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9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
Seabourn Quest – The Seabourn Difference 16.3.19 -7.4.19 Buenos Aires to Manaus Having cruised with Seabourn on Odyssey, Sojourn and the little ships, we knew what to expect and were not disappointed. We had booked a guarantee ... Read More
Seabourn Quest – The Seabourn Difference 16.3.19 -7.4.19 Buenos Aires to Manaus Having cruised with Seabourn on Odyssey, Sojourn and the little ships, we knew what to expect and were not disappointed. We had booked a guarantee cabin or rather suite, as all cabins are known, and ended up fairly midships on deck 4 near the dining room in a quiet location. The balcony cabins are exactly the same but, as we don’t spend much time in our suite, we forego a balcony in exchange for more cruises. The suites are delightful, spacious, well-stocked and with the most comfortable bed we’ve ever had on any cruise line. You can order whatever drinks you like to have in your suite, so a bottle of Hendryks gin and a Taylors port were happily provided and stored alongside our complimentary bottle of champagne. Our stewardess welcomed us with 4 speciality soaps and kept our Moulton Brown toiletries and everything else topped up throughout the trip. There is a large choice of online films available in your suite and a good number of TV channels. The entertainment is always more limited on small ships but Seabourn offer more variety than other competitors including a guest pianist, guitar players, a comedian, a magician and the Seabourn singers and dancers and all the shows were of a good standard. On two occasions, local groups gave daytime performances – we had a tango show in Uruguay and an excellent local dance show in Recife. Although we weren’t in the Caribbean, the signature “Caviar in the Surf” was held in the pool and created a wonderful party atmosphere. We didn’t get involved in the daytime programme of art classes or lectures, preferring to enjoy the deck side relaxation, although the weather on sea days was not always co-operative. This leads to one of my few complaints. For a cruise line that prides itself on luxury and exceeding guest expectations, the sun loungers are dreadful. Many lines now provide thick mattresses to aid an afternoon siesta but Seabourn’s are a perfect example of durability and discomfort – no mattresses! Years ago, they used to be provided but no longer. In a few locations, there are some mattresses, specifically on deck 11 at the bow of the ship, but even these seem to have been designed for durability not comfort and my 12 stone husband failed to make a dent in the extremely firm foam padding. The ship is delightful and there are always places where you can find a peaceful corner. The décor was good but, unfortunately, they were experiencing significant issues with the pool deck lifting dangerously in several places. This led to drilling and sanding both on sea and port days making the pool deck less than tranquil. It was also interesting to see how they covered all the outside vents as we went into the Amazon with the resulting screen of insects that were unable to get in! The dining options were good with 4 venues available in the evenings. For breakfast and lunch, we chose the Colonnade self-service, mainly because we enjoy sitting outside, although poor weather up the Brazilian coast to Rio occasionally forced us inside. Inevitably, we ended up eating too much. The selection is good and despite good intentions there was always something you just had to try! Another delight was sharing tables with other passengers and lunch could become a leisurely affair aided by complimentary excellent wines. In the evening, you could dine outside at the self-service or by the pool or in the formal dining room. The Grill, part of the Thomas Keller franchise, offered a special dining experience but you need to book, so it is probably better to book online before the cruise. It’s difficult to clearly quantify what makes Seabourn so special. Other lines provide similar excellent facilities, so I think it boils down to the human factor. Nothing is too much trouble and all the staff will try to make things as special as possible. The instances are endless but, for example, we enjoyed a specific complimentary wine in one restaurant that was not offered 2 nights later but the staff willingly went in search of a bottle and brought it to where we were dining. You can request any specific dish at a meal and, provided they have 24 hours’ notice, it will be there. In our case, I very much enjoyed my crepes suzette cooked to order. Another example of them “going that extra mile” occurred when my sandals broke. They repaired them and had them back ion our suite the following day. Perhaps most importantly, the staff were happy to engage but always seemed to know when to withdraw. Additionally, the culture of friendliness seems to rub off on guests and most are happy to chat and