Length: 439 ft
Best For People Who Want
To feel as though aboard a yacht; gourmet dining; large cabins; exotic itineraries; exemplary enrichment program.Should Be Avoided By People Who Prefer
Cabins with private verandas; diverse nightlife; extensive fitness/sports facilities; a casual dress policy; children's programsOnboard Experience
Spirit's European staff seems to derive profound pleasure from indulging your every whim, and the food's deliciousness humbles our powers of description. The ships visit some of the world's most glamorous ports of call, many of them off limits to megaliners. But there isn't much to do but dine, and then wait to dine again.
Recent drydock maintenance and interior refurbishment, you will be further enticed to learn, included the installation of DVD players and flat-screen televisions in all suites and improvement of the indoor/outdoor Veranda Cafe alternative dining venue.Decor
There are those find the Scandinavian decor just a bit…chilly. But handsome prints line the walls and nearly everyone looks her best in the low lighting at night.Public Rooms
For people used to soaring atria with marble walls embellished with brass and glass, at first these ships seem too modest for the price of admission, however, the luxe is in the small details such as the finest quality fittings, furniture and finishings which make the entire ship look just right for the casual elegance they promote as their style. The Horizon Lounge also serves as the observation lounge decorated in ochre-colored leather furniture with floor-to-ceiling windows for a great view ahead. Popular for pre-dinner cocktails and dancing is The Club, a stylish room with an adjacent small casino. Areas in the room are partitioned for more intimacy and the pale beige colors of the room create a wonderful contrast to the unfolding blue sea beyond.Cuisine
A gourmet's dream come true, dinner is that to which everyone looks forward most avidly all day. The chef is given plenty of liberty to create, using locally purchased goods at times. There are always vegetarian and heart healthy selections offered. By the way, Everyone dresses to the nines and pre-dining dancing is encouraged. Even the Captain is known to cut a rug.Restaurants
You probably won't have eaten in many more elegant settings than the main restaurant, where a small ensemble entertains as you savor the description-defyingly delicious food. Arrive when and sit where you please. Casual breakfast, lunch and some evenings, dinner, are available in the Veranda Cafe.
Situated in the ships' Veranda Cafes each evening, the new casual dining room '2' offers a tasting that will make you feel as though you've died and gone to Heaven. Three different menus are offered every seven days. Reservations for the 50 seats are required, but there is no charge. Dress is casual most evenings.Service
A match for the food. The extraordinarily attentive, extraordinarily solicitous staff seems to know what you crave before you crave it.Tipping
Gratuities are included in the fare. is neither required nor expected onboard the yachts of Seabourn.Entertainment
Rather an afterthought, it seems; typically, a small floorshow that might make you wonder if you'd have been better back in your cabin watching CNN. There's a good dance band aboard, though. Nighttime activities now include the occasional deck party with live bands and dancing in the moonlight. Seabourn also lays claim to having invented shipboard "Movies under the Stars" poolside at night. For the more cerebral, it is said that that you won't find a more "spirited" or cut-throat bridge or team trivia crowd than on any line than Seabourn's.Cabins
Spirit offers some of the most expensive cruises you can go on, and huge staterooms, but until 2000 only six of the larger suites had private verandas. Mortified with embarrassment, the line added "French balconies" -- mini-veranda accessed through sliding glass doors - to 44 standard Seabourn Suites, creating a new category they imaginatively called Seabourn Balcony Suites. Inside, Seabourn Suites and Balcony Suites are the same, measuring 277 sq. feet, with separate sitting area, walk-in closets, marble bath with shower, tub, hair dryers and designer toiletries, TV/VCR, tables that convert for in-suite dining, fully-stocked bar, and large marble vanities. In addition, there are 400-sq. ft. Classic Suites; Double Suites measure 554 sq. ft., Owner's Suites 530 and 575 square feet.Fitness/Spa
Aft, Seabourn Spirit has a water sports platform much beloved of water-skiers and swimmers when the sun is shining warmly. There's a beauty salon with masseuse, and two whirlpools on deck. All ships recently had their formerly pint-sized gyms upgraded to nearly twice the size as before. Expect them to fill up quickly with the newly involved younger Seabourn clientele.Attire
If you're not going to pull out all the stops on this ship, you're never going to pull out all the stops. Tuxedos are de rigueur on formal nights, when women unveil their most cherished designer attire. Shorts are welcome in the Veranda Cafe at breakfast and lunch. Plan on elegant casual wear for dinner there.
Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) was a (for me) surprisingly bustling city. The 'Exclusively Seabourn Experience' was here...a cocktail reception on the roof of the 'Rex Hotel'. This is where journalists during the Vietnam War would stay...and drink. The ship overnites here giving you the opportunity to do a full day tour of the Mekong Delta. Impressive tour. Da Nang was the port that allowed access to the Imperial City of Hue or, of course, Da Nang. We chose to go to Hue. Very interesting, a beautiful bus ride but much of the city has been destroyed. It is still worth a visit. When I saw 'Cruising Halong Bay' on the itinerary, I thought, "so?". It's a beautiful bay with impressive rocks and islands jutting through the surface of the water. Very peaceful. Halong Bay takes about 2 hours.
Haiphong is the port nearest to Hanoi. Hanoi is the country's capital. See 'Uncle Ho' in his natural environment! A city full of history. It is about 3 hours by bus from the Haiphong port. We did have the option of taking a helicopter from Hanoi back to Haiphong. We did thisand it was great fun...riding in a Russian craft, operated by a Vietnamese crew following the French aviation rules. This ride takes about 35 minutes and upon arrival at Haiphong airport, some of the Seabourn crew were on hand with champagne. My rating of the itinerary: 10/10
Food: The chef was most engaging, taking passengers on a tour of a local market in HCMC where he buys some provisions for the ship, (mostly soft shell crabs). His food was very good, but bordered on the bland side. We asked the waitstaff why the food was bland and was told that Seabourn caterers to an older clientele who don't or can't appreciate spiciness. We ordered off the menu (Steak Diane) and it was excellently prepared. The ship has two restaurants to dine in. My rating of the food: 7.5/10
Service: Superlative. Names were remembered, preferences were remembered, smiles were genuine. 6PM brought a daily roomservice order of caviar. :-) My rating of the service 10/10
Entertainment: The ship had Bernard Kalb (formerly of CBS and CNN) as a lecturer. He reported from Vietnam during the war. He was fascinating, funny, informative. General evening entertainment was average. I chalk this up to the ship being small (208 passengers) and the cruise director and the assistant cruise directors doubled as the entertainment. The band and the pianist could have phoned their part in. My rating on entertainment: 7/10
Cabin: Very nice, very comfortable. We were midship so the amount of pitching/rolling we felt was minimal. Very few of the standard cabins have balconies, and those that do have tiny balconies that were the result of a refit. The balconies are not worth the additional price IMHO. The windows are quite large on the non-balcony cabins. The minibar was kept well stocked. My rating of the cabin: 8.5/10
Tour office: Hmmm...very knowledgable on the excursions and on the region. We sometimes got he feeling that she was pushing certain things (i.e. private car tours vs. bus tours). My rating of the tour office: 9/10
Tours: All the tours were operated by very knowledgable tour guides in comfortable vehicles. Unless you really have a specific agenda/itinerary, the bus tours were just as good as the private car tours. My rating of the tours: 10/10
Ship: It has its standard amenities, (casino, library, theater, etc). The jacuzzi on the bow is a nice private area. Not too many guests ventured there. It is a small, luxury ship that handles well. Unfortunately, she's beginning to show her age, or rather, newer ships have superceded what the Spirit can offer. We travelled aboard the RSSC Mariner and, if all other things were equal, the Mariner, as a vessel, far exceeds the offerings of the Spirit. My general rating of the ship 8/10.
Overall rating: 8.5/10
I must say that this was my first time on a smaller ship. I find that I prefer larger vessels (not a mega ship!). I've been on the QE2 twice; Seabourn Sun, RSSC Mariner.