CruiseClout score: 95.0
Seabourn Quest: Pinnacle of stylish, sophisticated cruising
The sleek and sexy Seabourn Quest is one of the most beautiful, elegant luxury ships at sea, along with her sister ships Seabourn Odyssey and Seabourn Sojourn. The trio of small luxury ships provides sophisticated, serene sailings to some of the most remarkable destinations in the world.
Guests are treated to suite-size staterooms, impeccably well-kept decks and public spaces, thoughtful amenities such as cold towels and sunscreen proffered on deck, eyeglass cleaners, free poolside mini-massages and exceptional service from the crew.
Seabourn Quest, still feeling brand new (she launched in 2011), can carry up to 450 guests, who climb on board to enjoy adventurous itineraries, gorgeous public rooms and spacious private verandas in 90 percent of her suites. Whatever ocean she plies or ports she docks at, the Quest carries with her a bevy of award-winning dining venues that are comparable to top-tier restaurants in major cities.
Who will like sailing on Seabourn Quest
Seabourn Quest appeals to well-seasoned travelers looking for fine food, seamless service and a laid-back ambience. Guests can dine when they want, enjoy an all-inclusive fare (where they don't have to sign a tab every time they have a drink) and appreciate nice touches such as shuttle service to town in most ports. As with all luxury lines, the cost is higher, but if you're looking for a memorable, world-class vacation experience, Seabourn Quest is one of the elite cruise ships in the world.
Where Seabourn Quest sails
Seabourn Quest sails in and around the Caribbean, Europe, South America and Antarctica. Itineraries range from a week to more than a month. Some of the most popular destinations that this ship visits include Chile, Italy, Brazil and Spain.
Here's a 6-minute video about Seabourn Quest's expeditions to Antarctica.
Top highlights on Seabourn Quest
Here are some of the highlights on Seabourn Quest during my recent cruise:
- The Observation Bar, where passengers gather before and after dinner to enjoy drinks from entertaining mixologists such as Martin
- The luxurious Spa and Sanctuary (the latter is offered for a fee, which on a 15-day cruise was $300 per couple)
- The à la minute cuisine in the restaurants, served direct from the galley with no time under heat lamps
- The exceptional service from all crew members we encountered
- The Seabourn Square, the hub of the ship, where passengers go for free specialty coffees prepared by ace baristas as well as to use the Internet and take out books to read.
- I also appreciated the respectful atmosphere. Passengers aren't startled by announcements from the cruise director. The only time you hear one is when the captain does his noon report or in case of an emergency (of which there were none).
Where I went & what I loved
The Caribbean/Amazon cruise I took with my first mate Richard in November 2015 began in Fort Lauderdale, with glorious tropical stops in St. Barts, where we did our usual routine of grabbing towels and water and heading to Shell Beach for some snorkeling and swimming. We also stopped in Barbados, Jost Van Dyke, Devil's Island and Terre-de-Haut before hitting the Brazilian ports of Santarem and Parintins and arriving at the mouth of the Amazon where we witnessed the meeting of the waters (an awesome phenomenon).
The Quest overnighted in Manaus, capital of the state of Amazonas, where we had a delightful experience shopping with chef Lang in the local market for fish, fruit and vegetables. Our disembarkation in Manaus was Seabourn seamless but sad — we hated to leave. We'd made many friends on board and we loved the crew. But we hopped into a comfortable van and were whisked off to the airport.
Top dining options
During our voyage, the dining experience was first rate, especially the fish, steaks and even the hamburgers on deck, which were a cut above the usual for a ship. On many of the 300-plus cruises we've taken, we've skipped the main dining room in favor of a specialty restaurant or to dine in our stateroom. Not this time.
We dined in The Restaurant, the main dining venue, because we were able to get a table for two, the service was fantastic and we quickly discovered that the food was the best yet of any of the six Seabourn cruises we'd taken. The Restaurant serves multi-course breakfasts, lunches and dinners in a refined setting of white linens, sheer draperies and crystal chandeliers. Menus emphasize high-quality, fresh ingredients and dishes are presented in creative ways.
We found Restaurant 2, which features small-plate tasting menus each night, a bit too clever and creative for our tastes. However, rumors on board flew that super chef Thomas Keller will be creating menus for the ship and possibly a signature restaurant that will take over for Restaurant 2. And indeed, those speculations have been confirmed. According to a Seabourn spokeswoman, during the first part of 2016 Restaurant 2 will become a Thomas Keller signature dining venue with a new look and new menus created by the celebrity chefs who runs two of the most popular restaurants in the world, Per Se in New York and the French Laundry in Napa Valley. Can't wait!
Located aft on deck 8, The Colonnade is a more casual indoor/outdoor option serving station-style buffet breakfasts and lunches. Dinners in the Colonnade include regionally themed menus prepared in the open kitchen and served at the table. We loved it as a change of pace during our 15-day sailing.
We also liked the Patio Grill, a casual alternative dining option that offers poolside dining for luncheons and dinners, as well as freshly baked pizzas from its on-site oven all afternoon. During the cruise the crew puts on fun deck parties with barbecues and buffets, lots of Champagne and caviar, served right in the pool by tuxedo-clad waiters.
Room service is available direct from the restaurants during regular dining hours and from a limited menu for 24 hours. I highly recommend taking advantage of balcony dining outside your suite. There's nothing like dining in private under a starry sky breathing fresh sea air and sipping wine or Champagne or both.
Note: Festive beach barbecues are frequent highlights on the Quest's warm-water cruises, with lavish steak-and-seafood grills.
The folks who sail on the Quest are pretty much content to lay back in a chaise or sit in the Square. While there is shuffleboard and a 9-hole golf putting green at the Retreat (deck 11), we never saw anyone using them with the exception of Richard, who took a few swings.