interact with you. Frequent hosted tables help with this but there seems to be an atmosphere of camaraderie that we have not experienced on other similar lines to the same extent. Seabourn cruises are not cheap but no doubt that is what allows them to maintain their standards and over 50% of the guests were returners on this cruise. They offer a good incentive scheme to pass the message on, giving $400 onboard credit to both those who recommend new guests or are recommended. However, there is one major drawback. They will not give you this benefit if you, as the sponsor, opt to take a cruise with some promotional offer of Onboard Credit attached. There is also a further condition, namely you only have 2 years to take advantage of this offer. This means it has the potential to be an empty offer if you happen to choose the “wrong cruise”. This is ridiculous and everyone on Quest who we spoke to agreed. It should be totally separate from anything else and considered in the same way as Carnival share holder benefits in order to incentivise satisfied guests to spread the word. After all, new clients generate considerable financial rewards for Seabourn – not only now but also in the future. We have now made 3 referrals to friends of ours but as we were not allowed to use any one of them on this cruise, we will not be continuing this practice. Wake up Seabourn, this is not good customer relations! Finally, it has to be said that he weather was not particularly co-operative on our cruise with the Equator crossing ceremony being cancelled twice due to rain but this did not detract from what was an excellent trip on a great ship with excellent staff and interesting guests. Definitely recommend. Ports Buenos Aires There were no ship’s tours other than very expensive private cars, so we booked a city orientation with Tangol tours, which was excellent value at £13.27 pp. We took the shuttle into town and met the minibus at the Sheraton Hotel but realised later that they would have picked us up at the port. The minibus took us through 6 neighbourhoods and gave us time to explore at the main square including the cathedral where Pope Francis officiated and Boca, a lively neighbourhood with many tango bars. An overwhelming impression of BA was lots of parks and open spaces, broad roads and lots of statues. Montevideo A ship’s trip took us to the main square but the architecture was not particularly noteworthy. However, we learnt a lot about this small country. We visited a market which had been redeveloped and drove along the very extensive Las Ramblas along the banks of the River Plate, with its brown water due to the soil content. We then visited a quirky house built by architect Pittamiglio who was into alchemy. Definitely worth a visit and we enjoyed a tango show there before returning to the ship. Ilabelha Unfortunately, our beach and waterfall trip took place in rain and grey skies. The sea was warm for swimming but 90 minutes on the beach in rain showers probably wasn’t the best introduction to this island. The Tres Combo waterfalls in the rain forest were also not particularly spectacular. Buzios Once the hideout of Brigitte Bardot, Buzios was a delightful port. Stylish shops and a pleasant beach promenade. We took a schooner trip from the ship which was very relaxing but the water wasn’t very clear and the snorkelling sites were not very productive apart from seeing some coral. However, towards the end we did see the odd small turtle and overall it was a pleasant morning. San Salvador We got off the ship and took the elevator to the upper town (over 65’s don’t pay for this). There were very colourful buildings and lots of churches although many charge a small fee for entrance. The police presence was very strong everywhere and we were warned not to wear jewellery and expensive watches. Unfortunately, one of the ship’s passengers was robbed, so definitely a port in which to be vigilant. Recife We visited Olinda, a Unesco World Heritage Site, which was interesting and provided good views of the city. We visited both the Benedictine Monastery and the Franciscan one and heard how Recife was first for a number of things in Brazil. After a drive along the beach with its shark warnings clear to see, we were treated to a rendition of the Hallelujah Chorus by a local choir at the Golden Chapel – well worth a visit. Natal Not my favourite port. We did an orientation trip from the ship and travelled for an hour to see the largest cashew nut tree in the world. Definitely impressive and in the Guiness Book of Records, but a long way to go for a tree! The city itself had many skyscrapers and much of the old town looked in need of repair. Santarem We were well into the Amazon here and you could see the meeting of the waters in the distance. We did a ship’s trip out to a community which explained the rise and fall of rubber and showed the process of milling manioc (cassava). Santarem is walkable from the ship and worth a visit. The market seems to sell predominantly hammocks for use on the boats which move up and down the Amazon – no seats on these, only hooks for your hammock. Manaus Our last stop on this trip took in the Opera House, a market and the home of one of the founding fathers of the town. We did an organised ship’s trip but it is easily done on your own, with entry to the opera house only 20 Real (£4). These are really the main sights in the town but other guests took a boat up one of the tributaries and reported an excellent trip to see an Amazonian village. Read Less
