Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Seabourn Spirit - Venice and Adriatic Gems

Seabourn Spirit, kotor, Montenegro, Cruise

On Seabourn, nearly anything is possible... all-suite accommodations, fine dining, champagne at every turn, and a staff anticipating desires you didn't even know you had.  Spending 10 nights sailing the 200 passenger Seabourn Spirit on a round trip Venice to Venice voyage in August of 2012, Liv Life enjoyed living life while sailing the Adriatic Sea with ports of call including Kotor, Corfu, Dubrovnik, Rovinj, Split, and Brindisi.

Living Life in Dubrovnik, Croatia
Watching the world of travel open to my teenage children became an unforgettable experience.  From the canals of Venice to the ancient walls of Dubrovnik, the world became real as they not only visited, but touched history.  My 16-year old son, somewhat of a history buff, rattled off facts ranging from war to architecture as we toured buildings older than our country, and Liv quickly learned that shopping is actually more appealing without a mall.  Returning to our floating home away from home after spending the day port brought a special indulgence, and a touch of luxury to our transportation.

An all-inclusive line, Seabourn spoils you from the moment you arrive.  Greeted at registration with smiles and bubbling glasses of champagne, our family found ourselves situated in our suites in mere moments.  Room attendants somehow know you've arrived and appear quickly with champagne refreshers and light canapes, setting a trend of excellence which never dimmed during our entire voyage.  With a staff ratio of about 1.4 to 1, the Spirit workforce spoiled our weary, much in need of vacation, family to no end.

Happy Birthday Liv!
Our first evening in the dining room found the meal finishing with a surprise cake for Liv's 13th birthday and a crew of happy waiters singing their hearts out to my smiling birthday girl.  The next morning she was greeted by different waiters at breakfast who called her (as well as the rest of us) by name, and asked if she had enjoyed her special dinner.  A trip to the spa for a birthday pedicure brought a celebratory "mocktail", the fruity/coconutty Miami Vice, and a gushing exclamation from my newly teenaged daughter of, "Mom!  I love Seabourn!!!"

The Spirit, affectionately known as one of the "Little Sisters" (larger ships carry up to 450 guests), offers two featured dining areas with several alternate dining choices available.  The Restaurant on Deck 3 offers a full service restaurant for all meals of the day in a fine dining venue.

Veranda Café, Seabourn, Spirit, Legend
Mommy's happy place.... The Veranda Café
My personal favorite dining spot for breakfast and lunch, however, has always been the Veranda Café.  Affectionately known to me as, "Mommy's happy place", the Veranda offers outside seating with a more casual atmosphere.  Service however, remains as attentive as the main dining room.

For off hours, one has the option of the Sky Grill, afternoon Tea in the Observation Lounge, or the ever present 24-hour in suite service.  In the evening, The Veranda transforms into Restaurant 2, serving themed small plate tasting menus with extraordinary views of the passing sea in the fresh outside air.

Seabourn Spirit, Dining Room
Taking advantage of "order whatever you want from the menu", my Filet Mignon loving girl did just that.  Cooked to perfection filets arrived at our table night after night, while my son's choices tended to include meals he'd never tried including Lobster, Veal, and his favorite Duck Egg Rolls.

Innovative fresh salads, soups and appetizers began each evening meal accompanied by wines from around the world.  While simple entrées of Grilled Salmon, Filet Mignon, or basic chicken met our every standard, notable standouts included the Twice Baked Goat Cheese Souffle with Roasted Sweet Garlic Cream, Oven Baked Duck Spring Rolls with Chili Spiced Cucumber Salad, Oven Roasted Capon "Saltimbocca", and a simple Three Pea Salad.

Desserts ranged from Crepes Suzette to Creme Brulee to Sorbet to plain 'ole Chocolate Cake.  For myself though, I found taking advantage of a not-so-American offering, the Cheese Plate bringing various cheese tastes along with sweet chutney and sugared or flavored nuts, to be the ideal finale to a wonderful meal.

Seabourn, Spirit, Twice Baked Goat Cheese Souffle
Twice Baked Goat Cheese Souffle with Roasted Sweet Garlic Cream
Joining the sea day Galley Tour, my husband and I received a behind-the-scenes peek at the food production areas as well as some of the staff who make the magic happen.  With particular interest in the baking area, my appliance envy grew at the sight of giant, sparkling mixers near the rows of trays laden with rising bread right next to a wall of waiting hot ovens.

