We Tried It! The Retreat on Seabourn Ovation and Encoreby Zachary Laks | June 18, 2018
Exclusivity is a commodity with incredible value, even on one of the world’s most luxurious cruise ships. Taking note of passengers’ demand for more intimate onboard experiences, Seabourn created its first pay-to-play area, The Retreat. Seen on its two newest ships, Seabourn Ovation and Seabourn Encore, The Retreat is a private sanctuary on the 12th deck with 15 cabanas and access for only 30 guests among the ship’s 604 passengers. We were lucky to spend some time in The Retreat; here’s everything you should know when considering the upgrade on your next Seabourn cruise.
What It’s Like
The Retreat asserts its value to discerning passengers who prefer to opt out of the inconveniences of occupied poolside lounge chairs, bustling pool decks that pull focus from a book, or afternoon naps in the sun that are far from private. Here, the luxury of seclusion is made into a premium experience.
Fifteen cabanas line the perimeter of the lounge, all surrounding an elevated whirlpool. Each cabana comes with a plush couch, high-definition TV (with handy Philips Bluetooth headsets so you don't disturb other guests), a 12.9-inch iPad Pro loaded with periodicals, and a bowl of fresh fruit. Bollinger Champagne flows freely, while the snacking goes premium with unlimited caviar service available throughout the day.
When you’re ready to move on to a full meal, the Retreat-only food and beverage menu offers elevated fare, including melon and prosciutto, a cheeseburger with gruyere, and an indulgent brownie ice cream sundae. (Note: Lunch service ends at 2 p.m., after which guests can order room service to their cabanas.) The cocktails created by Brian Van Flandern (named “America’s Top Mixologist” by Food Network) offer a few twists on the ship’s main spirit service. We fell for the distinct Avocado Daiquiri and the Bordeaux-jito, a mojito with a splash of red wine. Each cocktail is fruit- and vegetable-focused so the drinks work just as well without the booze as refreshing juices or smoothies.
As for the service, there’s a dedicated Retreat concierge that helps to make each cabana comfortable by way of blankets, towels, and robes while also assisting with dinner reservations and off-shore excursion sign-ups. It’s the little touches that go the farthest, including sunscreen and an Evian mist available throughout the day to help stay cool.
The Retreat also features a Spa Treatment Cabana for select massages and treatments in the relaxing ocean breeze. (Though treatments end at 2 p.m. each day, earlier than we’d expected as we planned our day.)
Premium service comes at a premium price: A cabana starts at $249 on port days and $349 on sea days. In a smart move, Seabourn includes a $50 spa credit per cabana which helps to encourage use of the Spa Treatment Cabana.
The Retreat is beautiful, serene, and quiet—but maybe too quiet. Considering the attentive service you’ll find on all decks, the exemplary lunch options on offer from mainstays like The Colonnade and The Patio, and the lack of an ocean view from the top deck, The Retreat doubles down on a niche passenger that demands a quiet oasis from a ship that’s already relatively quiet. The trimmings are top-of-the-line luxe by all standards, leaving us satiated and relaxed; but considering the $349-a-day price tag, the oasis of your own suite verandah could suffice.
Zach Laks (@zachlaks on Twitter) is a freelance writer based in NYC. A world traveler and theme park enthusiast, Zach will travel journey distances for frozen yogurt.