Do you agree with these words in a recent Seabourn brochure from the company President, Richard Meadows? "Travelling has a redemptive power that enriches peoples lives …" We certainly do, but unlike pioneering travellers in previous centuries, today we love (and demand) a level of luxury when we’re on the road. Or on the sea. The Seabourn fleet, Odyssey, Sojourn, Quest and soon Encore, are young ships, virtually identical, with only 229 suites, most with verandas. The fitout is luxury all the way with the comfort and style of the best hotels of the world. No compromises just because you’re going to sea.
But what stays in your mind is the people who serve and help you every day. Some organisations pay lip service to the old phrase, "the customer is always right". Seabourn staff, selected from all over the world, are further trained by the company and with daily meetings discuss how they can impress even more. One phrase, often repeated is: "Guests determine what they want to do. The ship adapts." These crew members seem to be almost inside your head as they plan how they can serve you.
People love the Seabourn way of life so much you may hear conversations debating whether to go ashore or stay and luxuriate in the onboard service. By the pool, cheerful attention assures you don’t even have to raise a hand for a cold towel, sunscreen, water, juice or daiquiri of the day. But going ashore does not mean you’re on your own. Every detail will have been thought of in advance. You will generally have a choice of itineraries. Antiquities? Galleries? Markets? Or transport to a secret cove for a swim and a beachside lunch. Your crew will have them planned before you step ashore or the ship’s sturdy tenders take you to the wharf. After a day’s sightseeing, a welcome sight is the dockside Seabourn marquee offering you a shady chair and a cool drink till the tender returns.
When the ship is tied up at a wharf and most of the guests have set off for a special event such as a musical evening in the ancient amphitheatre at Ephesus, the return can be memorable. All in uniform waiters, barmen, chefs, stewardesses and officers form a couple of lines at the gangplank to sing, dance and welcome weary travellers back to their home. Maybe it’s the cabin and bed for some, for others it will be a dispersal to all the bars and nightspots on the ship to keep the party mood going. It’s impossible not to have a good time. Seabourn service will be exceptional: from a special order snack at a poolside cafe to the barman who remembers, not only your name, but the exact measures for your last nightcap. Efficient but not officious. Cheerful and not chummy.
Naturally you feel you should tip as you would for such service ashore. But no. A simple "thanks so much" and a "see you tomorrow" is all they need. They know when they’ve done their job well and they’ll try to impress you even more tomorrow.