Embarking Seabourn Sojourn in Vancouver For A Voyage to Alaska

Sailing away to Alaska aboard Seabourn’s luxurious Seabourn Sojourn. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Monday, June 26, 2017

Call it a voyage of firsts: This is ultra-luxury line Seabourns first Alaska cruise season in 15 years. It’s also the first time that the 450-guest Seabourn Sojourn has ever sailed these waters. And while I have cruised to Alaska numerous times before, this will be my very first Seabourn cruise. I’ve sailed with other luxury lines in the past, but I walked down the ramp to the cruise terminal at Vancouver’s Canada Place with a renewed spring in my step. I love discovering new ships.

There has been considerable buzz about Seabourn’s return to Alaska, and the excitement is entirely warranted. Eschewing the weeklong sailings that are the staple of nearly every other cruise line in the region, Seabourn developed three breathtaking itineraries for its 2017 season that range in length from 11 to 14 days, sailing either one-way between Vancouver and Seward, or roundtrip from Vancouver.

On its three unique Alaskan itineraries, Seabourn calls on an eclectic mix of big-name and lesser-visited ports of call. Illustration courtesy of Seabourn.

I’m sailing the 11-day Ultimate Alaskan Sojourn, from Vancouver to Seward. It’s a great itinerary that calls on Ketchikan, Wrangell, Haines, Juneau and Sitka, and offers scenic cruising opportunities in the Inside Passage, Misty Fjords (Rudyerd Bay), Endicott Arm, and a full day in Glacier Bay National Park.

The full itinerary, both here and onboard:

Seabourn Sojourn - Ultimate Alaskan Sojourn

DAYPORTARRIVEDEPART
Monday, June 26, 2017Vancouver, British ColumbiaEmbark Seabourn Sojourn1700
Tuesday, June 27Cruise the Inside Passage; Seymour Narrows; Queen Charlotte Sound
Wednesday, June 28Ketchikan, Alaska08002300
Thursday, June 29Scenic cruising Misty Fjords
Friday, June 30Wrangell, Alaska07001600
Saturday, July 1Scenic cruising Glacier Bay National Park10002000
Sunday, July 2Cruising Tracy Arm and/or Endicott Arm
Monday, July 3Haines, Alaska07002000
Tuesday, July 4Juneau, Alaska08001700
Wednesday, July 5Sitka, Alaska10001900
Thursday, July 6At Sea
Friday, July 7, 2017Seward (Anchorage), Alaska0700Disembark

I also want to point out how fantastic the line’s longer itineraries are. Seabourn has made a point to call on more ports of call in British Columbia, including Prince Rupert, Alert Bay, and the First Nations village of Klemtu, not far from Bella Bella. The ship also spends time scenic cruising the picturesque Grenville Channel.

Seabourn Sojourn’s Pool Deck, on a brilliantly sunny Monday in Vancouver. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

These names and places may not mean much to you, but know this: these areas are so remote that even many British Columbians have never been to them. No other major cruise line is doing what Seabourn is doing in British Columbia, and it’s something I hope they include more of as they continue to develop future itineraries in Alaska.

Making Seabourn’s itineraries in Alaska even more alluring is the addition of a pseudo-expedition element. In addition to your standard shore excursions (curated, of course, to appeal to the Seabourn guest), the line also offers special Ventures by Seabourn excursions. These active, adventurous excursions are led by the line’s dedicated Expedition Team (many of whom I know well from voyages on other luxury expedition lines), and include bucket-list opportunities like glacier hikes, kayaking through Misty Fjords, and bear-watching.

Embarkation

Onboard Seabourn Sojourn, overlooking the buzz of activity at Canada Place Cruise Ship Terminal’s north berth. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Embarkation at Canada Place went smoothly, with only Seabourn Sojourn and Disney Cruise Line’s Disney Wonder in port. Security was fast and efficient, and the new Kiosk system that the Port of Vancouver has had in place for a few seasons now was a major improvement. Because you’re leaving Canada and travelling to the United States, passengers clear US Customs & Border Protection in Vancouver, and I was impressed with how friendly its Officers were.

There was  a delay due to a surprise inspection of Seabourn Sojourn by Canadian authorities that pushed embarkation back, but boarding took place soon after I arrived in the waiting room. Total time from curb to ship: 71 minutes.

My Suite: Category V6 Veranda Suite

Home Away from Home: Category V6 Veranda Suite 748. Together with its Category V1-V6 counterparts, it is one of the most common types of suites available aboard Seabourn Sojourn. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

My home for the next 11 days is one of Seabourn’s Category 6 Veranda Suites. Mine is the last on the port side of Deck 7, number 748. The most numerous accommodations type onboard, these Veranda Suites (Categories V1 to V6) measure 300 square feet, plus one generous 65 square-foot veranda. There are a few exceptions to this, but these are all clearly noted in the Seabourn brochure.

A cozy seating area…Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

…provides plenty of space for relaxation and in-room dining. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Decorated in soothing earth tones with sea foam green accents, the room feels spacious and luxurious. A marble-clad bathroom stocked with Molton Brown toiletries is located just off the main entrance, and includes dual sinks along with a full-sized bathtub and a glass-enclosed stand-up shower with two separate water points.

