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Saturday 1 December 2018

Seabourn - the last word on luxury at sea

Words: Ian MacTavish

Not many of us live right beside the sea. My wife and I certainly don’t. But you’d have to be a long way from any coastline to be unaware of the growing numbers of lovely large white vessels moving in and out of ports around the world.

With their decks buzzing with excited passengers looking forward to a short or long cruise they represent the fastest growing sector of the travel industry.

Cruising has never been more popular and the corners of the world served by sea-lanes have opened up for so many in the last twenty years.

The lure of the oceans.

Any cruise has a number of immediate attractions over land-based travel.

You don’t have to pack and unpack. No need to book in and out of hotels, or find transport every other day. You have a very short walk to all you want. Food. Drink. Pool. Deckchair. Spa. Dancing. Casino. Theatre.

After sunset, after a sleep, you see a new part of the world, a fresh discovery, appearing over your balcony rail every morning.

To top it off there is the romance of the sea ... something so reassuring in the humming and the gentle movement of the hull beneath you.

Which size cruise fits you?

Talk to your friends. We did because we seemed to be the last to take to the seas.

We listened to stories of the latest megaliners, fabulous craft the size of villages, with thousands of people and unbelievable facilities.

Some of our mates love large hotels. Huge spaces, bars everywhere, the buzz of crowds. But we’ve always liked intimate, boutique gems and that steered us towards the company known for it’s smaller ships.

OK you may miss out on water slides or surfing pools, but on a ship with less than 300 suites you can go into smaller ports, and mingle with a compact selection of like-minded travellers.

Thinking smaller for bigger rewards

Seabourn is right at the top of the luxury cruise lines.

No point in hiding. We found it among the most expensive.

But wow, what an experience!

Not only did we not want for anything, but the levels of personal service and the added touches were also above and beyond anything we had experienced before. The ratio of crew to guests is one of the highest.

Even in the space of ten days, we got to know by name most of the crew serving us day by day. They come from all over the world and cheerfully give you an interesting insight into their backgrounds. They remembered many of our preferences such as seating for meals and favourite snacks. 

Seabourn Encore: Pool deck.

How Seabourn defines luxury.

We met the Cruise Director on the second day out and had a couple of conversations with him. He had been with the company for 27 years, starting as an onboard entertainer. We asked how his systems work so well; his most telling statement was: “We make things personable. We encourage guests to chat with us and each other. Temporary friends maybe, but it generates an atmosphere you won’t find on a larger ship or hotel”

That’s how it is. Intimate, informal and individual.

Crewmembers are always ahead of you, anticipating what might make your day even better.

In your chosen bar, the barman remembers your favourite drink, and it appears. No need to run up a tab or settle up on the last day. It’s all included.

Need another bottle of champagne in you suite’s fridge? It’s all included.

Choice of some of the world’s fine wine at dinner. It’s all included.

An evening concert and dinner ashore. All included

Feels so gooooood!

Comfort you take for granted. Our suite’s ensuite had twin basins, a separate shower and bath (a tub on a softly swaying ship is a great experience), piles of fluffy towelling and shelves filled with products from Molton Brown of London.

A huge bed. Balcony, fridge, lounges and a table for dining in, which we did one night, each course brought as it was prepared.

The restaurant meals are amazingly good, especially at Restaurant2, which we made sure we booked as soon as we boarded.

My wife is tapping me on the shoulder to mention The Spa. It’s mainly a girl thing, and they deserve every hour of it. Emerging radiant, she says nowhere has treated her so well. The sheer choice of luxurious pampering is amazing. Just look at the brochure.

How to sum up the Seabourn Experience.

We haven’t been on all the ships at sea. But it is difficult to imagine anything that could top our Seabourn adventure.

For us it was sunshine, sipping and sightseeing in a Mediterranean summer. You might choose quite another part of the world. The oceans await you. Your horizons may be very different. But I bet onboard you’ll fall in love with what we did.

All in all, we did many things we had done before but with a level of perfection thanks to the sparkle of the Seabourn team. With their proven tradition of ultra-luxury, we would step onboard any of their ships, anywhere in the world in a heartbeat.

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