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John Callcutt

Age: 66

Occupation:Retired

Number of Cruises: 2

Cruise Line: Seabourn

Ship: Seabourn Odyssey

Sailing Date: 2013-07-21

Itinerary: Istanbul to Venice

We took our first spontaneous cruise in the Caribbean aboard the Seaborne Spirit and were so impressed we booked a longer cruise in the Med. It was a wonderful experience, the level of service was unrelentingly high, nothing seemed too much trouble. We have been happily hooked, in the fishing sense.

The standard of food was overall very good in all the retaurants, we had one poor meal, foie gras that was grey and mushy but they worked unrelentingly to make up for it. Plenty of food variety, wonderful ingredients varied cuisines, including good old British traditionals such as tikka masala and fish and chips, all beautifully executed. Maybe, just maybe Restaurant 2, which serves a slightly pretentious weekly tasting menu, would do better cast as an Asian fusion restaurant.

The house chardonnay was Stags Leap, that costs about $30 a bottle in the supermarket, other house wines were almost as impressive. One Aussie beer connoisseur wanted the local beer in various ports of call so they brought it onboard.

We booked at the last minute on a fully booked cruise so we ended up paying top dollar for a room next to the bar. The soundproofing was first class and we weren't overly bothered by noise and it was a short trip to the bar afterall. Maid service was prompt, personal, and very attentive,.We came back to our room on the night of our anniversary and it was done out with red rose petals, balloons and swan shaped towels on the bed, bless her, its the thought that counts. The bathroom was always squeaky clean, but the sheep skin style bathmant got a bit smelly at times. Also we needed to ask for more Molton Brown shower gel at times as it ran out; we took none home, I promise. Clean, crispy, fine linen, a beautifully appointed room, there seemed little point in reserving a state room / penthouse. How do they maintain these standards?

Entertainment was a revelation, the ship seemed to be bursting with talent and the shows were truly spectacular, especially the singing.The ballroom / modern dancing couple were great and worked with the singers to produce some fantastic shows. The added bonus was that the entertainers clearly loved their job, joining in the singing spontaneously at times. In fact with the food, the wine, the entertainment and overall luxury I must confess to a twinge of guilt as we lay at anchor in recession ridden Greece; it soon passed though.

By and large the excursions were okay. In truth Greek Islands can get a bit samie. Clearly, the Seaborne no tipping policy doesn't extend to outside tour operators, although no-one pushed for a tip. The standard of guides was generally good. I would pick out the trips to Ephesus, and Olympia as outstanding. The Acropolis was a building site which was a disappointment. All Seaborne excursions seem to be monitored by their personel who accompanied us, which we thought was very impressive. The only total waste of money was the iPod tour of Dubrovnik, a fantastic city best seen without this irritation in your ear.

It exceeded all our expectations, we were worried Seaborne couldn't do it on a bigger ship but they did. Niggles, well there were just one or two. The second was the more serious. Seaborne isn't for young families, we are in our 60's and prefer the older demographic, we just booked a week too late and had a lot of youngsters in the second week of the cruise. What we didn't approve of however was kids in diapers in the swimming pool. It was prohibited but not enforced and it should have been. Apart from that though, it was a fantastic experience, we have no intentions of cruising with anyone but Seaborne.

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