Seabourn Adventure Begins

| Thursday, 13 Oct. 2011
Seabourn specializes in pampering the cruiser - this is just one example.


I am writing this week's newsletter from my suite aboard Seabourn Sojourn, one of the three newer ships, identical triplets, introduced by Seabourn in the last three years. Seabourn is a famous luxury cruise line that has received accolades as the best cruise line in the world from many different experts and guest surveys. I have only been onboard for a few days so it is a little too early for me to make this determination, but so far the guests onboard appear to be very, very happy.

One of the outstanding aspects of this cruise line is the easy-going energy. The staterooms are comfortable, quiet and always close-by, while the public rooms are roomy and easy to navigate. There are three restaurants to choose from for each meal, as well as an alternative restaurant requiring reservations - but we haven't had a chance to try that special one yet.

So far, the restaurant I prefer is the Colonnade, which might be referred to as "The Lido Buffet" on other ships, but on this ship it also includes table-side waiter service for every meal. Our first night's dinner was a delicious "surf 'n turf" with filet mignon and lobster tail. On most cruise ships you have to wait for the captain's farewell dinner for a meal like this, but we have seen lobster offered in various forms every one of the four nights we have been onboard so far.

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That first night in the Colonnade there were so many varieties of seafood it felt like we raided a fisherman's wharf. Best of all were the freshly steamed mussels, a shellfish I normally will not even eat, but I devoured these delicious steam-infused chewy nuggets. They had just the right seasoning and a briny broth to make them the best I have had since the mussels we ate in Honfleur, France, on the Normandy coast.

Our second dinner was taken in the main dining room, simply called "The Restaurant." The room is elegant with just the right atmosphere; lively enough to feel good but not so loud that conversation is a challenge. The highlight of that first dinner was a dessert called "Bourbon Soufflé," so light it reached out above the rim of the colander by full half inch. It was completed by a rich vanilla and bourbon based sauce poured into a spoon-made hole in the top.

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Our itinerary is the Fall Foliage route from the city of Quebec, along the St. Lawrence Seaway to Halifax, Bar Harbor, Maine; New York City, Norfolk, Virginia; Charleston, SC; and Ft. Lauderdale. Quebec was absolutely beautiful, the closest thing to a European city in the new world. The maple trees along the Saguenay inlet showed their bright red leaves.

The 300-sq ft. staterooms are extremely comfortable - with king-size beds and a separate seating area large enough to contain a full dining table and two chairs. They will serve dinner in your stateroom delivered from any of the onboard dining rooms as long as you order between 7:00 and 9:00 p.m., the regular dining hours onboard. The bathroom contains a shower and a bathtub. On the first day our room stewardess offered us a choice of soaps from among a menu of three different selections.

All beverages, including special coffees and wine with dinner, are included in the cruise fare. There is a room called Seabourn Square which takes the place of the front desk on most ships. Rather than a desk where you must stand in line for service, they have an area with four people seated at desks and you are welcome to walk up and order a shore excursion or make a dinner reservation. The four desks are partially hidden by large bookshelves comprising the library of the ship, and that is accompanied by a coffee bar where you can get fresh pastries, sandwiches and steamy espresso or hot chocolate infused with spiced rum -- perfect for cool day along the St. Lawrence Seaway.

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The entertainment is light and somewhat predictable; four singers and two dancers performing hit songs from movies and shows. But the enrichment lectures are excellent with several speakers onboard including an expert in the history of our itinerary, a biologist speaking on whales and a historian addressing the many important events of this area.

We are just on day three of this cruise, and I will have a far more comprehensive review once the cruise is over. It always takes a few days to become used to any new ship. I can say I am already very comfortable in this spacious stateroom. There are a few little things I would change, but I would really be nitpicking to say much of anything negative right now.

Look for my updates to my voyage to be posted in our message boards in my Seabourn Sojourn Virtual Cruise.

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