We receive compensation for some links on this blog and are always grateful if you use these links to support our content. Any opinions expressed in this post are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, sponsored, or endorsed by our advertising partners unless otherwise specifically noted.
Don't miss our "21 Must-Have Essentials for Summer Travel" for 2017.
Cruising on Seabourn is a special experience to begin with. As an ultra-luxury all-suites cruise line, the baseline is high. Cruising in a Seabourn Penthouse suite elevates that experience to the next level.
We had the opportunity to experience this on Seabourn’s inaugural cruise to Alaska. This ultra-luxury experience on an ultra-luxury line is a very special experience indeed. (Ultra-luxury squared!)
The Seabourn Penthouse suites often sell for per-person rates of over $1,000 per night (or $2,000 per night per suite). For example, on the upcoming 110 day Americas, Africa & Asia Exploration on Seabourn Sojourn, the published “value fare” for a Seabourn Penthouse suite will set you back a mere $119,999 per person. So when a Seabourn Penthouse suite is offered at a lower price, it is often quickly booked by passengers in the know.
Occasionally the Seabourn Penthouse suites do not sell out for a particular sailing. When that happens, select guests are offered an upsell opportunity to upgrade at a reduced rate. And in a rare case, there will be a Seabourn Penthouse suite upgrade at no cost to a guest. Those usually come when guests have purchased a guarantee fare (where a minimum category of suite is guaranteed but no cabin is assigned until close to the date of sailing).
For this sailing, I am not certain exactly how I came to be reassigned a Penthouse suite. We were booked into a specific cabin. And we were offered several subsequent buy up offers from Seabourn for a Penthouse suite but they were all still more than we were willing to pay. Then suddenly a couple of weeks prior to the cruise, I received a call from my travel agent. Our cabin number had been reassigned without warning and we were now in a Seabourn Penthouse suite. I will simply offer my grateful thanks to the upgrade gods… this was my lucky sailing!
(Sidebar – Once in the Penthouse suite, we subsequently received a fairly enticing buy up offer to the Owner’s Suite a few days before sailing. We were unfortunately not quick to grab it before another passenger did!)
Seabourn Suite Categories
We’ve previously reviewed the Veranda suite on an Odyssey class ship. A Veranda the entry-level cabin on the Encore class ships. On the Odyssey class ships, the only difference in base cabins is the presence/absence of a veranda. (Deck 4 suites have a large picture window but no veranda, but otherwise have an identical layout.) Seabourn is an all-suites line so you will not find a layout that is smaller unless you are below deck (i.e. a crew member)!
As we walk through our Seabourn Penthouse suite, we will frequently reference the Veranda suite so it may help to familiarize yourself with that layout.
The first thing we noticed was that the entryway to the Seabourn Penthouse suite is narrower than that of the Veranda suite.
The entry has a small vanity area with mirror and stool. This is similarly placed to the vanity in the Veranda suite but lacks the power outlet or utility drawer. (That instead is found at a small vanity in the bedroom without a stool.)
The desk area is located along the long wall parallel to the bedroom and includes upper and lower cabinet space. It also houses the complimentary in-room bar included for Seabourn guests in all suite categories with two full-size bottles of choice, mixers, sodas, beer, and water.
I like the bar set up in the Veranda suites better with a more organized set up for accessories and bar items. I would have preferred this be in the cabinet in the living area.
The living area is a nice improvement in the Penthouse suite. It is definitely larger than that of the Veranda suite, offering enough room for entertaining.
It also has a dining table with a proper set up for dining and a more comfortable sofa for relaxation. The dining table includes three chairs. A fourth is found at the desk area and could be brought over so that four could easily dine at the table.
One thing I found slightly odd – three of the four chairs in the room matched while one was a wood armed club chair. All were maroon leather but I was not certain if the slightly dissimilar style was accidental or intentional. If intentional, it would be better suited in a contrasting leather as it looks haphazard in the matching maroon.
The television is larger than that in the Veranda suites. This is a plus for watching the hundreds of movies and full televisions series on-demand Seabourn has loaded for guests.
Pro tip: Seabourn offers 24-7 complimentary room service for guests including ordering from The Restaurant menu during dinner hours. Guests can have a multi-course dinner in their pajamas after a long day of touring if they are too tired to dress for dinner. We’ve enjoyed a casual movie night – with fine dining and a bottle of wine – on more than one occasion on Seabourn!
I would have designed the room to house the in-room bar in the cabinet in this room so that the storage in the desk cabinet could be used for guests. Instead we had to use this for excess cabinet storage for some of our day pack items. It made for some awkward mornings walking back and forth as we packed our bags for the port.
We had a warm wool blanket for curling up with on cold days. We asked our suite stewardess to bring a second one so we could have two so we could use it both inside and out since Alaska mornings are chilly!
Other than the hallway, the bedroom is the smallest part of the suite. This has the same convertible two-bed configuration that the Veranda suites do. Two twin beds can be pushed together to form one bed or separated by moveable night stands. There is a vanity in one corner with a drawer that houses a hairdryer and includes US and EU power outlets.
The beds are, as in the other suites, rather firm. The linens are high thread count and guests can choose from a selection of pillow types. My mother had difficulty sleeping on the firm mattress after the first night, so our suite stewardess had two egg crate toppers brought in for the bed. (You’ll note that one bed is about two inches higher in the photo as a result!)
The bedroom is fully enclosed. It opens to the closet on one side by a wooden door. It opens by glass French doors to the hallway/desk area. Those are designed to stay open. And a glass wall faces the living room and glass veranda wall. At night, that has sheer curtains that can be drawn to keep light out.
There is a separate television mounted in the corner of the bedroom. There is a fundamental flaw with the design of the remote controls for the televisions – despite having two controls, one control turned on both televisions. That meant that turning off a television in bed often subsequently turned on the one in the living room. And in the morning, trying to turn on the one in the living room meant waking my mother up early.
