Seabourn Ovation Cruise Review by ab21au
- Sail Date: October 2018
- Destination: Baltic Sea
- Cabin Type: Veranda Suite
We spent 9 days in London prior to driving down through Kent to Dover, an excellent way to start a holiday. We had booked a B&B in Dover but on arrival the host was most unpleasant so we ended up staying overnight at the Best Western in Dover, best move we ever made. There were many boarding the ship who stayed here.
We left the hotel for the ship at about 12:15 and arrived at the ship a bit after 12:30. If it could be, I think boarding we quicker and simpler than our past cruises. We were on the ship in no time to be treated by the cruise director Handre who was the CD on 2 of our 3 previous cruises. He would have to be up with the best (and nicest) CD's going around. As we had done on previous cruises, we went to the Colonnade Restaurant for lunch while we waited for access to our suite. About 2pm our suite was available and our luggage was already in our suite. Within 15 minutes our stewardess arrived to introduce herself and to give us a welcome glass of champagne and canapés. there is a bottle of Champagne on ice but we didn't drink it, not being big Champagne drinkers and there is so many other options for drinking on the ship.
The ship is in beautiful condition as you would expect for a ship with only 6 months of sailing. But throughout the cruise, we noticed many times, the ship being washed / painted / touched up by crew. No wonder the ship is in immaculate condition. We loved the tastefully appointed furnishings (not blingy but very nicely done) and the artwork around the ship is wonderful. I had read reports about the pool area being small for the number of guests. This is probably correct if you are the type to sit around the pool all day. We do not pay this amount of money to cruise to sit around a pool, we can do that on our beaches in Australia for free. So this is not a problem for us but it may be for others. Otherwise, the ship facilities are fabulous.
We love the layout of the cabin with so much storage we have never been able to fill all the storage locations (as we do not skimp on what we take). We asked our stewardess for more hangers for the walk-in robe and by the time we came back from muster, they were there. The TV looks like about 42" and it was used to watch some of the enrichment talks, look at our account, listen to the announcements and on the 3 sea days to watch some TV. For charging phones / tablets / cameras, I usually take a power board but didn't use it on this ship as there were adequate power outlets. There is a USA, European and a USB outlet on either side of the bed as well as outlets in the sitting areas of the suite. We love the layout of the cabin and were very comfortable living there for more than 3 weeks.
Our stewardess (Jeanet) was so nice, looked after our suite so well and did everything we wanted. We also got to know the stewardess down the hall (Gilcelia) and she was also very nice, and we loved chatting to or having a joke with her.
First cruise we mainly dined at the Colonnade in the evening but on our past three cruises the main dinning room (MDR) has been our goto in the evening. In summary, it is for us mostly Colonnade in the morning and lunch (on deck if it is not windy or cold) and the MDR in the evening. The MDR was open every day for all three meal times but we noticed very few (maybe 10) in the MDR for breakfast.
Apart from maybe one or two glitches (if that), the meals were exceptional. If I didn't want an entree or I wanted 2 mains, this was not a problem. Basically, you could eat whatever you wanted from the menu. If you want something special, you can get it if it is available or they will make sure you get it in the future. We always wanted extra greens with our evening meal and always got more than we needed.
We dined twice in the TK Grill, it is a beautifully appointed area but while we loved dining there, we did not find the food any better than the MDR, just different.
Dalia in Seabourn Square made our Lemon and Ginger tea each morning and is wonderful. We didn't get to know Gabor who was also there as Dalia was mostly working in the morning. Mostly these teas were made from real sliced lemon and sliced ginger (not tea bags) and were so nice.
This time we did not dine in the Sushi Restaurant (we loved it on our last cruise) only because we did not get around to it. We dined at the Earth and Ocean (before the cruise we thought we would be dining here every night) once on the cruise and it was ok, but we still preferred the MDR (more about the service later).
