SEABOURN QUEST was a ship I sailed on when she was brand new. Four years later we meet again in Antwerp. Time to refresh my mind.

SEABOURN QUEST, fresh from the shipyard

The 2011 welcoming party in Monaco

A dream balcony, with Saint-Tropez view

The Spa’s outside deck

The forward Jaccuzzi

Some suites have terrific bathrooms, here with a Sanremo view

When in Antwerp we embarked the Quest during the morning it felt as a being on a ghost ship. There was hardly a passenger onboard. Normal: half of them were on a day excursion to Bruges. The others were visiting the nearby historic center of Antwerp.

Smoke was filling one of the staircases and the fire alarm sounded (the usual seven short blasts on the ship’s horn, followed by one long blast). The crew was wearing lifejackets. It was just all part of an exercise.

Where is everybody?

Empty ship… safety drill…, you can imagine that it was not easy to get into the (cruise)mood. Something was missing. The hardware looked spic & span. But it didn’t create any excitement. I remember my enthusiasm the first time.

The main dining room

One of the biggest suites

The Spa

In Antwerp,  as noon approached some passengers came back for lunch in The Colonnade, a cosy buffet-style restaurant. During the testing of the “Carbonades à la Flamande” —a Belgian dish— I observed the passengers and one thing struck me: the way the staff welcomed them. Some ladies got something that was close to a hug, and others got friendly pats on the back, light strokes as a gesture of affection. Their body language just radiated warm hospitality. Obviously the passengers loved it.

My hosts, Nastassia Zakeriesen, Seabourn’s Business Development Manager Benelux, and Warren van Zyl, Seabourn Quest’s onboard cruise sales specialist

Before disembarking I shared my observations with onboard cruise sales specialist Warren Van Zyl, and he confirmed: “this personal approach is the hallmark of Seabourn. Our people are well trained for this. They learn how to find the perfect balance between a genuine individual approach, and a professional distance. They are trained to recognise guests, and to remember what they like, what they do, where they come from.”

One of stewardesses offers a selection of suncream

I remember a friend who cruised on Seabourn some years ago. The first thing he did when we met after his cruise was to praise the staff. He was euphoric and surprised too. “We had very good conversations with our suite stewardess, a well educated lady with an interesting background. There was not such a feeling as her being ‘personnel’. In general the staff was outstanding, in a way I never experienced in a hotel.”

Tatjana, “dessert manager” with the sweetest smile of all

Now I remembered my first experience on the SEABOURN QUEST. She’s a lovely ship indeed, but what really makes her special is her fantastic people, providing a uncomplicated high-level service without peer.

Text and Photos: Mike

Seabourn’s website