and expensive. I understand an ... Read More
The first of Seabourn's "larger" ships changed too many of the things that made the previous generation special. The common areas, floor by floor: 12 - the new Retreat area is peculiar and expensive. I understand an effort to generate revenue from otherwise dead space, but $350 for a day's access to a large tv screen and top-shelf liquor, under canvas, isn't sensible. I predict this will quickly be replaced by a golf simulator. 11 - Observation has suffered from the wider space and bad lighting. A vaulted ceiling over the bar simply leaves the rest of the room feeling small and cheerless. 10 - treadmills overlooking the stern are a modest improvement, but the trade-off was loss of the terrific relaxation area in that spa spot. That spa area has been shrunk and moved to a dark, cheerless hallway. It is necessary to walk through the reception area to access the only toilet. I rate the entire spa/gym area slightly worse than the older ships despite an increase in space. 9 - Colonnade has more space, but deployed it oddly, with a U-shaped buffet line consuming table space. Seabourn for some reason decided to have hosted dinners here, and that really doesn't work. Patio grill swapped ends of the ship and somehow lost shaded seating space, an unfortunate design outcome. Pizza remains excellent. 8 - TK Grill has a very nice piano bar with, on this cruise, a brilliant entertainer. The Grill is very proud of the Thomas Keller association, so limits cruisers to two dinners. No great loss. Lobster Thermidor was overlooked and horrid, sole overlooked and overdressed, and "daily specials" were anything but special. Steak was the best I've had on Seabourn, but only average by any other measure. 7 - No great changes to Seabourn Square, although the changes were harmful. Bookshelves are too low to be able to see titles. The customer service area has no single entry, so disciplined queuing is impossible. Coffee bar is unchanged, although for some reason the lunchtime sandwiches have disappeared and Grandmother Cake continues to be held in reserve until 11 am. 6 - Grand Salon eliminated two of the three video screens, meaning that a large portion of the seating suffers from obstructed views. Big step back. 5 - laundry ... oh, wait, THERE IS NO LAUNDRY!!! 5 - Club is simply awful. Bartender must go to the kitchen to make a drink. Lighting is poor, but the lighting design on the entire ship is bad. Big loss of a formerly terrific gathering spot. 4 - dining room is not changed much, although again, lighting is badly designed. For some reason, the kitchen on this cruise has been unable to produce a meal in less than 90 minutes, a long time to wait for unremarkable food. Menu continues to shrink, so the kitchen ought to be able to get the meals out. Steak here remains a very bad idea ... bad cuts, badly prepared. New Years Eve surf and turf was inedible. Senior staff is carried over from other ships, and is generally excellent. But there is a real Upstairs/Downstairs element here, with line level crew launching F bombs around passengers in a very un-Seabourn fashion. I'm sure this will be brought up to Seabourn standards, but needs attention and training. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
I love Seabourn...it is the only cruise line I will sail.....We went Los Angeles to Athens....my first transatlantic....Loved it....I try to cruise 5-6 months out of the year. The crew is great....cabins on Odyssey are a getting a ... Read More
I love Seabourn...it is the only cruise line I will sail.....We went Los Angeles to Athens....my first transatlantic....Loved it....I try to cruise 5-6 months out of the year. The crew is great....cabins on Odyssey are a getting a little i need of refurb....but the layout is great.... Great regular liquor choices as part of the cruise...no extra billing surprise at the end. Really great new chef "Nicholas" in the Colonade....Love the no assigned seating and upcharges on venues. Thankfully there are seldom children on the ship...but we did have one adorable 2 year old who was on his 5th cruise....the children on board are generally well-travelled from a very young age. We had one issue with a homophobic man & his wife that could not be removed until we crossed the Atlantic. My first time out of many with a genuine jerk on board. Love the low-key entertainment.....If you want broadway shows and big time gambling...probably not your cup of tea. Anyway....I'm with Seabourn all the way. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
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