We boarded the Pride in Copenhagen, and were warmly greeted. There was a computer glitch when we were checking in, but after 15 minutes, all was well. We were shown to our suite and greeted with a bottle of Champaign and a canopy. Our suite bar was a little lacking, but our hostess took care of it for us right away.
On Seabourn, if they have it on the ship, it is yours for the asking, at no extra charge, and there is no tipping allowed. We had a 5 course meal delivered to our room one night, a course at a time, and it could not have been better. At each dinner I had caviar as an appitiser, even though it was not on the menu. Our ship had 196 passengers so we made some very good friends very quickly. We did dine with the Captain one night and he was very charming. Seabourn has been criticized for its entertainment, but we loved the music and the magic. Very informal and everyone got along fine. Most were over 60 years old and there were no kids. It was timefor us to unwind.
I was compairing the ship to Silver Sea, as I had just completed a trip with them. Biggest difference is that Silver Sea had large balconies for all suites, and Seabourn did not. But they made it up in being smaller and more intimate and we enjoyed the trip very much.
This was our first cruise with Seabourn.
Embarkation: Embarkation is a two stage process,with formalities taking place at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in London,and actual embarkation at the Tower Pier near the Tower Bridge. It should be noted that the Pride is moored alongside the HMS Belfast on the opposite side of the Thames from the Tower Pier.This necessitates being tendered across the river,and,as was the case with us,if the water is choppy,getting onto,and off,the tender can be difficult,especially for less agile passengers. On boarding,one is greeted by a member of staff,and escorted to one's suite.
Accommodation: The suite is spacious,and well furnished,but,certainly in the "A" category,appears to lack adequate drawer space.
Service: The standard of service is quite simply superb.Staff are,without exception,ever helpful. However,several of us felt that there was an element of understaffing.This was noticiable at dinner.Given that several of the wait staff are due to be transferred in November to the QM2,it remains to be seen what,if any,impact this will have on service levels.It was noticiable that several of the wait staff looked exhausted.
Food: What can one say? Chef de Cuisine,Jorg Lehmann,and his team produced the most superb meals,no matter what thetime of day.Where possible,fresh produce was purchased at ports of call,so the dining experience was even further enhanced.As for the Galley Lunch----it has to be seen to be believed!
Ports of call/Excursions: Excursions are a matter of personal preference,and in a sence ,one's enjoyment of a particular excursion can be influenced heavily by the weather. However,in Oslo look out for an elderly City Tour bus,with an equally elderly Guide who has a wicked sence of humour.For $15 dollars one obtains a 4 hour tour accompanied by a very witty commentary. Of the Seabourn organised tours,the Castles of North Zealand in Denmark is an excellent combination of Palaces,pretty villages,and even prettier countryside. In the Netherlands,the village of Edam is unbelievably pretty.
Ambience: We had read that the ambience on the ship could be somewhat formal,and aloof.This could not be further from the truth.In fact,the atmosphere was extremely friendly,and was like one big,happy family. One certainly pays a premium for a Seabourn cruise,but it is,notwithstanding my above noted reservations,a premium product/experience.
Just completed my second cruise on the Pride and it is still as fantastic as the first time I sailed on her (can I still call the ship 'her'?).
First did a back to back cruise last year from Manaus, going down the Amazon ending in Fort Lauderdale. Then stayed on for the relocation crossing of the Atlantic to Funchal.
The Amazon cruise was out of this world. I don't normally do shore excursions but when you're in the Amazon, you really must. The excursions were extremely well organized by Denise (now on one of the SeaDreams, I believe). There was even a complimentary trip to a Boi Bamba show in Parintins. Incredible! We also stopped at Devil's Island - quite an experience.
I was one of only 3 passengers who stayed on for the crossing and it was noticeable that the average age went up by at least 10 years. Obviously, a different type of passenger is interested in a crossing than a more adventurous cruise. Also, at least about 75% of the officers and entertainment staff were replaced in Fort Lauderdale as the ship relocated for her European season.
This yearI just did the relocation crossing from Fort Lauderdale to Lisbon.
OK, what about the ship and her crew. Fantastic! As a single person, I choose the Run of the Ship rate where I paid a 10% supplement for sole occupancy of a suite. That way, Seabourn advise me of the suite I'm in about a month before sail date. But as the suites are virtually all identical and it takes all of an extra 30 seconds to walk from the furthest suite to, say, the Verandah cafe, that really doesn't matter. That does mean that I am unlikely to be allocated a suite with a French balcony but that's a small disappointment.
The Officers and staff are extremely friendly and most of them know your name almost as soon as you board the ship. I think they must have a training session as you board! If you go to the buffet breakfast or lunch, you help yourself to your food but a waiter will then take your plate out of your hand to take it to a table for you. The first time this happened, I didn't understand what was going on (well, they don't do it in McDonalds!), and thought I must have done something wrong as I turned to look for a table and felt the plate being 'snatched' from my hand.
On the Amazon cruise, the Master was Captain Tove Sorenson, who was very nice but not quite as friendly as Captain Leif Rodahl who was the Master on both my crossings. He is an incredible guy and is willing to join in just about anything - you can see this from some of my photos I have posted. Please email me for the URLs if you are interested in seeing them.
The Cruise Director on the Amazon was Dan Hodge, a really great guy from Vancouver who I believe is now on the Legend. He was there with his wife and young son. The Assistant Cruise Directors were Jan and Paul, 2 really friendly Brits (where I am from).
On both crossings, the Cruise Director was Jan Stearman, a wonderful lady and great performer. Eric DeGray was one of the assistants on both cruises but the crossing this year was his last one with Jan as he is now joining Spirit as the new Cruise Director there. Eric is incredibly talented and it was a quite emotional time when Jan said her official farewell to him. David E. Greene was the other assistant on this crossing and is also very friendly and a great showman.
Norbert Fuchs was the Hotel Manager last year and Guy Sharp this year - both really nice people and very friendly.
I also have to mention Laura Salerno, my friend from Vistafjord days, who is a great cruise specialist ands Seabourn Club rep.
Currently, they have an excellent cocktail pianist on board on her first contract, Eileen Hunter, who is an extremely talented pianist with a beautiful singing voice.
All the waiters and bar staff are so friendly and it seems there is nothing they wouldn't do for you. They get to know what you drink and sometimes bring it to you unbidden - all the drinks on board are included in the rate except some special wines etc.
The suites are massive by my previous cruising standards. Separate sitting area from the sleeping area - walk-in closets and bathroom with 2 basins.
I haven't mentioned the food - exquisite!
I'm sure there are lots of things I've overlooked but I hope I've given a flavour (yes, that's how we spell in in the UK) of just what kind of experience you can expect on the M/S Seabourn Pride. I'm going back in September when the ship sails from Tower Bridge in London (and the Bridge opens for the ship to pass through) to NYC. Maybe see you there.
Our overall experience on board the "PRIDE" was outstanding but we do have some nagging complaints. First of all the ship's mast is oriented in a way that makes it impossible to go on line for very long stretches of time. Surely this could be fixed. Secondly, when you can get on line you are charged the clearly unreasonable sum of $1.00 per minute. Thirdly--to get or receive a phone call on board costs $12.50 a minute. This is gouging. I would rather pay more for my ticket but get these services at a fair price.
Having said that, it's doubtless more important to note that the food is excellent and bountiful, the crew always cheerful and accomodating, and the cabins marvellously spacious and well planned. Also our ports of call--Hamburg, Stockholm, Tallin and St. Petersburg were very well chosen. Overall rating A minus.