18 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
Seabourn is fabulous. It is worth every penny paid. When Seabourn says, "All inclusive" they mean all. They never say no to any request no matter how small or large. They attend to every detail and if it is not right, they ... Read More
Seabourn is fabulous. It is worth every penny paid. When Seabourn says, "All inclusive" they mean all. They never say no to any request no matter how small or large. They attend to every detail and if it is not right, they will correct it - down to every personal need in staterooms or the restaurants. Our stateroom was large compared to many other ships. We booked a wheel chair accessible room, which was big enough so that I could go everywhere easily - including the veranda. The veranda was a wonderful place for morning coffee and just relaxing. The suite had a couch and two chairs as well as a table - we had people in our room for cocktails and they sent cheese, ice, extra drinks and fruit. It came within five minutes after ordering. We arranged to have coffee delivered at the same time every day in the morning and it was never late. Service is fabulous. Within a day or two of starting the trip, the staff knew us and greeted us by name. They knew that I like Diet Coke or iced tea and, without my asking, asked me at every meal which I would prefer. I am in a wheel chair and they offered to get my food at buffets. (Incidentally, the buffets are constantly being refreshed so that the food is always freshly made.) Even hamburgers come as ordered! We had frequent caviar with dinner and there was no extra charge. Wine is freely poured at all meals - and the house selection is excellent - there is no need to get expensive premium wines. The bars offer premium brand drink, also at no charge. The restaurant selection is ample and menus are published every evening for the next day. The Sojourn is about 400 people, which is a great size. The main restaurant holds every single guest so there is no need to select a seating time. The alternative restaurants are excellent and all the food ranges from good to great. Shore excursions are excellent. I loved the helicopter ride over the Taku Glacier in Junea (it is a wheel chair accessible trip) and whale watching on a catamaran. In Sitka the Raptor Center was wonderful, as was the Fortress of the Bears. The Glacier at Tracy Arm is jaw dropping. They have getting on and off the ship down to a science. We never felt crowded or rushed. There were never lines. Embarking and debarking were a breeze at the start and end of the trip. In fact, when debarking in Vancouver, the carried our hand-held luggage and wheeled my wife (bad hip) out of the terminal and across the street to the Fairmont Hotel and tried to refuse a gratuity. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2017
Our fourth Seabourn; this one to Australia-New Zealand. (Previously: Norway; then Mediterranean/Adriatic, then Antarctic (Wow), then this one, somewhat less overwhelming than the last. New ship, the Encore, c. 600 passengers. ... Read More
Our fourth Seabourn; this one to Australia-New Zealand. (Previously: Norway; then Mediterranean/Adriatic, then Antarctic (Wow), then this one, somewhat less overwhelming than the last. New ship, the Encore, c. 600 passengers. Substantially larger than the previous class of ships (Odyssey/Sojourn/Quest) which in turn were bigger than the previous ones: Spirit et al.) Yes, there are more passengers and yes you know it when you're on board, yet they've done a nice job of enlarging the scale of the ship without much changing the ambience. Best: Katy Schott (must be the best cocktail pianist at sea); the main Restaurant --4th level (remarkable to be able to serve all those people so graciously at the level of a great hotel dining room pretty much all at the same time -- while rarely anywhere near a market); stabilizers (smooth ride even when they were saying something about rough water); the various bars; the well appointed cabins and their closets, bathrooms, and terraces; the pleasant, apparently happy, rather well turned out and "mature" guests. Worst Complimentary wine by the glass (mediocre when you're very lucky); public announcements (they didn't seem to know when one should be broadcast in public areas only and when they should have been piped into every room to be sure every passenger got the message); the Thomas Keller restaurant, which, in three tries, never got, I thought, quite beyond pretentious (cf. main restaurant, above); expensive wi-fi that sometimes worked. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2017
