Having survived my air travel and luggage issues, the Goldring Travel 2019 Culinary & Cultural Cruise is, after much planning, underway.
|Sunset sailing off the coast of Gothenburg, Sweden|
The Seabourn Ovation team was, as always, ready and waiting for me so I got right on to organizing some of the on-ship events so that they do not conflict with the many activities and events Seabourn also provides its guests. Since this is the thirteenth year, and so many with Seabourn have worked with me in the past, what used to be some pretty long meetings have become a “Hey, I haven’t finished my first cup of coffee” experiences. (Maybe I am getting a bit better at anticipating how this dance will be performed too?)
So with the initial Welcome letters, invitations and reminder cards sorted, and meetings done, it was…once my luggage was delivered…time to settle into my suite.
I am in Suite 801, a Signature Suite, overlooking the bow. Honestly, my favorite part of the suite is the picture window I can look out of as I sit at my computer while I work. That said, this suite is massive…almost uncomfortably massive…but it is beautiful.
|Seabourn Ovation Signature Suite 801|
As many of you may know, I moved from a very large house in the relative countryside of New Jersey to a townhouse tucked into the giant pine trees of Lake Tahoe in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Having offloaded the “bigger is better”, it is in a way strange being back living it. I do prefer the Penthouse Spa Suites, but so appreciate the nod by Seabourn. And, of course, it will serve my group well for informal get-togethers and our Bloody Mary & Mimosa Party as we sail through the Kiel Canal near the end of this cruise.
I should mention what is in the suite, what works and what are its quirks. Aside from a sofa that comfortably seats four, two nice occasional chairs, a lounge, a cabinet filled with interesting books and a dining table that seats six, I have (I mean it has) a properdesk; the view being a bonus. Strangely it only has one set of electrical outlets by the desk. There is a proper bar with a Nespresso machine, a larger refrigerator, sink and two bar stools – perfect for entertaining. There is also a guest powder room.
|Seabourn Premium Suites are provided with a fully stocked bar|
If there is something else you prefer, just ask and it will be delivered
The bedroom is quite a good size with, again, a proper vanity and a massive closet (more than double the size of the Owner’s and Penthouse Spa Suites I have stayed in. While that means there is more than enough rods for hanging long dresses and slacks, the four rods intended for shirts, etc. remain about four inches too short…so my shirts hung on the upper rod, touch the lower rod. Having a window and glass door out to the balcony is especially nice as you have a wonderful view from the bed and can pop out quickly to see things without having to walk through the living room.
|Seabourn Ovation Signature Suite Bedroom with bedside window|
The bathroom is a bit larger and has a jetted tub and separate toilet room, but otherwise is pretty much what you get in the standard suites. (I love the Penthouse Spa bathrooms, however.) I truly enjoy the Molton Brown bath amenities; simply the best…and most certainly the best at sea.
|Molton Brown bodywash and bath products|
The balcony is huge…sufficient for a party of probably fifty people if one so desires…wrapping around from the ship’s centerline to the side of the ship by the bedroom. Truly amazing. One downside is that when the ship is underway at speed (not, say, slowly cruising the Norwegian fjords) there is significant wind, which limits using the balcony at times.
|Seabourn Signature Suite balcony|
Another quirk is that you definitely feel and hear the ship shudder when the bowthrusters are in use. It is not nearly as noticeable as the Owner’s Suite 601 on the Odyssey-class ships, but if you are expecting a hotel-like experience when docking you will be disappointed. However, if you are like me and love being on a ship, it is actually kind of cool.
Meetings done and settled in, it was time to enjoy the ship a bit. And you know what that means for me: Drinks and dinner at The Grill by Thomas Keller. I met up with some of my guests, but have one client that is a Seabourn newbie. She is very well traveled (we met on my Azamara Cruise last year from Singapore to Dubai), but let’s just say her first impression was pretty darn good. Juxtaposed, we met up with two of my other guests that have been on every Culinary & Cultural Cruise since 2007 and are also getting ready for the 2020 World Cruise on the Seabourn Sojourn. Pretty darn cool!!
Of course, I started with the Caesar Salad, followed by The Chicken and all the sides; finishing with the ice cream sundae. But it being a long two days and it getting late, it was one after-dinner drink in the Observation Lounge with a side of Caviar and Potato Chips…then time for bed.
The next morning, which was a Sunday, we arrived in Gothenburg, Sweden. Sundays and Sweden mean quiet family time, so I stayed on the ship until about 11:00 am and then took the complimentary shuttle into town; figuring a 10:00 am opening time for the shops and maybe noon for the restaurants. Well, it was actually much quieter than that…and as shopping is not high on my lists of things to do I just wandered about.
Gothenburg is a pleasant little city with some interesting architecture, but it will not be the highlight of this journey.
But I did find an interesting little gem: The Art of Banksy Museum. It is a quirky place that is a combination of early Banksy art and philosophy coupled with an homage to his asserted first manager and owner of the place. It was most certainly unique.
Without much else to do…even after trying to find a restaurant open for lunch…it was back to the ship and time for the requisite…and always looked for…Hamburger and Hot Dog Test.
Both were perfectly prepared (save the bottom of my hamburger bun had a little hole baked in it -weird, but didn’t affect anything). The burger is definitely better and thicker than in the past and the lettuce was larger than previously (the small lettuce garnish as always been a pet peeve of mine). I ordered my burger medium because in the past medium-rare came as rare. Not this time. It was medium, but still juicy! The hot dog and the relish were, in fact, perfect. One downside: The French fries were delicious, but only warm-ish.
After lunch it was time for a power nap and time to say goodbye to Sweden…with a relief that I did not hear any ABBA music. Whew!
If you are interested in a Seabourn, or any other, cruise, give me a call, drop me an email or send me a Facebook message!
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