What is So Special About Seabourn?
When it comes to cruising, one of our favourite cruise lines is Seabourn, the Ultra Luxury brand and part of the Carnival Corporation. There are many reasons we look to cruise with Seabourn not least is the fact we are now Diamond Members of their impressive loyalty club where we have earned significant privileges.
Does this affect our choice of cruise line? – well yes, it does, but we would still love to review the Seabourn offering before booking. We always book through our local cruise travel agent, who is one of the largest independent partners of Seabourn in the UK.
We consider Seabourn as a world-class, 5-star experience.
With exotic dining venues, intimate lounges and bars, numerous pools, and broad teak decks perfect for relaxing in the sun, we always feel like you are part of an exclusive club when you step onto a Seabourn vessel.
Seabourn were the pioneers of small-ship, ultra-luxury cruising which for us it represents the pinnacle of that unique style of travel. The current fleet comprises three Odyssey Class ships carrying up to 458 guests each, and the Encore class Seabourn Encore and Seabourn Ovation which are slightly larger at 600 passengers. Two new Expedition ships are due to join the Seabourn Fleet in 2021 and 2022.
1 – All-Inclusive Cruise Fare
One of the most important things for us when selecting a cruise is to choose an All-Inclusive fare if at all possible. We don’t like having to sign bits of paper or on an electronic device every time we want a speciality coffee or a drink. Plus gratuities are all prepaid and included in the cruise fare.
For us, this makes for a stress-free cruise, and we know we can have what we like when we like. From the welcome aboard Champagne and a fully stocked in-suite bar plus having the finest wines poured at lunch and dinner works for us. At the end of the cruise, there is no massive bill for extras to pay apart from Shore Excursions and Spa Treatments etc.
Related: We take a look at Pay as You Go vs All Inclusive cruises
2 – The On-Board Cruise Experience
What you notice straight away are the fantastic international crew, selected from locations all over the world and trained to Seabourn’s high standards.
Related: Guide to Cruise Ship Gratuites
Onboard there is a relaxed feel about everything – not overly formal but not too casual either. Seabourn doesn’t have a casual dining venue in the evenings and claims that its dress code applies in all public areas after 6 p.m. In reality, the ‘smart casual’ guidelines are well followed, but you are the type who wants an evening or two off from dressing up, you will have to order room service. There is usually one formal evening each week where you can get all dressed up in your finery – we quite like this but no too often.
Related: Things not to do on a cruise – including tips on dress code
3 – Intuitive Service
One of the big things that stands out with Seabourn is the personalised service provided by staff who seem to be genuinely passionate about exceeding guests’ expectations. With nearly one staff member to each guest, this reflects in the service you receive.
The Crew mostly remember your names, and your Suite Stewardess ensures everything is perfect, from arranging a private in-suite cocktail party to specific daily requirements like fruit or special drinks. They catch on very quickly to your likes and dislikes and whether you are left-handed like me!
4 – Spacious All Suite Ultra-Luxury Ships
Onboard it is very noticeable how spacious the ships feel, due mainly to the design of the vessels and the high passenger to space and crew to passenger ratios which are some of the highest in the industry. Public spaces never feel crowded, and you can always get served at a bar, although with the numerous bar staff eager to help you.
As previously mentioned, Seabourn ships are small in comparison to some of the mega-ships with thousands of passengers. Smaller vessels with a maximum of just 458 or 600 guests, means there are fewer entertainment options in the evening, there is still plenty to do. If you prefer your anonymity, it’s hard to hide on a small Sebourn ship where you get to know your fellow guests. Some of the folks we have met on board have become long term friends.
5 -Luxury Accommodation
We love the fact that on Seabourn, all accommodations are Suites, and all have incredible ocean views. Our choice is to go for a Veranda Suite, ideally midships and away from the pool, elevators, restaurants etc. The Veranda suite is approximately 300sq ft plus a 65 sqft balcony. Perfect for us, although you can go for much larger suites and Penthouses.
Each of the Seabourn Suites has a large living area, walk-in closet, bathroom with separate bathtub and shower. I love having a long hot soak in the bath, so this is a big plus for me. Sumptuous robes, towels, slippers and luxury Mouthon Bown bath products make you feel pampered and add to the whole Ultra Luxury feel.
The bedroom area features a very comfortable queen bed, and luxury bedding sets Egyptian cotton linens, duvet and pillow menu. Add to this a space for relaxing, including a 2-seater dining table, writing desk, mirrored vanity table, media centre interactive flat TV /satellite reception, DVDs, CDs. The fully stocked bar is another nice touch that we appreciate as is the Welcome Champagne.
6 – World Class Dining
The food on Seabourn is generally good, very good. But compared to other luxury and upper-premium cruise lines, Seabourn’s restaurant menus can sometimes lack imagination, but the food is always very high quality. There is a limited choice of dining venues which include the Main Restaurant, The Colonnade, The Grill by Thomas Keller and the new Sushi experience on the more recent ships.
We love the open-seating dining arrangement in the main restaurant whereby you can dine when you like and with whom you want — no booking of tables or being stuck on the same table throughout your cruise. The only exceptions are for the Thomas Keller Grill and Sushi restaurant where bookings are required but are part of the standard cruise fare.
The Colonnade at the rear of the ship is a great place for informal dining for breakfast and lunch with indoor and outdoor seating. Meals are prepared in open-kitchen style and served as a lavish buffet, or with optional table service. Special theme nights feature Chef Keller-inspired family-style dinners that pay homage to his American childhood. Other themed nights based on local ingredients are always memorable and great fun.
