It’s no secret that my favorite cruise line is Seabourn. They have six small ships with just 104 or 225 suites, depending on the ship, and they are consistently ranked among the world’s top by travel publications such as Travel + Leisure and Condé Nast Traveler. I’ve now been on five of their ships and have never been disappointed.
Why Seabourn is So Great
Seabourn’s big appeal is that they only have capacity for 220 passengers or 450, depending on what ship you are on. The three newer ships, part of their Odyssey Class, are the ones with 225 suites. Seabourn is known for their five-star service, their unique itineraries visiting must-see cities and hidden gems where most larger ships cannot go,spacious cabins – many with verandas -, gourmet dining experiences as fine as the best restaurants anywhere in the world, open bars throughout the ship and fine wines poured with lunch and dinner.
Past Seabourn Cruises
For my fiancée Natalie and me, this was our first time on one of their older ships, Seabourn Spirit. The previous cruises were all on their brand spanking new, and as-plush-as-you-can-get ships. My past itineraries were: 7-day Istanbul, Turkey to Athens, Greece; 12-day Baltic and St. Petersburg, Russia; and a 3-night Rome, Italy to Monaco (a preview cruise with my dad). I also spent a night on their ship, Sojourn in the middle of the Thames River after its christening party.
Seabourn Spirit Adriatic Sea Ports of Call
Seabourn’s people suggested we try out one of their older ships. They said they have asolid portion of their customers that are loyal to their smaller ships and who would rather go on them rather than their new ships. That surprised me but decided to give it a try – after all, how bad can a 10-day Adriatic Sea cruise be? Especially when it’s making these stops: Venice, Italy; Kotor, Montenegro; Corfu, Greece; Brindisi, Italy; Dubrovnik, Croatia; Split, Croatia; Triluke Bay, Croatia; Rovinj, Croatia.
About a month before departure, Natalie and I received our welcome packet with leather luggage tags and an itinerary and passport holder. We were booked on Seabourn Spirit departing and arriving Venice, Italy. This summer, Spirit continuously makes this trip every 10 days. Here’s what I loved, what I wasn’t crazy about and other observations and tips.
Show Up Early
Like smart cruisers, we flew in a day before just so we wouldn’t miss the boat due to any unexpected airline delays. We flew British Airways via London and there weren’t any weather or mechanical issues but it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Besides, who doesn’t want to spend more time in the Venice or whatever the first port might be? TIP: Always arrive early – at least a day.
Getting to the Port of Venice
The first mistake we made was getting on the wrong vaporetto (Venetian water bus). Our hotel gave us the wrong information, so we got off at the wrong stop and ended up walking about two miles with our suitcases. It turns out there was a stop just 100 yards from the ship. The stop is S. Basilio and boat number 2 definitely stops there because on the return, we took it to the train station. Tip: Single tickets costs 7 euros apiece but they do offer travel cards between 12-hour and 7-day. Here’s a great resource about the ticket prices and here’s a link to one that teaches you step-by-step where to buy them. If you have plenty of cash, you can hire a private water taxi for about 80 euros.
Seabourn Spirit Ship Facts
This link has everything you need to know about Seabourn Spirit. In short it’s registered in the Bahamas and it can hold 208 guests and 164 crew members … gotta love that ratio! It’s 440 feet long, has six guest decks and the cruising speed is 15 knots. Its maiden voyage was in 1989 but it was refurbished in 2007.
Negatives of Seabourn Spirit
Since I like to end on a positive let’s start off with the negatives:
- Seabourn Spirit is 23 years old so it’s obviously not as plush as their three newer ships.
- Decks don’t match up with the cabin number. For example, we were in cabin 310 but we were on the 6th deck. Why not make it cabin 610? Makes no sense to me, you? I heard other passengers complaining that they found this confusing and couldn’t remember where their cabin was.
- The table in the room was a little wobbly and definitely not as nice as the Odyssey-Class ships.
- When you call for room service the receptionist answers and says someone will call you right back to take your order. Not sure why they have a Room Service button if it really goes to reception.
- They are stingy with the hair conditioner (it’s actually under lock and key) and this is obviously a Natalie complaint because one bottle would last me the whole 10 days but she needs one every two days. Yeah, I know she has 20 times the amount of hair as I do. She also disliked the Molton Brown products for hair and body, saying they were extremely drying.
- You can’t hear announcements in the bathroom.
- There’s no veranda to sit out on like 90% of the Odyssey ships have.
- The first bus into the town center of Corfu didn’t have enough seats for everyone and they wouldn’t allow the two extra passengers to stand.
- There’s only one plug in the room (that I could find) and it’s not universal so you need to bring an adaptor. I also recommend a power strip and extension cord.
- The pool isn’t the least bit enticing.