Every loaf of bread, pastry or croissant served on the ship is made right there in that kitchen by just a few staff members as the rest of us receive our beauty sleep.  Seabourn's signature breads sticks remain one of my favorite offerings, and a never ending production brings some 1,000+ sticks per day to the table.  Might I also note how much I enjoyed the flavored butter offering of the day featuring various herb butters which only served to enhance those addictive little bread sticks.

Seabourn, Galley Tour, Chef Martin Kitzing
Galley Tour
Moving through the kitchen along with Executive Chef Martin Kitzing, one can't help but be amazed at the precise organization which keeps the food and all of our special requests arriving to our tables timely and almost always correctly.  Prep areas are arranged ahead of time, and large vats of steaming broths bubble away all afternoon in preparation for the guest's orders.  I can only imagine the beehive of activity that occurs nightly as nearly every guest is treated to an extraordinary dining experience which the Seabourn staff makes look easy.

Seaborn, Fine Dining, The Restaurant
Dinner is served...
Taking a moment with the Chef after the tour, I explained my son's dairy free diet, asking if any of the breads were made dairy free.  Chef Martin took the time to make suggestions along with taking my suite number.  Later in the day as I made my way past reception, the Restaurant Maître d happened to be crossing at the same time, and calling me by name, he mentioned he was just on his way to my suite with a printed list of dairy free foods served at all meals.  In addition, he explained that Chef Martin would be altering some of the recipes, and that tomorrow this additional list of foods would also be dairy free.  You see... on Seabourn nearly anything is possible.  

Days later we met up with Chef Martin once again in Split, Croatia while joining his "Shopping with the Chef" tour.  Leading us to the local fish market, Chef Martin navigated the fish laden tables while selecting ultra fresh ingredients for our lunch and dinner.  The market itself proved to be a treat for us grocery store shopping Americans, but the haggling for price was an exciting experience in itself.

Shopping with the Chef, Seabourn, Split, Croatia, fish market
Shopping with the Chef - Split, Croatia
A ship guest from Majorca, Spain followed the Chef closely, and on his second stop she stepped in.  Throwing a hand into the face of the vendor while bellowing, "No!!!  Too much money!" she proceeded to haggle with the vendor, and eventually got the final price somewhat reduced.  A resounding cheer went up from our crowd as she and the vendor smiled, obviously enjoying the act of haggling as much as we all enjoyed watching, and we moved on to the next table of selections along with the next round of haggling.

*Not listed on the excursion itinerary for your voyage, check with the Chef himself or reception for dates and times of the enjoyable Shopping With the Chef tour on your Seabourn voyage.

Seabourn, Marina, Banana Boat, Triluke Bay, Croatia
Marina Day - Triluke Bay, Croatia
Triluke Bay, a small bay off the coast of Croatia, became the kids 2nd favorite day of our voyage (right after our day in Corfu).  With the back end of the Spirit becoming a fun-filled marina, the kids spent the day kayaking, paddle boating and being pulled about the bay on a banana boat.  While they didn't have time to take in every activity, the ship also offers wind surfing, water skiing, swimming, and sailing.

With guest of all ages taking advantage of the marina activities, my advice is to sign up early for the events that interest you as the day seems to fill up quickly.  Clear Adriatic waters, light breezes and balmy temps had this day right up there for Liv as, "One of the best ever!".

A favorite evening for the crew and guests alike followed our day in Dubrovnik.  As the passengers enjoyed tours of the ancient historic city walls, the crew put together a fabulous BBQ dinner.  Set outside on the main decks, tables laid with linens and silver became the meeting place for new friends.  Tables laden with fish, meats, gigantic Nigerian shrimp, and endless desserts tempted us as we watched the historic walls of Dubrovnik glow as the sun set into the warm Adriatic sea.

Seabourn, BBQ under the stars, Dubrovnik, Croatia
Deck BBQ
Sunset, Dubrovnik, Seabourn
Dubrovnik Sunset...
Within days, the kids also came to love and look forward to my happy place, the Veranda Cafe, for breakfast.  Offering cooked to order items as well as a buffet featuring those breads the bakers work so hard to bake all night, we also chose from fresh fruits, yogurts, cereals, meats and cheeses.  Always filling my plate just a little too full, I never found myself wanting for anything.

