My first time on The Yachts of Seabourn, long known as one of the best cruise lines in the world, and my first New England – Canada journey.
Restaurant 2 – the Capper
Without a doubt, the best food available on any given night was in Restaurant 2. This tiny eatery only accommodates about 20 guests, so the ship accepts one reservation per stateroom until each night is full. After that, anyone wanting a second dinner is put on a waitlist.
The concept is one of the finest tasting menus I have ever experienced. Not only was each morsel wonderful, but there was plenty to eat. I tasted a dozen different spectacular treats. It started with:
- Shrimp tempura with a dipping sauce of green papaya, celery margarita and orange aioli
- Seared Beef Tataki, pickled vegetables, ponzy dressing, tahini purée, crisp curried Vidalia onion rings, bitter greens, navy bean fritter and yogurt riatta.
- Clear tomato presse, goat cheese panna cotta, tear drop confit, white tomato cappuccino, chicken and pesto strudel, basil foam.
- Grilled Dorade, preserved lemon sauce, ricotta gnocchi, parmesan gremolata, slow-roasted lamb shank, potato moussaka and red wine jus.
For the wine, Seabourn treated us to a bottle of 2006 Domaine la Barroche Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Pure because it was our anniversary. This wine romanced us, but we drank only about a third of the bottle, and to thank our wonderful sommelier we asked her to take the rest to share with her fellow onboard sommeliers. She was most grateful.
My wife is on a very restricted diet for medical reasons. But Restaurant 2 made sure she got something she could eat that was ready for her at the same moment my main course arrived. This made her night, since we had a fair amount of trouble getting her dietary requirements met by the restaurant staff up until that night. They made sure she was treated just as well as the other diners in the room for a change, despite the fact that her diet was off the charts for what Restaurant 2 usually serves.
In addition, to celebrate our anniversary they made a special cake within her dietary specs – no dairy or gluten. It had a beautiful fresh-fruit topping over a honey-sweetened brown rice and cornmeal cake. Of course, I had that after my regular dessert, which was a sampler of various delights.
Just to be clear – the menu in Restaurant 2 does change nightly, but there is no way to know in advance what it will offer unless you book the restaurant immediately after your menu is delivered. Theoretically, the best you can hope for is to be on the waitlist.
Room service is a top Seabourn amenity. They will deliver any dinner from either Restaurant 1 or the Colonnade to your suite during the dinner hour (7:00 to 9:00 p.m.). And the 24-hour room service has a more extensive selection of menu items than most cruise ships do.
The daily room service menu includes five starters: smoked salmon, prosciutto and melon, chilled shrimp cocktail, consommé, and roasted tomato soup.
Entrées include penne pasta, Caesar salad with chicken or shrimp, pan sautéed salmon, rosemary chicken, New York cut steak, club sandwich, pizza margherita, hamburger or a hot dog.
Desserts include white and dark chocolate mousse, ice cream, homemade cookies, fresh fruit or a cheese plate.
It seems to me a lot of people rely on room service on Seabourn – for good reason. Why not allow a waiter to bring all that dreamy food to the comfort of your stateroom? The gap between lunch and dinner (2:00 pm to 7:00 pm) is a long time to go without eating.
My singular experience with room service was not so great. I only ordered one meal from it, and it did not arrive for 90 minutes. Finally I got a phone call from a rather distressed voice asking me, “are you missing a salad?” Indeed I was. I had ordered a chicken Caesar salad about 3:15, and it had not arrived at 4:45. I was starving, but I had not noticed because I was working on a column. When it arrived I devoured it, even though it spoiled my appetite for dinner. But mistakes can happen anywhere.
Every evening started with dancing and cocktails before dinner in The Club. Sometimes there were special contests like “Liar’s Club” in the main showroom before dinner – a “To Tell the Truth” format where the audience has to figure out who was lying. The players were various entertainers, lecturers, officers, etc.
After dinner come the basic cruise ship floor shows – to be expected on a smaller cruise ship. Entertainment is not highly important to a lot of cruisers, but it is very important to some.
Sojourn had a production show team with four singers and an adagio (dance) duet. The singers were very talented with strong voices, sure-footed choreography and charming looks and manners. The background music was played by the ship’s orchestra known as the Six of Hearts (although I never saw more than four of them).
The first show was “Limelight,” featuring selections from hit Broadway shows including Jersey Boys, Mama Mia, Dirty Dancing, Rent and more. The dance duet made a brief appearance during the “Dirty Dancing” section – making a sweeping entrance where Dmitry caught Elena with the same pivotal lift as in the movie where Patrick Swayze catches her in mid-air. It’s a really hard lift – especially on a moving cruise ship. Here, the overhead stage lights are so low Elena actually had to find the perfect spot for her head – the tiniest gap in the overheard lighting.
There are no set changes, laser lights or trapdoor effects during the show. It is basically just song and dance, but the Seabourners were pleased. The show got a standing-O, as did the other show, called “I Write the Song.”
The other showtime entertainment included “fly-in” talent – the Finkel brothers, Eliot and Ira from New York, were onboard for a week. I am guessing many of the Seabourn regulars had seen them, since I first saw them on Holland America 18 years ago.
Other late night events included “Dancing with the Sojourn Stars,” featuring the ship’s officers as dance contestants and the “Rock the Boat Dance Party” at 10:00 p.m. while docked in New York City, leading up to an 11:00 p.m. sail-away down the Hudson River following the beautiful Manhattan skyline.
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