I think the really important factor to point out here is that there will be some people on every cruise line who get used to how that cruise line works and they will adapt to it when they get onboard.
Coming onboard a cruise line the first time, and not knowing what they have to offer is a completely different story, and I have to say at the prices Seabourn charges I expect better communication between the staff and a first-time Seabourn cruiser like myself.
But no one knows better than myself how insular every job on a cruise ship can be. The land people rarely communicate with the ship staff, and when new people are on board they are often learning on the job.
FWIW: as a cruise reviewer my LEAST favorite thing is to have to bring up negative points about a cruise line, especially one with a stellar reputation, but at the same time, if I am not honest about my experience then I am only giving my readers fluff, and I would rather disappoint a cruise line than my readers.
Here is another experience I have to relate - and I want to say one thing. I tried for FIVE YEARS to get Seabourn to bring me on a ship with a PR
representative so the following types of snafus would not happen. Call it arrogance, over-confidence, whatever, Seabourn doesn't "do" press trips.
In my opinion, according to what I see, this is a cruise line that coasts on the idea that people will be afraid to say negative things about it for fear they will look uninformed. I disagree. I believe a cruise line owes the guest a munimum experience and NO learning curve to enjoy the high dollar they pay for this vacation...
Here is what happened...
As my Fox News editor pointed out to me, my audience (and I also feel the same way about CruiseMates because only 17% of America has ever been on a cruise) is not just the experienced cruiser. When I come on a ship part of my job is to ascertain how well the ship communicates with the guests - to assume the guest knows anything is a mistake by the cruise staff in my opinion.
Friday was our wedding anniversary. My wife and I chose to celebrate it in Restaurant 2. The staff in there was extraordinarily nice, and the food and especially the wine were both fantastic. This is a real treat and I highly recommend it.
But here is the downside. I made those reservations the night before. Now, at first they tried to talk us out of it because of my wife’s special diet. They said, “It’s a pre-set tasting menu…” I said, “Okay, I understand, if you prefer that we not have our anniversary in there we won’t do it.” But the person we spoke with (in Seabourn Square the equivalent of the front desk) said, “No, no. Let me talk to the Maitre D’, and I will let you know.” In the end they called back and said, “we can get you in but it has to be 8:00.” We said, “Thank you so much,” and we had a lovely meal.
But what they didn’t tell me was that the same night we were in Restaurant 2 was also held the once-per-cruise “Chef’s Dinner” in the regular dining room. The ship had gone ashore and picked up 450 fresh Maine lobsters to serve FRESH to the entire ship in the main dining room that night.
The question is “why didn’t I know?”
This “Chef’s Dinner” information was NOT conveyed to the guests in any special way at all. Arguably, it was not conveyed at all. First, you have to understand this is the most important meal of the cruise in terms of the actual chef showing off his best. He designs the menu and supervises everything. I just talked to this chef, Andrew Soddy, and he said that it’s the hardest meal of the cruise, which is why the galley staff celebrates afterwards.
I just found this out this morning. I heard reference to it during the cooking demonstration, and so I checked the daily programs for Thursday. Nowhere was “Chef’s Dinner,” even mentioned. There was no article about it in the daily Herald, no description of what it is, why it exists, etc.
Friday afternoon we got a call saying, “You can come in to Restaurant 2 earlier tonight if you want - we only have 7 reservations for the whole night.” I said, “thank you,” but I didn’t think to ask why nor did the caller volunteer. When we got to Restaurant 2 at 7:45 she said, “Yes, we are empty tonight because everyone's at the Chef’s Dinner in the dining room tonight eating the fresh lobster we brought onboard.”
My mouth fell to the floor. This was the first I had heard of it. I am from Arizona, and eating fresh Maine lobster is something I have dreamed about for decades.
This morning, curious how I could have missed this, I checked Friday’s Herald and the menu for Friday night. (I keep everything when I research a cruise). Friday’s Herald said nothing at all - except under the hours for the main restaurant, in literally the smallest type possible, it had the two words “Chef’s Dinner.”
Friday’s menu did say “Fresh Maine Lobster” for Friday night. But we already had made reservations in Restaurant 2 the night before, so why would I read the dinner menu in the main restaurant for Friday night? Bottom line, the most important meal of the cruise had no public announcement, no special article in the daily schedule, and it was not mentioned to me by the ship’s staff when I asked for reservations in Restaurant 2 the night before.
My point is this - I had no idea what I was missing until it was too late, so this was not my fault - and I am from Arizona - the chance of me ever getting a fresh Maine Lobster directly from the sea ever again in my lifetime is next to zero.
I am onboard as a reporter. I conveyed to Seabourn several times that I prefer to go on hosted press trips so I don’t miss important things, but “they don’t do that.” Because they don’t do that, I missed out on one of their best offerings and an experience of a lifetime for me.
Being very honest, if I was onboard as a regular guest who had paid full fare for this Fall Foliage cruise as a chance to experience New England/Canada in all its glory - and fresh Maine lobster was at the VERY TOP of that list, I would be frankly extremely upset right now.
I have spoken to the staff about this in great detail. They all agree the special meal should have been conveyed better, that they need to work on that internally. I have no idea how many other people missed it, probably not that many - as we were told about it the second we walked into Restaurant 2, (so if people walked into another restaurant they were likely told as well), the problem was we had already arranged a special anniversary meal; cake, low carb salad, etc. for my wife in the top alternative restaurant (not the buffet area); Restaurant 2 - we could not just get up and walk out.