CruiseMates' Readers Cruise Reviews

The Yachts of Seabourn Seabourn Sun Barcelona to Istanbul April 18, 2000

Our flight from Calgary, through Frankfurt, to Barcelona was smooth and uneventful. Because of the time change, we left Calgary at 6 pm, on Apr.17, and arrived in Barcelona at 2:30 pm local time. Travel time was approximately 12 hrs. After dinner was served on the airplane, I took a sleeping pill, and shortly thereafter I was snoozing and dreaming about the cruise.

We were met by a Seabourn rep, at the baggage claim, taken to a mini bus, and zipped off to the ship. As we were being processed at the pier check in counter a white gloved crew member, took our carry on bags, and escorted us to our cabin. I was impressed, as they hadn't even waited for us to get to the gangway.

The Cabin: As we walked into our PH Category cabin, my mouth hung open. It was huge (362 sq ft), with a walk in closet, with a private safe, a full size bathroom with tub and shower, and had a separate and additional room with a vanity sink and the toilet. The living area, although not a separate room, was furnished with full size leather sectional sofa, and coffee table. There were two desk areas. One with full cabinetry above and below the desk, that also contained the bar fridge, the other that I presumed was to be used as a dressing desk for Mrs. Kuki, as it was rimmed with vanity lighting, and the hair dryer was located in one of it's drawers.

Mrs. Kuki and I were well beyond the normal interpretation of over packed for this cruise. So much so, that when Mrs. Kuki said she thought she forgot to lock to the door to the house when we left, I said it wouldn't matter, we had everything with us. Even so, after unpacking, at least half the storage area in the cabin was empty.

The balcony was very large, and without question, the most private balcony I've had. It was furnished with two full size loungers and a small table. The loungers definitely looked like they had seen better days. Considering the ship had recently undergone a major refurbishment, this surprised me. Someone forgot to put balcony furnishings on the list for needing refurbishment. With the size of the balcony, a couple of upright chairs, along with a larger size table, would have made this a perfect spot. Mrs. Kuki loves having a lounger on the balcony, I prefer to sit upright (figuring I'm going to be laid out horizontally soon enough).

Our cabin stewardess, Beatrix, let us know immediately, that she would do anything required to make our stay onboard more pleasant. She was warm, and friendly, and above all efficient.

Public Rooms: The central area of the ship is somewhat open like an atrium from decks 4 - 8, but is very small. The only openness is created by the central stairway here. None of these decks have any lounge, or seating area, where one could sit and people watch as I'm want to do on occasion. The area is simply to small to allow for any furniture for this purpose.

The Norway Deck contains the majority of the public rooms. It's arranged pretty efficiently, with the Norway Lounge furthest forward, and heading aft, you come across the shopping area, the casino, the totally new Compass Rome, the new coffee bar, movie theater, photo gallery, shore excursion office, library, card room, computer room, and the Lounge. The walk fore to aft is very well designed, with all of this laid out along the way.

The Norway Lounge is large enough to seat all passengers at one time, and serves as the ships main show room. It's furnished with lounge style seats and tables, rather than theater style seating common now on the newer ships. I prefer these lounge style seats.

The Sun's casino is small, but accommodates a number of tables for both Blackjack and Caribbean Stud Poker. There is also a Craps table, and Roulette Table. There are slot machines lining the wall, but due to the limited size of the room, there aren't hundreds of them. The Casino is very elegant, and had a most relaxing atmosphere. I think the small number of slot machines helped create this atmosphere, which I much preferred over the casinos of the mega ships.

Mrs. Kuki and I really enjoyed the coffee bar, located just outside of the Casino. It's quite small, intimate, and very comfortable, and serves the expressos, cappuccino, and hot chocolate ( our choice). The hot chocolates and coffees are complimentary. The only charge here is for alcoholic drinks.

The public room onboard is the Stella Polaris Lounge, located at the highest point on the ship (just above the bridge). The Stella is somewhat horse shoe shaped around the bar, with floor to ceiling panoramic windows leading out to the sea. The view from here is always interesting, but the room itself competes admirably with the view. And in the evenings the addition of the comforting sounds of a harpist truly sets this lounge apart. This may be the most comfortable lounges I've experienced at sea, and it's certainly now on my list of favorites.

Food: Normally buffets on ships are rather unimpressive. I've learned to accept moderate quality and selection at buffets in exchange for convenience of not having to leave the sun or the pool deck. The buffet on the Sun certainly proved you don't have to compromise. This was the best buffet I've seen at sea. The food was terrific, and the selections were broad. Lunches here were a treat. There is also the option of a pool side grille for hamburgers, hot dogs and chicken breasts.