Forward of the bathroom is a walk-in closet that has generous storage space for two. I defy anyone to fill all of the shelves, drawers and hangers that are located throughout the suite, though that probably could be accomplished on longer voyages.

Bathrooms are marble-clad…Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

…and feature full-sized tubs and a separate stand-up shower. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Molton-Brown toiletries are provided exclusively for Seabourn…Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

…and bathrooms are equipped with dual sinks; a real luxury when it comes to getting ready in the morning. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

As part of Seabourn’s Alaska itineraries, guests also receive a complimentary rain-proof jacket. It’s a nice touch, one that’s normally reserved for luxury expedition cruises to the world’s polar regions.

Lighting is fantastic in my suite, and the bed is comfortable – soft and yielding, but with a firmness that provides needed support. Two plush pillows are provided, which look and feel heavenly.

Storage certainly isn’t an issue in these suites, with a full-walk-in closet. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Suite entryway, facing the corridor. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

All you need to know is right at your fingertips in your suite. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

A small seating area and table are located nearest to the balcony, while an illuminated bar setup helps to divide the bedroom from the sitting room. You can use your Voyage Personalizer to select which beverages you’d like to have stocked on a regular basis; in my case, I selected Scotch and Ginger-Ale.

Prior to your cruise, you can use Seabourn’s online Voyage Personalizer to determine what you’d like your suite stocked with.

The weak link here is the small, flat-panel LG TV. The interactive TV system is great, with plenty of movie, television and music-on-demand options, but the TV is looking old and decidedly low-res compared with the gigantic offerings onboard some newer ocean and river cruise ships. Still, you could argue you’re not really here to watch TV anyhow.

It’s All About the Details

As Seabourn Sojourn takes her lines in…Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

…the party begins up on-deck with cocktails…Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

…and caviar…Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

…as we leave Vancouver and sail for Alaska. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

I’ve only been onboard Seabourn Sojourn for a few hours as I write this. We’re sailing the Inside Passage, passing just off Campbell River, British Columbia. Already though, I am very impressed at Seabourn’s attention to detail. It’s absolutely in-line with what I’d expect from a luxury cruise, and in many cases, I’ve noticed some pleasant surprises:

  • Friendly Staff: Seabourn’s staff are ridiculously friendly. Even moreso than I’d expect. I also really like the very international mix of staff from around the world, including Asia, Europe, the Americas, and even South Africa. English is spoken fluently throughout.
  • Printed Menus Included with the Daily Program. What’s for dinner? Seabourn makes it easy to decide where you’d like to dine each evening, with a copy of the dinner menu conveniently included along with your daily program for each of the ship’s four dining venues.
  • Local Products. Alaskan Brewing Company beers are stocked onboard (I’ve already had a pint of my favourite, the Alaskan Amber), and fresh, local British Columbia salmon was featured on tonight’s dinner menu in The Restaurant. It’s such a simple thing, but you would be surprised how many cruise lines sailing through BC and Alaska don’t bother to do this.
  • Quality, Not Quantity. Dinner menus have just an Appetizer, Main Course, and Dessert. Unlike other lines that sometimes want to bombard you with hundreds of choices each evening, Seabourn’s menus are focused and enormously flavourful. And, of course, you can mix and match dishes as you see fit, from the daily “Seabourn Inspirations” menu to the set “Seabourn Classics” meals that are always available.

As for Seabourn Sojourn, everything about this ship speaks to my own personal tastes. She’s elegant and relaxing, but her interior designers weren’t afraid to use bold swaths of colour in her fitting-out, from the deep-purple carpeting on her central atrium staircase to the rich crimsons and burnt oranges of Seabourn Square on Deck 7.

There’s more to see, and plenty of time left to do it. So come along with us this week as we cruise to Alaska aboard Seabourn Sojourn!

Guests line the open decks on Deck 10 forward of the Observation Bar…Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

…as Seabourn Sojourn approaches the Lions Gate Bridge; gateway to the Inside Passage and Alaska. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Speeding along the Inside Passage, heading for Seymour Narrows. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Our Voyage Report from Seabourn Sojourn’s Ultimate Alaska voyage continues tomorrow with a day of cruising the Inside Passage. Follow along with our latest cruise adventures on Twitter: @deckchairblog.

Seabourn Sojourn - Ultimate Alaskan Sojourn

DAYPORTARRIVEDEPART
Monday, June 26, 2017Vancouver, British ColumbiaEmbark Seabourn Sojourn1700
Tuesday, June 27Cruise the Inside Passage; Seymour Narrows; Queen Charlotte Sound
Wednesday, June 28Ketchikan, Alaska08002300
Thursday, June 29Scenic cruising Misty Fjords
Friday, June 30Wrangell, Alaska07001600
Saturday, July 1Scenic cruising Glacier Bay National Park10002000
Sunday, July 2Cruising Tracy Arm and/or Endicott Arm
Monday, July 3Haines, Alaska07002000
Tuesday, July 4Juneau, Alaska08001700
Wednesday, July 5Sitka, Alaska10001900
Thursday, July 6At Sea
Friday, July 7, 2017Seward (Anchorage), Alaska0700Disembark
 

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