Seabourn Ovation Ship Visit
On a sunny Sunday in May we made our way to Greenwich pier where the Seabourn Ovation was docked for an overnight stay in London. Having spent the night in a room overlooking the Thames barrier we had watched her squeeze through the flood defence at 5am that morning and couldn’t wait to board her and see her in all her glory. We had sailed on her sister ship, the Seabourn Encore 18 months ago, so we had some idea of her layout and design but were looking forward to re-familiarising ourselves with these on this beautiful ship whilst she was docked in central London.
Taking the Thames Clipper from the pier to the ship we boarded on deck 3 and immediately made our way up to deck 11 and the gorgeous Observation bar. Sitting at the front of the ship with an adjoining outside deck looking over the bow, this beautiful room is decorated in caramels, blues and golds and houses a circular bar with a skylight above and a grand piano for evening entertainment. The perfect location for enjoying a light breakfast whilst sailing into port early in the morning; indulging in a delicious afternoon tea later in the day; socialising over pre-dinner cocktails in the early evening or finishing the day off with a night cap whilst listening to piano music.
The Observation bar is the only indoor public area at the front of the ship but is the platform for the forward sun terrace located on deck 12 which is a quiet area adorned with padded double sun loungers perfect for the real sun worshippers aboard. There is another forward sundeck located on deck 7 with loungers and a whirlpool, perfect for relaxing in with a glass of champagne as the ship sails into the sunset. From the forward sundeck on deck 12 we made our way to the outside Retreat area. This area is only available to passengers paying the surcharge of $250 per person per day. For this charge passengers get access to a private cabana decked out with a sofa and TV, a serene bathing area with padded loungers, a large whirlpool and premium champagnes and food menus. There is also a spa cabana for passengers to get massages and beauty treatments during their day here. This is a beautifully serene and peaceful area with attentive service and luxurious food and drinks that offers an indulgent treat for a special occasion.
All other public areas on the Ovation are aft of the ship so we walked through the suite corridor to the back of deck 10 where the gym and spa is located. Wellness is an important feature in Seabourn ships, with their relatively new collaboration with Andrew Weil, including specific sailings focusing on health and wellbeing. The gym is large and very well equipped compared to many other small ships, with plenty of aerobic and resistance machines. The gym is open to all passengers but access to the spa area is available at a small daily charge or is complimentary for guests receiving spa treatments. There is a large sundeck, sauna, steam room and a number of heated stone loungers for rest and relaxation. This areas is also complimentary for guests staying in one of the five spa penthouse suites located at the aft of the ship on deck 11.
Moving from the gym towards the middle of the ship we found the outside Sky bar which overlooks the main pool and sun decks located on deck 9. This is the hub of the ship for warm weather cruising. During the day there are plenty of loungers and chairs for relaxing around the pool as well as a poolside stage for sail away parties and evening entertainment. Located here is also the pool grill which is open at lunchtime for poolside snacks, salads, grilled dishes and gelato, turning in the evening into the Earth and Ocean, a relaxed and informal alfresco dining venue offering a variety of fish and meat speciality dishes.
At the aft of deck 9 is the other informal dining venue, the Colonnade. This is open for buffet breakfast and lunch, with themed menus in the evening, including occasional Thomas Keller dinners. Decorated in caramels, chocolates and burnt oranges with beautifully set out tables of various sizes and a wonderful heated outdoor deck for alfresco wake view dining.
Located one deck down are two more dining venues, both specialty and complimentary. Firstly is the small but very sleek and contemporary sushi restaurant with an open preparation bar offering bento box lunches and a Japanese tasting menu or traditional sushi in the evening. The larger speciality venue is the Thomas Keller restaurant, with menus created by the renowned American 3 Michelin star chef. Upon entering the restaurant guests encounter the lovely bar area, decorated in deep red and creams with cosy looking sofas and a piano for live entertainment. This bar is open to all guests regardless of whether they are dining in the restaurant or not, and is a lovely alternative to the observation bar for a pre-dinner drink. The restaurant itself is a fine dining chophouse style venue with exceptional wines (the wine cabinet was a feature in itself) and attentive service. Also on deck 8 is the large card room for those serious bridge playing passengers.
Down to deck 7 we found the ‘busiest’ venue so far, the Seabourn Square. This is obviously a popular area for passengers to spend their time in during the day. It is a lovely bright and airy lounge with a variety of cream and caramel coloured seating for guests to relax whilst enjoying a beverage from the coffee station/bar and a snack or ice cream from the small food or gelato station. The centre of Seabourn Square houses the customer service desks set out in a circle with easy access for passengers who can drop in for a coffee while sorting out any issues, bookings or queries that arise during their voyage. For those who prefer to take their coffee outside, the rear of the square has an outside deck adorned with wicker sofas and loungers. However, a small word of warning - the starboard side of this deck is also one of three smoking areas (the others being the starboard side of the sky bar and deck five pool deck). To the side of Seabourn Square are the Seabourn shops selling Seabourn branded items, clothing and jewellery.
Wandering from the Square into the middle of the ship is the beautiful circular central staircase which goes all the way from the main dining room on deck 4 up to the spa on deck 10 and the glass roof topping it off. This is a spectacular feature with some interesting sculptures adorning each of the gallery landings on every floor. Alighting at deck 6 the corridor leads down to the sumptuous Grand Salon with its plush red velvet seats and cream leather sofas. Seabourn have again collaborated with another master of their craft to deliver some amazing entertainment. Every voyage will feature a show written and featuring Tim Rice, usually as a hologram but very occasionally in person. The theatre, whilst large, is not able to seat all 600 guests so usually offers two shows per evening allowing guest to choose either an earlier or late show.
For those that want to continue their evening entertainment after the show they can simply wander down one deck to The Club, the late night live entertainment and dancing venue. On entering The Club there is a relatively small casino with a coupe of games tables and some slot machines. The Club bar is open for pre-dinner drinks and stays open until its last guest leaves. There is a large stage for the ships band and a small dance floor flanked by beautiful cream chairs. The rear of the Club leads out to a small sun deck with a plunge pool and two whirlpools, a quiet retreat from the busier main sun deck.
The main dining room is located on deck four and is large space spanning the width of the ship with high ceilings featuring some gorgeous light sculptures. The dining on board is open seating with guests able to dine when and with whom they like. There are tables of all sizes with the centre of the room dominated by the largest tables and the smaller tables generally located around the edge of the room. With our tour finished we enjoyed a 3 course lunch perfectly paired with deliciously chilled white wine.
Seeing this luxurious ship docked in the heart of London was truly a magnificent sight and imagining the views guests would get as the sun set and London lit up for their overnight stop made me wish we didn’t have to leave. Not surprisingly the ship was sailing full so we weren’t able to view any cabins but having sailed on the Encore and their smaller sisters, the Odyssey and the Quest, we should imagine the suites on the Ovation deliver the exacting and luxuriously spacious standards we experienced on those ships.
With much thanks to Seabourn cruises for inviting us on the Ovation for the day and our delicious lunch.
To see more on these seabourn ships and the accommodation onboard please visit our Seabourn Encore review.