Last updated: 03:19 PM ET, Thu October 13 2016

TravelPulse Onboard: Seabourn's Seabourn Quest Review

Cruise Line & Cruise Ship | Seabourn | Jason Leppert | October 05, 2016

TravelPulse Onboard: Seabourn's Seabourn Quest Review

All photos by Jason Leppert

Seabourn Quest
At a Glance
By the Numbers
  • Lifestyle: Luxury
  • Tonnage: 32,000
  • Launched: 2011
  • Passengers: 450
  • Crew: 330
  • Passenger Space Ratio: 71.11
Take a Bow (What to Like)
Pain in the Aft (What to Dislike)
  • Genuinely Friendly and Attentive Service
  • Thomas Keller's Outstanding Cuisine
  • A Very Spacious Small Ship
  • Surprisingly Stiff Bed Mattresses
  • A Shortage of Electrical Outlets
  • Entertainment Could Use Some Polish
Overall Ship Score
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Who Should Book
  • Luxury cruisers looking for the best in service and cuisine in a casual setting
Who Should Skip
  • Travelers expecting lots of activities and lavish entertainment

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The Seabourn Quest is a remarkable ship with luxurious hardware and software. The sleek vessel, one of the most architecturally striking, may look small on the outside, but she is very spacious on the inside with an excellent passenger space ratio allocating plenty of room to each guest. Just look to The Restaurant main dining room (pictured below) which demonstrates that grand lofty ceilings can still be included in a smart design, one with plenty of windows and light throughout to open up every space visually.

Exhibiting the most natural illumination is the beautiful central staircase, a circular double helix rising regally to a large round skylight above. The feature is so beautiful that many guests find themselves gravitating more to it than the elevator lobbies, and besides, the ship is pleasantly small enough that it's super easy to navigate anywhere without a long hike. It may not have a full wraparound promenade, but there is plenty of deck space, including the forward bow, accessible to passengers to take in the fresh air and passing scenery.

We also love that the ship has an Observation Bar (pictured below), but it would have been nice to see its perimeter windows extend closer to the edge of the ship for more optimal viewing. The surrounding deck space is nice, but in colder conditions, the exterior space would be better allocated to an interior one, thus making the lounge altogether larger as well. Otherwise, the design is a real winner.

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Accommodations onboard are all suites, and most have private balconies with handsome teak decking, our Veranda Suite included. Such cabins are more akin to narrower staterooms on other ships but are much longer on the Quest, taking up nearly half the vessel's width. This provides enough space for a walk-in closet, separate seating and dining area and a larger bathroom and balcony. The dining table and chairs are particularly nice for enjoying 24-hour room service delivery and restaurant meals during serving hours.

Suites are mostly plush, and bed duvets are comfortable. However, we were surprised to discover much stiffer mattresses than expected and a shocking, pun intended, shortage of electrical outlets. Besides one for razors in the bathroom, there is only one cramped at a small vanity and another at the floor that is inconveniently located behind a chair. Bathrooms with his and hers sinks are impressively marble-clad, and the shower is bigger than it first looks. Although, it would be nicer if it were still larger instead of having an underutilized bathtub.

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As one would expect of a smaller ship, activities are far less of a focus than the behemoths of the seas, as the emphasis is appropriately placed more on the destination. Still, what the ship does offer is not bad. In fact, the pool area is quite nice and is supplemented by another whirlpool neatly situated at the ship's bow and two more whirlpools and a plunge pool at a shaded terrace above the stern. While not employed during our chillier itinerary, the ship's aft marina is an even more unique offering for watersports.

As much as there are pools elsewhere, it is somewhat surprising to see that the spa does not exhibit a thalassotherapy one but instead a tiny Kneipp Walk Pool. Nonetheless, the relaxing facility is a visually stunning one with a soothing waterfall entryway and inviting recliners, sauna and steam room. Other activities are usually dedicated to things such as destination and historical lectures as well as fun trivia. There's also a casino with a few table games and slot machines for guests to try out there luck in addition to a Card Room and series of shops.

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Dining is without a doubt a highlight of a Seabourn cruise, and the Quest is the first to begin rolling out the line's partnership with internationally acclaimed, multiple Michelin-starred chef Thomas Keller. The ship may have few dining venues, but what it has is excellent. Even aside from Keller's cuisine, The Restaurant, Colonnade buffet and The Patio grill all serve some of the best food at sea including themed full-service dinners like expertly plated Asian (pictured below) at the buffet in the evenings. Those looking for a coffee bar setting also have the great Seabourn Square for tasty snacks to enjoy amid a perfectly designed multipurpose lounge with guest relations situated cleverly in the center.

Hands down though, the Thomas Keller food onboard is the best I have ever enjoyed anywhere in the world, not just on a cruise ship. His dishes are extensively featured, from every other night in the main dining room and twice a week for a family-style event at the Colonnade to his own The Grill by Thomas Keller specialty restaurant. My first taste of his cuisine was a splendid agnolotti pasta appetizer that only got better from there, including his great rib dinner at the buffet, escalating to his dedicated venue where every course was divine, especially the lobster thermidor (pictured below). Thankfully, the dress code is almost always country club casual throughout as well.

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Like the activities onboard, the Seabourn Quest's entertainment is expectedly not lavish. On a 10-day cruise, three production shows were presented featuring six singers and dancers and a live band of four musicians. The first performance suffered from sound issues making for a poor audio mix, but thankfully production quality improved from there as did the vocals themselves. The very good singers excelled most at rock and country music, struggling somewhat as an ensemble and with other genres, and a live band was always welcome over a prerecorded track.

As for guest entertainers, pianist Judy Carmichael and stand-up comedian Fred Klett were a bit underwhelming,, but magician Mark Haslam, who had just flown in for the next cruise and arrived early enough for a last-minute performance on ours, well than made up for the other two. His card tricks were some of the most intelligently conceived and conveyed, making him an A-list illusionist for sure. Also outstanding was cruise director Handre Potgieter as one of the best in the industry, effortlessly entertaining and mingling with guests.

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Besides the cruise director, the staff onboard Seabourn are fantastic. Whether the officers or deck hands, everyone is genuinely friendly without any hint of pretense, and our room stewardess Shanley always put a smile on our faces as we returned to our suite to see how she had arranged our traveling companion teddy bears in new playful tableaus almost daily. Kudos to Seabourn for hiring the best for each position.


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