Seabourn is an ultra-luxury cruise line built on offering the Seabourn Difference to each and every passenger. All-inclusive and all-indulgent, the fleet of ships promises a home-from-home atmosphere with a friendly crew and amenities to bring you refined luxury in intimate surroundings.
The fleet for Seabourn comprises five ocean ships, alongside two brand-new expedition ships. Each brings an unmatched sense of style and grace, complete with all ocean-front suites, luxurious accommodations, an open bar policy with premium drinks, and world-class dining.
In October 2022, I stepped aboard Seabourn Ovation for a four-night sailing across the Mediterranean with my colleague, Melissa Jones (SixStarCruises Concierge). Read on to see what we thought of the luxury experience and the Seabourn Difference with which the brand is synonymous, as well as some of my favourite Seabourn Moments!
Arriving at Seabourn Ovation
Driving into the Monaco marina in our private transfer, we spotted a tender boat gently bobbing into the dock and a handful of people waiting in the shade step aboard, aided by staff in crisp white uniforms. You didn’t need to guess which exclusive club these people were a part of. The name printed on the side of the boat gave the first clue, and the friendly welcome and graceful assistance to climb aboard was the second. This was our tender ready to take us on-board Seabourn Ovation.
After a few security checks and check-in, we readied ourselves at the dock with our soon-to-be fellow passengers, taking in the neighbouring yachts in the glamorous setting of Monaco. The surroundings perfectly set the tone for our next few days on-board. Effortless and chic.
Boarding our tender, our cases safely under watch from the crew on-board, we began the journey to greet our ship on the other side. Here, we were greeted with a welcoming and friendly ambience where the staff are eager to please. We headed to the main Seabourn Square for a full check-in, complete with mimosas deftly brought over from the nearby bar and our Seabourn experience began.
The itinerary we were following included calls in Toulon, Livorno and Ajaccio, before disembarkation in Rome. The full itinerary was as follows:
Day 1 – Embarking in Monte Carlo, Monaco
Day 2 – Toulon, France (8am to 6pm)
Day 3 – Ajaccio, Corsica (8am to 6pm)
Day 4 – Livorno, Italy (7am to 7pm)
Day 5 – Disembarking in Civitavecchia, Italy
Settling into our Veranda Suite
The room was grand and spacious, offering plenty of room for us both to unpack and explore its amenities. One of the first things which caught our eye was the complimentary champagne chilling in the sitting area, a welcoming sight set against the backdrop of the Monaco coastline from our balcony view.
We quickly unpacked and settled in, enjoying discovering unique luxuries such as custom Molton Brown toiletries in the marble bathroom, accompanied by dual sink vanity space and a full-size bathtub. There was also a dry bar set up readily stocked with the personalised preferences we selected prior to boarding, as well as fresh fruit and a card welcoming us on the ship from the director.
A knock at the door and we met our Personal Suite Host and Suite Attendant, who checked everything was found to our expectations and if there was anything else we needed to let them know. It quickly became noted that we wouldn’t have to need for anything while on-board as, if it wasn’t already catered for, the staff would do their best to ensure you weren’t left waiting for long.
What’s included with the Veranda Suite?
The Veranda Suite is one of the first options for all ships in the fleet, other than Seabourn Quest, Odyssey and Sojourn which also have Ocean View Suites.
Veranda Suites include
- A full-length window and glass door to a private veranda
- A living area and dining table for two
- A queen-size bed or two twin beds dressed with cotton linens, a fluffy all-season duvet and a choice of firm or soft pillows
- A walk-in closet complete with full-length rails and two short rails, coat hangers and drawers
- An interactive flat-screen TV with access to the latest movies and live TV
- A fully stocked bar with refrigerator, glassware, corkscrew and water bottles replenished daily
- A spacious marble bathroom with shower and separate bathtub
- Well-lit vanity mirror with pull-out drawer and stool
- Welcome Champagne on embarkation day
Amenities include robes and slippers for lounging, as well as a hairdryer, a selection of towels, Molton Brown toiletries exclusively blended for Seabourn, laundry bags, shoe polish and a personal safe. The room had plenty of plug sockets, which varied between EU adaptors and USB ports.
All suites also include a personal suite host and stewardess, third-guest capacity, 24-hour room service and an unlimited Surf Wi-Fi package.
