WATCH OUT SEABOURN
Prior to our cruise we had a couple of days in the delightful city of Barcelona. We did the awesome Gaudi cathedral, the mouth-watering fresh food markets and the shopaholics delight of the Ramblas. Having had our holiday appetite whetted, we were ready for the cruise. The cruise terminal at Barcelona is modern and within east reach of the city. Checking in was a breeze, obviously helped by the small capacity of the Seabourn Odyssey. Once on board we were shown to the Colonnade restaurants where we has a delightful buffet lunch with wine flowing as required. After lunch we went to our suite which was on the 8th deck. The suite comprises of a large bathroom and shower, king size bed with separate wardrobe, a reasonably sized sitting area and a balcony with table and two chairs. Your stewardess works in the shadows, rarely seen but always having done the house keeping duties in your absence, including refilling the complementary in suite mini bar. On your return at night, there are chocolates on your pillow the slimming kind of course! In all but the suites on deck 4 there is a balcony that has ample space for the table and chairs provided. Having sailed with Cunard a couple of years ago I would say that the Seabourn suites are almost double the size of Cunard balcony cabin. There are four dining options on Odyssey two of which are for casual dining. The Colonnade and pool bar have a great choice at lunch time, but in the evening they are very restrictive in their choice, with no fish or vegetarian options at times could do better Seabourn. The restaurant is very good, with numerous tables for 2 should you not wish to share as Seabourn says, dine when and with whom you like. Staff at times did appear to be under pressure, and like other companies they use iPads for taking orders, but they do not seem to be infallible. There is a wide choice of inclusive wines on offer do not be afraid to ask for something other that the days red and white that you are offered, you can of course have champagne or a cocktail if you wish. Seabourn has teamed up with celebrity chef Thomas Keller with a specialty grill restaurant, its OK but not Michelin star quality, and the service is a bit on the fussy side. You are virtually guaranteed at least one visit to the Grill during your holiday, but if you want more visits you have to book whilst on board. I wonder if there is an element of cost cutting on Seabourn a little thing lobster on the menu? In the Keller Grill it only featured twice in 2 weeks, and not once in the main restaurant, is this the thin edge of the wedge? The casual meeting place named Seabourn Square is very good a wonderful selection of coffee, cakes and snacks served by cheerful baristas. You can use the computer terminals (the internet charge is quite high), the iPads with the worlds newspapers on them, help with the large jigsaw, read a book or simply gaze out of the windows and watch the world go by. The gym is more than adequate for me but may be on the small size for the fitness fanatic. The entertainment is low key, do not expect the Broadway productions of the larger ships. The cruise director Verity was extremely able as were the Seabourn singers and dancers. There were entertainers brought on board to do a couple of shows, so all in all the entertainment changed nightly. The Tim Rice show was a little disappointing given the hype There are almost no facilities for children, after a couple of days they would be bored to tears. Would we travel with Seabourn again - yes without doubt, but there are a number of 6 star cruise lines out there, so it is essential that Seabourn continue to strive to be the best and do not rest on their laurels or they could easily be overtaken. Also, there are some new kids on the block we travelled with Viking earlier in the year, and whilst they are not quit 6 star, they are 5 star + and exceptional value for money offering exceptional accommodation on brand new ships, we will definitely try them again. Having cruised with Seabourn for over 15 years, I wonder if the Carnival group culture of pile it high and sell it cheaper is rearing its head. I remember a similar situation about 10 years ago, and it took Seabourn about 3 years to come back from the brink lets hope this is not history repeating itself. There are a lot of competitors out there nibbling at their heels Viking, Oceania, Regent and Silverseas just to name a few. Seabourn watch out !
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