Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Seabourn Encore: The Inaugural Cruise - Part I

Tomorrow, courtesy of Seabourn, I fly to Singapore to attend the Inaugural Celebration and Cruise of the Seabourn Encore; Seabourn's newest and largest ship with a capacity of 604 guests.

Seabourn Encore
Goldring Travel, a Seabourn Platinum Elite Agency, is one of but a handful (if that) of travel agencies that have been invited on the Inaugural Sailing; my being one of the, if not the, top selling agent of Seabourn cruises in the world.  As such I have been honored to be a guest at the Inaugurals of all four of Seabourn's ships:  Seabourn Odyssey - Venice; Seabourn Sojourn - London; Seabourn Quest - Rome (Civitavecchia) and now Seabourn Encore - Singapore.

Why do I mention the locations of the prior Inaugurals?  Because many people are unfamiliar with Seabourn and ask, "Where does Seabourn sail?"  As you can see the answer is, "Everywhere in the World".  Yes, from Alaska to Antarctica and Singapore to Barcelona, the Caribbean and more, Seabourn cruises there.  The Seabourn Encore's Inaugural Season includes Asia, Australia/New Zealand and Europe's  Mediterranean Sea.

Seabourn Encore Inaugural Cruise Itinerary Map
I will detail the ship and provide photographs as I sail her, but I want to mention what is different about the Seabourn Encore from her slightly smaller sisters.


While they all have The Restaurant, Colonnade and Patio Grill (as well as In-suite Dining...course by course on fine linens with china and crystal) the Encore has Sushi, a lunch and dinner alternative dining experience as well as The Grill by Thomas Keller for a unique incredibly high quality American Grill experience...not a mere steakhouse!  (Note:  A smaller version is on the Seabourn Quest and will be installed on the Seabourn Odyssey and Seabourn Sojourn later this year).

Each of the dining venues and public spaces, including The Seabourn Square (which is no longer "square", but circular), The Club and Observation Lounges, have been re-imagined and re-designed, so many things will seem similar, but markedly different at the same time. I am curious to see if the 2.0 Versions of these venues are better, just different or possibly great in concept, but not execution.  I will, as I always do, let you know.

Another area that I am very curious to see if it both works and is utilized is The Retreat.  This is a semi-private extra cost spa area where up to 30 guests (anticipating all couples) may enjoy a cabana with television, specially stocked bar, a unique menu, a concierge and more.  This is more like a 3.0 Version of the Garden Villas that were initially present on the Seabourn Odyssey-class ships that were underutilized..and the space was, to my delight, transformed into Penthouse Spa Suites.  I am sure I will better wrap my head around The Retreat when I am aboard the Seabourn Encore.

The standard suites on the Seabourn Encore are, for the most part, very similar to the Odyssey-class suites; though a few suites forward are somewhat smaller (apparently due to some unforeseen construction issues) and have smaller balconies (as with the other ships, due to the shape of the hull). As nothing is "the same" I will be looking for any changes (such as the improved televisions) and letting you know.  There have been some changes to the premium suites: Penthouse, Penthouse Spa, Owner's, Signature and Wintergarden that I will also explain in the following articles.

But for me the most important aspects of the Seabourn Encore that I will be looking at is the service.  As the ship is brand new there will, no doubt, be some service issues, but it is the overall embodiment of the Seabourn Experience that I am looking for.  Back when I first started selling Seabourn cruises the mantra was, "It's not the hardware.  It's the software." And I want to be sure that the "bright and shiny" new ship allows the really "stars" of Seabourn to perform to the levels they have on the Odyssey-class ships.

And, of course, there is the cuisine.  While I have enjoyed pretty much all of The Grill by Thomas Keller's menu while on the Seabourn Quest this past August (and it is pretty spectacular), I am going to look closely at all of the dining venues, their menu offerings and, of course, the execution.  Dining is one of the most important aspects of many Seabourn guests' cruise experience.  I will, for the sake of research, commit to putting on a bit of weight so that I can thoroughly investigate the cuisine.

Back in 2008 I wrote an article "It's Like a Sandwich! Seabourn Spirit - New Ports for 2009" where I discussed how too many people forget to explore the city where the port of embarkation is and, if there is time, the port of disembarkation. So, in that light,  but before I attend the Inaugural festivities, I will have a day and night in Singapore, staying at the Four Seasons Singapore. It will be a markedly different experience from my last visit to Singapore when I stayed at Raffles, but I am very interested in seeing how the Four Seasons brings me into the cultures that make Singapore well Singapore.

And, of course, I am going to again delve again into Singapore's wide variety of cuisines and embrace all those spices.  Yum!!!

Seabourn has some fantastic prices on Seabourn Encore sailings and, of course, there is the Goldring Travel's 2017 Culinary & Cultural (Food & Wine) Cruise sailing roundtrip Barcelona on September 4, 2017.

If you are interested in learning more about the Seabourn Encore or, better, want to book a cruise on this magnificent ship, please give me a call or email me...even when I am onboard her!

United States: (877) 2GO-LUXURY
United Kingdom: 020 8133 3450
Australia: (07) 3102 4685
Everywhere Else: +1 530-562-9232

Or email us at eric@goldringtravel.com.