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 Another Mediterranean Cruise with Seabourn

Ahoy, the Seabourn Spirit’s Luxurious Lifestyle

by Barbara Kingstone

Mediterranean cruises with Seabourn

I haven’t cruised for years. There’s really no valid reason for this delay since I’ve enjoyed cruising. It’s so easy and creates a sense of carefree diversions where one is devoid of tension, obligations, just floating without a care. (Ah, but the stickler is that there is still internet accessibility.)

And most unforgettable is the fact that one doesn't have to pack and unpack at every destination and one could drink the water without asking or hesitating.

Most people decide on their cruises by the ports of call and ship size. That said, I couldn’t resist the itinerary of the small-ish Seabourn Spirit, certainly one on the top of the list of luxury cruising companies.

Imagine the itinerary – Venice to Montenegro, down the picturesque Dalmatian coast with various ports of call and back to Venice.

My first and lasting impression of this fine ship will always be the service. I wondered why our photos were taken when we boarded, thinking it was for security reasons (which I’m sure is one of the reasons) and then so surprised when every staff member knew my name within hours. I assumed that they probably had new passengers’ photos plastered on their walls. I’d like to think that we were poster celebs for the 10 days, like George C. and Angelina J.

Although this liner is small with a maximum of 208 passengers, there’s nothing lacking that a larger ship has to offer. The first indication that this would be one swell trip, is the cooling bottle of the finest champagne awaiting us on the coffee table in our suite’s sitting area. The next great memory has to be the very large walk-in closet, spacious enough for an around-the-world trip wardrobe. Also, a large double sink bathroom and bath/shower where towels are changed twice daily, a comfortable king-size bed, great lighting, flat screen TV, and a small mini bar, filled with our pre-requested liquids .... at no extra charge. ( And believe it or not, tipping for all the staff is included in the ticket price.)

I challenge the larger ships to be able to have the no-fuss about when or where to eat and with whom. The Seabourn Spirit is a floating boutique hotel while the larger sea competitors have thousands of people, some up to 6,000 like a breakaway village. Seabourn Spirit is flexible with its meal times and choice of venue and tables.

Breakfast for my husband and myself was usually at the outdoors, 7th deck, The Verandah. The August morning sun beamed down, but still not steaming, hot and humid, as it would become later during the day. And also a great opportunity to see the Dalmation coastline while deliberating the choice of menu which was as overwhelming as the sights.

An early riser, I would head to the gym, small but certainly adequate, where there were always a few constant exercise devotees – so intense that no one ever said a word, so unusual since this was such a friendly group of people.

A few lazy mornings we had breakfast in our perfectly decorated taupe and ecru colored room where the rugs echoed the blue Adriatic Sea. When we stated, on the request form, the time for our meal, right on the tick of the clock there was a ring at the door. Linen table cloth and napkins laid out for the perfectly serviced morning starter. It was also a way to avoid the temptation of the overwhelming menu and buffet. And what an opportunity to sit in front of our French ceiling-to-floor doors to our small balcony and smell and hear the sea.

All the meals were nothing less than spectacular and an early morning trip to the fish market in Split, Croatia with Chef Martin Kitzing, was an eye opener on how he chose his produce. That same day for lunch there were the sardines he had bought that morning, now delicately grilled .... delectable.

It was on this ‘Shopping with the Chef’ tour where I also learned more about fish than I ever knew including that it’s not the eyes that show freshness since with some ice applied, they all look fresh again. “Look at the inside of the fins and make sure they are pink and not slimy, push the flesh of the fish and see how quickly it returns to the original and make also sure the flesh isn’t slimy,” Chef instructed.

However, Split was not our first port of call. That was the butterfly-shaped Port of Kotor (pronounced Kotoure), Montenegro (Europe’s youngest country). Once part of the now gone Yugoslavia, it is far from haute Kotoure!

But just 20 minutes away and feeling as though we had arrived on a different planet, is Tivat and Porto Montenegro, already considered a world-class port. Businessman, Toronto-based, Peter Munk, known for his vision, a former hotel owner, mega yacht owner, gold mining magnate, realized the great possibilities for this part of the island. It didn’t take Munk too long before he purchased a major slice of the island.

