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freddie

The TK Experience on Seabourn

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I will readily admit that we are not longtime Seabourners, having just completed only our second cruise on SB after hundreds of days on Regent, Silversea, Crystal, and Hapag Lloyd (but with a couple more SB cruises booked).  Nonetheless, I will be so bold (or reckless??) as to raise the question of whether the whole TK deal on SB is worthy of all of the hype (not to mention all of the $$ diverted from the other food service budgets on the SB ships in order to cater to the exacting whims of this celebrity chef).

 

For example, we found the roast chicken (along with most other items in the TK Grill) to be wildly over-salted.  The presentation of the roast chicken was quite lovely, though.  Apparently, his excellency, TK, really likes a lot of salt in his dishes.  As you might note from my somewhat snide reference to TK in the previous sentence, I am not a fan of celebrity chefs dictating to cruise lines regarding every aspect of how to serve "their" food on the ship.  

 

Fortunately, SB seems to have moderated its slavish devotion to the TK rules in at least a few respects between our first SB cruise and our second.   On our second cruise, the staff was willing to serve a Napa burger (really, one of the best TK offerings) in the Colonnade, whereas on our previous SB cruise the staff told me that they were "prohibited" from serving the Napa burger in any venue other than the Patio Grill.  Further, on our recent cruise, I was able to specify the degree of doneness of my Napa burger, as I could not eat the very rare version served on our first cruise, which was served, without any option, according to the TK "rules".  I may be peculiar; but I cannot eat a bloody rare hamburger, irrespective of its provenance.

 

I would be heartily grateful for any insights more experienced cruisers on SB might have regarding the TK experience.

 

Cheers,           Fred

 

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freddie,  I enjoyed WAY TOO MANY Napa Burgers on our last cruise.  I knew how good they are from our previous cruise and just could not resist having another for several lunches on the Patio Grill.  Now, you have given me an idea!  I'll try ordering one at the Colonnade.  Hopefully, I'll be as successful as you were!

 

Yes, that roast chicken in the TK Grill was inedibly salty.  Since we use very little salt in our cooking, we are very sensitive to salt and found it "wildly salty" as you say. 

 

I have enjoyed the TK Grill--the ambiance (on Encore and Ovation) which may be quite different on the Sojourn this May.  As I mentioned in another thread, I do love the huge prawns offered as an appetizer and also enjoy a number of the other side dishes.  This makes me think that if I don't want to order the Dover Sole or steak, I could enjoy the prawns and several sides dishes as a meal. 

 

 Instead of making a reservation for two, consider making your reservations for four--in case you meet new friends to share a meal with.  We have been invitees a couple of times for dining in the TK Grill, but found it is not always easy to change a reservation for two to a reservation for four.  

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Hi Fred,

Pat and I just got off the Encore.  Our TK experience was just OK, nothing special.  I had a "Maryland Crab Cake" appetizer and  New York strip.  Well, we're from MD so TK never had a chance.  However, I have to say it was a very poor effort, not in the upper half of crab cakes.  Did not use lump crab meat.  My steak was cooked perfectly medium rare but mealy.  My side was excellent but I can't remember what it was!  Pat's meal was OK, nothing special.  However, we loved the TK in the Colonnade experience.  They limit the number of diners and we were lucky with good weather and had a great meal on the Terrace.  The ribs and service were excellent.  We loved the TK bar and the pianist John was excellent.  The ambiance in the grill is very nice.  I think Seabourn has made two big mistakes.  Creating a "special experience" in the Retreat and creating a "special" dining experience.  The mistake in both cases is the implication that the regular experience leaves something to be desired.  I think you have put your finger on an illuminating fact.  By spending so much on TK's budget the other dining venues may have suffered.  We cancelled our second TK reservation but it was mostly because of timing.  Our reservation was at 6.

Stan

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I did not think the NY Strip Steak we had in the TK Grill was anything special.  Then again, I don't favor the NY Strip over other cuts of steak.  I had a fabulous Rib-Eye Steak in the MDR.  

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Tastes differ - fortunately! When I took my 76 year old mother on a Seabourn cruise last year I complained about the lack of spices, chillies, flavour, exotic dishes, etc. but my mum was delighted with the 1970s style French cuisine and occasionally even thought it was too salty or spicy. Sometimes our opinions on the exact same dish couldn’t have been more different. It must be difficult for Seabourn to cater to 450 different palets every evening!

