Mom and I have been on many cruises separately and with the entire family, but I was really excited to be taking her on a girls’ getaway cruise of our own. What made it even better was that we were traveling on what had been labeled by many as the “World’s Best Small-Ship Cruise Line,” Seabourn.
I really wasn’t sure what to expect, but the luxury from this line was felt the minute we entered the terminal in Fort Lauderdale and were greeted personally and taken to register, without ever seeing any lines.
We also received a private escort onto the Seabourn Sojourn and into one of the 22 Penthouse Suites. I couldn’t imagine the nine suites that were even larger, as ours was 600 square feet – bigger than most hotel rooms!
Our suite had a bathroom with a Jacuzzi and shower, as well as a separate room for the toilet. We also had a walk-in closet, living room, dining area, bedroom and a large veranda balcony.
Fine Dining at Its Best – the Seabourn Cruise Advantage
One of the many recognitions Seabourn has received has been for its food, and I have to agree.
We often had breakfast in our room or on the balcony (24 hour room service was available), but I also loved going to the Collanade Restaurant, where you could pick up a smoothie, croissants, Danishes and fruit, and/or order from the pancake, waffle and omelet menu, and eat it while watching the Caribbean Sea.
For lunch, we had three options each day. Mom and I would often return to the Collanade for courses such as Waldorf Salad and Macaroni & Cheese.
I was really impressed, though, when the menu was Asian one day and the chef saw me and came over to tell me that there was seafood used in the preparation (there were actually pictures in the kitchen of those with severe allergies). A few minutes later, I had Fried Rice, Pan Thai Chicken and Stir Fry Beef on my table, freshly prepared just for me.
We only had lunch in Restaurant 1 twice, and both meals were superb: Coconut Crusted Chicken and Spaetzele with cheese, served with a tender Wiener Schnitzel.
Dinner in Restaurant 1 was always a fine dining experience, with wines paired to our meals. Seabourn always has a classic menu available too, so if you didn’t like what was on the day’s menu, you could order items such as shrimp cocktail, Caesar salad and steak.
We had quite a few delicious dinners there. I’d say my most memorable items were the Twice Baked Goat Cheese Soufflé, Potato Bonda Yogurt Dumplings, Lamb Shank, Spring Chicken Cassoulet En Croute, and Pasta with Wild Mushrooms and Goat Cheese. Mom took advantage of the opportunity to enjoy an array of seafood throughout the cruise.
Desserts were almost always done to perfection, from the petite fours and truffles served before them to concoctions such as Peanut Butter Chocolate Mousse Cake, Blueberry Clafoutis Chamomile Crumble, Trio of Chocolate and Marzipone Mousse.
All-Inclusive Luxury on a Seabourn Cruise
One of the things we enjoyed most about Seabourn was that it was virtually all inclusive. All food and drinks were complimentary, there was no tipping.
We were asked before we arrived what we would like our bar stocked with in addition to the bottle of champagne they start you out with. Even the gourmet coffee bar, which also had pastries and ice cream, was included, as was Afternoon Tea in the Observation Lounge (which also had a piano bar and cocktails in the evening).
The Seabourn Sojourn had one specialty dining area, simply called Restaurant 2. There was no extra charge for this quiet and beautiful dining room that offered a different tasting menu each night.
I found the all-inclusive policy most welcoming on the Pool Deck, where waiters came around constantly with cocktails, water bottles, sunblock and even fresh fruit – and you never had to sign for anything.
Best Spa at Sea
One of the few things that aren’t included on Seabourn are spa treatments. We did indulge, with a massage for Mom and an Elemis Frangipani treatment for me. I loved this unique offering of a scalp massage with frangipani oil. My hair was soft and shiny for days.
We also relaxed in the Spa Villa a bit, where vibrating and warming lounges are available to drift you off into dreamland.
Great Caribbean Itinerary: Island Distilleries, St. Bart Shopping and an Underwater Snorkeling Trail
Our Caribbean itinerary couldn’t be better. It was a 10 day cruise with two days at sea at the beginning and two at the end.
The first stop was in San Juan, Puerto Rico. I spent the morning exploring Old San Juan and then Mom and I went to the Bacardi Distillery for a private tour in the afternoon. A lot had certainly changed since I was there 20 years ago and the only choices were white or dark rum in one tasting building!
Next was my first visit to St. Bartholomew and it was the perfect place for a luxury cruise line to go. The small island known as St. Barts is a stomping ground for the rich and famous, with perfect weather and beautiful beaches. It’s also the place to find some of the finest shopping in the Caribbean.
I really knew little about St. John before I stepped onto this island. As one of the U.S. Virgin Islands, it has a National Park filled with breathtaking beaches and natural greenery. All the land is protected under federal law and therefore the park is kept very clean. Trunk Bay, which has an underwater snorkeling trail, was one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever seen.
Antigua had changed quite a bit since I had been there two decades prior. The island had really been built up with hotels, restaurants, and stores, which Mom and I did a bit of shopping at. I toured the island with a representative from Antigua and Barbuda Tourism, then enjoyed exploring and sampling at Antigua Distillery, where my favorite product was the Kokocaribe Coconut Rum.
The Seabourn Sojourn: Small Ship Advantage
The Seabourn Sojourn was the first small ship I’ve ever been on and I loved the concept. With only 340 passengers aboard, we got to know a lot of the people and were never waiting on lines for anything, or waiting for a seat in the dining room. It also didn’t take long for the all the staff to know all the guests.
The entertainment was first class. On our cruise we enjoyed an impersonator doing divas, a concert pianist, a music and dancing show and an illusionist. All the shows were great and we loved the intimate setting.
I was also blown away by what I heard from others to be their favorite part of Seabourn in the Caribbean – the private island experience. This exceeded my wildest dreams as we were taken to Isla Catalina in the Dominican Republic, given lounge chairs on a spectacular beach, served caviar and champagne by waiters in the turquoise water, treated to a barbecue featuring lobster tails, and given our choice of unlimited drinks or champagne all day.
It’s going to be very hard to top this mother-daughter getaway.
After many years as one of the top tennis writers in the country, Marcia Frost now devoting most of her time to travel writing, with a focus on food, wine and spirits. She has her own blog at WineAndSpiritsTravel.com and does weekly columns for Inspirato on Sonoma and Paris (two locations she visits often). Marcia also freelances for many other outlets, including Yahoo!; AOL; Michigan Avenue; Rum Bum; Los Angeles Confidential; Travel, Food & Drink; and Air Tran’s Go! Magazine. She has been contributing to Girls’ Getaway since 2010. For more information on Marcia, visit her website MarciaFrost.com.