Enjoy effortless elegance while sailing on Seabourn Encore: Travel Weekly

Known for its all-inclusive luxury, Seabourn Cruises has a reputation for first-class service and differentiated itineraries. The first time I got aboard a Seabourn, that legacy was magnified when I boarded the Seabourn Encore in Athens for the seminal sailing to Venice.

Would it be the formal, tuxedo and stuffy experience I assumed for such a luxury brand? Or it will be a more relaxed experience with a friendly atmosphere. Without giving away, it was the last.

My image of Seabourn is the famous “caviar in the surf” experience often used in brand advertising. This involves formally dressed staff going into the pool or ocean to serve champagne and caviar (or other drinks) to guests.

It may sound extravagant, but if there’s one word to describe the Seabourn staff, it’s unpretentious. During my swim, bartenders regularly crossed the pool fully clothed to serve drinks to the applause of the guests around.

While the ship is every bit as elegant and sophisticated as I imagined, the atmosphere on board exudes a more relaxed atmosphere as guests mingle and make friends. By the end of the swim there were lots of people exchanging emails and social media contacts; this is the sign of a good experience.

Seabourn’s penchant for service with a relaxed feel will be even more exciting now that the company has launched its first expedition ship, the Seabourn Venture. His future routes were the hum of the ship; these include sailing around both poles, as well as adventure destinations such as the coasts of South America and Africa.

Ruins in Olympia, Greece, home of the ancient Olympic Games. Photo credit: Ramsey Qubein

First-class food

But the Seabourn Encore deserves its own heap of accolades. For starters, the food was exceptional. Not one for evening formal dining, I often ate sushi at one of the specialty restaurants where the staff prepared my favorite rolls. The Colonnade, a breakfast and lunch buffet, was another highlight, especially as you could dine al fresco. The quality, variety of choices, and made-to-order stations drew me to meals that fit my preferred schedule and routine. Regularly the staff would go far away from the restaurant to find my drink of choice (believe it or not, it’s V8 juice).

The main dining room was striking in its design, with pastel chandeliers and tables set for any configuration. Foodies will find the steakhouse menu from Chef Thomas Keller of French Laundry and Michelin star fame to be a highlight.

And about formal dinner attire: There were a few formal nights, but khakis and blazers worked fine in most restaurants, even when bow ties and evening gowns were in sight.

All inclusive, Montaudon’s extensive champagne list includes standard and numerous wines, beers and vibrant cocktails. Special dining options and any cruise-related gratuities are also included. Once you’re on board, the only extras you pay for are spa services (worth it for the Dr. Andrew Weil Wellness Partnership) and destination excursions.

After food and service, Seabourn’s ships are truly distinguished by their size. Most average around 450 passengers, although Seabourn Encore is the largest with seating for 600 guests. Regardless of the Seabourn ship, their compact size means they can visit smaller ports.

As a travel writer, I have been lucky enough to visit 166 countries. This route introduced me to four new destinations: Brindisi, Italy, and the Greek ports of Monemvasia, Katakolo (gateway to Olympia, home of the Olympics) and Nidri on the island of Lefkada. There were also two Croatian ports plus a final day in Venice.

The ancient village of Monemvasia, Greece, as seen from Seabourn Encore.

The ancient village of Monemvasia, Greece, as seen from Seabourn Encore. Photo credit: Ramsey Qubein

Spacious suites

Since all rooms are suites, you can’t go wrong. Mine was spacious and modern with a walk-in closet, a huge marble bathroom with a separate bath and glass shower, a vanity with Molton Brown toiletries and large bars of handmade Turkish soap. The furnished balcony is something I enjoyed every day.

I quickly became friendly with the attendant assigned to my room; they stocked my mini bar with everything I wanted (yes, more V8). In fact, when I called the toll-free room service every morning, the staff remembered my order after the third day. I think #SpoiledBySeabourn should become a trending hashtag.

Turndown service is standard, although I wasn’t a fan of the printed daily itinerary being completely digital (as many cruise lines do). I like to see the upcoming schedule without having to navigate between different screens. Regardless, the free built-in Wi-Fi was lightning fast and easy to use. Working remotely from a Seabourn ship is simply divine, and I’ve been doing it every day.

Ruins of the Roman Forum and the 9th century Church of St. Donatus in Zadar, Croatia.

Ruins of the Roman Forum and the 9th century Church of St. Donatus in Zadar, Croatia. Photo credit: Ramsey Qubein

Entertainment included revue-style musical shows and poolside bands. There were often two performances each night, and both seemed to be well attended.

On my cruise, most of the passengers were American and British, but I was surprised by the age range. At that price, I (mistakenly) assumed the guest list would be skewed older, but there were a handful of families with college kids, young couples, and those in their 40s and 50s making up the majority. It was clear that the pandemic pause has encouraged people to spend on the high-end experiences that are most important to people, including travel.

Seabourn Encore offered something for all ages, interests, appetites and personalities.

Maybe I should be among the first to trend with this hashtag?

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