The Veranda Suite was grand and elegant, with spotlights dotted throughout as well as over-the-bed lamps perfect for creating a cosy ambience or reading in the evenings. The bathroom was well lit, with bright lights illuminating the mirror and the white marble brightening the space. Each night the room was turned down with our beds made and treats left on the side.
When meeting with the Guest Services Manager on our first evening, she shared a story with us about a loyal cruiser that had sailed over 1,500 nights with them in total. During one particular sailing, it was this cruiser’s birthday and to celebrate the Guest Services Manager alongside other members of the crew joined her for dinner. Following this, they took her for an exclusive tour of one of the top suites, an Owner’s Suite. Upon opening the door and to the cruiser’s surprise, she found the room was filled with decorations for her birthday and a video of her favourite Seabourn entertainer was playing on the TV, wishing her a happy birthday from afar.
Exploring Seabourn Ovation
The ship offered a wide selection of daytime and evening entertainment, retail, relaxation and enrichment spaces. One of the standout experiences for us was the dining. From breakfast on the balcony to indulgences in the Thomas Keller Grill, there are plenty of mouth-watering dishes to enjoy with Seabourn Ovation.
Seabourn Ovation Dining
The Restaurant is the main dining venue on-board, based on deck 4. A formal venue where you can come when you like, with whom you please, the relaxed dining offers the chance to enjoy flawless service and delicious dining as and when you choose. The setting is bright, with crisp white tablecloths and red roses decorating tables of two up to twelve.
Two of the most eye-catching features of the room include the sparkling blue and yellow light fixtures dotted throughout the venue, they are more likened to an art piece than a light fitting; then the second is the huge wine store to your left as you enter the venue, lit up in golden hues with hundreds of bottles waiting for the sommeliers to open.
During our sailing we attended the Chef’s Dinner in the Restaurant, which was a six-course menu including chicken and ham terrine; roasted parsnip soup; escargot and morels mushrooms; orange and lime sorbet with champagne; filet mignon; ice pralines and chocolate and cherry dessert. Everything was superbly presented and tasted to match.
We also visited here during a standard evening, with the menu offering plenty of options for varied dietary requirements. Waiters would also come around the table with the selected red and white wines for that evening, often reflecting the latest destination you had visited that day.
We heard a story of a passenger who requested off-menu items from the kitchen for that evening, including escargots and baked Alaska. Staff visited stores in the port of that day to collect the ingredients required and made the dishes specially for the table to enjoy.
The Grill by Thomas Keller
Unique to Seabourn and created by Chef Keller, The Grill is a place that exudes elegance. Dining here is by reservation only so it’s key to book your dining ahead of boarding to ensure you don’t miss out. During our visit, I had the Caesar salad followed by lamb saddle, while Melissa enjoyed the speciality salad of the night followed by the New York strip steak. Desserts included the lemon meringue tart and ice cream sundae, with cookies offered to us in a paper bag to take away for later.
The venue is truly timeless with booths for large groups as well as cosy corners to enjoy more intimate settings. Cocktails and piano medleys welcome you to the bar setting where you can enjoy a pre-dinner tipple, or relax after your meal to the tunes of the in-house entertainment for the evening.
Seabourn’s answer to informal dining, the Colonnade is a casual venue with both indoor and outdoor tables. An open kitchen, buffets laden with pastries, fresh fruit, pasta, hot dishes and salads and a table service menu offer everything you could need to dine on during breakfast or dinner.
Meanwhile, in the evenings the venue welcomes diners to enjoy bistro-style menus, with special themes influenced by Chef Thomas Keller. We attended one of these nights known as ‘Ad-Hoc Night’ which featured fresh salad with a homemade dressing, beets and radish followed by sharing plates of hickory smoked ribs, soft corn bread and a silky smooth honey whipped butter that was incredible! Dessert included a cheese board and individual blueberry cheesecakes. The sharing style of dining was a great way to enjoy chatting with your table guests and bringing together a spirit of fun while enjoying some of the best ribs I’d ever had!
Earth & Ocean
A fully alfresco dining venue, Earth & Ocean is situated poolside and only open in the evenings for dinner. Each evening, chefs create an array of fresh and inventive dishes in a relaxed setting under the stars. We didn’t get a chance to dine here during our sailing, but we walked through the venue pre-dinner and the table set up was stunning.
