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Seabourn Sojourn Singapore-Mumbai, March 2015

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This was our first cruise with Seabourn so we were interested in seeing how the cruise experience compared to previous cruises. Overall, Seabourn has moved to our top spot but still has some room for improvement.

We loved the size of the ship (400 passengers on our cruise, but capacity is about 450), and the public areas, restaurants and pools were all great. We booked the lowest category verandah suite and it was of a good size and quality, well equipped, but bland in decor. Lots of beige. The marble bathroom was lovely and had two sinks and a large soaking tub and a decent sized shower. The king bed was very comfortable and quality linens. The living room had a table and chairs (used for early am room breakfast service) , a flat screen tv and sofa with table and bar area.

We thought the food was excellent and enjoyed all the restaurants, but didn’t care for the Restaurant 2 experience, which was the only one that needed to be reserved, and featured a set small plate meal. The service was uniformly excellent and the included wine selections were fine. I really liked that we could dine outside for breakfast, dinner and lunch at the Colonnade and for lunch and dinner around the Pool, although we mostly ate in The Restaurant. Also around the pool, there was always some specialty tropical cocktail being served. Regarding the main pool, the first day people saved the lounge chairs while not there. After a notice went out in the daily paper that items would be removed after 30 minutes, this was no longer a problem. The spa was beautiful and I enjoyed a wonderful massage. Pre dinner cocktails at the Observation Bar was always fun and they also served a wonderful Tea with sweets and savories around 4p.

We loved when they incorporated local food or cultural experiences. The Colannade venue often offered the food of the region we were visiting and twice we had dance performances showcasing local Burmese and Southern Indian dancers.

The staff, including the cruise director, Handre, were great. We thought the quality of entertainment on a small-mid size ship was excellent.

Areas that could be improved: The fitness classes should be expanded beyond alternating Pilates or Yoga (once in the am) and a weight lifting class in the afternoon. The classroom was very small and it would’ve been fun to offer a Zumba or other dance exercise class in one of the lounges. I also didn’t think the instructor was personable.

This ties into my second major complaint: there wasn’t a variety of things to do on Sea Days, and we had seven out of 16 days at sea. Often there were 2 or 3 enrichment lectures (but who wants to listen to 3 lectures a day) and a daily trivia competition, a bago competition, sometimes a putting one, and that’s about it. There was one galley tour where they showed how to make breadsticks (I missed due to a shore excursion) but there should have been more actual cooking classes...perhaps a fashion show explaining local dress, etc. As far as the lecturers go, we really enjoyed two of them but the third, who was scheduled the most, was extremely dry, too detailed and boring. Tried two of her lectures and that was enough.

Another problem was the process of getting passports back to disembark the ship. We understand that this isn’t Seabourn’s fault, but a prior warning in the pre-cruise documents would have been helpful. The itinerary showed a 5am arrival in Myanmar so we arranged for a private 7am pickup, but the delay in getting our passports resulted in our meeting our guide and driver at 8:45am. Perhaps they could warn that it might take a while to be able to disembark and plan accordingly.

Regarding shore excursions, many of them didn’t appeal to me, especially in Kuala Lumpur. We chose to have them bus us in for KL on out own, but they dropped us at Lot 10, a not great shopping center. It would’ve been better to drop us in one of the historic areas where the sights were. I did book most of the excursions using local tour operators and were happy with those. The half day we booked through the cruise in Thanylin, Myanmar was disappointing.

I also thought the boutique lacked interesting items to buy. (I’m basing this compared to the Silverseas Spirit boutique, a comparable sized ship}

One incident that happened caused some concern among the passengers. When we were in the middle of the Indian Ocean, all of a sudden a fishing boat came along side us and the crew were up their masts yelling at the boat. Being on my verandah, at first I took a lot of photos until my husband said I could get sprayed with gunfire and went inside. The captain came over the loudspeakers and said that the passengers should move away from the starboard side, where they were located and of course each deck was loaded with passengers snapping pictures...that the ship was in distress as they had run out of food and water...and that we would be helping them. Eventually, the boat (a nice looking boat about 32’ and registered to Sri Lanka) pulled up right next our ship and large duffel bags of items were transferred to the ship on ropes. They were very happy and all ended well. However, in this day and age of piracy, and terrorists, it seems foolhardy to allow any boat to get that close. We did trust that our Captain had checked everything out beforehand, but even a registered boat could have been taken over and the owner forced by a hostage situation into becoming a Suicide Boat. Perhaps in helping future incidents, a life boat with food/water could have been sent out to them rather than allowing a boat to get close enough to touch our ship.

Despite the areas I’ve been critical of, we had a wonderful experience and enjoyed the cruise very much. I would highly recommend Seabourn and plan to cruise again with them in a couple of years.

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