Now that I got my land legs back and over a chest cold,I will tell you about my or our experience ,Hong Kong to Singapore .the ports we a visited where a grad experience ,the cruise line Seabourn left a lot to be desired ,we had a cabin ... Read More
Now that I got my land legs back and over a chest cold,I will tell you about my or our experience ,Hong Kong to Singapore .the ports we a visited where a grad experience ,the cruise line Seabourn left a lot to be desired ,we had a cabin for disabled on deck nine,the bathroom which is very important for a disabled person was very functional ,the front door dit not stay open by it self,you need to put a wedge under the door to get in and out,,needs to be looked at,the cabin itself very plain,but again functional . the ship itself lacks warmth and class,the staff are passionate and very obliging ,but again there all talk like a Seabourn manua ,not natu ,the goog,glorious food,,in the main dining room we found had never had the wow effect,and the menus kept repeating it self,the wines served at dinner were far to young and need to be stored a few more years ,the dining room in it self is a no event,very boring,again nothing special,we liked the way ladies were escorted to there tables by staff,mabe even officers,we arrived in a wheelchair and no one gave us a second look,much less show as to our table ,,nice one Seabourn , the pool deck is fare to small for all the people,that brings me to the Seabourn Square,which is a reception ,a library ,and a meeting place plus a coffe shop,it looks like a business class lounge in an airport,,very boring,we had pre dinner drinks in the piano bar,again staff were excellent ,the piano player,played the same tunes night afer night ,and had a break every thirty minutes,looking back which I don't like to do,I just like to forget about is overrated cruise line,I wound go on Seabourn if they paid me. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2016
this is going to be a review of our most recent experience aboard Sojourn on deck 10 in a Penthouse Suite - Suite 1025. That suite was marked as "obstructed view balcony" on all of the deck plans, yet the price was the same as ... Read More
this is going to be a review of our most recent experience aboard Sojourn on deck 10 in a Penthouse Suite - Suite 1025. That suite was marked as "obstructed view balcony" on all of the deck plans, yet the price was the same as all of the other Penthouse suites. Before purchasing that suite, one of the few remaining, I searched high and low for someone online to give me the true lowdown on that suite without success. So I'll do so here, skip to the bottom if you want the succinct version. My wife and I are experienced cruisers. We've been cruising for more than twenty years once or twice a year. We've been aficionados of Seabourn for the past sixteen years since our very first two week cruise aboard the Seabourn Odyssey in the Caribbean. We found it to be so far above our prior cruise experiences aboard other lines that we were frankly shocked at what we'd been missing. Following that first cruise, we began doing Crossings to and from Europe twice a year (relatively inexpensive) and enjoying their ships as a destination - their incredible service, food and staff, as well as our fellow passengers (predominantly sophisticated, well educated and sociable). That no balcony, bottom deck experience was "relatively" inexpensive and MUCH cheaper than first class air fare to Europe and we always arrived without jet lag. Over the years our tastes (and ability to afford higher levels of cabins) improved. Aboard Seabourn ALL of the cabins, regardless of deck, are essentially the same (except for their true suites - Penthouse, WinterGarden, or Spa Suites). The cost of the traditional cabins increases as the decks get higher (which is strange because the higher the deck the more you feel it in rough seas). The lowest passenger decks - deck four has cabins without balcony, deck five has diminished views from the balcony as the material that is see through glass on all of the balconies is metal on deck five. There are a couple of cabins designed to add on to the Winter Garden Suites on deck 7 as an extra bedroom. If Seabourn doesn't sell the Wintergarden Suite WITH the adjoining bedroom (cabin 745 & 746), they sell them as separate cabins. We were upgraded to one of those cabins and found it undesirable. The cabin itself is oddly shaped, the balcony is tiny and barely accommodates one person comfortably and the biggest detractor is that there is quite a bit of noise bleed through the wall and the adjoining door (think of an adjoining hotel room door) between the Winter Garden suite and these two cabins. On our experience there was a couple with an infant and the