We thought the groups (changed halfway though the cruise) in The Club were fabulous, just our type of music. This was our goto place for a drink before dining. Last cruise it was the TK Grill Bar and the cruise prior, it was the Observation Lounge. We just went wherever we preferred the music. Every few days we would go to one of the other areas for a change, it was nice to have that choice. It seemed that most guests go to the Observation Lounge as it seemed to be the busiest (and while the music was nice, the music in the Club was more our taste). The Seabourn Singers (2 male and 2 female) were fabulous and we loved any of the shows where they sang.
In summary, we cannot do all the activities, just cannot fit them in. So to me that means there are adequate things for us to do during a day on the ship. We met some wonderful other guests who we dined with several times (a UK couple and a US couple). We loved going to trivia, Handre (CD) and Kobus (Assistant CD) make this "special".
The crew are a real asset to Seabourn. There was not once on this cruise where we were not well looked after and made feel special. Each time we went to either the MDR or the Colonnade, either Roxanne or Erica (not spelled that way, but that's what we called her) were so nice and welcoming, always calling us by our name. But not just them, all the crew were the same, just wonderful. From the captain (Stig Betten) to the security when getting on/off the ship and the tender operators, all the crew were so nice and friendly and when you are away from family for 6 weeks, they became our family which "made" our holiday. In the MDR we loved Brandon, Reggie, Renzo, Sithabile, Genesis and all the others (too many to mention them all). In the Colonnade, we were always well looked after by Marko, Miguel, Trajcek (I think), Savannah and many more. Each crew member made you feel special and we loved chatting to them (although that time is not much because they are so busy).
In summary, there was not one crew member who did not help us to have a wonderful time. the only issue we had was with Guest Services where while they tried there best and eventually did everything we required, I could tell they were inexperienced. But because we know how things worked, it was ok but for the non-Seabourn cruiser it may have been a problem. But that was not a real inconvenience for us.
We did not have any children on the ship this cruise. It would not have mattered anyway, we have had children on previous cruises and that has not been any problem. Although in saying that, I do not think this is the type of cruise line to take most young children (i know there are exceptions). There are cruise lines we would take our grandchildren, but this is not one of them, they would be bored most of the time.
We did several Seabourn excursions and these were good. The guides were very good and there seemed to be always a person from Seabourn on the bus also, to look after any guests needs. I did notice there was not as much control over how many were on each bus. Normally Seabourn only half (about) fill a bus but this time it seemed there were more on one and less on the other. This was not any issue.
We worked out early on in our cruise that all day excursions were not as enjoyable as they once were. Mainly because the all day excursions are to the popular tourist sites and these were overrun with tourists (of which we were two) even in October. We subsequently canceled some all day excursions we had booked, which Seabourn refunded immediately, so no problem there.
We loved just wandering around the ports or organising some of our own excursions which we did on a couple of occasions, particularly the ports when departure was 11pm (3 of the 22 were late departures) and one (Rouen, France) we stayed overnight. Many of the ports we went to we would go to again which probably means we loved most of the ports.
We are gym people and went to the gym several times but not as much as we thought as we were walking 12-15k a day in each port. The gym is well equiped and we always found we could use equipment we wanted. The free classes started at 7am and while these are good, not so useful to use other than port days as we wanted to get out and about in each port.
In summary, we will certainly go on another cruise and I see no reason to change lines so I am certain it will be with Seabourn.
ps: While it did not really affect us (we missed Portimao and spent an extra day in Lisbon, there are worse things that can happen than this), the weather in that region at that time was not good with some rough seas and high winds. The captain and the crew are to be commended for there professionalism in communicating with guests and looking after us in a safe manner.
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The cabins on Deck 5 have a metal base to the railing with glass at the top compared to the higher floors which are all glass. This was not any problem for us whatsoever and I would certainly stay in one of these suites again. With the rough seas we encountered on a couple of days, we were glad we had a midship, lower cabin.
Our stewardess (Jeanet) was so nice, looked after our suite so well and did everything we wanted.