I thoroughly enjoyed my week on Seabourn Odyssey last month. No doubt that the fine ship delivers one of the industry’s best luxury cruise vacations.
But, of course, as I am often reminded, there is always room for improvement. Based on my experience and conversations with other guests, here are a few areas that I believe Seabourn could improve on Odyssey.
- Larger stateroom television. I rarely watch television, but when I do, I like to be able to actually see the screen. From the far corner of my bed, the small LG flat-panel television resembled a postage stamp. OK, I am exaggerating. But the television was not equal to the quality of product that Seabourn Odyssey aspires to. I’ve stayed in three-star hotels with better televisions. You can see the television in the photo above – well, almost.
- An iPod docking station with robust sound. Again, blame the television. The iPod docking station, while a great idea, runs its sound through the television. Sound is tinny and cheap. I’m not expecting disco-booming bass, but rich, robust sound would make the listening experience worthwhile.
- An easier way to make restaurant reservations. For dinners at Restaurant 2, Collonade and the Patio Grill, reservations are required. That’s acceptable. What’s not is the process. You may make reservations only 48 hours in advance and only beginning at 7:30 p.m. — and only by phone. So potentially it’s you and 449 other guests calling in at the same time. On the second day of our cruise, I called at 7:32 p.m. to make reservations at Restaurant 2. It had sold out within two minutes. Another guest told me he called every minute for 10 minutes from 7:30 onward. When he finally got through, all of the restaurants were fully booked. And keep in mind, you’re trying to make reservations not for the same night or even for the next night, but the night after: two nights in advance. The Maitre d’ can’t make reservations; restaurant staff can’t. So put down that glass of champagne at the cocktail party you’re attending and rush to find a house phone to call — and wait. It’s frustrating and inconvenient.
- User-friendly laundry service. For same-day laundry, dry-cleaning or pressing, you’ll pay a 50 percent surcharge on Seabourn Odyssey. And to qualify, your laundry must be picked up by 9 a.m. to be returned by 7 p.m. Regular service adds 24 hours, which means that laundry picked up by 9 a.m. is returned the second day by 7 p.m. So if you want that wrinkled shirt cleaned or pressed and you don’t want to pay a surcharge, you need to board the morning before your cruise departs.
- Better marina management. The marina just doesn’t work efficiently on weeklong cruises when there is only one day when it can be used. Imagine 450 passengers funneling onto the small platform to participate in water sports. Well, the photo gives you an idea of what it’s like at the marina.
I’m sure Seabourn will sort much of this out in the coming months. To be fair, Seabourn was innovative with the Odyssey, and with innovation, it’s expected that, like those wrinkled shirts, there will be issues to be, er, ironed out (just make sure they’re in by 9 a.m.!)
Meantime, a little advanced planning on your part can make for a more pleasant experience. Bring headphones, a little patience and understanding, and, last but not least, a clean and nicely folded knit shirt for that first night of dining.