Date of Travel : We have travelled with Seabourn numerous times, and this last cruise was for 3 weeks in November/December 2019 on-board Seabourn Odyssey
Having been very lucky in the past to have travelled on numerous cruise lines, we both unanimously agree that Seabourn is unbeatable, they simply are the best! The service, cuisine, and complete luxury of the whole product, is breath-taking and, in our opinion, unmatched by any other line.
We have just disembarked the Seabourn Odyssey after a 3 week extravaganza in the Caribbean, and as always we thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. We were blessed with fantastic weather too for the first two weeks of the holiday, the third week unfortunately being a mixed bag, but we could still get out and about, so it didn’t affect our enjoyment.
The cruise itself is the epitome of 5* luxury. Each cabin on the ship is a suite, with most having a large balcony, and a handful offering picture windows. The suites are beautifully appointed with a sofa (which converts to a bed), table and chairs, television with on demand entertainment, the most comfortable beds you’ve ever slept in, a walk in closet, and a fabulous marble bathroom with full bath, double vanity basins, and a walk in shower. The amenities are all Molton Brown from London, and there are beautiful bathrobes and comfy slippers for use during your cruise. The suites are very spacious and the ocean view cabins are identical to the veranda cabins, but without the balcony of course. We’ve stayed in both, and they are wonderful, but our preference is definitely for the veranda. On this last trip the seas decided to play up a bit, and as we were towards the front of the ship we could feel the movement, so if you are susceptible to the ships movement then best to opt for mid ship cabins or further back, we found cabin 649 was perfect. Some friends we met on-board had booked a suite at the back of the ship on deck 10 accessed through the spa, it was incredible, cabin 1093, spacious with beautiful views and spa access, more like a private apartment.
Seabourn have 2 other ships the same size and style as the Odyssey, named Sojourn & Quest, and then 2 slightly larger vessels named Ovation & Encore. They are all amazing, but our preference leans towards the Ovation & Encore, as the Thomas Keller restaurant is stunning (more about this to follow). All the ships are pretty small when compared to the majority of cruise lines out there, with only a maximum of 458 passengers on the Odyssey and sister ships, and 600 on the Ovation & Encore. They never feel crowded, there’s never any loud music blaring around the pool area, and you can always find a sunbed, a rarity on other vessels on days at sea. In fact the pool area is stunning, with luxury sunbeds dressed with towels rolled up waiting for you, 2 jacuzzis, a great little pool with easy access, and fantastic bar service where they even serve you bubbles in the bubbles! Seabourn hold numerous events on the pool deck during your cruise, including the ‘Epicurean Delights’ deck party where they set up small gazebos with Caviar and other delights, the Classical sail away party with opera singers, and ‘Rock the Boat’ with live music and dancing on deck, all very tastefully done and definitely not intrusive to guests who don’t wish to take part and fancy an early night.
The ships operate on an ultra all-inclusive basis, with fine wines, Champagne, premium spirits, all meals, and even Caviar, whenever and wherever you want it! Room service is also included, and if you decide to dine in your suite then they set the table up with crisp white linen either inside or on the balcony, and make it very special. The in room dining choices are extensive, and during restaurant hours you can order the full menu to your suite. To be honest they will do whatever you want whenever you want it, you only need to ask and if they have it on-board your wish is their command, it’s truly amazing.
Dining is a very important part of a Seabourn Cruise, and the choices are second to none. There is the main restaurant, which is only open for dinner, and is a truly elegant venue where the head chef presents wonderful menus each evening. Polished glasses, ironed crisp white tablecloths and napkins, plus first class service is the order of the day here. In addition to the daily changing menu, they offer the ‘Classic’ menu, which is always available and includes favourites such as rack of lamb and fillet steak. Once again if you don’t see what you like, just ask, they will bend over backwards to accommodate your request.
The Colonnade is the buffet/waiter service option restaurant. At breakfast they have a wonderful selection of fruit, cereal, breads, cold cuts etc which is self-service, or you can order hot selection from your waiter. They also serve tea and coffee, juices, and anything else you request. To be honest if you wanted to just sit and be waited on then you’d only have to ask! Lunch is always amazing with fresh salads, and various dishes usually with a different theme, such as Greek or Italian. Sometimes they bring in fresh produce from the port of call they are visiting, and cook it as a speciality i.e. clams or fresh fish. In the evening the Colonnade becomes quite a lovely affair, with changing menus, all waiter service, and you can choose to sit inside or out on the terrace, magical on a warm evening. They have themed evenings here too, but nothing tacky about it, it’s still a fine dining experience and a nice change from the restaurant if you feel like a lighter night!
