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I posted this on the Seabourn Board but figured I would repost this here.
I've sailed both lines and others.
My best advice.
Pick the itinerary that works best for you.
Because the reality is that some people like both lines equally, some like one line over the other, and you can't be certain which category you fall into until you sail on both lines.
Having sailed on both lines there were many things in common, and a few differences and some of the differences can even vary by ship within each line because even within each line they have different size ships.
So, let the itinerary drive your decision.
If you think the itineraries are equal, then here's my second piece of advice.
Go to the cruise critic member review section. Read the reviews for each ship you are considering. Go with what I call the 80/20 rule. If 80% of the people rate something as being very positive or 80% of the people rate something as being negative then accept that as fact until you experience it for yourself. And if your Travel Specialist or a friend has sailed on both lines talk it through with them.
But realize you will not get consensus on this type of question in a post.
And one final note. Longer term try to sail on both lines as well as some of the other luxury lines.
I have sailed on both and they are very similar. The SB Spirit was in tough shape last year and I don't know if it has had a rehab since. I can not speak for the newer ships myself but friends that have sailed both say they are very nice the SB line tends to have more Americans on board SS is more of a mix the service and food are equally great. if you are thinking of the triplets the pools are not as nice as any of the SS ships. I would look for the itinerary that you like and let that be the judge.
Seabourn Odyssey Auckland to Bali Feb 2015 32 Days
Seabourn Odyssey Athens to Mumbai Oct 2014 18 Days
Seabourn Quest Athens to Monte Carlo Sept 2013 10 Days
Silver Shadow Ball to Hong Kong Feb 2013 19 Days
Silver Wind Athens to Rome June 2012 9 Days
Silver Spirit Istanbul to Monte Carlo Sept 2011 14 Days
Seabourn Spirit Venice to Venice May 2011 14 Days
Silver Wind Barcelona to Civitavecchia Sept 2010 10 Days
I agree to pick the best itinerary and dates for you. It has been a number of years since I was on either. At that time I felt the Silver Wind was a more attractive ship with nicer staterooms, whereas the Seabourn Pride had better service and food. That being said, both were excellent. Returning to Silversea this year.
Anyone who has not sailed on SB since they introduced the three large ships will find them completely different from the triplets. Closer in size and feeling to the Shadow and Whisper imo but visually more attractive. Again, both lines are great so itinerary should be the guide as has been advised.
When we sailed on The Spirit in May, we sat with two other couples who had sailed extensively on SS and SB. Eventually, one of the wives developed some sort of a food related issue, I believe it was gluten, not sure. Anyway, we were praising SS to high heaven in how they were able to cater to my DH's dietary restrictions (vegetarian) and this lady said that the reason they stopped sailing SB was because they absolutley refused to accomodate any dietary needs for her.
I have not sailed SB, but I had no reason to disbelieve what this woman said. If food allergies (etc) are an issue, maybe some research into SB is required to be sure that they can accommodate?
Northerncheapo, I can't comment on Seabourn, but I can emphatically second your positive view of SS in their handling of special diets. On a 30+ day sail around South America on the Whisper in 2011, we met a woman who had severe Celiac disease requiring a very strict gluten-free diet.
she was absolutely ecstatic that the SS chef carefully created terrific menus for her which were cooked on separate cookware and gave her a wonderful cruise with no problems. My daughter-in-law has the same severe problem, and I fully appreciate how meticulous these preparations must be. This is beyond a "you only have to ask" level of care, and was a real credit to those SS chefs.
Hi Wellseasoned, yes, I have to agree that SS did an amazing job with my husband's vegetarian menu. I do believe I wrote about it at length in one of my chapter reviews, which can be looked up.
The other pax that needed a special menu was very pleased as well. She was a bit older and very refined and was very particular about what was 'apporopriate dinner conversation' and what was not. Talking about her special diet was not discussed in detail, so I cannot say what her specific requirements were. She only offered up the comparison upon learning about my DH diet and hearing that we were curious about SB. Again, I had no reason to not believe her. She was/is a very well travelled woman and could easily choose any line so I found her comments interesting.
My point being to the OP, that if diet is a concern or special request, he may want to ask that question before booking.
Without calling names, from which I hope we can all refrain, I have personally seen SB go out of its way to provide special dietary requests. Both lines will certainly do their best to accommodate such needs. It could certainly have been that on one particular cruise the staff was less than accommodating in that area. IN that case a word to the hotman should solve the problem nicely.
Been on both lines that are in discussion...my husband has a severe reaction to shellfish. Both lines are aware of that from our first night on the ship (notate when I fill out preferences on line). They have both addressed the situation to his complete satisfaction. I have found the dining rooms on both ship ready to cater to your every need
Seems silly to go on regarding one ship verses the other at this level...they are both wonderful cruise lines...you will have a great time on either if you have a positive attitude. There are worse things in life than having to decide between two luxury lines. Would imagine a person whose unemployment benefits ran out months ago, would give anything to be in your shoes. Decide and move on.