Our cruise on Seabourn Sojourn landed us in the lap of luxury, a world defined by graces great and small. Along with siblings Seabourn Oddysey and Seabourn Quest, the ship boasts the highest passenger-space ratio in the industry and, except for a few meals at The Colonnade, public areas never felt remotely crowded, even around the pool on sunny sea days. There were plush carpets in wide hallways to silence any hint of noise, while our oversized cabin’s crisp marble bathroom was lavish, with fine bath products, twin sinks and a full-size tub.
Mealtime was well above average for the cruise industry. While not every dish was letter-perfect, the good far outweighed the middling, and several items were truly outstanding—even meals at the Patio Grill were more satisfying than most specialty venues on other cruise lines. And in-room dining isn’t usually something we look forward to on other cruise ships; on Sojourn it was a treat.
Seabourn’s all-inclusive pricing model meant we didn’t worry about bar bills adding up. Most of the complimentary wine selection was sufficient that we always found a good pour and spirits included all of the top mainstream labels; the bartenders got to know our tastes, and by the end of the cruise our favorite drink was prepared without asking.
The design-forward ship is beautifully conceived, looking a bit like the outsized yacht of a seafaring billionaire. The 20th-century art decorating the common areas sets the refined mood—Joan Miro, Paul Klee, Vassily Kandinsky and a trio of Marilyns by Warhol, though all are reproductions. We liked the striking natural scenics by contemporary photographers. There’s just one central corridor through most of the ship (and no interior cabins); the restaurants and social areas are all positioned in the center or aft of the ship, allowing the forward section to be devoted exclusively to accommodations.
Although our experience overall was excellent, we wouldn’t call it faultless. Service standards were generally high, but not consistently so. Some of the crew was less polished, and a few incidents—such as one audible verbal altercation between two servers during dinner—did not meet the yardstick we think Seabourn aspires to. Our cabin steward had 10 cabins to oversee (15 to 20 is common on most ships), and cleaning of our cabin took upwards of 30 minutes each morning, with a thorough refresh each evening. However we were vexed when, one day following lunch midway through our cruise, we discovered that our steward had just started a “deep clean” of our cabin; this procedure made our room unavailable for more than three hours one afternoon at sea. While the steward offered to vacate the cabin if we needed it, a better solution would have been to advise us the day before. We were surprised that our balcony was sticky with sea salt for the first five days of the cruise, especially given the spic-and-span quality of the ship’s interior.
Because the ship is a small vessel by today’s cruising standards, naturally it didn’t have all the amenities of a big vessel. There’s no kid’s program, no Bingo sessions, no basketball court and ship photographers weren’t waiting for us around every bend (we don’t care for paparazzi, don’t you know). These privations didn’t bother us, but cruisers shouldn’t sign up for the Seabourn experience expecting activities and entertainment at all waking hours (pack an extra book!). Still, the limited on-board enrichment programs that were offered should have been a standout for Seabourn Sojourn; our guest lecturer was pretentious and dull. Staged entertainment was by the book, unoriginal.
Traveling with Seabourn is more expensive than sailing with the mainstream lines. Per-day rates for an Ocean-View cabin—Seabourn Sojourn’s least expensive category—typically run $500 or more (per person) on the most desirable sailings. But when a specific itinerary isn’t selling, rates can drop to $350 per day, not counting on-board credits and other incentives. If destination and travel dates are not a priority, once tips and drinks are factored in, a Verandah Suite with Seabourn might not cost much more than a cabin with balcony on one of the mid-priced cruise lines.
But the atmosphere aboard Seabourn Sojourn is not for everyone. Children may well feel lost in the crowd. Though ages of guests on our cruise ranged from early-30s on up, they’re a well-traveled bunch. They tended to be self-starters who don’t care to be led by the nose to on-board activities (the few that there are). We didn’t spot many tuxes on formal night—instead, this coiffed and manicured crowd displayed individualized elegance. And the workhorse itineraries in Europe, Alaska and the Caribbean are the exception, not the rule; unusual ports of call with minimal cruise infrastructure are not uncommon.
But for our taste, Seabourn Sojourn delivered a classy cruise, highlighted by a beautiful cabin and fine food. It’s a ship we would happily sail with again.
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