Some other activities on board:
- The Spa at Seabourn (deck 9 aft): The largest spa facility on any luxury cruise ship, with six treatment rooms, this spa features a thermal area with a large hydro-pool, dry float, sauna and steam rooms, a full-service salon, well-equipped gym and a motion studio featuring a Kinesis Wall and Thai massage area.
- The Shops at Seabourn (deck 7 midship): The shops were rarely crowded and prices are pretty steep even though they areduty-free (though passengers likely can well afford the price tags). You'll find lots of Seabourn shield-emblazoned logo wear, some fashion items, cosmetics, fragrances and luxury designer goods. The Collection offers a curated selection of fine watches and jewelry.
- Card Room (deck 7 midship): This well-used room sits next to the main staircase on port side. Passengers play bridge, board games, puzzles and make use of a large-screen setup for Wii electronic games.
- Grand Salon (deck 6 aft): This is a truly stunning showroom where evening entertainment, lectures, cooking demonstrations (the one by chef Andreas Lang we attended was exceptional) and occasional movies. One highlight of our cruise was an Elton John impersonator who brought down the house.
- The Casino (deck 5 midship): While the gaming room is open throughout the day when the ship is at sea and in evenings, it saw little traffic during our cruise save for a couple of steadfast slot players and a regular table of blackjack players. There is also a roulette and poker table.
Of note: Seabourn Quest does not have a retractable marina for water sports.
Bars & lounges
- Observation Bar (deck 10 forward): Early Riser's Coffee and Tea is served every morning in this stunning round lounge with a square bar and panoramic views. But the fun begins at about 5 pm when regulars crowd the bar to watch Martin, a smiling Irish chap with sparkling eyes, perform his martini magic (and other concoctions). Piano players and vocalists did their thing as well was waiters serving hors d'oeuvre. The bar was jammed before and after dinner.
- Sky Bar (deck 9 midship): This is an al fresco oasis for drinks and socializing overlooking the Pool Patio. However on our cruise it wasn't as popular as Martin's place.
- Patio Bar (deck 8 midship): Full beverage, cocktail and wine service, fruit smoothies and gelati are available at this bar on the pool deck.
- Square (deck 7 aft): Seabourn's "living room" and the hub of the vessel replaces the conventional reception lobby with a welcoming lounge that features comfortable sofas, easy chairs and cocktail tables. The main attractions are the baristas, who brew some of the best signature coffees in the world. Outside the Guest Services enclave, the walls are lined with fiction, nonfiction and reference books, and eight computer workstations are available for guests to use. An open deck terrace is located aft of the Square.
- The Club (deck 5 aft): This is the liveliest lounge on the Quest during certain receptions, though on our cruise Martin's Cheers-like bar drew the crowds. It was fairly popular during afternoon tea service, especially with the Brits. It was also fairly attended before and after dinner with guests who enjoy dancing to live music. Later a DJ spins dance music until late at night.
Staterooms (I mean, Suites)
Seabourn refers to the rooms aboard the Quest as suites, and all are certainly spacious and comfortable. There are several choices, such as the 225 Ocean View Suites measuring 295 to 1,682 square feet. A large 90 percent of the suites sport private verandas. For the high rollers there are five Owners Suites that span up to 1,062 square feet (including the veranda) and four two-bedroom Grand Suites with up to 1,682 square feet of private living space. You can also choose to stay in one of the 22 Penthouse Suites on the uppermost decks, each featuring up to 534 square feet of space.
All suites include a living area and bedroom; a five-foot-wide picture window or veranda; walk-in closet; flat-screen interactive TV featuring music, movies and more; a fully stocked bar; Bose Wave Radio CD; writing desk; spacious bathroom with tub, shower, twin sinks and a large vanity; a direct-dial telephone and a private electronic safe. Suites also offer best-selling audiobooks, CDs and DVDs.
Suite amenities include complimentary Champagne upon arrival, 24-hour room service, personalized stationery, fruit basket replenished daily, fluffy terry-cloth robes and slippers, Eqyptian cotton linens, a fluffy duvet, a selection of designer soaps served by your stewardess on arrival that might include Hermes, Bijan and L'Occitane, Pure Pampering Aromatherapy by Molton Brown, nightly turn-down service, daily fax newspaper, World Atlas and an umbrella. Wi-fi works well in the suite though it comes with an added fee: $300 for our entire cruise for unlimited Internet or 40 cents a minute and up for other packages. Best to buy a package.
Here's hoping Seabourn follows the lead of Oceania and Crystal and other lines and begins offering free Internet for some or all of its guests.
The dress code is relaxed on Seabourn with casual nights, elegant casual and a formal-ish night or two when tuxes were not required and hardly won. You can wear jeans at night except to the Restaurant. The folks on this particular cruise dressed nicely but most didn't go overboard with fancy duds (except moi; I like to doll up).
There was an evening show on our Quest cruise called "Too Much Heaven" and that about sums it up for this voyage. It was celestially epic. Keep in mind that we have been on a few hundred cruises so we don't say this lightly.
Some of the most enchanting evenings were dining at the Patio Grill listening to Danny strum his guitar. Another was having the special caviar platter served on Richard's birthday with Champagne on our balcony.
The highlight of our itinerary was the Amazon, a wondrous experience of cruising the calm and muddy waters past rainforests and riverboats that ply the tributary.
Patti Pietschmann was hosted on the Caribbean/Amazon cruise by Seabourn as a travel writer. See Cruiseable's Ethics & Disclosure policy.
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Top highlights on this ship
- Relax in the whirlpool on the Spa Terrace
- Play shuffleboard at The Retreat
- Enjoy a private cabana at the pool patio
- Shop at three duty-free shops