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September 16, 2009

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WHERE'S JOHNNY JET?                    Seabourn Odyssey

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Ahoy there, mates! This week we're coming to you from one of, if not the, swankiest cruise ships in the world -- Seabourn's newest masterpiece the Odyssey! We'll learn all about this 450- passenger luxury yacht, which debuted in late June. If you want to see what the hype is all about surrounding this $300 million boat, then sit back, relax and enjoy the smooth ride. In an attempt to make these stories read faster, we're breaking the paragraphs up into almost Twitter-sized tweets. I hope you like it.

The main reason I was in Istanbul was not to tour around the city's amazing historical sites but to board Seabourn's new 32,000-ton ship Odyssey. The ship is so big it could hold up to 1,000 passengers if it was outfitted like most cruise ships but instead, it holds just 450 guests in 225 luxury suites (not rooms), creating a much more intimate experience. BTW: Ninety percent (197) of the rooms have verandas, which as you can imagine, make all the difference in the world.

As I mentioned a few weeks ago when I was embarking Celebrity's new ship Equinox, I had only been on a few cruises in my life and all of them had been for three days or fewer. Therefore, I wasn't sure how I was going to like being trapped on a boat for a whole week with people I didn't know, sailing to places I'd never been. But as you will soon see, this ship is so plush, no one ever wants to get off.

Natalie and I checked out of the Ciragan Palace around 1:30pm and took a taxi to the port of Istanbul, which was about a 10-15 minute drive and cost just 9 TL ($6 USD). When my eyes first laid sight on the Odyssey, my blood began to pump with excitement. Actually, the blood began to simmer a couple months prior, after receiving (like all passengers) Seabourn's welcome kit via FedEx. Inside the package were four fine leather luggage tags and a document holder with all the information needed about the cruise, along with preprinted luggage tags displaying our room number. That made check-in at the port so much easier.

Everyone seemed to arrive around the same time as we did so it was crowded but not hectic because everything was so well organized. Our first stop was to drop off our tagged and checked luggage at a designated spot. NOTE: We kept our carry-on luggage with us, just as we would have had we been flying. TIP: Always keep important items like cameras, laptops, passport, money and medicine with you.

On the short walk to check-in, a well-groomed Seabourn staff member dressed in a tuxedo offered us a glass of pomegranate champagne from a silver platter. How civilized! But like a character out of the Beverly Hillbillies I chugged it down before going through the first security check, which was just a few feet away.

Once I cleared security, I tried my best to get the red pomegranate stain off my shirt before walking up to one of the many kiosks for the actual check-in. The friendly agent took our passports and in return gave us our personalized credit card-like room keys - each with our name on it. Later they delivered another card, which was like a mini-passport each with our photo, which was in lieu of our real passports. Seabourn holds on to all guests' passports to make arriving at ports easier, safer and quicker.

Aboard the ship there was one more airport-like security check. In addition to putting your belongings through the x-ray machine and having to walk through a metal detector, passengers had their personalized room key swiped to make sure they were who they said they were. In fact, passengers have to do this every time they embark and disembark the ship. The security staff was not only diligent but they were quick too, so passengers didn't have to wait in long lines.

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Copyright 2009 JohnnyJet, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Pictures From

The Trip


Taxi to Port


The Odyssey


Another View




Welcome Kit


Pre-Sent Luggage Tags


Welcome Champagne




Boarding The Ship


Security Check


They Make Waiting a Joy



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