What are the characteristics of a Seabourn cruise?

We have been traveling for ten days now on the Seabourn Spirit, and mostly I have been writing about the fascinating ports we have visited.

So, let’s talk about the ship. The Spirit is one of three small ships that Seabourn owns (the others are the Seabourn Legend and Seabourn Pride ), along with its two new larger ships, the Seabourn Odyssey and Seabourn Sojourn. The new Seabourn Quest is being introduced next year. Together, these are promoted as “The Yachts of Seabourn.”

Seabourn is regarded as one of the ultra-luxury lines, usually grouped with companies such as Silversea and the Sea Dream Yacht Club. (Regent Seven Seas Cruises is also working its way into this category). But for a very long time, the name Seabourn has been synonymous with the best.

So, what makes a Seabourn cruise so special?

They are small. First, the ships are small and intimate. As hotel manager Joerg Grossmann explains it, “They just can’t afford to build ships like this anymore.” This ship carries just slightly over 200 passengers so passengers get to know one another very quickly, if not personally, at least by sight.

All cabins are mini-suites. This ship is actually very egalitarian. All cabins are small suites and all are exactly alike, except for a very few larger “real” suites. The only difference is what deck your cabin is on. There is a sitting area with a sofa, two chairs and a table, a bedroom area with a king/two twins bed (and this is a real king, not the typical queen found on most ships) and a dressing table. There is a walk-in closet. The marble bathroom features two sinks and a bathtub/shower. There is adequate storage space. Each is 277 square feet.

The cruise is all-inclusive. All drinks – alcohol, wine, beer, soft drinks, etc. – are included. Wine is served at lunch and dinner. There is a small fridge in each cabin and it is kept stocked with whatever you desire…in our case, chardonnay for me and Glenlivet scotch for Chet. There is also fresh fruit and flowers in every cabin.

The staff is fabulous. At a staff-passenger ratio of about 1:1 there is always someone to take care of your every need. Many staff will learn your name within a few days and the bartenders are soon pouring your favorite drinks without your even ordering. Today at lunch, Heidi brought us two chardonnays, an iced tea and ice water without our asking. That feels very special.

Entertainment is pretty low-key. Not everyone would appreciate this, but we are mostly entertained by a dance band, a guitar player and a pianist. There are also guest performers who stay on board for a few days. We first had a pianist and a magician (both quite good) and tonight we have a show by a flutist.

Activities are limited. There are not many planned activities on board, and most are on sea days. There are two guest lecturers, one is a historian and the other a specialist in government intelligence. There is also a bridge teacher and she runs morning and afternoon sessions on sea days. Many people form teams for the daily trivia contest and a regular group shows up for the putting contest as well. Some visit the fitness center regularly and others take advantage of the spa (very pricey). Otherwise, the library gets a big workout…everyone seems engrossed in a book. Days at sea, in general, are very leisurely.

Seabourn sails longer and quite exotic itineraries. While Seabourn does seem to be offering more seven-day sailings, it is known for its longer trips…this trip is 21 days. And the itineraries don’t generally repeat, so it is quite common for guests to sail back-to-back, putting two sailings together. While the majority of us on this trip boarded in Dubai on Nov. 30, quite a few have sailed on the ship since they boarded in Rome about ten days earlier.

The passenger mix is very international. Possibly, because this cruise is considered exotic and visits both Arabia and Southeast Asia, the number of different nationalities is even greater. According to the passenger list, we have 44 from the US, 38 from Australia, 30 from the UK, 16 from Germany, 14 from Canada, 9 from Mexico and the rest are from Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Switzerland, Spain, France, Malaysia, Netherlands, Norway and New Zealand. Now that is a mix! We meet new people every day!

For more information, visit www. Seabourn.com.

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