The Patio offers a relaxed poolside service of buffet lunches, grilled specialities and freshly baked pizzas. In the evening the Patio offers dining under the stars with the new Earth & Ocean concepts. Each evening, the skilled Earth & Ocean chefs create an imaginative array of fresh, inventive dishes – a sophisticated menu celebrating eclectic traditional flavours from around the world, served in a relaxed setting under the stars for a distinctive dining experience. We love this new addition to the dining choices—a bit like Hot Rocks on Silversea Cruises.
7 – High End Partnerships
Most cruise lines have partnerships with leading names in the hospitality and travel industries. As you would expect, Seabourn has some unique partnerships which flow through to the onboard experience.
We particularly like the entertainment link with Sir Tim Rice, who produced a show entitled “An Evening with Time Rice”. A stunning show which we have seen with Sir Tim Rice personally narrating the show. An All-time favourite of ours.
When it comes to cuisine, Seabourn has partnered with a US-based celebrity chef called Thomas Keller and have created ‘The Grill with Thomas Keller’ a 50’s 60’s steakhouse. Thomas Keller dishes flow through to the menus across all the dining venues.
When it comes to an area of fitness and wellness, they have a relationship with an American expert called Dr Andrew Weil, and he is a real expert in mindfulness and meditation. He has created a comprehensive program of lectures, yoga and fitness for Seabourn.
Another of our favourites it the link with Molton Brown the London-based fragrance pioneers who have developed a range of Seabourn Signature Scents, a luxurious creation of exotic fragrances designed exclusively for Seabourn guests.
Seabourn is also partnered with UNESCO to promote sustainable tourism at World Heritage sites around the world. Supporting UNESCO helps engender a more comprehensive understanding and commitment for the UNESCO’s mission to identify, safeguard and promote unique cultural and natural heritage around the world deemed to possess outstanding universal value for all humankind.
For us, this partnership with UNESCO means our travels are enriched by more in-depth insight and information about the intriguing destinations we visit, at the same time supporting their conservation through sustainable tourism.
8 – Comprehensive Loyalty Program
The loyalty program, aptly named the “Seabourn Club”, offers an array of privileges for repeat guests. This multi-tiered loyalty program for past passengers has six levels with points accrued through days spent cruising. We are lucky enough to have earned enough points to make us Diamond members, and so we enjoy a wide range of benefits.
This industry leading scheme rewards with extra points for sailing in a penthouse or premium suite or on an escorted “Seabourn Journey.” Club benefits for members include discounts on select cruises, access to exclusive onboard events, a subscription to Seabourn’s magazine and more. Plus, you get to choose one to three extra onboard perks based on membership level (or get them all once they’ve sailed earned enough points). Frequent cruisers like us also receive discounts on luggage shipping, travel magazine subscriptions and priority embarkation, depending on tier.
Best of all you get a free seven-night cruise after 140 days and a 14-night cruise after 250 days. Love it!
9 – “Ventures by Seabourn” Explorations Program
Ventures by Seabourn is an activity program that encourages you to engage with destinations in a more interactive way. We particularly liked the Antarctic program, where we were ashore most days using inflatable Zodiacs.
On some sailings, you get to share your voyage with a knowledgeable, experienced expedition team of scientists, scholars, naturalists and more. From experience, these are fascinating, accomplished experts and part of the complimentary Seabourn Conversations program, providing an in-depth understanding of the history, ecology and culture of the places visited. Onboard, their valuable insights are offered both in formal presentations and in more casual conversations over meals or at leisure.
In select ports of call, optional Ventures by Seabourn® excursions, guided by the Expedition Team, allow you to explore spectacular destinations on exhilarating sea-level adventures. Using Zodiac® inflatable boats or double sea kayaks, you get to experience nature from a different perspective. We have been trekking on scenic islands, viewing birds, seals, whales and other wildlife up-close, and surveying massive, white-blue icebergs.
10 – Seabourn Square
The hub at the centre of all Seabourn ships, Seabourn Square, is the location of many vital functions. An inviting, amicable space where there is a brilliant European style coffee shop serving an array of specialist coffees teas and snacks. This space is also home to the Guest Services staff, the Shore Excursions team the Onboard sales desk and a small range of shops. Such a brilliant place to socialise with other guests.
There is also a library where you can find a wide range of books with a host of titles. A real snip is for staying current with the news is made easy with a selection of printed newspapers from around the world and iPad tablets featuring the Press Reader news application available to browse each day.
And There’s More
One of the great things that help us keep returning to Seabourn is the ability to purchase a ‘Future Cruise Credit’ whilst onboard. This small deposit can be used for any Seabourn cruise and entitles you to an automatic 5% discount on the best cruise fare. We always buy 2 or 3 of these on board.
Onboard spending money is nice to have, even though Seabourn is mostly All-Inclusive, as Carnival Corporation Shareholders, we receive an onboard credit on any cruise we take with any of the corporation’s cruise ships. Generally, we receive $250 on each sailing. Well worth our initial investment of 100 shares, but you should always seek independent financial advice before buying stock and shares.
Related: Cruise Line Shareholder Benefits ad Perks
What’s not to love about Seabourn?
For even more information about why Seabourn is rated as one of the leading Ultra-Luxury Cruise lines, you may wish to consider buying the Berlitz Guide to Cruising and Cruise Ships.
Last update on 2023-06-02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API