Yes, baby boomer travelers, cruising on Seabourn really does feel like sailing on your own yacht. In Part One of my review, I wrote about the intimate spaces and luxury accommodations that we experienced on-board our Seabourn Sojourn Cruise from Rome to Ft. Lauderdale. But what about the food? Is it boring dining in the same venue night after night? And what choices will boomers have to stay active on a small luxury cruise ship? Here’s the scoop on dining, entertainment and activities
Gourmet dining choices
With four dining venues (and room service makes five), Seabourn Sojourn offers a variety of gourmet food choices. The Restaurant, the main dining room, has the most elegant entry into a dining room that I’ve seen on a ship. Although not as spectacular in the daylight, in the evening, softly lit columns light the way to your gourmet meal, which is accompanied by outstanding personal service.
Another choice, The Colonnade, a buffet at breakfast and lunch, magically morphs into a contemporary, open kitchen bistro with table-side service at night. An international theme changes daily but guests find good old standbys such as steak or salmon on the right-hand side of the menu. Be prepared for the chef to stop by to see what you think of the meal. Covered, outside seating is available during good weather.
When Alan and I discovered outdoor dining at the Patio Grill on the pool deck, we were hooked. What boomer can resist dining under the stars, while being served grilled Nigerian shrimp or filet mignon? Salad and desert are buffet style but the main meal is delivered to your table along with endless glasses of wine.
We were so busy enjoying our favorite dining destinations on the ship that we did not try the fourth alternative, Restaurant 2.
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At all of the restaurants, including the Patio Grill, sommeliers introduce the night’s feature wine or help guests with another choice.
With over 250 nights of cruising on small luxury ships, Alan and I have seen our share of shipboard performances—good, mediocre and laughably bad. The entertainment troupe on our Seabourn Sojourn cruise is the best we’ve ever experienced. Consisting of two guys and two girls, the group’s voices blend seamlessly into modern, snappy versions of current popular hits or Broadway songs from shows like Rent, Hairspray and Wicked. Of course we enjoyed baby boomer favorites like The Beach Boys, the Four Seasons and Motown. In one performance, The Rolling Stones ballad, Wild Horses, was a show stopper. Here’s a tip: the Grand Salon has many columns that block the view. Arrive early for a good seat.
On this cruise, headline entertainers included an interesting mix of vocal and instrumentalists. Maria King, a pianist from Great Britain, wowed guests with her talent and wit. If only I could play piano like Maria!
Before dinner, the Observation Bar is the place to be. Alan and I enjoyed meeting friends for a glass of champagne, a sunset view and smooth piano played by Lisa Hasty. It’s a beautiful room with a view but we sure hope Seabourn ditches the heavy draperies.
After the evening show, we usually danced our itchy travel feet off at The Club, Sojourn’s show lounge. Club Duo, Ian and Nadia, keep guests on the floor with their versions of contemporary and golden oldies dance tunes. And the place rocks on the nights when singers from the entertainment troupe rotate in and out, along with other members of the entertainment staff, belting out their favorites.
Plenty to do
Seabourn offers an assortment of excursions for each port. We found them to be well-organized and true to their brochure description. The tour of Lisbon by private trolley car was one of our favorites. But, then, I haven’t told you yet about our 4×4 adventure in Funchal.
Daytime activities at sea include the usual assortment of bridge classes and play, lectures and cooking demonstrations. I’ll have to be honest here, Alan and I had so much fun at night that we spent our days resting up for more dancing. Of course, I had blog work and writing assignments to keep up with using Seabourn’s wireless internet signal ($399 for the entire cruise).
Exercise buffs (that was not us on this cruise) will find a well-equipped gym, with classes, in the spa area. Joggers and walkers have the option to run around deck 9 that overlooks the pool area or deck 5 which is covered. The sports deck has a putting green as well as other outdoor games.
Although we didn’t use the services of The Spa at Seabourn, I did take a peek. Covering two decks, with sliding glass walls that provide an inspiring view, the spa offers special relaxation areas as well as innovative treatments. Use of the relaxation areas, whirpools and decks requires a fee if you’re not booking a treatment. After hearing rave reviews from cruise friends, next time, we’ll purchase the package that allows access throughout the cruise.
So, what did we really think
As I’ve said before, Alan and I are no strangers to small ship luxury cruising. This Seabourn Sojourn cruise did not disappoint, in fact the exemplary personal service raised the bar in our expectations, so much so that we booked another cruise. In 2012, we’ll be sailing on Seabourn Odyssey through the South Pacific (one of our favorites) from Sydney, Australia back to Los Angeles. Yes, Seabourn is our yacht.
Breaking News: Seabourn is changing it’s name from The Yachts of Seabourn to Seabourn Cruise Lines. Alan and I sure hope they keep the yacht emphasis as we felt this was the key ingredient that made the difference in our small ship luxury cruise experience.