My first sailing experience with Seabourn Cruises finally filled a gap in my cruise experience that has haunted me for the last five years. So, how did it go?
|Caviar Hors D' Oeuvres on Seabourn|
I had a 365 square foot stateroom with a balcony. It is the "standard cabin" on the new Seabourn ships. It is very comfortable and detail-oriented, as mentioned, with self closing drawers (so they don't bang if the ship is rocking) and cabinets with automatic light switches when you open a door.
There is a dining room table and two chairs for room service, but since there is no desk I used the dining table for my laptop and ate my few meals from the foot stool. During the dinner hour they will serve you any meal from the two main restaurants, course by course. This will be brought by room service rather than a butler. I usually try this on most ships, but I never did on Sojourn as I was usually invited to dine at tables hosted by staff members.
The beds are very comfortable, but the couch was hard as a rock. The bathrooms are very roomy, perfect for two people, with two sinks, a shower and a tub. Colin Veitch would have loved the sinks with their tall faucets that could swing out of the way for direct access to the wash bin.
The walk-in closet is ample, as well as the drawer space. I have already mentioned the television set being far too small for a room that size. I have heard people criticizing me for bringing up this point but Silversea suites come with two 32-inch TVs, one for the bed and one for the seating area. They are cleverly hidden behind mirrors and completely disappear when turned off. Even Celebrity comes with 32-inch screens in a stateroom 30% smaller.
Seabourn Square is a very nice touch. It is a library, and in the middle is guest services with service people sitting at desks ready to invite you in. Much nicer than the typical "front desk" as on most ships. There is a coffee and pastry bar in there, which was the only place to get food between 3:00 and 7:00 pm. They offered finger sandwiches and pastry. The same finger sandwiches were served throughout the ship the entire cruise, a club sandwich, chicken salad, a mozzarella with tomato and a Carpaccio. They were also offered daily in the Colonnade during lunch, and at tea time. The same pastries were offered every day as well. Never a change of pace.
All cruise ships now have specialty coffee bars with pastry. Once again, a service glitch. if there was a line of even just four people ordering any coffee, and you just wanted a pastry or sandwich you still had to wait 10 minutes because no thought was given to having one person making coffees and the other serving the food. Even with three people behind the counter, every time someone ordered a coffee that person would leave to make it – and each coffee (even American) required full European preparation; steaming espresso and milk, etc. Those us just wanting to be handed a pastry had to wait 10 minutes for it. There was no other place on the ship to get food between 3:00 and 7:00 (except room service) and so this was it. When the Colonnade closed down it was empty – no immediately hot coffee or tea available - a staple service on most ships.
I came home from a tour and found a thoughtful surprise in my stateroom; two sandwiches and two sweet coffee cakes wrapped up in cellophane, along with a note that said "welcome home, we hope you enjoyed your tour." I was hungry, so I went for the raspberry crumble coffee cake. Unfortunately, it tasted more like the chicken sandwich it has been wrapped up with (not separately) than anything else. Into the garbage.
Here is the thing my friends - if you think I am enjoying writing this review that just isn't true. It is tying knots in my stomach. I depend on cruise lines to give me access to their ships, and I asked Seabourn, they did not invite me. This is the last review I wanted to write about this ship. I would much rather be writing nothing but glowing accolades. But I call them as I see them. I am very sorry for Seabourn that this is what I experienced. Sometimes a person just happens to run into only the bad things on a cruise - it happens on any ship. But when it comes to someone saying I "just don't get" Seabourn, I have say I agree, I don't get it.
Since service seems to be the one area where people rave the most about Seabourn I to ask – was the staff outstanding on Seabourn?" Here is what many of my fellow guests said. "They are always ready to please you and most importantly they are genuine." I agree that they will address a problem right away, and if they cannot fix it they will apologize appropriately. But I didn't see that. I saw times when they made mistakes and fixed them immediately, or sometimes 90 minutes later (waiting for room service) but also a lot of times when there was no one around to fix a problem, or they couldn't fix it. As far as making my cruise special, personally, not until our anniversary dinner in Restaurant 2 did I really feel that anyone on that ship cared about making my cruise special at all, and I never felt that way again for the rest of the cruise.
I spoke previously about the chef's dinner incident, how I felt bad for missing it because it was not well publicized. They all genuinely agreed, "Yes, you are right, it really should be explained better" The guest services person even wrote a letter to someone (I assume the chef) explaining how I missed the lobster, but did I ever did get my lobster dinner, or an apology? No. Now, I suppose someone will say, "But you are supposed to know that you can have anything you want on Seabourn." No one ever told me that, no one recommended that I try ordering it anyway. And I heard a few people try to order special dinners in the restaurant only to be told, "sorry, but it takes too long." But were they asked if they wanted it the next night? Not that I heard.
Entertainment on small luxury ships is never a big deal. There was a show with the four Seabourn Singers and two Seabourn Dancers, and they are very talented. The other three nights of the first week were the Finkel Brothers – two "fly-in" entertainers I first met in 1983 when I worked for Holland America. They are the sons of Fuyvish Finkel who was an actor with a regular part on Law and Order. Eliot is the pianist and Ira is the vibraphone player. So, one night of the cruise we were given "Showtime with Elliot Finkel on piano." Two nights later we had "Showtime with Ira Finkel on Vibraphone." Two nights after that we had "Showtime with Elliot and Ira Finkel – Together!" Okay, enough with the Finkels already! My tuckus is hurting after sitting through that same stage show that hasn't changed in 20 years. I kid, I love the Finkels!
Another stage act we had was a "magician" who did card tricks. I was told by staff how amazing he is. I wouldn't spend 50-cents to watch a guy do card tricks. I would rather watch TV. When cheaper cruise lines can afford Blue Man Group, the full Broadway book of "Chicago - The Musical" or The Second City comedy, do I really care if a man can display a talent that only makes me wonder how many casinos have banned him for counting cards?
For daytime activities Seabourn offers dance classes, the "blood-sport trivia," (essentially the same as any cruise line trivia game I have ever played) abd bridge for beginners and advanced players. The activity highlights were the pair of very informative and engaging historic lecturers and expert culinary demonstrations with the chef. I would rate these at the top of the experience.
The Seabourn Ports of Call and Shore Excursions
This is where I see a lot of inconsistency with Seabourn. You may get on an itinerary with a port of call and shore excursions every day, or you may get on a cruise with with only a few. But when I see a ship purposely going eight knots on a sea day between two ports 296 nautical miles apart on a ship capable of 22 knots per hour (a basic 16-hour overnight trip) I know that means we could have added another port of call or stayed longer at one when we were only there for a few hours.
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