baby cried quite a bit during our cruise, making sleep difficult and quiet reading or discussions difficult as well. Those are two cabins to avoid. Last year, in 2015, we were offered the opportunity to purchase a Spa Suite. the Spa suites are located on the aft of the ship. We had back to back cruises, a crossing then another ten days aboard in Europe. Midway, the hotel manager asked us if we'd like to pay the additional amount to move to a Spa Suite. It was the most enjoyable suite we've ever had aboard Seabourn. To describe the pros and cons: PROs: 1. Panoramic view from the aft of the ship, no balcony can equal it (there are four spa suites, two on the side and two in the center 1090 through 1093). Our suite was 1093 on the starboard side and we had an incredible wrap around balcony with unrestricted views. The two center spa suites are not quite so lucky, but those two center suites have a crescent shaped extension allowing them to walk out for a fuller view. Unfortunately, that extension and their extended view infringed on the privacy of our balcony (the sole downside to that suite). 2. Unlimited access without additional fees to the Spa immediately below these suites (we're not Spa people, so we didn't avail ourselves of this). The advertising for this upgraded suite cites a Spa Concierge (no one aboard has any knowledge of this concierge - I've checked on two subsequent cruises while aboard and still no sign of a Spa Concierge. 3. Upgraded refreshments with healthy alternatives too numerous to mention. 4. A round, comfortable dining table with a magnificent view off the stern of the ship through floor to ceiling glass windows separating the living area from the balcony 5. a very comfortable arrangement of the sleeping area and living/dining area. 6. a very nicely upgraded bathroom with beautiful fixtures and separate rain shower and whirlpool tub. Cons: 1. Accessible only via a steep spiral staircase located within the Spa. If you have mobility problems or your hands full, this is not the most convenient set up and could be frankly dangerous. 2. These cabins on the aft of the ship will be gyrating crazily in rough seas (think of the end of a teeter totter, the closer you are to the center fulcrum the less movement) luckily our cruise was on a pond-like ocean with barely a ripple for the entire trip. 3. No Concierge - they should take it off their advertising Frankly, you don't NEED a concierge aboard Seabourn. Everyone is treated as though they are royalty, even the least expensive cabins. 4. The beds are the same as all of the beds across the entire ship, i.e., stated as queen sized, but less than that in reality - a tight fit for larger folks. Okay, returning to the penthouse suite on deck ten with the partially obstructed view. Penthouse Suite #1025. This Penthouse suite was disappointing after the Spa suite described above. The biggest problem was the noise, bleed through from the adjoining cabin (we could hear the television through the bedroom wall and for the first time ever, I had to call and complain to ask them to turn the volume down) and the door to the main deck was immediately to the left of our suite door. When there were activities and entertainment on the main deck, the noise bled into our cabin each time the door to the deck was opened - which was frequently, since at the other end of our passageway was the observation Bar. The balcony was indeed restricted. It really wasn't that bad, roughly a third of the balcony was covered by a diagonal metal plate (photo attached). We could sit comfortably on the exposed portion with a good view, but for as the price for that suite was the same as the other Penthouse suites..... a full view would have been better. Food, entertainment, ambiance were all exceptional, as usual. This particular Penthouse suite as living accommodations was, in retrospect, a bad investment. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2015
We sailed from Manaus down the Amazon for several days before stopping at several Brazilian coastal ports, then Montevideo and Buenos Aires. We happened to book the same hotel the ship used, Caesar Business, in Manaus, and it was a 3 star ... Read More
We sailed from Manaus down the Amazon for several days before stopping at several Brazilian coastal ports, then Montevideo and Buenos Aires. We happened to book the same hotel the ship used, Caesar Business, in Manaus, and it was a 3 star hotel with a nice breakfast. We took a taxi to the port, a few miles away. The ship was familiar to the others in the fleet. Very well decorated and meticulously kept. Our first stop when checking in was friendly and painless; we felt immediately at home. We met the Cruise Director, Jan, and her assistant, Ashley, who turned out to be the hardest working cruise staff we've seen. They were everywhere; and they were former singers who were also very entertaining. Our suite was immaculate and included bottles of our favorite liquor as we started. The