Most special about our morning though, was Nino.  Yes, Nino had us living the Seabourn advertisement.  The part that reads, "Our award-winning staff is driven only by their sincere desire to please, and with a smile that comes from the heart."  and, "whose knack for anticipating what you might like borders on the clairvoyant."  Nino exemplifies Seabourn, and personally, I have never been treated to better service which indeed came from the heart.

Greeting us each morning with, "Good morning Mr. and Mrs. Kelly!  Your coffee orders are being placed, Liv, your tea is on the way, and young Mr. Kelly... I have your eggs and 6 sausages ready to go."  Note we mentioned only once that we were creatures of habit, and from then on, after verification that we didn't want to change anything, our meals, drinks and treats arrived without us saying a word.  Occasionally we received surprises in addition to our "usual", like a much welcomed Mimosa, or for Liv, a 2nd donut of her favorite kind simply appearing by her side with Nino's happy smile and an "e voila!".

seabourn, Spirit
Spirit Staff - never without a smile
Yes, we were ultimately spoiled.  The staff of the Spirit worked together like nothing I have seen before.  Complimentary and courteous to each other as well as to the guests, they formed a team that any company should be proud to have.  I have sailed Seabourn in the past, and while I have always been treated well, this trip was truly "living the advertisement".  From the Captain on down, I received smiles at every turn, an extra towel by the pool, a chilled glass of champagne as I read my book in the late afternoon, and Nino's exemplary "E Voila!" in combination with a heartfelt smile at every meal.

Lunch on our last day had me remembering a tidbit I'd read on Cruise Critic regarding Seabourn's incredible Onion Rings.  I had read that the precious rings were not on the menu though, and did require a bit of notice for preparation.  As this was our last day, I thought I'd ask anyway, knowing my request may not be possible.  The server confirmed just that, and since we were actually outside of the Veranda operating hours the chef might not be able to meet my request.

"Not a problem," I responded, "This will leave me something to come back to Seabourn for.". 

Without much further thought, we continued our meal along with a recap of our day wandering the alleys and canals of Venice.  My husband, looking over my shoulder, noted the servers talking, and mentioned he didn't think my onion ring request was going to happen.  Sure enough, our server approached again, mentioning that indeed, the chef could not make the rings now, and he was sorry.

Onion rings, Seabourn
A minute or so passed, and again my husband continued to look behind me.  Confused at his ear to ear grin, seconds later I felt a small tap on my shoulder followed by a flourished, "E Voila!", and surrounded by our special Nino and the rest of our friendly staff, a plate piled high with some of the best onion rings I've ever had descended to the center of our table.

You see... on Seabourn nearly anything is possible.

E Voila!

New friends from around the world... miss you all!!


  1. What a wonderful adventure you and your family had, Kim! I've never been on a cruise before but, oh my! I'll definitely need to look into Seabourn Spirit! And ahh... Venezia... I always love Venice :-) Thank you for sharing your wonderful memories with us!

  2. WOW!!! What an amazing time!!! Your pictures are phenomenal! I have always wanted to go on a cruise!

  3. Well, you've sold me! The food alone is worth the trip but couple that with some gorgeous seaside town excursions and I'd pretty much be in heaven. And what a brilliant place to have a birthday :)

  4. What a brilliant account of your cruise - and great photos too - love the "mosaic" style of display.

    Scott - The Luxury cruise Company

  5. What a great blog and review - really brought the Seabourn experience to life! Great photos too - love the mosaic style.

    Scott - The Luxury Cruise Company

  6. Isn't Croatia gorgeous? We were there in the summer and visited Dubrovnik, Hvar & Split -- I loved it! Looks like you guys had a great time as well :)

  7. WOW WOW WOW Kim!! Your review just upped my cruising ante to a whole new level!! Absolutely amazing....I've always wanted to visit Croatia and this would be the way to do it! You did a beautiful job with the review and the gorgeous photos!!

    1. Thanks Stacey!!! I can't wait to return... Croatia was a favorite for the whole family.

  8. This looks like it was a fabulous trip! I would love to take such a hands on approach to the whole Food end of the ship, you've done a great job showcasing the wonderful people and cuisine aboard and abroad. Your images are beautiful and now Croatia is at the TOP of my list :)

  9. I have always wanted to visit Croatia.... doing so on a cruise hadn't even crossed my mind!! I cannot even fathom the lavishness of this line!! Awesome review. I almost feel as if I went on it myself!

  10. It seems you spent a great time all together. So glad for you! It was a great choice.

    1. Thanks Hotels!!! I'm still dreaming of the Spirit. Looking to book this November in the Caribbean.


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