Our favourite dining venue on-board is the Thomas Keller Grill. Created by Seabourn and Michelin Star Chef Thomas Keller, it is a beautiful and intimate restaurant with exceptional dishes. One particular favourite of ours is the Lobster Thermidor, it tastes so fresh, and the Elysium Fields Rack of Lamb cooked to perfection. To begin they have a wonderful Gulf Prawn Cocktail, and a Caesar Salad that is prepared at the table, truly fine dining and elegant yet casual, and there is no extra charge to eat in the restaurant as it all comes included in your package, but you are limited to one visit a week, or two if you do some arm twisting! Referring to my earlier comment on Keller Grill, on the Ovation & Encore the grill is much larger and has a fabulous bar attached for pre-dinner aperitifs, it’s absolutely stunning.
The final dining option is the Earth & Ocean restaurant out on deck by the pool. During the day they offer fresh salads, grilled fish, burgers, minute steaks etc, and in the evening it turns into an outside delight with full waiter service again, and dishes such as Black Miso Cod & Crispy Aromatic Duck with pancakes, all very informal and once again very magical sitting out with the warm air wrapping itself around you. Wherever you choose to eat you can be assured of 5* attentive and efficient service with a smile, there really is so much choice on-board that you never tire, it can be as simple or as extravagant as you want it to be.
Entertainment in the evenings centres around the Observation bar, The Club, and The Theatre. We love our pre dinner drink in the Observation Bar on deck 10, with an order of Caviar complete with all the condiments! In addition they offer numerous hors d’oeuvres to choose from to enjoy with your drink. A pianist is usually in residence to add to the wonderful ambiance, it’s such a lovely way to start an evening. The Club also has live entertainment and a great bar, and we tend to head there for a dance after the show. Sometimes the playlists get a bit repetitive though, and it would be nice if Miami H/O agreed to update them to make the music a bit more current! The performers are always first class and very talented. We went to a couple of shows this time in the theatre, and they were very professional, Seabourn also bring on guest acts in addition to their in-house team, which are always highly entertaining and adds to the variety.
We visited some great ports during our cruise, we won’t go into detail here as we’ve written up separate blogs and they can all be found on our website. Most of the ports were tender service, as they were smaller places where the BIG monster cruise ships can’t call in (luckily!). The tender service was always quick, efficient, and you never had to wait more than 10 minutes for one.
…We will mention the highlight of the cruise though ‘Caviar in the Surf’. This extraordinary event is arranged every week in the Caribbean, so we were lucky to experience it 3 times, yes 3 times! In a nutshell, the crew bring everything from the ship and set up an incredible beach BBQ on a stunning beach, along with full bar, sunbeds, towels, and even watersports including doughnuts and a banana! Our Caviar in the Surf experiences took place on Carambola beach in St Kitts and Saline Bay in the Grenadines, both were fabulous, and the amount of work that went into it was unbelievable, well done Seabourn!. The Caviar in the Surf magic happens at 12 noon, when a speedboat containing the Cruise Director and his team pull up to the beach with a loudspeaker to deliver a HUGE tin of Caviar, and then it is served from a surfboard in the warm Caribbean with glasses of Champagne being handed out. Surreal, amazing, incredible, unbelievable – too many superlatives to describe it!
We are due to travel again on Seabourn in February to explore the Philippines and can’t wait. As we are regulars we benefit from their loyalty scheme, and it offers fantastic benefits including free internet, laundry, and discounts on excursions and upgraded wines at dinner (they have a very extensive wine cellar, with bottles at a supplementary charge). We can’t extoll the virtues of a Seabourn Cruise enough, unbeatable 5* luxury, incredible dining options, first class service, amazing itineraries, and of course culinary extravaganzas such as Caviar in the Surf and Epicurean Delights. If you haven’t cruised with them before and are considering booking then please don’t hesitate, there really isn’t anything to find fault with and you really will have an unbeatable holiday.