bathrooms were amazing; marble everywhere and a tub for soaking in the afternoon with a glass of wine. The crew on this ship, as we had experienced on the Odyssey, was very friendly, unhurried, and welcoming. Everyone seemed to be very happy to see us, and it was infectious. Passengers coming from all over the world took the cue and greeted each other warmly. The dining facilities were fantastic; Theme dinners in the Colonnade dining room and, in the main dining room; well prepared dishes with moderate portions served so that we had time to meet and converse with fellow diners. We met many people who became friends. The ship's entertainment was much better than we'd expected; very talented singers, lounge acts and musicians. Dmitri and his small band sounded like a big band. We participated in the Trivia and it was very entertaining, with Jan and Ashley officiating. We used the gym and hot tubs daily. The gym was well appointed and you could always find a machine to use. We had breakfast delivered several time and it was surprisingly well done; white tablecloths on our verandah table and silver and all the appointments. The bar staff was always friendly and efficient. We had a pianist, Rogerio, and a cellist, Andrew, who were fantastic. Very surprised and delighted to get such stars on a small ship. The trip up the Amazon was not as exciting as we'd expected. The river is wide and muddy, with not much chance to see wildlife. We took a tour at Santarem to see a local farm and watch manioc and rubber preparation. The towns along the river were interesting but trashy. Fortaleza had a couple of sights, including the market and Cathedral. One highlight, at Natal, was the dune buggy we booked on our own (picked up a dune buggy outside the port for a fraction of the ship tour price) Great tours of the local beaches and a real E ticket trip among the dunes. We took the ship's tour of Recife/Olinda on buses. Nice tour but we think we could have done better with a private car, and for much less. Buzios was nice, but it poured down hard and the ship almost pulled up it's anchor while we were in port. Several tours were cancelled and money was refunded. Ilhabela was very nice. Great beaches and lovely places to drink Cerveza and enjoy the view. Here's a tip: The ship had 3 fantastic guest lecturers. One of them, Dr. Roger Luckenbach, was an expert at all the ports. Before I left the U.S., I downloaded maps from CityMapstoGo, an iPhone app. When Roger mentioned a likely spot to visit in any city, I marked it on my map and was able to "connect the dots" on a walking tour. The iPhone has a native GPS built in and it only needs a local map for navigation. Wifi not needed. Great App! Plus, Roger was an entertaining and endlessly informative guide. Two other lecturers added greatly to the trip. Dr. Ian Dalziel gave insightful lectures on the topography and underlying geology of South America. Dr. Don Goldsmith; who we had the privilege to dine with one night, is an amazing astronomer/astrophysicist. We had only a couple of nights of clear weather for southern hemisphere "stargazing," but they were highlights of the trip. Rio was great. We succumbed to a "private car" from one of the jewelry companies in Rio (we met a rep, Christian, on the ship) After a tour of the store and a look at the jewelry (and a purchase, but that's not necessary) they provided us a driver and guide for the whole day. We were able to see the highlights of Rio, including a trip up Sugarloaf. We were a little disconcerted when we were told how much of Rio was considered unsafe for walking, but the city itself was amazing. We booked a ship's tour of a Samba show; the show itself was fantastic once it started. The trip to the show and the delay were worth it; but I think it was probably a $75 show that we paid $150 for. Montevideo was a great town; we took the Alchemist/Tango show there, with highlights of the city and we were well satisfied. We debarked the ship at Buenos Aires (sadly) and spent four days touring this fantastic city before flying home. Disembarkation very unhurried and calm. One sad note; when you leave the ship at Buenos Aires; if you have private arrangements, you are steered to a taxi line which overcharges you. We paid 25 dollars up front for a four mile taxi ride to our hotel. Didn't seem to be any alternative. In short; we LOVE this cruise line. They don't hassle you to buy anything; tips are not expected, everything is uncrowded and unhurried. The crew passes this relaxed vibe along to the passengers and everyone is well behaved and polite. You get the feeling you are on a private yacht that happens to have some other passengers on board. The sense of pride in the ship and the cruise line is palpable. Congratulations to all! My recommendations: Book your own private car tours when possible, before leaving home. Get the CityMapstoGo app and mark your favorite spots. Read Less
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