Tourism is important especially for poor countries and here is a destination with major shops, an 80-suite deluxe hotel which will be completed in 2014, extraordinary sea side villas, a old ship yard building now a naval museum with hundreds of 100 year old shipping objects, an old submarine as its centerpiece, the finest food stores and restaurants, and streets buzzing with joie de vivre.

It was the first delicious ‘taste’ of the rest of the trip’s destinations.

Back on the Seabourn Spirt there are enough public spaces for private time. The Library/ Reading Room, Business Centre, casino, a fine boutique, hair and spa salons, a small whirlpool a few decks below from the pool area. And since it’s such a small and costly ship, perhaps that’s the reason there were no children although there’s no mandate about not having them aboard. And there’s also no children's’ program. So, no splashing or squealing does have its advantages.

The two sea days were filled with activities, for those who were interested and seeking some brain simulation. Trivial Pursuits turned into a great competition to win the Seabourn visor which seemed to the winners, a solid gold souvenir. Another evening my small group won at ‘Liars’ and we came away with a treasured pen, always useful when you’re a writer – again, an amusing, delightful hour.

Evenings also included entertainment. The lecture about our destinations was far from interesting and that basic information could easily be found on Wikipedia or other internet sites. But that was the only glitch compensated for by a great comedian, also a Canadian flutist and an on-staff guitarist.

The next port of call, Corfu, Greece, was crowded and the sunny, 40c had many of the ship’s guests rushing back to our private, quiet ship (shuttle service to the port was always available). There didn’t seem to be any economical hardship in Greece. Every cafe was filled.

Dubrovnik, Croatia, again this being August, was a mob scene with barely walking space as was the glorious historic city of Split. It’s imperative, no matter the weather, to see the Diocletian’s Palace, now fronted with seaside cafes and boutiques.

Two most wonderful cities were the unexpected beauty of Lecce, Italy, famous for the sandstone known as pietra di Lecce and the amazing Baroque architecture and some of the ancient doors. The tour included seeing only a few of the 99 churches, the magnificent Baroque architecture. However, my guide pointed out to me privately that the Basilica was originally a synagogue and this was the Jewish area. A large building, now an hotel, has a reminder to all with one room called, La Synagoga. The narrow street with very small shops were where the religious shawls were woven and made. Now there are souvenir shops.

And only the Seabourn could pull off having a home-made Italian lunch on the private patio of a circa1800 palazzo, then meeting the present owner whose family has owned this magnificent edifice for generations.

The next surprise was Rovini (Rovinj), Croatia, with narrow cobble-stoned streets filled with smart shops, cafes, a very busy marina and houses painted in the most amusing hues of pink, blue, yellow.

Returning to the welcoming staff of Seabourn Spirit was like returning to the warmth of a friend’s fine mansion on the sea. I am smitten by this memorable cruise and all that this small ship offered would fill many albums.

For more information about Seabourn visit

Photo courtesy The Yachts of Seabourn

Barbara Kingstone

Barbara KingstoneBarbara Kingstone is a Toronto based journalist who has worked and lived on four continents thus fulfilling her childhood desire to see the world. After a few decades of travelling to the most exotic, glamorous but often not so glitzy destinations, she still thinks that she has the best job in the world. Exciting? yes. Tiring? yes. But as the old adage says, 'it's hard work but someone has to do it.' 

Just to confirm that she does get her challenging work done, check out Barbara's popular online magazine Indulged Traveler at and find the best destinations, jewellery, hotels, food and fashion, wine regions and cooking lessons. Her email address is [email protected]

• Asia: On the Road to Mandalay – by Barbara Kingstone

• Mediterranean: Never having to ask if you can drink the water – by Barbara Kingstone

• Ahoy, the Seabourn Spirit’s Luxurious Lifestyle - by Barbara Kingstone

For another article about a Seabourn Cruise in the Mediterranean see:

Mediterranean - Lifestyle by Kevin Retief

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