The Dining room is made up of two large areas joined by a smaller hallway like area. In total this space is large enough to seat all passengers at one sitting. This allows Seabourn to offer assigned seating, open dining. We could go to dinner in the dining room anytime we chose between 7 and 9 pm. This is a wonderful option. A couple of times when we got back from golf later than expected, I was still able to have dinner in the dining room. Something I wouldn't have been able to do if was had an assigned dinner time.

We were seated in the smaller area in the middle of the dining room, and very much enjoyed it's location. We were able to enjoy the conversation of our table mates without anyone have to raise their voice.

I enjoyed all our meals in the dining room. I had some concerns the food might be too fancy for my pretty ordinary pallet, but I was proven wrong. While the menu did offer some of the more exotic foods, I never had a problem finding something to please. And what I did order always came prepared as requested, beautifully presented, and tasty.

We enjoyed room service on a number of occasions. The odd time for a late night snack, but a number of times we ordered full breakfasts delivered to our cabin. We pre ordered our breakfasts the night before, and allowed it's delivery to serve as our wake up call. This worked out great on days we had to be up early if I was golfing, and again the quality of the food was excellent.

Service: I felt the level of service we experienced on this cruise is what sets Seabourn apart, and qualifies it as a luxury cruise. All the staff seemed genuinely eager to please. It really was a case of our wish being their command. I'm not sure how you train people to care, but I felt that this crew really did.

In terms of service, the dining room was the only area of the ship where things were maybe slightly less than perfect. The first night service here was a bit spotty, but without question improved significantly each night. Conversation with our table mates was ongoing and animated. I believe if we had taken the time to get to know our servers here a bit better, the service would have been even better. Unlike a restaurant on land, on a cruise ship, the servers and the passengers are spending a considerable amount of time together, and I think forming at least some relationship with the servers makes them more comfortable and willing to please. I know it also generally helps make the dining experience more fun for me.

If we hadn't had to leave the ship early, after just a few days, I have no doubt that I would have got to know these people better.

Each and every staff member from the Captain to the maintenance people went out of their way to greet us with a smile, and seemed genuinely interested in making our cruise more enjoyable.

Entertainment: I anticipated that this might be the weak link in the Seabourn experience, when compared to what we were used to from other lines. In fact, the entertainment onboard was as good as any I've experienced. Admittedly some of it was not quite up my alley, but not being a song and dance guy, that happens on every cruise. As the main show room is large enough to accommodate all the passengers, there is no necessity for two show times.

Tour Mates: I was fortunate to be a part of a "media tour" on the Sun. We were to participate in a Golf package put together by Seabourn Cruise Line and Wide World of Golf. The group was escorted by WWG's host Alan Sym, from Troon, Scotland, and PGA professional Dale Taylor, from Monterey CA. We golfed at some great golf courses in Cannes, Florence and Rome. Well, one would be hard pressed to call what I did golf. However, the condition of my game did allow me to see much more of the golf courses than the rest of the group. The other members of our "media tour" were Adam & Mellisa Brady, of the Northern California Golf Assoc., Steve Goodwin, from Washington D.C. (writing for Met Golf Magazine), Tom Cann & Melinda Hogan, of Miami (writing for PortHole Magazine), and Ann Liquorini & Steve Geller, of NYC, who have a show on the Fox TV network, as well as do some work for USA Today. I mention them, because these are the people that put up with watching my UGLY golf swing on the courses, and listening to my bad jokes on the buses to and from.

The "group" hit it off so well , it surely made that portion of the cruise that much better. It was a fun group of very nice people, and if any of the publications I mentioned are in your area, look for their work, so you can hear their side of the story :)

Itinerary: I can't say anything more than WOW. Just a superb itinerary! I'm sure we could visit these ports a dozen more times and still find places and things to fall in love with.

Summary: The Seabourn Sun is the definition of understated elegance. Other cruise lines we've sailed work at creating an elegant environment, but the Sun simply IS! I never presumed to be an elegant person, but I felt so totally comfortable on this ship, I must be Unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond our control, we had to leave the ship in Rome, and miss the final portion of the cruise. I never like to leave a ship at the end of a cruise, let alone mid cruise. But having to leave the Sun was much more than difficult; it almost brought us to tears. Seabourn Sun is not a bargain hunters dream, however for anyone looking for a true luxury cruise, you need look no further. And please... take me with you!!!

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