Unlike the suite set up in the Veranda suites, while noise can be contained if one is an early riser, light cannot. The curtains are too shear. I could not open the suite curtains without bringing too much light into the suite. This, in my opinion, is a major design flaw as I am an early riser who likes morning light. So I could not effectively use the television or open the curtains early anyhow.
Now, on to my favorite parts of the Seabourn Penthouse suites – the closet and bathroom.
The closet has the same basic layout as the one in the Veranda suites with three major differences:
- Three entrances – a door from the bedroom, a door from the hallway, and a door from the bathroom
- More hanging room (including much more full-length hanging room)
- A built-in wooden shoe/accessory cabinet with swing-down doors for up to six pairs of shoes and multiple accessories.
Oh, how I love this design. And how easy this last element might be to incorporate into the other suites in the future. (Hint, hint!)
This closet was by far the best I’ve ever had on a cruise ship. A great use of space and one I’d love to have in every cabin in the future.
The bathroom is a huge selling point of the Seabourn Penthouse suite. Some couples have mentioned that it – alone – makes it worth the upgrade price.
Beyond a different layout from the Veranda suite (long/narrow versus square), there are three fundamental differences:
- An enclosed toilet with separate sink that opens onto both the hallway and bathroom (with separate entrances)
- A jetted tub
- A slightly larger shower with outwardly curved door
The toilet is nice for two individuals sharing a suite, particularly if one wants to enjoy a nice soak in the jetted tub. It also makes it easier to entertain guests for cocktails since the remainder of the bathroom can be closed off to outside guests.
I love how much room the Seabourn bathrooms have in all suite sizes. The Seabourn Penthouse suite improves upon this by adding just enough extra space to make it feel like an upgrade. As usual, multiple fluffy towels are included along with soft bathmats and plush terry robes with slippers.
Our suite stewardess welcomed us, as in all suite classes, with a soap selection (we selected products from L’Occitane, Hermes, and Molton Brown). Seabourn has proprietary blends from Molton Brown for shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and lotion but guest comfort is of high importance so product selection is important.
Pro tip: Seabourn’s suite stewardesses, in any suite class, will come draw you a Pure Pampering bath with Molton Brown products upon request. Almost all Seabourn suites (with the exception of some special needs access suites) have separate showers and tubs.
The size of the veranda was one of the attractive draws of the Penthouse suite. Unlike the Veranda suite which can get a bit crowded with furniture, this layout had plenty of room.
There are two reclining chairs with footstools and small table between them.
There are also two standard chairs with mid-sized table. The table is large enough to enjoy cocktails and appetizers.
A Summary of Seabourn Penthouse Suite vs. Veranda Suite Differences
Beyond the larger size, we found these to be the major differences or detractors between the Seabourn Penthouse suite and Veranda suite:
On the plus side:
- An enclosed bedroom
- Multiple closet entrances
- Multiple bathroom entrances
- A larger veranda
- A better living room layout
- More dining space
- Two televisions
- A separate toilet area
- A jetted tub
- Slightly larger shower
- Shoe cabinet/extra shelves in closet
On the minus side:
- An awkward vanity set up – it would be nice to have two stools or a better place to get ready
- Poor placement of the bar/bar set up
- The bedroom can seem cramped when the doors/curtains are closed
- The privacy curtains in the bedroom do not actually block all natural light
- The remote control operates both televisions unexpectedly
Other Notes About Seabourn Penthouse Suites
On Odyssey class ships (Odyssey, Sojourn, and Quest) there are 23 Penthouse Suites – most on decks 9 and 10 with one special needs access one on deck 6. There are also 4 Penthouse Spa Suites that located on the aft side on deck 10 above the spa and accessible only via spiral staircase. Those include thermal suite access and some additional spa amenities (concierge service, soothing music, calming fragrance diffuser, a second healthy juice/water minibar, and healthy snacks).
Penthouse Suites are 436 square feet of inside space with a 98 square foot veranda. (The deck 6 suite is larger due to special needs access.) Penthouse Spa Suites have 536-539 square feet of inside space with a 167-200 square foot aft veranda.
On Encore class ships (Encore and in-build Ovation) there are 16 Penthouse Suites on decks 10 and 11. There are also 5 Penthouse Spa Suites on the aft side of deck 11 above the spa with elevator access. Two Penthouse Suites and one Penthouse Spa Suite have special needs access.
Penthouse Suites are 450 square feet of inside space with a 93-103 square foot veranda. Penthouse Spa Suites are 639-677 square feet with a 254-288 square foot veranda.
The Penthouse Suites have nonetheless been downplayed in recent Seabourn cruise collection catalogs. They are not considered “premium suites” in terms of special amenities such as private airport car transfers, complimentary internet, or espresso machines. (Those are limited to Owners Suites, Signature Suites, and Wintergarden Suites.)
I’d definitely upgrade to a Seabourn Penthouse suite in the future if the value proposition was right. I loved the little bit of extra space, the jetted tub was a nice plus for Alaska, and the spacious veranda was put to good use.
I am now very curious to see if there are any fundamental design tweaks that were made on the Encore class ships that would repair the issues I have noted. Much of the feedback I’ve seen on Encore suite designs suggests that many of the flaws in the Odyssey class have carried over to the Encore class. That’s a true shame as minor changes could make this space even more functional.
Nonetheless, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to test drive a Seabourn Penthouse suite for 11 nights on the Alaska inaugural cruise. I may have to add this to my own personal list as the eighth thing to love about the cruise! I will cross my fingers that I have the opportunity to try other suite types again in the future.
Don’t forget to read our other content for the Seabourn Ultimate Alaskan Sojourn 2017.