Friday, October 24, 2008

Some Interesting Options...And The Seabourn Difference

Some of you keep reading about Seabourn, but really don't know what the ships are like.  Let's briefly compare a few ships, so you get the idea of how Seabourn can be so intimate and personalized. 

I have chosen three of the better quality ships, so the comparison is meaningful.
Celebrity Solstice

Regent Seven Seas Voyager

Seabourn Legend


All all three are high quality ships and each provides a quality product. 

The Solstice has far more in the way of facilities, options and unique venues (and I am very much looking forward to my pre-inaugural cruise in an AquaClass spa stateroom next month!).  It also must service over 2,800 guests.  In a way, the fantastic facilities are a substitute for some of the "impossible to provide to everyone" personalized service.  To be sure, there is a WOW factor and a price point for most cabins/suites which is but a fraction of the two others it is compared to. However the top suites do get more personalized service to combine with those facilities and, at times, the prices are not so different from the other two.  But if you shop carefully, good deals abound!

The Voyager has less facilities (and it is about to have some of its more tired ones updated shortly!) and, of course, less guests:  708.  While I have issues with its staff training and inconsistency of service, the theory is that the service is of a higher, more personalized, nature.  Its size and lower passenger count allows for open seat dining and a more "restaurant" vs. "grand ballroom", "club vs. dance hall" feel.  However, due to the number of passengers it is almost impossible to provide proactive service.  If you ask you will probably get what you want - within limits.  But don't expect to get without asking.

The Seabourn Legend (and her two sisters) has the least amount of facilities, with a small (but adequate) spa, fitness center, library, etc.  But with only 208 guests...7% percent of Solstice's and 30% of Voyager's guests...intuitive service and special touches are not only possible, it is a way of life.  The staff quickly learns your name.  They can give you real advice as to wines and menu items.  They can see that you might want a lounge chair "just there" and also bring you refreshments, just in case...and unasked for.  The food is of extraordinary quality and made ala minute rather than staged as hundreds (or thousands) line up at meal times on the other ships.

So as I sit here writing I recall just a few weeks ago I was sitting in the hot tub on the bow of a Seabourn ship with two friends (can you find it in the photo?), sailing out of a small port the other two ships cannot visit (for they are too large), and a bar waiter came up to us and said, "You look like you could use a bottle of champagne and three glasses."  He was right...and we hadn't even thought about that. How did he know that?