 

I love the grilled chicken at TKG and will be enjoining it straight after boarding Quest this coming Sunday. Followed by the coconut cake - with vanilla ice cream. And their delicious after dinner cookies. And a glass of Sauternes. Oh dear 🙂  

 

In case it wasn’t obvious yet - TKG is by far my favourite dining venue! 

 

I’ve ordered the Napa Burger on every Seabourn ship since it was introduced and never had a problem getting it cooked to order - medium rare (for me) or medium well (for my partner). I haven’t ordered it at the Colonnade however as I would feel bad about making the staff go order and pick it up elsewhere, taking time away during which they could be serving other guests. If I want a dish from a certain restaurant, I simply go dine there. 

 

Floris 

Edited by florisdekort

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Floris, You bring up a good point  SB passengers are from all over the world. We do have different expectations when it comes to food.  Some love salty food (like the roast chicken in the TK Grill) and others find it inedible.  Some of us just love good tasting food, while others really want the exotic, the new and the different.  (Try Earth and Ocean for that. )  I think, on balance, that SB does a good job with food.  

 

And yes, that Napa Burger is just the best.  

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Floris - Not to unduly belabor the point; but the maître d' in The Colonnade offered to have the Napa Burger obtained from the Patio Grill (which is, as you know, very close to The Colonnade).   In fact, he told me that all of their burgers in The Colonnade come from the Patio Grill. 

 

I entirely agree with your general point that if one wishes to enjoy a dish from a particular venue, one should go to that venue.  However, I made the reference to having a Napa Burger in The Colonnade as an illustration of the complications of having a celebrity chef dictate the "rules" of "his food" to the cruise line, irrespective of the preferences or convenience of the passengers. 

 

I will also agree with you that many of the dishes served on Seabourn, as on the other luxury lines, could use a major shot of "spices, chilies, flavor".

 

Peace??

Edited by freddie

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I didn't go to TK on my recent, first, Seabourn cruise, for various reasons probably of little interest to others.  But I did talk to a woman who went in to make a reservation and felt she was being interviewed so the staff could determine if she was suitable. Just one impression from one passenger, but ...

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We ate 6 times in the TK Grill when we were on Sojourn last Feb/March. I thought the food and service was excellent. I especially enjoyed the sole and the lamb chops.

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Just off the Sojourn a few days ago.  I found my meal at TK Grill to be the best meal of the cruise. (had the Dover Sole)  Sadly, I found the food in the other venues to be either over/under cooked, and way too salty.  I'm not a picky eater, but was unimpressed with the food this cruise.  I became a Diamond member this cruise (250 plus days) so the difference was noticeable.  The service, however, was as good as ever!

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I too am a bog fan of TK Grill. I find the food, the ambience, the service to be excellent and a meal that would cost hundreds od dollars for two on land. What I don't understand is all the griping. If you don't like it don't go. No one will starve with all the other dining options. On Silversea I find Hot Rocks to be an absurd concept. And there's no celebrity chef attached to it. Tried it once and never again So I don't go. But I also don't complain that it's there for those who do like it.

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To be clear, the Roast Chicken was the only TK Grill entree we found to be too salty.  And, while I didn't care for TK's version of Eggplant Parm., the other entrees have been fine---and the appetizers and side dishes VERY good.  The desserts were appreciated also by those at the table who love desserts.  

 

Host Dan, I am disappointed to hear that the food on Sojourn was salty and not up to standards as we will be on the Sojourn in May.  Do you remember who the executive chef was on your trip?

 

Wripro, I think all of us WANT to love the TK Grill.  But, is that likely?  We are talking about FIVE different ships, different chefs, different times---but with the same menu.  It is not going to be the same on every ship.  On the big ships (Ovation and Encore) the dinning room for the TK Grill is lovely.  And, for me, that was part of the charm.  I'll be reporting back in May about the TK Grill on the Sojourn.  

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2 hours ago, Host Dan said:

Just off the Sojourn a few days ago.  I found my meal at TK Grill to be the best meal of the cruise. (had the Dover Sole)  Sadly, I found the food in the other venues to be either over/under cooked, and way too salty.  I'm not a picky eater, but was unimpressed with the food this cruise.  I became a Diamond member this cruise (250 plus days) so the difference was noticeable.  The service, however, was as good as ever!

We were on the same cruise. I have to say it was not at all special and the food as well as the service was poor. With the exception of the young lady that took care of our cabin, the overall trip was underwhelming to say the least. We actually considered getting off and coming home.