Seabourn Ovation was the first ship in the fleet to feature this restaurant. Dishes include homemade artisanal country bread, Moroccan tagines; and slow-cooked beef brisket, all of which are served on the distinctive table settings fashioned in the soothing colours of greens and blues, representing the earth and ocean.
There’s also a small sushi venue on-board offering authentic cuisine with a typical Seabourn twist. Dishes include Hamachi, tuna and shrimp which are all shipped from Japan to the venue and served a la carte for dinner. This is alongside small plates with caviar, maki rolls, sushi and sashimi. There is also a range of bento boxes for lunch with meat, seafood and vegetarian choices.
The venue is currently only featured on-board Seabourn Encore and Seabourn Ovation. With large windows looking out to sea, tables are set in places for two up to eight, as well as bar seating alongside the preparation area for a front-row seat to the action!
One of the most relaxed dining venues on-board was The Patio. Soups, salads, and freshly baked pizza offer a buffet in an alfresco setting. Tables stretch alongside one length of the pool and are set ready for groups to sit down at their leisure.Chef Thomas Keller also influenced some of the dishes served here including the signature Napa burger and artisanal hot dog.
Here, I enjoyed a freshly made salad with prawns, anchovies and thousand island dressing, topped with a hoisin salmon fillet, wedges and a slice of pizza on the side. The perfect lunch in the sun!
Relaxing by the pool after enjoying a Patio lunch, I ordered a pina colada from the waiter. After asking how strong I liked my cocktail, I requested a couple of cherries to come on top too. From then on, whenever I ordered these during the sailing, my pina coladas always came just how I liked them with the extra cherries!
It’s worth mentioning room service purely for the breakfast on your balcony experience. We pre-arranged this with the slip left in the room the night before, selecting the beverages and dishes we wanted to be delivered at the specified time the following morning.
9 am the next day came around and a tap at the door announced that our breakfast was here. Donning our robes and cosy slippers, the steward brought our feast into the suite and began setting our balcony table ready for dining. Starting with a tablecloth and silver service, coffee and teapots, juices, salt and pepper he left us to dine on eggs benedict, French toast and pancakes on our balcony, overlooking the port of Ajaccio as the sun came up. It was the perfect way to start the day and left us feeling thoroughly treated. I highly recommend guests try it at least once per sailing!
Entertainment & Enrichment on Seabourn Ovation
Aside from spending your time sampling all the tasty treats and culinary experiences, there are also many opportunities to enjoy shows, musical entertainment, relaxing spa treatments and poolside performances aboard Seabourn Ovation.
Evening Under the Stars
Our first night featured the Evenings Under the Stars event, a spectacular evening where we danced to live music from the entertainment team. Hosted poolside and under the stars, songs were performed by a range of vocalists and dancers, with the entertainment team joining in for a dance or two in between their sets.
There was also a similar event held on our last night for the Officers On Deck event. Live performances filled the air once more, alongside a champagne and caviar sail away and stalls offering an array of canapes and cocktails. This ended with all the crew, staff and bridge team joining one another to rounds of applause for their duties. It was touching and a truly fond way to say farewell.
Seabourn Ovations’ answer to a theatre is the Grand Salon. This main showroom can accommodate all guests for a variety of lectures, cooking demonstrations, movies and more. Operating in the daytime and evenings, the venue is an intimate space with waiters on hand to bring drinks while you enjoy the show.
During our sailing, we attended two shows. The first was a tribute to Elton John’s catalogue of music with the show ‘Your Song’, which featured musical theatre actor and singer, Jonathan Roxmouth, famed for starring as The Phantom in The Phantom of the Opera on the 2019 World Tour. Roxmouth also starred in another show featuring classical musical hits from Broadway. Both performances drew a great crowd and the entertainment set-up allowed you to be drawn into the music and thoroughly enjoy each second.
The second performance we saw with Roxmouth was initially planned to be a tribute to Billy Joel, featuring piano hits. However. Roxmouth shared a story that he had been approached that morning by a handful of guests that they would love him to play musical numbers in upcoming shows. So, he amended the show to focus more on Broadway hits and appeal to his audience with all-new songs, instrumentals and costumes – all in just a matter of hours!
The Club & Casino
The late-night venue on Seabourn Ovation is the Club. A social space to enjoy dancing and live music, as well as drinks at the bar and trying your luck in the casino. We visited here a few times during our sailing and enjoyed each evening’s entertainment which got us up dancing! There’s also a small casino as you enter the Club with poker and blackjack tables, as well as games to play alone.