- The TV doesn’t have on demand movies and entertainment like the newer ships.
- To eat dinner at the outdoor restaurant The Veranda, you have to make advance reservations. And to eat breakfast or lunch when they first open on sea days, people hustle to get an outdoor table – the tables for two go the quickest.
- Several of the crew weren’t up to the usual Seabourn standard regarding service. They had a few stars like our waiter Joshua and our cabin attendant Aurelia. Some of the wait staff weren’t overly friendly, didn’t address you by name, or remember your drink or food order like the past Seabourn cruises.
Positives of Seabourn Spirit
I’m happy to report the positives outweigh the negatives and there are so many I can’t even list them all. But here are the most important.
- Although the service wasn’t up to the standard I’ve come to expect on the newer ships, it was still great and way better than most cruises.
- It’s a small ship with only six passenger decks so there’s not a lot of walking to get from point A to point B and you won’t get lost.
- Even with just 208 guests, I was constantly seeing new faces
- The food was very good and I wasn’t the only person who agreed. I asked many passengers who are used to top-notch dining and they all said that one of the best parts about thiscruise besides the small number of guests was the food.
- Every room has a DVD player and you can “rent” (borrow) movies and TV shows from the library free of charge. They also have books and games.
- There’s satellite internet and it worked pretty much everywhere but it was never fast. It’s not cheap but they have different payment options and it’s awesome that they have it. Plans range from $19.95 for 120 minutes (to be used at your leisure) to$395 for unlimited access for the trip.
- The room and bed were really comfortable
- There’s plenty of storage space including a walk-in closet, drawers, and under the bed.
- A great bathroom with double sinks, shower/tub and better than average water pressure.
- Good size gym with solid equipment and stocked with San Bendetto bottled water
- Plenty of San Bendetto bottled water and towels at each port.
- Free laundry. There are two washers and two dryers and they supply detergent. There’s also an ironing board (since by law they can’t be in the cabins). Note: When someone is ironing it’s difficult to move around. It would be helpful if Seabourn had a live webcam on the washers and dryers to see if they were available. Only once out of three times I used them were they full. Note: They also offer laundry service but that’s not free.
- Room service: You can call anytime and they will bring it in a flash and whatever you want.
- Speaking of whatever you want, you can make a special request 24 hours in advance to the chef and he will cook what you would like. I learned this from a reader who posted on my Facebook page and suggested I try the onion rings. I did and he wasn’t kidding that they were delicious. We also asked the chef if he could make us mushroom risotto and chicken parm and he said no problem.
- The chef took guests shopping with him to the farmers market in Split (he said it’s the second best one he’s been to behind Riga, Latvia and he’s German).
- The views from yourwindow are breathtaking
- In Kotor, Montenegro, we were next to Celebrity Solstice (we’ve been on that ship before and it’s really plush and huge. What was great about Seabourn Spirit is that since it was so much smaller, we docked while Solstice had to moor and use tender service. For us to get on and off the ship, there was no wait.
- There are three hottubs, the nicest being at the bow of the ship.
- Talented entertainment. You won’t see any big Broadway productions like you will on mega ships but on Seabourn they have nightly entertainment (usually starts at 10pm) and everyone from the magician to singing cruise director are talented.
- Every night the cabin attendant drops off the Daily Herald with all the following day’s weather conditions, features and menus.
- You get to meet a lot of the other passengers when dining at the Veranda for breakfast or lunch since there aren’t a lot of tables for two. Everyone we met was really nice and came from all over the world.
- The breakdown of passengers went like this: 64 from the United Kingdom, 62 from the U.S., 11from Norway, 10 from Argentina, 7 from Belgium and tons of other nationalities including folks all the way from Australia and New Zealand.
Good to know
- The water of the Adriatic Sea is usually smooth but we did have a couple nights where it wasrough. I learned that the middle of the ship is the most stable.
- If you do get seasick, eat crackers or toast not bread. Crystalized ginger (which they have throughout the ship) is also good, as are Ginger Ale and green apples.
- One day the captain(who by the way is a really cool guy) made an announcement “Code Alpha: All crew to Deck 7.” We had no idea what that meant so we Googled it and learned it’s a serious medical emergency. Fortunately, the passenger was okay but the crew was on top of it.
- We went to 9 destinations including four different countries without packing or repacking. You gotta love cruising!
So there you have it. Although Seabourn Spirit might not be my favorite Seabourn ship, this Adriatic itinerary was. Would we go back on Spirit? In a heartbeat.
Day 1: Venice, Italy | Day 2: Sea Day | Day 3: Kotor, Montenegro | Day 4: Corfu, Greece | Day 5: Brindisi, Italy | Day 6: Dubrovnik, Croatia | Day 7: Split, Croatia | Day 8: Sali, Croatia | Day 9: Rovinj, Croatia