Get Away With Fran

June 10, 2010

Seabourn Sojourn visits Torshavn

Filed under: Cruise,International — Tags: , , , , — admin @ 11:43 am

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Q: Where is Toshavn? A: In the Faroe Islands. Q: Where are the Faroe Islands? A: In the general area of the North Sea and North Atlantic.

So why would a cruise ship like Seabourn Sojourn visit here? Because the scenery is absolutely beautiful. Plus it’s on the way to Iceland.

We docked right near downtown Torshavn, capital of the Faroe Islands, and population about 19,000, where we were greeted with an all male choir.

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Admittedly, since I had work to do, I promptly headed off in search of an Internet cafe. Friendly locals – including the choir guys – pointed me towards the hotel – it was easy to find as it was one of the tallest buildings in town and marked “hotel” – where there was a nice, contemporary coffee shop with free wi-fi. I parked myself there for much of the ship’s afternoon visit.

And let me mention everyone I talked to spoke both Danish (the Faroes being part of Denmark) and perfect English, even here, really in the middle of nowhere.

Others went off on the various excursions offered by Seabourn to explore this land of the Vikings, including a President’s Choice hike, which on this visit was actually attended by the line’s President and CEO Pam Conover, onboard for the ship’s maiden voyage.

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My foray into downtown didn’t stop me from seeing views, which at times reminded me of New Zealand. With the Midnight Sun – we’re pretty far north – it only gets dark briefly this time of year. As the Sojourn passed close to little islands and rugged cliffs, we’d see a house here or there, and wonder what it’s like to be so isolated.

 

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I should mention that up until Torshavn, and through the night as we cruised towards Iceland, the seas where very still, almost to the point of distraction. However, we did wake up today doing a little rock ‘n’ rollin, in a small storm. I was glad I had prepared with a patch behind my ear.

Yesterday evening, I did some further exploring of the ship. So if you’ll indulge me, I’ll add to my favorite spots the two-deck spa, where a relaxation room has an unusual footbath to get your blood circulating – you walk in cold water than hot then cold then hot, etc., and then rest on heated loungers.

Upstairs at the spa, there’s also a quiet, open-air relaxation area. You can enjoy both on a $30 day pass.

And the Observation Bar on Deck 10 is a great spot for socializing at night – it’s done up in contemporary furnishings and blue lights and kept kind of dark so you feel like you’re in a trendy club. During the day, it’s also a wonderful forward-facing spot to take in the views. And with an open deck area in front, you can grab your camera and easily take photos of those views as well.

June 7, 2010

Seabourn Sojourn sets sail on maiden voyage

Filed under: Cruise,International,Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — admin @ 10:50 am

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The luxurious Seabourn Sojourn set sail on its maiden voyage on Sunday. The evening departue afforded wonderful views of London in the distance (we embarked from Greenwich) as we cruised down the Thames towards the North Sea.

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Seabourn President and CEO Pam Conover called the sailing a “momentous occasion,” and said it was particularly significant to her since she is British and the ship was doing its first sailing out of London. “You can take the girl out of Britain, but you can’t take Britain out of the girl,” Miami-based Conover said. She then led a countdown, signifying the official start of the cruise.

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And then the drinks flowed, including green martinis (my pal Jennie enjoying one in photo).

Suddenly the sound of drums and a surprise, the Royal Marine Guard came marching across the pool deck playing songs (including “Rule Britannia”).

One passenger, Arline Moore of Florida, said she was so touched she was almost teary. “Isn’t this wonderful,” she exclaimed.

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And then, another treat – fireworks over the Thames.

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A crew member proferring more drinks told me those working on the ship were excited to have the first guests onboard. “We have put a piece of our hearts in this ship,” he said.

June 6, 2010

Seabourn launches new cruise ship with Twiggy

Filed under: Cruise — Tags: , , , — admin @ 3:20 am

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When a new cruise ship begins service there is much excitement and anticipation. A cruise ship’s maiden voyage is a historic event. And I am most excited to today be on the maiden voyage of the Seabourn Sojourn, as the ship leaves from London (Greenwich). The cruise is 14 days, and I’ll be on for the first six to let you know how it goes.

Last year, when Yachts of Seabourn launched the first of its new class of 450-passenger ships, the Seabourn Odyssey, I raved about how modern and beautiful and stylish a luxury ship it was. As sister ship to the Odyssey, Sojourn gets the same raves. This is simply one of the most beautiful, most luxurious, most expertly run ships out there. We’re talking 6-star all the way.

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I’ve actually been on the ship for two days now as I was here for the naming ceremony with British supermodel Twiggy as Godmother (the second night with the ship docked in London there was a fundraiser for a breast cancer organization).

I was excited to meet Twiggy – at age 60 she still looks fab. And Twiggy told me while she has never cruised she’d like to try it some time. And why wouldn’t she after seeing the Sojourn – if you’re going to start somewhere you might as well do it at the top, which is precisely what Twiggy did as a model in the 1960s.

Anyway, back to the ship. Real passengers will come onboard today for the first time (the first two nights were travel agents, press and guests invited to a breast cancer fundraiser). It will be fun to see their reaction. Also onboard for the maiden voyage is Seabourn President and CEO Pam Conover.

Captain Karlo Buer of Norway told me the ship is all ready to make its debut and he recognizes many names on the passenger list as Seabourn regulars.

I am in a lovely penthouse suite – everyone has a suite on this ship but mine has a nice big living area and separate bedroom area (regular suites have a curtain separating the two). My friend Jennie will be joining me onboard soon.

For those who know Seabourn, the Sojourn (and Odyssey) are twice as large as the line’s other ships and carry twice as many passengers. But bigger is not what strikes me most. Rather it’s how airy and contemporary these ships feel – almost like a fancier version of a W Hotel. The smaller ships feel traditional. this one feels modern, even hip.

My favorite spots so far are the spa, a two-deck affair (on this ship the second deck is a quiet sunning area open to all, whereas on the Odyssey it’s a private area you have to pay for); and the concierge area, which does not have a front desk, but rather helpful staff seated at regular desks in an area that also has plush seating indoors and out, a coffee bar (they make a great latte) and an internet cafe.

I have days to explore so expect to find other gems.

Of course, the other amazing thing about Seabourn is the crew. So helpful, so friendly, trying to get to know every guest. They really make the experience. And that is obvious from the second you step onboard.

BTW, Seabourn is doing two-for-one fares and free air offers if you act fast. The Sojourn spends the summer in Northern Europe.

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