I was recently on board of the Seabourn Ovation for their sail away from the shipyard at the invitation of Chris Austin, #2 in the company and a former top Starwood Executive. He asked me to review it as a "luxury hotel option at sea," knowing that luxury hotel relationships are my forte. Many of my luxury hotel clients are opposed to cruising but this is a new option that will change their minds.
Seabourn Ovation is a completely new cruise product, maybe better associated with sailing on a 300 suite intimate yacht. Their cabins are not just ship cabins that many think of. These are all similar to an ocean front luxury hotel suite. Every room is beautifully appointed down to the customizable Molton Brown soap menu at the beginning of the sailing. The bathrooms are large with a double sink vanity, a separate shower and a soaking tub. Even the water pressure was up to par with a luxury hotel suite. My favorite suite was the Wintergarden - located mid ship with a private solarium for the suite’s soaking tub on the veranda.
The rest of the ship was a luxury resort on the sea as well, down to the cabanas you can reserve which include butler service and a flat screen television. The artwork throughout the ship rivals any modern art gallery featuring new and upcoming artists from across the globe. These jaw dropping installations really WOW you: from contemporary paintings to vintage prints embellished with hand embroidery accents. Even their world-class spa developed by world-renowned Dr. Andrew Weil specializes in customizable holistic treatments.
The dining was spectacular. They host a caviar presentation with champagne and white glove service that is to be expected with Seabourn’s class of service. This amenity can even be delivered directly to your suite or your retreat cabana. Thomas Keller of the famous French Laundry in California personally designed dining options on board at The Grill, from the music, featured wine, tablecloths and more. “The food was so good you just want to wear it!” Even the sushi bar was an authentic Japanese masterpiece. From casual dining to relaxed, country club casual to course-by-course served in your suite, everything is included.
Even down to your morning coffee, there is an on board coffee roaster where you can pick your bean, from Italian to Ethiopian, roasted fresh each day to your exact specifications for that perfect cup of coffee tailored specifically to your taste. The same goes for their gelato maker on board. With the maker trained in Italy, the gelato rivals the best of what you can find in Italy itself.
Partnered with UNESCO for the shore excursions, you won’t be amiss to find a cultural anthropologist leading the way throughout your tour. The shows on board are not your typical cruise entertainment experiences either. They rival Broadway or London’s West End. For instance, when we were in Venice, we pulled into port with opera singers sounding as we all adorned handmade Venetian masks while passing St. Mark’s square. This Seabourn moment was one I will remember for a lifetime.
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