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SimonM

worrying Berlitz Review of Seabourn -any truth in it

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We had 3 great Seabourn cruises in 16/17 but am reading the 2018 Berlitz guide  which has some rather worrying things to say about it

"Note that quality has been reduced substantially since management has been taken over by Holland America". It gives as examples prosecco not champagne, poor canapes and disappointing cheese and meat selections, reduced dining hours and fixed disembarkation at 8am. 

What do regular travellers think ? 

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No change to champagne, still NF, they have prosecco too. Cheese, didn't really notice an issue, and we disembarked when we wanted to, as always. Don't do canapes, only caviar, and that is still available. It is not representative of my last cruise, in fact the food was far better last summer than the previous year!

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Seabourn was taken over before your 2016/17 cruises.  If you liked it then, you'll like it now as nothing has really changed.

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We disembarked the Quest in December, 2018 well after 8:00, as did most of the passengers.  The cheese on board was not what I find in my local gourmet cheese shop, but still far superior to what one finds on other cruise lines.

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Fresh off Ovation yesterday. Disembarkation was 'whenever you wish up to 10am.

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We just did 36 days on Sojourn and I think it fair to say that the Berlitz Guide is wholly inaccurate.

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We spent almost 4 weeks on Odyssey in November and December, 2018.

 

 What Berlitz has to say is nonsense, a waste of time, and therefore a foolish blot on whatever positive spin they would like you to believe about their credibility. 

 

Obviously cruisecritic, with its various contributors, is a better source.

 

Happy and healthy sailing!

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I’ve been on Seabourn, Regent, Crystal and SilverSea. They’re all IME a crapshoot at this point. The staff on Seabourns bigger ships lags very far from the wee ones. Regent if you get either one Romanian or one Ukrainian you’re set. silverSea? Ignorance abounds.


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Reviews are such subjective things.  Normally I think independent/professional reviews such as travel magazines and guides are more reliable than customer reviews.  However, as has been pointed out, there is often, particularly with printed guides a real time lag and although there is a new guide each year, not all companies that are reviewed are visited each year.  The immediacy of a customer review is a real advantage.  But....customers are far more likely to write a bad review than a good one especially of a luxury product where a customer didn't feel he or she was getting what they paid for.  So what to do?  I try to read all the reviews, on line and in publications, good and bad, throw in the forums, ask my travel agent and then jump in.  I jumped into Seabourn about 8 years ago and have never looked back.  

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The Berlitz guide is more objective than cruise critic because they are independent professional reviewers whereas the people that frequent a particular board on cruise critic are very much in love with that particular line.  That said, the problem with Berlitz is their sample size.  Obviously, they can't afford to send professional reviewers on dozens of cruises with each and every line, each and every year.  Therefore, the information can be dated and the possibility of an off-cruise exists.

 

My own experience with Seabourn was that they will routinely pour Prosecco unless you specifically ask for champaign, the main dining room was frequently closed for meals during port days (was not open at lunch the entire cruise and closed for many breakfasts), the quality of the food is subjective (but many Seabourn enthusiasts on this board have noted a decline over the years, especially with the selection in the observation lounge before dinner), and the disembarkation process on any cruise often depends on the port and how quickly the ship needs to be turned over for the new passengers.

 

Therefore, the Berlitz information seems to be accurate, or at least within the realm of possibility for a particular cruise.

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On 2/17/2019 at 2:25 PM, Emperor Norton said:

I’ve been on Seabourn, Regent, Crystal and SilverSea. They’re all IME a crapshoot at this point. The staff on Seabourns bigger ships lags very far from the wee ones. Regent if you get either one Romanian or one Ukrainian you’re set. silverSea? Ignorance abounds.


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I too have been on all those cruise lines, but sorry, Norton, I didn't understand a single sentence of your post except the first one.  The wee ones like Pride, Legend?

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We are currently on the Ovation - had a wonderful beach b-b-q today in Ko Kood - crew, a combination of many we know from prior cruises and new faces are all very good, and so far after 19 days we have had exactly 0 issues with service and have thought the food is some of the best in recent years.  Pax with poor manners and rude behavior is the only problem we have encountered so far which is not a problem Seabourn can easily rectify,,, 

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On 2/20/2019 at 4:28 AM, sananda said:

The Berlitz guide is more objective than cruise critic because they are independent professional reviewers whereas the people that frequent a particular board on cruise critic are very much in love with that particular line.  That said, the problem with Berlitz is their sample size.  Obviously, they can't afford to send professional reviewers on dozens of cruises with each and every line, each and every year.  Therefore, the information can be dated and the possibility of an off-cruise exists.