The hub of the ship is Seabourn Square where you can find a sociable space set amongst a European-style coffee bar with a range of pastries, sandwiches, ice cream and on-the-go food. This open environment allows guests to interact easily with on-board officers as their offices are based here, as well as ask any questions throughout their sailing. This is where we checked in upon arrival and I often visited in the mornings for a caramel latte!
Seabourn’s spa concept was designed in partnership with Dr. Andrew Weil as the first-ever of its kind at sea. The fleet-wide mindful living program offers guests a holistic spa and wellness experience focused on physical, social, spiritual and environmental well-being.
Throughout the Spa on Seabourn Ovation you can find the fitness centre for state-of-the-art equipment and machines set up with sea views. There’s also a Relaxation Lounge complete with loungers and a drinks station; rooms for various treatments and the Thermal Suite where you can find saunas, loungers, steam rooms and experience showers.
We visited this area of the ship on our first night for an exclusive tour of The Retreat space, secluded from the rest of the ship and reservation only. It’s an intimate space with a distinctive canopy designed to shade from the wind and sun. With lounge areas surrounding a whirlpool tub raised in the centre, the space is perfect for those looking for a quiet and relaxing area where their every whim is catered to.
There are 15 cabanas for the private use of up to 28 guests. Each cabana is designed as an individual living room with a large HD flat screen TV, a refrigerator stocked with a personalised selection of beverages, comfortable sun loungers and table and chairs.
Amenities include fresh fruit baskets, premium sun lotions, Evian mist spray, plush towels and personalised bathrobes, with a dedicated Retreat Concierge available to meet any ad-hoc requests. Spa treatments are also available for an additional charge. Guests can book this space for a full day via Guest Services at Seabourn Square.
Aside from the fine dining and poolside feasts, there’s also a chance to indulge in afternoon tea which occurs daily at 4pm each day in the Observation Room. The setting is in a curved venue with floor-to-ceiling windows offering panoramic views out to sea or your port, which brings endless natural light.
During my visit, I was seated by the window while a pianist played delicately in the corner, bringing a soothing ambience to the room. Afternoon tea is only available for one hour each day and so a few other tables filled up after me and the piano was soon joined with the clinking of teacups. I chose the speciality tea to come with my afternoon tea – a blueberry tea – which was delicious, and tucked into my decadent afternoon delights!
The afternoon tea comes in three tiers: savoury sandwiches featuring cucumber, egg, smoked salmon, prawn, chicken and ham; a dessert tier with chocolate cake, raspberry sponge, chocolate macaron and apricot shortbread; then two scones with cream and jam alongside a lemon posset and coffee cream. It was a wonderful experience and presented beautifully.
My review of Seabourn Ovation
After a short-but-sweet experience on-board the ship, I fully understood the nature of Seabourn cruising in all its forms. Incredible service, spacious accommodation, faultless dining, varied entertainment and luxurious details – the Seabourn Difference is definitely something you feel no matter where you are on the ship.
I found the ease of which staff offered their services made them become more like friends than the crew, they were keen to know your name and how you like your drinks, as well as see if there was anything else to assist with. Before the end of the sailing, we were on first-name terms with many of them as they were with us. You feel welcomed back each day from port and sad to leave on embarkation.
Top tips for cruising with Seabourn
- Pre-book your reservation at the Thomas Keller Grill, these are closed 15 days prior to embarkation and popular times go quickly! It’s a reservation-only dining venue and you will not want to miss out.
- Grab a takeaway coffee from Seabourn Square in the mornings when you’re docked and enjoy a quiet spot on the Sun Deck for a peaceful moment while the ship is quiet.
- Book breakfast with a view and enjoy room service on your balcony. This was one of my favourite things to experience while docked in Ajaccio, enjoying the sunrise. The steward will happily make up your balcony table for fine dining in your slippers!
- You can visit the spa for a day for a small fee. Our sailing it was $29 for a day pass to the Spa, perfect for a spot of me-time during days at sea.
If Seabourn Ovation sounds like a ship you’d like to experience first-hand, take a look at all our Seabourn Ovation cruises on our website here. Alternatively, call our Cruise Concierge and speak to a Seabourn expert to find out more about this cruise line.