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AMAZING GRACE - ON BOARD THE SEABOURN QUEST
 
(2012 - Spring Issue)

Writer: LIANNE FISHER



“Why don’t we try the latest ship to join Seabourn?” my husband suggests.

“The Seabourn Quest is brand new and her Mediterranean itinerary is really enticing.”

We’ve travelled on Seabourn ships before and been charmed with their small “yacht-like” ambience. However the Quest is one of the new fleet; she can carry slightly more than twice the number of passengers (450), while the older ships have a capacity for about 208 guests. Will we still enjoy the same friendly atmosphere and high level of personalized service we’ve come to expect? My husband believes so and I’m game to try!

Two months later, with no lines or bother we simply check in at the Seabourn desk in the terminal of Piraeus in Athens, Greece. Minutes later we board and are ushered into the Colonnade, where we begin to feast on a sumptuous buffet. The area is bright and inviting, with its gold tones, leather seats and many light-filled windows. Before we complete our meal, our cabin is ready.What a civilized, seamless and gracious way to start our journey, we muse.

The Quest offers only suites—225 oceanview suites, 90 per cent of which include verandas. As we enter our Veranda Suite, we delight in the thoughtful touches we discover—champagne on ice, fresh fruit, personalized stationery and a fridge fully stocked with our choice of drinks. How bright and spacious! The floor-to-ceiling glass doors, the gold, taupe and brown hues as well as the light-toned wood furnishings, lend an airy, contemporary feel to the room. Mihaela, our stewardess, smilingly greets us, offering a selection of designer soaps as well as a pillow menu to ensure our utmost comfort. Outside, we sit and drink in the peacefulness and roominess of our private balcony and then decide we must unpack; the luggage waiting atop our bed won’t unpack itself. All this luxurious attention is going to our heads.

Inner Beauty

Our suite is a lovely and roomy haven that has it all: a great sitting area, a desk, a separate area with a queen-sized bed enveloped by a cosy duvet, a large walk-in closet and, the pièce de résistance, a marble and granite bathroom that beautifully incorporates a double sink, separate bath and shower. Eventually, we do leave our heavenly suite to explore the rest of the ship.

We are immediately struck by how modern, gleaming and gorgeous the public places are, often elegantly adorned with richly pleated sheer drapery and interesting artwork. There are countless nooks and crannies, where comfortable seating arrangements seem to invite people to unwind, socialize and simply enjoy. Indirect, suffused lighting is artfully employed: square “pillars” are subtly lit, as well as ceilings, bars and sometimes table tops, all contributing to warm, intriguing and modern-looking spaces. The staircase of the grand atrium, a glass beauty, appears to be floating from one angle yet is firmly anchored from another vantage point.

On this ship we have two lovely pool areas, each housing two hot tubs as well as ample seating with comfy lounges. The larger pool located on the eighth deck is flanked on opposite sides by the Patio Grill and the Patio Bar. The smaller plunge pool on the fifth floor provides a truly tranquil setting and both pool areas thankfully offer places in the shade as well as in the sun.

Warm, Inviting and Luxurious

We gravitate to the Seabourn Square. It is more like a big, informal living room containing many seating configurations, amidst the computer section, a library area, guest service desks and a little coffee bar, serving delicious coffees, sandwiches and desserts. We take our nibbles and lattés out to the peaceful deck beyond and sigh as we breathe in the fresh sea breeze.

The intimate meeting places simply dazzle: the stunning aqua and green Observation Bar; the cosy and lively lounge The Club, where nightly live music and dancing take centre stage; the outdoor Sky Bar tantalizingly situated overlooking the pool; and the many decks, such as the Sun Terrace that offer ideal spots to unwind. In fact, what we love on this ship is the abundance of inviting spaces and new deck areas we continue to stumble upon throughout the cruise. Warm, welcoming and so comfortable, the ship provides the perfect balance of elegance and cosiness. And we find the number of guests ideal, sufficient to provide choices yet small enough to foster repeated encounters, opportunities to socialize and a truly friendly tone.

The Seabourn ships offer totally all-inclusive luxury experiences. All the food and beverages throughout the different restaurants and bars are complimentary and of top-notch quality. Tips are not expected or encouraged. Hence, the happy result is a stress-free environment where we never have to think about additional costs.