 

My own experience with Seabourn was that they will routinely pour Prosecco unless you specifically ask for champaign, the main dining room was frequently closed for meals during port days (was not open at lunch the entire cruise and closed for many breakfasts), the quality of the food is subjective (but many Seabourn enthusiasts on this board have noted a decline over the years, especially with the selection in the observation lounge before dinner), and the disembarkation process on any cruise often depends on the port and how quickly the ship needs to be turned over for the new passengers.

 

Therefore, the Berlitz information seems to be accurate, or at least within the realm of possibility for a particular cruise.

 

We have just completed 2 cruises on the Encore Nov 18 and Mar 19 and  we had lunch EVERY day in the Restaurant , from 12.30 to 1.30pm . Never had any issues with the service or the food .

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On 2/20/2019 at 1:28 AM, sananda said:

My own experience with Seabourn was that they will routinely pour Prosecco unless you specifically ask for champaign, the main dining room was frequently closed for meals during port days (was not open at lunch the entire cruise and closed for many breakfasts), the quality of the food is subjective (but many Seabourn enthusiasts on this board have noted a decline over the years, especially with the selection in the observation lounge before dinner), and the disembarkation process on any cruise often depends on the port and how quickly the ship needs to be turned over for the new passengers.

 

I also disagree with Berlitz comments. The only problem I have noticed with SB is before (website/booking etc), not once I board the ship.  I had Prosecco on my first SB cruise in 2013 but since then have always been offered Champagne.  On my last 2 recent Med cruises, the MDR has been open for breakfast, even though there were few utilizing it (maybe 10-12 when I went through the MDR). Don’t know about lunch, I was always out and about. I also agree the food is subjective but overall, we could not fault it (very few misses and always something to our liking). I am sure some guests loved the meals we did not care for. We have never been “pushed” to disembark.  In BCN last cruise we hung about in the square to let those catching early planes go (and the taxi line die down). 

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On 2/19/2019 at 10:28 AM, sananda said:

My own experience with Seabourn was that they will routinely pour Prosecco unless you specifically ask for champaign, the main dining room was frequently closed for meals during port days (was not open at lunch the entire cruise and closed for many breakfasts), the quality of the food is subjective (but many Seabourn enthusiasts on this board have noted a decline over the years, especially with the selection in the observation lounge before dinner), and the disembarkation process on any cruise often depends on the port and how quickly the ship needs to be turned over for the new passengers.

 We did 3 Seabourn cruises last year (58 days on 3 ships) and the MDR was never closed for breakfast or lunch in 58 days.  Just our opinion, but the food is as good or better since our first cruise 2011.  (We choose Seabourn for the food AND the service.)  I never knew Seabourn offered Prosecco until my 14th cruise.  I prefer it.

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Posted (edited)

 Forget Berlitz. Luxury cruise line Seabourn should not be judged by relatively unimportant factors such as the selection of canapes, which admittedly are not the greatest, but are they better elsewhere?  nor the selection of cheeses, which are pretty damn good overall each night as part of the dinner service.  Best we've found, and we know cheese. The complimentary "champagne" has always been Nicolas Feuilitte, an excellent French true Champagne product, copiously poured. Sometimes at the big Seabourn Club parties they do pour the Prosecco, but not at the bars and tables for meals. The MDR is always open for breakfast and most always for lunch, except a rare day in port. Yes the little nibbles pre-dinner in the Observation Lounge are gone. Thank you. Seabourn used to have the best MDR food at sea and is trying from our experiences to regain that honor. Disembarkation usually very smooth and efficient,  and not the 8 am whistle as that travel guide misstates.

Edited by brittany12

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Just to clarify...

 

Observation Bar nibbles gone? Not true on Odyssey in Nov-Dec., 2018 when we were last on Seabourn. The buffet alcoves on each side of its entrance had plenty of choice for the cocktail hour. You will also notice a recently installed hand-washing station on one side.

 

Happy and healthy sailing!

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On the Quest Observation Bar in November/December, there were buffet nibbles every night.  Some PAX ordered caviar.  We ordered potato chips (crips), which is our idea of luxury cruising!

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I believe I have big reputation as a gawmand and wine conisewer among some of my mates. So, not to worry, after I get on the Sojourn on the 28th April in Shangers, you can expect the good oil from yours truly. Of course, I seem to recall you lot know a thing or two too ...