 

this was our second cruise with them, and our last.

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alwaysonaship,  Which cruise lines do you prefer?  And was your first SB cruise as disappointing as you second one?  Would you consider starting a thread and telling us about the disappointing Sojourn cruise?

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Actually our first Seabourn cruise was two weeks and we enjoyed it very much. Cannot put my finger on it, but this was not anywhere close to that one. We have had excellent cruises on many ships..like Crystal, Paul Gauguin , Regent....

 

 

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alwaysonaship, on which SB ship was your first cruise.  Try to think of what was different on this one.  The crew?  The food?  The other passengers?  The itinerary?  The ship itself?  The entertainment?  The general vibe of the cruise?  I'm just so curious.  

 

I've also been on two SB cruises--on the Encore and on the Ovation and both were quite similar when it comes to the above things.  

 

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These things are always very subjective. One person's delicious meal is another person's disappointment.

 

We were not fans of R2 but love TK. Some people loved R2. We are all different.

 

What can be a minor gripe for some becomes a huge issue for others.

 

We have seen people blaming Seabourn for something that was clearly their own fault.

 

If you are not happy then don't go back. There are plenty of other cruise lines to choose from.

 

For us, we will be boarding our 15th Seabourn cruise in 52 days. But who is counting? :classic_biggrin:

Edited by Roxburgh

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3 hours ago, wripro said:

I too am a bog fan of TK Grill. I find the food, the ambience, the service to be excellent and a meal that would cost hundreds od dollars for two on land. What I don't understand is all the griping. If you don't like it don't go. No one will starve with all the other dining options. On Silversea I find Hot Rocks to be an absurd concept. And there's no celebrity chef attached to it. Tried it once and never again So I don't go. But I also don't complain that it's there for those who do like it.

 

Very well said! 👍🏻

Edited by florisdekort

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4 minutes ago, SwankPooch said:

Personally, I consider Seabourn several notches above Crystal.

 

Care to share why you feel that way?

 

As a new to Seabourn cruiser with several cruises on Crystal I’m interested in what influences your assessment

 

 

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I have been a regular cruiser with Crystal since 2001.  Ever since the changeover of ownership, I took a cruise to the British Isles and a World Cruise.  On my last cruise, I gave up prebooking a future cruise, as I intend to try out the competitors for the first time. I have to admit that Crystal excels in entertainment.  The food in the Restaurant is so much better than the Crystal dining room. The menu in Silk Road is more creative than the sushi restaurant in Ovation.  Even though I was an amateur in the first 3 segments of the inaugural season of Ovation, I genuinely felt that the officers and the crew work seamlessly to elicit the best experience to the customers.  

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The excursion manager in Seabourn was not purely interested in selling one of its products.  He gave tips and maps on how to venture a destination on our own.  in all of my ship excursions, Seabourn did not fill the tour bus to full capacity.  It limit the capacity to less than 30 passengers on each tour bus.

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28 minutes ago, SwankPooch said:

I have been a regular cruiser with Crystal since 2001

 

Thanks for your clarification - much appreciated

 

Yes I would imagine it would take something special to better Nobu and Silk Road (now renamed Umi Uma) but I’m looking forward to trying Sushi and great that it’s open at lunch time. Sadly we feel the  service and some dishes in the ex Crystal Dining Room, now renamed Waterside, have declined since the Symphony refurbishment - hopefully Crystal will remedy that based on feedback provided by several guests. I am definitely looog forward to dining on Seabourn and trying the different restaurants and certainly the Thomas Keller inspired menus

 

I’m looking forward to our first cruise on Encore in December and will certainly be making a comparison with our Crystal experience

 

There are so many aspects to compare from pre  cruise through to the onboard experience - it’s going to be interesting and I certainly intend blogging about my experience during the cruise 

 

Any tips you can suggest to help make my transition to Seabourn go smoothly would be greatly appreciated 

 

 

Edited by Stickman1990

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I will be looking forward to your blog.  I was not at ease for the first few days on the ship, as I was a total stranger in an entirely new environment.  After getting settled down, I really love it, so much so I will board in a few months.  What really impress me is the fact that the officers don't just retain the supervisory role, they actually work to set up an example for their subordinates.  I was shocked that a female officer from the guest relations department put luggage in my room on embarkation day.  During overnight in Bordeaux, there were several hosted tables in the Restaurant.  Handre and another officer were 'stationed' during the first couple of hours at every port to greet the guests.  

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