The Traveling Steve's

Welcome Aboard the Seabourn Encore!

On Sunday we checked out of the Grand Hyatt Athens, where we had stayed for the last four nights, and took our arranged transportation once again with Welcome Pickups.  Our driver Manos had met us at the airport on our arrival to Athens, and was now taking us from the hotel to the cruise port. Manos was very courteous, professional and a pleasure to talk to, and Welcome Pickups offered outstanding service in very comfortable Mercedes mini-vans for both our airport transportation and day tour we had taken out of Athens (last post). ? We did have quite a bit of luggage, but Manos was able to fit it all into the Mercedes mini-van.

We then headed to the cruise port, with Manus carefully navigating the narrow circular hotel entrance area without hitting the fancy Lamborgini and Porche, and other fancy cars valeted out front of the hotel.

The Port of Piraeus was only a short 15 minute drive from our hotel, and the check-in process for the cruise could not have been any easier; very quick and efficient!  We checked in for the cruise at 1pm, slightly before our given time of 1:20pm, with no issue arriving slightly early. As this was a repositioning cruise with stops in many countries, some of which required Visas, we had to surrender our passport on check-in, which would be returned later on in the cruise. We had already acquired the visas for India and Turkey, although the visa for the other countries would be processed as a group visa by Seabourn, such as the visa for the UAE.

From the moment we checked in, boarded, and were shown to our “suite”, we knew we were in for a special cruise on the Seabourn Encore, unlike any of the larger ships we had sailed, yet similar in some ways to the River Cruises we have taken.   Although we’ve taken some 75 cruises previously ranging from 3 to 18 days on several lines, we have never sailed “The Yachts of Seabourn” before, much less done a 34 day cruise. In fact we seemed to be in the minority of passengers never having sailed Seabourn before as everyone else seemed to be repeaters of the Seabourn Cruise family. We were invited to a “First Timers” cocktail party on the first Formal night, and it was we’ll attended, with perhaps a total of 75 passengers, so we weren’t the only ones new to Seabourn, but it seemed that way at first. Seabourn is a very friendly and unpretentious cruise line, (granted with lots of wealthy people), but it has a feeling of “Country Club” casual which is welcoming without being stuffy.

The food aboard has been outstanding, both in quality and quantity. (The giant shrimp cocktail served every day for lunch and dinner is unbelievable in size and quantity!) The service has been excellent in the Colonnade Restaurant (the more casual venue with elegant buffets for breakfast and lunch, and waiter service for dinner, each night with a different theme), but not as good in the main, single open seating dining room called simply “The Restaurant”, unfortunately. The Colonnade is perfect for our daily breakfasts and lunch buffets, and the service here is excellent and more relaxed. Perhaps because it’s a smaller venue and we like to sit on the outdoor terrace, the wait staff remember our names and preferences which is nice, and perhaps expected with this caliber of a cruise ship.

Lunch time dining in the Colonnade Restaurant, the more casual venue aboard with indoor and outdoor seating.

The main dining room, “The Restaurant”, however is very large, elegant, and perhaps due to the large size, open seating, and flexible dining hours, does not feel (at least to us) very personal or attentive. As The Restaurant is so large, we don’t have the same waitstaff each night, and it just feels slow (not leisurely which we like, but slow as understaffed and busy).

Compared to The Restaurant, we have actually had much better service on Princess in the suite dining room section, as well as MSC in the Yacht Club, where we had the same wait staff nightly who knew our preferences, names, wines, etc, and you didn’t have to ask for refills on wine, water, and other extras as they were readily there for you. We will see how the service improves as we sail along; perhaps because we have dined at 8 pm most nights (The Restaurant is open until 9pm), and it seems to be in the latter part of the evening dining rush where most people dine by 7:00 to 7:30pm or so. For a five star line, however, while the food is excellent, the service doesn’t feel polished the way it should be in “The Restaurant” or even the one night we went to the complimentary specialty dining in The Grille, by Thomas Keller. Anyway, we’ve got another month of dining, so will see how the service goes as we continue onward. Again, the food has been outstanding everywhere and is definitely the best of any ships we have been on so far, but the dining service (excluding The Colonnade) could be refined a bit more.

The bar service everywhere from poolside to the show lounge to the Observation Lounge and Thomas Keller’s bar area are excellent, as are the all inclusive beverages served. Drinks and Champagne are free flowing at any time aboard, and we’ve already had a Caviar and Champagne pool party one night!

The Observation Bar at the front of the ship on Deck 11.

We have really enjoyed the entertainment, which is more intimate and personal than on the mega ships, and it’s nice to have a single show each night, comfortably sitting the number of passengers for the entire ship. Being a smaller ship has many advantages as well, and we especially like meeting and having drinks and laughs with the entertainers after the show, as well as meeting the senior officers and others throughout the cruise. It really does make for a happy Seabourn family, and I can see why they have so many happy and repeat passengers.

We are in “Suite 847”, which is on the 8th floor of this 40,000 ton ship, which is built to carry only 600 passengers, however on this repositioning sailing there are only 492 passengers and zero kids.

On the Seabourn Encore, while there are a wide variety of suites available ranging from the standard Veranda Suite (all rooms are classified as “suites”) measuring 300 square feet with a 65 square foot balcony, to the two largest deluxe Wintergarden Suites measuring 914 square feet with a 183 square foot balcony, the majority of the suites are the standard Veranda Suite such as ours, which is quite comfortable for us.

Bar setup area with fridge below with complimentary beers and sodas.

The bathroom is a decent size with separate shower and tub, toilet (that flushes with a sound slightly lower than the sonic boom ?, I know all ships had that loud whoosh sound but it sounds deafening on this ship), two sinks in the vanity area, and nice Molden Brown toiletries.

We could use a larger walk-in closet, but we are managing. Here’s DOS’s candid photo moment of first walking in the small closet. ?

How are we going to fit all of our clothes in this closet??

The balcony was not huge compared to our preferable aft cabins on other ships, but was a decent size for relaxing outdoors, and had two chairs with separate foot rest ottoman and a round table for drinks or even having a meal outside, which we have yet to do.

We’re now on the 6th day of the cruise and I’m catching up a bit to write this post.  I’m posting below a few of the pics so far, and am attaching these as galleries for now in the interest of shipboard fun time.? Here our the first two port calls we stopped at: Crete and Rhodes Greece.

For now, just enjoying this beautiful ship and days at sea!

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