Expansive Delights

The Quest’s size (more than triple that of the older fleet) not only gives passengers added expansive public spaces but also a truly incredible spa area, a Grand Salon for evening shows, and more dining options than the smaller, older ships.

The Restaurant, the refined main dining room, serves full-course breakfasts, lunches and dinners on an open-seating basis. Beautifully presented, we enjoy the fresh-tasting variety of dishes for dinner, such as a caramelized onion consommé followed by duck à l’orange.

Restaurant 2 in a dramatic black, red and white setting provides nightly innovative tasting plates. This allows us to be more adventurous and try sample sizes of dishes we might not otherwise select, for example, crispy foie gras, white bean salsa and Tuscany braised veal. Reservations are required here due to the limited seating capacity.

The Colonnade is our choice for breakfast and lunches as we enjoy the fresh and diverse buffets and we love the option of eating outside on the deck where the ever-changing scenery, sea air and scrumptious food create moments of sheer bliss. At night the Colonnade serves different themed dinners.

The Patio Grill serves lunches, dinners and snacks throughout the day. Dining here, at night beneath the stars, is simply sublime and the Grill soon becomes our favourite dinner spot where we savour the succulent grilled fare. And lastly of course room service is also available.

Unique Spirit

We are thrilled with the Quest’s spacious, warm and elegant ambience, the dynamic shows and the delicious and varied dining choices but the Quest also embodies something more—a unique and palpable spirit. Being so new, the staff is virtually beaming and so excited to be a part of building and creating from the start. The desire to please, anticipate needs and fulfill our every wish is heightened and strongly shines through making us feel part of something very special. This positive atmosphere wraps around us like a great big hug as we enjoy the utmost of attentive care and pampering.

Ports Ahoy

Our first destination, Santorini, is astounding. Ancient volcanic eruptions caused the island’s centre to implode, creating a large basin surrounded by dramatic steep cliffs. Gleaming whitewashed houses perched atop those cliffs, backdropped by deep blue skies, create a picture-perfect image. The funicular brings us to the top past the homes and churches. Winding cobblestone streets filled with shops (especially jewellery stores) and restaurants greet us. Well worth a visit (we’d done this previously) is the nearby archaeological site of Akrotiri, a treasure trove of Minoan ruins that reveal just how advanced and developed this ancient culture was.

Katakolon is the gateway to Olympia, the site of the ancient Olympic Games. Ambling through the ruins of temples, such as the Temple of Zeus, once one of the largest temples in Greece, and the Temple of Hera, where, even today, the Olympic torch is lit, and peering through the remaining archway connecting to the Stadium beyond, conjures images of past processions and athletes of long ago.

The island of Corfu, our final Greek stop, has a Mediterranean-Italian feel, with its pastel-coloured buildings and its two massive Venetian forts. Much of the island is lushly verdant, accentuated with colourful splashes of flowers. Corfu’s considerable charms include lively streets as well as heavenly beaches.

Kotor, Montenegro, is an unexpected gem and a highlight for us. Gloriously situated at the end of a fjord in the Gulf of Kotor, circled by steep mountains, the old town is still “protected” by its medieval walls. Beautifully refurbished stone buildings, cobblestone courtyards and enticing stores and cafés set a charming, upscale and inviting tone. A lovely drive to picturesque Perast, followed by a short boat ride brings us to Our Lady of the Rocks, a fascinating church built on an artificial islet of hauled rocks to mark the place where a painting of the Madonna was supposedly found. Later, nighttime casts a magical glow over Kotor’s old city as the palm trees and walls are lit and the streets pulse with energy.

Dubrovnik, Croatia, on the Adriatic coast is a lovely medieval walled city in some ways similar to Kotor but on a much grander scale. Many churches dot the sizeable old city and the squares are larger but also more crowded. Every turn reveals still another wonder—magnificent ancient buildings, monuments and statues along the squares and narrow streets.

Finally, with mixed emotions, we approach Venice, happy and eager to explore this enchanting port but truly reluctant to bid the Quest adieu. Even as we say our farewells, we’re already dreaming of our next cruise on the Seabourn Quest!

Travel Planner

For more information, visit seabourn.com.

 
 
 
 
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