Seabourn's Intimate Wow Factor

30 Aug 2016

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“It’s time to book that luxury cruise”, said my wife.

We’d had an exhausting few months and we were going to see our son in London in the middle of the year.

“The Med in June and July? Got me. Where are the brochures?”

Our friends had cruised all sizes of ships. We’d listened to stories of the latest megaliners, fabulous craft the size of towns, with thousands of people and unbelievable facilities. Some of our friends love large hotels. Huge spaces, bars everywhere, the buzz of crowds. But we’ve always liked intimate, boutique gems and that steered us towards the smaller ships.

Intimate experiences

OK, we miss out on water slides and surfing pools, but on a ship with just 300 suites you can go into smaller ports, and get to know a compact selection of like-minded travellers. We chose the one we’d often heard was heaven on earth. Seabourn.

We chose the cruise ahead of trains through Europe for a number of sensible and selfish reasons.

We wouldn’t have to pack and unpack. No need to book in and out of hotels, or find transport every other day. We wanted no hurry, no hassle. This was our holiday. We wanted to spoil ourselves. To luxuriate. We wanted a very short walk to all the things which would help us feel good. Food. Drink. Pool. Deck chair. Spa. Dancing. Casino. Theatre.

Every day we’d watch a sunset. We’d wake each day to a new part of the world, effortlessly appearing over our balcony rail every morning. A new opportunity for discovery.

Personalised touches

On Seabourn, the ratio of crew to guests is one of the highest. We got to know by name the people serving us each day. They come from all over the world and gave us interesting insights into their backgrounds. Small touches were welcomed and remembered.

Walking us from The Colonnade, a casual bistro-style restaurant, a waiter took our plates to our table, pulling the chair out for my wife. Poolside drinks, from iced water to the cocktail of the day, are constantly brought around. As are your choice of sunscreen products.

One evening returning from a complimentary dinner and concert in the ancient amphitheatre of Ephesus, the crew lined up at the gangplank singing, dancing and applauding as we reboarded. Magic!

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We met the Cruise Director on the second day out. He’s been with the company for 27 years, starting as an onboard entertainer. Asked how his systems work, his most telling statement was: “We make things personable. We encourage guests to chat with us and each other. Temporary friends maybe, but it generates an atmosphere you won’t find on a larger ship or hotel.”

That’s ultra luxury. Intimate, informal and individual.

Superb service

Crew members seemed to be always ahead of us, anticipating what might make our day even better.

In our chosen bar, the barman remembered our favourite drink from previous nights. We wanted another bottle of sunset champagne. One mention to a crew member and it’s in our fridge. That wine we liked at dinner, a surprisingly well-aged California chardonnay. Do you have a spare bottle? Sure, it’s in your fridge.

The wow factor

My wife, who has experienced some luxury in her time, actually gasped when our personal stewardess showed us our ensuite. It had twin basins, a separate shower and bath (a tub on a softly swaying ship is a great experience), piles of fluffy towelling and shelves filled with products from Molton Brown of London.

There was an even bigger “wow” when opening the second door revealed a walk-in robe. The suite opened up to a huge bed. We saw the balcony, big enough for lounge chairs. Our fridge, lounges and a table for dining in, which we did one night, each course brought as it was prepared.

The restaurant meals are amazingly good, especially at Restaurant 2, which we made sure we booked as soon as we boarded.

My wife still raves about The Spa to her friends. She tried a couple of the massages and therapies. Emerging radiant after the second one, she says nowhere has treated her so well. The sheer choice of luxurious pampering is amazing. Just look at the brochure.

Seven star luxury?

It’s difficult to imagine anything that could top our Seabourn adventure. Can you have 6-star luxury? Seven?

For us it was sunshine, sipping and sightseeing in a Mediterranean summer. You might choose another part of the world. Each cruise is a handpicked collection of fascinating places. Your horizons may be very different. But I bet on board you’ll fall in love with what we did.

We would choose any of their ships, anywhere in the world in a heartbeat.

Live your own small ship story. Begin trading travel ideas with us today. Visit our dedicated Seabourn page for the latest itineraries and prices.

*Photos courtesy of Seabourn

Ian Mactavish

Ian has lived, worked and travelled in many countries and has been writing about wine, food and travel for longer than he can remember. His thoughts and reviews have appeared in Thompsons Liquor Guide, Home Journal, Vogue Entertaining, the SMH, Playboy, Connoisseur, Super Food Ideas, Better Homes & Gardens and He believes life is far too short not to be open to all new experiences and sensations.