One of those regions that is high on the list for many, and to which Seabourn sails every year, is Europe. And in fact, there will be four of their ships cruising the coasts, landscapes and harbours here in 2020; seeking out architectural wonders, culture and charm as well as incredible history at every turn. The Seabourn vessels will range from the far north icescapes of Greenland and Iceland to the Baltic region and Scandinavia, Great Britain and Ireland and of course Southern Europe, including a marvellous array of Mediterranean countries.
On a cruise late last summer, we joined the stunning, newly launched Seabourn Ovation for a cruise in Northern waters, roundtrip from Copenhagen, visiting Sweden, Norway, England, Scotland and Germany.
Gothenburg, located on Sweden’s beautiful west coast has a revitalized core full of art galleries, breweries and a host of trendsetting boutiques. We loved Norway’s awe-inspiring and stunning scenery and our call at the picturesque village of Arendal was a true delight with its historic and colourful buildings – a surprising and charming place one might not visit other than by ship. We sailed onto England and Scotland and enjoyed a special event with tickets to the Edinburgh Festival Tattoo, courtesy of Seabourn. We also enjoyed a shipboard overnight in this historic city with ample time for exploration. Contemplating the spectacular back-drop of Scotland’s great castles and lochs – including Loch Ness of course –we then walked the somber path of painful clan history at the thought-provoking Culloden battlefield. And then, a visit to the incomparably wild Shetland Islands, where we explored the heather-clad moors, rolling farmland and craggy hills. Naturally we found a few adorable Shetland ponies to visit with!
During these excursions and days “out and about”, enjoying all manner of different places, we gladly returned, at the end of each day to the charming ministrations of our crew and staff. The warmth of our “welcome home” and the very real sense of family and camaraderie is always evident with Seabourn. There’s a special feeling on a smaller ship –just 600 guests – all enjoying the same intriguing and beautiful ports.
Each evening, we enjoyed time to relax and savour a pre-dinner aperitif in The Club or the Observation Bar, with great views from high up – always the place to be for sail away, which to me is one of the best times of day on a ship. And then, of course, there would be yet another delightful dinner.
Seabourn offers an expansive choice of wonderful, light and tasty bites in the Observation Bar every evening to the accompaniment of live music from a talented duo; indeed, one could almost make a meal of the bountiful lineup. And of course, all drinks, wine and liquor, as well as Champagne is included in your cruise fare along with gratuities for the staff, ensuring a very relaxed onboard feel with never a need to sign a check. It’s a feature everyone appreciates and one that assures a convivial onboard atmosphere.
We always had a choice of where to dine; one evening we reserved a table at The Grill by Thomas Keller, the renowned American chef who partners with Seabourn in this alternative restaurant option inspired by a Classic American chophouse – and with no additional charge. We also frequented the adjacent piano bar, listening to popular tunes from the talented chanteuse while sipping a nightcap. Some-times we were in the mood for a casual meal and headed to The Colonnade where al fresco dining on the aft deck was a wonderful option when the weather obliged. There is a theme here every evening – perhaps a Clam Bake or BBQ Rib night, Old England cuisine– roast beef and Yorkshire pudding anyone – or an Indian Market Dinner. For lunch or dinner, we occasionally had a craving for some Asian cuisine or sushi and went to the small beautiful Sushi dining spot with just 24 seats and when ashore we enjoyed Scottish smoked salmon, a ploughman’s lunch, pork pies and wonderful Scandinavian seafood snacks. Naturally we could dine any evening at the time of our choice in the main restaurant, perhaps inviting newfound friends to join us.
There are ample dining choices on Seabourn, including in-suite options from the main restaurant menu and one that had just debuted on the ship, which we loved – Earth & Ocean at The Patio. On balmier evenings, Earth &Ocean at The Patio was packed with diners checking out this poolside option. Seabourn has designed a full dining experience commencing with the music, candlelight, style of menu, earthen dinnerware, napkins and delicious condiments. It’s a full presentation with palate-pleasing choices from both earth and ocean as one would expect. Open, each evening, weather permitting, such dishes as Burrata with heirloom tomatoes, garlic sautéed shrimp, seabass or a lamb shank were served. It’s simple yet creatively presented food, one dish always in a tagine, and from a menu which changes daily.
Having sailed on all five of Seabourn’s yachts – ranging from the three smaller 450-guest Odyssey class vessels to the Ovation and gorgeous sister-ship the Seabourn Encore, the range of itineraries and destinations to which I have cruised, is expansive. Many sailings were in Europe – ranging from the Greek Isles, to the coasts of Italy, France and Spain as well as the spectacular islands of Malta and Sicily, and the remarkable coast of Croatia and stunning Istanbul.
Sailing from magical Venice, a leisurely cruise on the Adriatic takes you to medieval Kotor in Montenegro with a fabulous fjord entry into this beautiful old town. Then to Dubrovnik which is undeniably glorious. Walking the ancient town, stepping on stones that have been smoothed by the footsteps of millennia is incomparable. And those Med ports – the small and exquisite French and Italian towns with their quaint harbours, bustling markets, and rambling streets ready for exploration. On a Seabourn cruise there are always a number of intimate and wondrous little ports, each delightful and beckoning for discovery.
And of course, those white-washed, bathed in blue, Greek Isles. Sail to Santorini, see the windmills of Mykonos, explore ancient Rhodes and more. Sail turquoise waters to Turkey with fascinating history and the domes and minarets of Istanbul awaiting your arrival. Marvel at the glories of Ephesus – from the times of Antony and Cleopatra – where Seabourn offers one of their signature complimentary events – “Evening at Ephesus”. Guests enjoy a private classical concert amidst the ruins under the stars. It’s one of the most memorable evenings I have ever experienced.
Evening at Ephesus
There’s so much to see, one could take a whole summer and not visit every port. The Scandinavian and Baltic regions offer fascinating insights plus of course, Iceland, the land of fire and ice. Full of mountains, waterfalls, geysers and adorable Icelandic ponies, it’s also a place to see an awesome Aurora Borealis light show. And there’s always more, much more to do on your Seabourn ship. Spa and Wellness activities by Dr Andrew Weil, relax on deck or at the gorgeous Retreat area or perhaps an excursion and ‘Shopping with the Chef’. Enjoy various lectures as a part of the Seabourn Conversations program and the varied entertainment at night– including An Evening with Tim Rice, an enjoyable show full of familiar tunes and great insight from Sir Tim about his lengthy career. Yes indeed, this is all about the Extraordinary Worlds of Seabourn – in every way – come on board and explore.
Written by Vanessa Lee
LIMITED TIME OFFER: Seabourn is currently holding its biggest promotion of the year! The 2020 Signature Savings Event is on now through February 28, 2020, and features exceptional savings and value-added amenities on select 2020-2021 voyages aboard each of the five vessels in the Seabourn fleet. Click here for more information.