Lisa McAuley discovers the secret corners of the ship and dines with delight
‘Do you like to be beaten, Sir, or how about looking ten years younger?’ grinned Christina, the Spa Manager onboard Seabourn Encore, as she addressed the gentleman who looked on bemusedly whilst his wife chose her treatment. With eyes that could light up a room and a cheeky repertoire, Christina embodies Encore’s crew. She was of course referring to the bamboo stick massage plus one of the many rejuvenating facials available at the One World spa designed to ‘take years off’.
Sailing late in the season from Istanbul through to Rhodes, as first timers to Seabourn we were pampered, well-fed, well-watered, and well-fed some more! The crew were a standout feature of the trip, not least our hard-working suite stewards Mary and Margret who happily announced, ‘if you need anything just call for M&M’, as they handed over chilled champagne moments after we boarded. Right there, you know it’s going to be a good trip…
Seabourn Encore, with its 300 all veranda suites carrying 600 guests, has an air of sophistication about it, minus the stuffiness that can accompany ultra-luxury holidays. Guests from across the world mingled happily with each other as well as the ship’s crew who had an informality akin to old friends enjoying each other’s company. There’s little reason to think for oneself whilst onboard, with the attentive crew second guessing guests needs. The toughest decision – where to go for dinner?
And so to food – The Grill by Thomas Keller was sublime, with Caesar Salad prepared at your table, and a full chicken carved piping hot in front of you, the food was as special as the atmosphere. Our favourite dining venue – Sushi, the smallest restaurant onboard with no reservations required is a popular spot for both lunch and dinner. Don’t expect ornate surroundings, however, you can expect fabulous bento boxes, sushi, sashimi all served with a knowing smile.
Keeping tabs on what’s happening onboard and ashore has moved on somewhat from the daily paper newsletters. Not for everyone, however guests are now encouraged to download the app ‘Seabourn Source’ prior to sailing. The app holds a wealth of information including a preview of that evening’s menus from each of the five restaurants as well as room service. And if so inclined you can even order a coffee via the app to collect as a takeaway from the café in Seabourn Square, an area of the ship that is home to guest services and is generally a quieter space. But be warned the café also serves the best chocolate lava cookies I’ve ever tasted – quite addictive!
Cruising has most certainly bounced back following the two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, and whilst our voyage was full, the ship never felt overwhelmed. Indeed, there are a few areas that appeared unknown, to the point where we imagined we had the ship to ourselves. From the sundeck on deck 12 at the front of the ship, to the whirlpool on deck 7, if you wanted to find outdoor space away from the main pool, we found it easy to do so. There’s no running track, however for those who are inclined to exercise there’s a well-equipped gym.
And of course, one of the main attractions of small ship cruising is the ability to dock at ports that are off limits to the larger ships. Seabourn’s latest edition to their fleet, Seabourn Venture, is smaller still with just 132 all veranda, all ocean-front suites and signals the brand’s move into expedition cruising. Already gathering rave reviews after recently launching this summer, an expedition vessel combined with the Seabourn service, it’s sure to be a big hit with both guests whose loyalty brings them back to Seabourn year after year, plus new guests who want to explore the far reaches of the planet with the service levels that Seabourn is famed for.
P.S. Opting for a hot stone massage I can highly recommend, there was just something about the twinkle in Christina’s eyes that put me off the beating bamboo treatment!
Find out more about Seabourn’s cruises, both leisure and expedition, by calling our Silver Travel Advisors on 0800 412 5678.
Carly Perkins from Seabourn tells the Silver Travel Podcast about the joys of travelling with this luxury cruise line.