|The Pool Scene on Seabourn Quest offers plenty of activities.|
If you’re traveling on Seabourn for the first time, get ready to meet a lot of people who have already sailed the line many times. Case in point: On a recent Seabourn Quest voyage to the Caribbean, 276 guests were invited to the Captain’s Seabourn Club reception, (a gathering for those who have sailed the line before). That’s out of the 400-plus guests on the ship. Not a bad percentage.
Why do cruisers come back? Guests we spoke with cited the intimate size of the ship, which has only 225 suites. This means you’re never too far from anything, including your own quarters. Let’s put it this way: if you forget your sunglasses in your room, it’s not a 15-minute trek back to get them.
One devoted Seabourn couple we spoke with said that they thought they’d never be able to get used to Seabourn’s new “larger” ships (Odyssey, Sojourn, and Quest) but they’d grown quite fond of them and had been sailing regularly on them since they debuted. Note: They were reminiscing about the original and tiny Spirit, Legend and Pride, which have only 104 suites each and have recently been sold to Windstar, with transfer dates set for 2014 and 2015. We found the biggest change with the newer ships to be a much more active pool scene, a much larger spa and a more spacious Sun Deck. There are also more hidden pools, decks and Jacuzzis on the newer vessels. The very high level of service remains the same.
Life on Board: We say the best place for sunning is the Sky Bar on Deck 9, which overlooks the pool and is adorned with double chaise lounges. We sat here fanning ourselves after a morning of shopping in St. Kitts (think batik sundresses, rare gem shops and a decent array of chic beach clothing). A refreshing raspberry cooler doused with a splash of champagne was offered to us as soon as we’d settled into our perch.
Dining: Lunch is served at the Patio Grill in the form of very fresh salads, pizza, nachos, guacamole and salsas and burgers, including turkey burgers. We became fans of having lunch in the main dining room, aka The Restaurant, especially after a morning in a Caribbean port of call. What’s better than sitting in an elegant, air-conditioned dining room with white linen tablecloths and five-star service? Nothing, we say. We opted for The Restaurant for dinner as well but what we found on the Quest, however, was an equally loyal following of those who preferred to enjoy a casual dinner outside at the Patio Grill each evening. You can request table service as well.
|Seabourn Square is designed as a living room where guests can sit indoors or outside with a book and cappuccino.|
Insider Secret: The Colonnade offers alfresco dining for supper all the way aft on Deck 8; we found it to be a very romantic setting with amber candlelight and some of the most affable hosts and waitstaff on board. Dinners are regionally themed, bistro-style affairs on the Colonnade—on our last evening of the cruise, we enjoyed Spanish night with a bountiful paella offering.
One thing we quite gleefully learned is that if you’re caught hungry between the hours of an early lunch and a late dinner, you can order a pizza margherita (and almost anything else you’d like) to be sent to your room. This is just the ticket to sit on your suite’s verandah and watch the horizon or a stunning Caribbean island go by as you sail from port.
Unique Amenities: Dining aside, one of our favorite spots on the ship was Seabourn Square, the nucleus of which is a living room-like area where guests check in and where one goes for guest services. Nice Touch: The guest actually gets to sit and chat in a consultative manner with the attendant, rather than standing over a counter. This thoughtful amendment to a simple service made the entire cruise feel more luxurious.
Technology: Outside this area are eight computer stations, where one can purchase Internet packages for a day or the entire length of the cruise. Throughout the week, we found guests regularly checked their e-mail (one can also purchase Internet for one’s tablets and laptops), yet we never found ourselves waiting to use a computer. The convenience and ease of jumping on to a ship computer encouraged us to lock up the iPad and Android for the week.
On one side of Seabourn Square is a European-style coffee bar that serves lattes, cappuccinos and teas, as well as noshes like tea sandwiches, coconut muffins and almond croissant.
|A Putting Green is just one of the activities found on the top deck of the ship.|
We can’t fully describe Seabourn Square without mentioning the library that lines its walls, where latest novels, nonfiction books as well as classics are part of the collection. It’s easy to grab one of these, order your afternoon cuppa and head out to the outside seating area in the square, which has big comfy couches and dining tables, to sip and read as the sun goes down.
More fun stuff: Back to sunning on Seabourn Quest. After we’d been welcomed with our champagne-and-raspberry refresher and baked for just a bit, we were greeted by an attendant giving out an array of suntan lotions to soothe our skin as well as a spritz of water to cool us down. To us, this was a boon as there’s nothing like being caught on a Caribbean cruise without sunblock. We count this service as a first for us.
Note: We said Deck 9 was an ideal place for sunning but after a little walk around we discovered the Sun Terrace two flights up is a peaceful place as well and includes a number of sporting options such as ping pong, shuffleboard, a putting green and a driving range.
Cocktails anyone? Fine wine and spirits are included on Seabourn, plus, The Club on the fifth floor serves a fabulous appetizer of Black River Ossetra sturgeon caviar and all the trimmings, just ask for it. During our cruise, we found a decidedly European crowd melding in with a typical American group; it all felt very international to us. After a taste of the caviar, it’s fun to jump up to the Observation Bar for post-dinner martinis (if you’re able to indulge) with wonderful entertainment on the piano by a Seabourn cast member.
Accommodations: Entertainment in the suites is very sophisticated, with hundreds of on-demand movies and songs available on a flat-screen interactive TV. Walk-in closets and bathrooms with a separate shower and tub make the space extremely comfortable.
Sailing: Our itinerary was the Caribbean in mid-December. The Quest in 2013 sails the entire Mediterranean on a series of 10-day cruises from Barcelona, Athens and Monte-Carlo. In November, it heads to Antarctica, a first for Seabourn.