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After just getting off the Encore, I concur with Berlitz travel. The food reminded me of a HAL or Princess cruise. Cheap low quality ingredients in most of the venues. The Observation lounge serving products like baloney and other cheap cheeses and meats (these are tapas?). Low quality tortilla chips straight off Carnival. Very limited hours in main dining room like breakfast and lunch open for ONE hour on sea days! Buffet filled with lettuce at many of the stations to make it look full. Carbs and starches filled the buffet, with minimal proteins. Want sliced tomatoes with your smoked salmon? It's not on the breakfast buffet. Really? No asparagus on the ship either. Ran out a Kiwis on a ship in NZ? No local sourced fish or seafood (no mussels found when the ship is in NZ).

 

Some people may be OK with a bunch of cheap low quality sliced lunch meats and cheeses to fill a space in the Observation lounge acceptable, other may find it off putting. I'm not expecting fillet but a variety of high quality nibbles would be a great start.

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6 minutes ago, Accessor said:

After just getting off the Encore, I concur with Berlitz travel. The food reminded me of a HAL or Princess cruise. Cheap low quality ingredients in most of the venues. The Observation lounge serving products like baloney and other cheap cheeses and meats (these are tapas?). Low quality tortilla chips straight off Carnival. Very limited hours in main dining room like breakfast and lunch open for ONE hour on sea days! Buffet filled with lettuce at many of the stations to make it look full. Carbs and starches filled the buffet, with minimal proteins. Want sliced tomatoes with your smoked salmon? It's not on the breakfast buffet. Really? No asparagus on the ship either. Ran out a Kiwis on a ship in NZ? No local sourced fish or seafood (no mussels found when the ship is in NZ).

 

Some people may be OK with a bunch of cheap low quality sliced lunch meats and cheeses to fill a space in the Observation lounge acceptable, other may find it off putting. I'm not expecting fillet but a variety of high quality nibbles would be a great start.

I'm sorry that things did not work out for you on  the Encore.  I cannot make excuses.  However, I used to complain a lot about the lack of locally sourced food on Seabourn and other cruise lines and have learned, painfully I might add, that for many reasons, that is just not going to happen on a cruise ship.  So I have given up that expectation and stopped complaining and look for fresh food on land only.

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2 minutes ago, tv24 said:

I'm sorry that things did not work out for you on  the Encore.  I cannot make excuses.  However, I used to complain a lot about the lack of locally sourced food on Seabourn and other cruise lines and have learned, painfully I might add, that for many reasons, that is just not going to happen on a cruise ship.  So I have given up that expectation and stopped complaining and look for fresh food on land only.

 

We had a great cruise! it wasn't a bad time. We just found the food well below the standards for a claimed 6 star cruiseline. We spoke to employees which have been with the company 20+ years, they are embarrassed by some of the products they are now serving guests. I even chatted with the executive chef about the quality of things; his response was his hands are tied by CCL. He is required to use the standard purveyors all ships order from company wide. In other words, they use the same (fill in the blank) on every single ship in the fleet. Buying power, right?


We have also never been told an entree is "SOLD OUT" in the main dining room. This happened several times. It's all relative to what your expectations are...ours were high, @$450/day is not exactly a cheap cruise....

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23 hours ago, markham said:

Just to clarify...

 

Observation Bar nibbles gone? Not true on Odyssey in Nov-Dec., 2018 when we were last on Seabourn. The buffet alcoves on each side of its entrance had plenty of choice for the cocktail hour. You will also notice a recently installed hand-washing station on one side.

 

Happy and healthy sailing!

Very true Markham.

and for those that do not look very hard there’s a baby grand piano on the right as you walk in 🧐

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9 hours ago, Accessor said:

 

We had a great cruise! it wasn't a bad time. We just found the food well below the standards for a claimed 6 star cruiseline. We spoke to employees which have been with the company 20+ years, they are embarrassed by some of the products they are now serving guests. I even chatted with the executive chef about the quality of things; his response was his hands are tied by CCL. He is required to use the standard purveyors all ships order from company wide. In other words, they use the same (fill in the blank) on every single ship in the fleet. Buying power, right?


We have also never been told an entree is "SOLD OUT" in the main dining room. This happened several times. It's all relative to what your expectations are...ours were high, @$450/day is not exactly a cheap cruise....

Actually the F and B operations - buying suplies and what to serve - is decided by the seniors of HAL -

confirmed by several officers last year during a ships visit - i cannot put the  names on it  , neither of the HAL people ( despite i am aware of some )

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