We booked the Baltic and the Fjords on what has been the best we've sailed on and therefore our favorite. Seabourn did not disappoint us. First time on the Quest, but we have sailed before on the identical sister ships the Odyssey and ... Read More
We booked the Baltic and the Fjords on what has been the best we've sailed on and therefore our favorite. Seabourn did not disappoint us. First time on the Quest, but we have sailed before on the identical sister ships the Odyssey and the Sojourn, as well on the baby sister, now sold, the beloved Spirit. The ship is only a few years old, beautifully designed and kept in prime condition inside and out. This was our tenth Seabourn cruise. Of course, we have also sailed over the years on Oceania, Silversea, Regent, HA, Celebrity, Cunard, Crystal and even once on Princess. Seabourn is the best by far we have ever experienced in so many critical areas of comparison with the luxury lines.
This is the perfect size ship for us at 450 passengers capacity. Not at all like the behemoths and monsters so common on the seas today - that ruin visits for many to numerous ports. With spacious cabins and generous and inviting pubic areas. This ship's physical layout is perfect in every way.
We start as we must, because that is where it all begins, with the crew, which is so hard working, efficient, pleasant and welcoming. Multi countries from around the world represented onboard. But all with excellent English language skills. How does Seabourn manage to hire such uniformly excellent people time after time, in all categories, we keep asking ourselves. After a day or two of our 19 day cruise( we took back to backs), most of the crew we encountered already identified us on sight and by name. This makes cruising with Seabourn especially inviting, and we love to engage individual crew members whenever we can, with great reciprocation.
The basic cabins are first rate, at over 350 sq ft (365?), with generous bathrooms having double sinks and a spacious veranda. Large walk in closet. No noise from adjoining cabins. Heat and air-conditioning working perfectly. Nicely decorated and comfortable, with plenty of storage space. Stocked with selected alcoholic beverages.The verandas are now even more welcoming, with Seabourn just announcing its new, no smoking on the verandas policy - something long overdue, to make it even more of a complete no smoking ship.
The food is first rate throughout the ship. We note that some prior reviews comment that the MDR menu is more limited. We did not find it that way. On a few nights yes there seemed to be a main course item or two lacking, but the Thomas Keller special dishes now added in the MDR most nights make up for perhaps fewer regular selection choices. These Keller dishes with a special touch, like the lobster dish, are a welcome addition to the MDR offerings. Most nights the food choices has what I would call a "continental" appeal, with French and Italian influence. But also steak and lamb available every night from its "classic" menu. The quality of the meats and fish and seafood offerings is very high. Very tender veal for example.
The meals in the MDR were served by an excellent waiting staff working in teams, quick, efficient and very pleasant. Most of the time we had to ask the waiters to slow down the service between courses, it was that quick. The DR management would go out of their way to prepare some special dishes that my wife and I adore, and they do this so graciously on a day or two notice. The menu rotation is also very long, so very few times in our nineteen days did we have a repeat menu.
The quality of the dishes in the MDR in our estimation is the equal in many dishes that the chefs prepare to Michelin starred restaurants cuisine. Nicely prepared, very tasty and attractively plated, which takes some extra time and effort. The F& B manager Enes and the B manager Jovan are to be commended. Their skills, ambience and team leadership abilities are quite obvious and the whole DR and kitchen staff under them is simply first rate. The caviar available is of top quality from a special purveyor in Uruguay and served on demand, with toast and lovely accompaniments. This feature formerly so common on many upper end cruise lines has slowly disappeared, but not on Seabourn. Excellent cheese course, with the selection varying each night.
The new Thomas Keller experience in the renamed Grill was OK, but in our judgment needs some fine-tuning to make it a spectacular alternative dining experience. The room design is beautiful, but the room is restricted in its physical footprint. The food and service were fine, but the food not all that special as promoted and expected. I guess we just prefer the spaciousness, ambience, friendliness and quality of the food in the MDR night after night.
The Colonnade, in the aft of the ship on deck 8, with great views, self service but waiter assisted hot and cold buffet at breakfast and lunch, and table service at dinner, is very good too. But we prefer the more relaxed atmosphere of the MDR even for breakfast and lunches, when there is time to enjoy. The quality and selection of the food offerings on the buffets is very high end, not like we have experienced on a number of other cruise lines.
The outdoor grill on the pool deck is great for a quick hamburger or more involved selection from their limited buffet, but the weather must be fairly warm to enjoy this experience. We did have a number of days particularly before we got into the more northern fjord waters where we could enjoy this experience, particularly when we got back late from excursions and the Colonade had already closed.
The pool itself, not used on this trip by anyone we saw, is lovely, fairly large for a ship this size, with wonderful lounge chair areas spread around in both exposed sun and shaded locations.
Seabourn Square on Deck 7 is a unique concept for just sitting around, reading the morning papers like the WSJ and NYT or Financial Times that are taken down by the satellite system and printed onboard, meeting people, and having an expresso and piece of pastry or light sandwich, pretty much all day long.
The bars are very nice and most of the time we got our drinks rapidly. One or two exceptions on a nineteen day cruise when the bars were especially busy is nothing to get excited about. Wonderful cosmos and mojhitos. Not an easy drink to make right!! Very comfortable seating. Marvelous entertainment from the Darlene and Raleigh duo, solid pros and a joy to listen to.
The complimentary offering of liquors, wines and champagne throughout the ship in all bars and restaurants was mostly fine with us. Although a few nights and lunches we had to search a little more from the complimentary offerings to find the ones we would enjoy the most. We appreciate fine wines a great deal dining on the road at restaurants and at home, and although the comp wines are not of the same quality, they were more than sufficient. A premium wine list is there for those who choose to go that route, which we did not feel necessary. Nicolas Feuillette French champagne as the house champagne is very lovely.
The Captain from our first cruise, the Baltic, Captain Larsen, is the best we have ever experienced in our many sailings. Something so unique and special about this man. Beloved by his crew, he and the Captain of the second cruise, Captain Nilsen, and their executive staffs were very open and welcoming to all guests.
The main theater nighttime entertainment needs some work. We do not expect a performing troupe the size and quality of the behemoths and monsters, but a little more spice and better product would be a welcome addition. The group is a half dozen enthusiastic, young performers who mostly sing and not dance, and the performances we saw were not all that entertaining. Vet comedian we have seen before ( he will not like that jest !!) Jeff Stephenson is a very funny man with a great routine. We seem to recall a somewhat bigger troupe on our Odyssey and Sojourn sails, with some better production numbers, dancing, and even a piece or two of scenery and professional costuming.
Cruise Director Handre is a real gem, the best we have ever encountered. Also a talented composer and pianist. He does great job.
One additional thought about the internet available. We bought the package, and we were connected most of the time of our nineteen days, but in the northern Norwegian fjord waters for a few days towards the end of the cruise there was very tough reception because of the surrounding mountains and high cliffs blocking satellite signals for TV and internet. Not surprising, but we were forewarned.
Once again, Seabourn proved itself to be the best there is. We are booked for both next year and 2018. Read Less