Length: 439 ft
A casual, social and highly luxurious all-inclusive cruise experience with the finest dining and service at sea.Should Be Avoided By People Who Prefer
The megaship experience with round-the-clock entertainment, a lavish casino, balconied staterooms and a great variety of public rooms and lounges.Onboard Experience
The SeaDream slogan, "This is yachting, not cruising," becomes evident the moment you step up the gangway and are personally welcomed on board by the vessel's hotel director and captain. This is an intimate cruise experience where, in a few hours, you're addressed by name by the ship's extraordinary international staff and where, in a few days, you'll know the vast majority of your fellow passengers.
As you'd expect from an all-inclusive yachting experience, SeaDream tends to attract affluent, active and well-traveled couples of all ages, luring them with exquisite dining where the menu is often a mere suggestion and all requests for personal favorite dishes are honored.
Plush Balinese sunbeds instead of deck chairs, the "Champagne & Caviar Splash," "Water Sports Marina" and "Sleeping Under the Stars" are decadent SeaDream signatures that have contributed to the popularity of these two tiny 4,300 ton yachts that launched in 2001 while the rest of the cruise industry was focused on the megaship "city-at-sea" concept.
The SeaDream experience is one that is devoid of lavish entertainment, formal evenings, gimmicky activities, and gambling (in fact, one black jack table comprises SeaDream's casino, positioned like an afterthought alongside the piano bar). Devoted fans of the line prefer this laid back lifestyle, and consistently demonstrate that lively conversation against the backdrop of the open air Top of the Yacht Bar is the only entertainment they really need.Decor
As befitting the finest yachts, SeaDream I and II are outfitted with a lot of polished teak, navy and white color schemes and fabrics, rattan, and brass detailing. In a nod to owner Atle Brynestad's Norwegian heritage, you'll also find a vast collection of original artwork and glass pieces commissioned from Scandinavian artists.Public Rooms
Interior public rooms aboard SeaDream I and II are closer to the atmosphere of a fine traditional home than to the extravagant ultra-modern designs of today's larger ships. A homey library with scattered overstuffed easy chairs, computer terminals and shelves of travel books and novels could be your comfortable living room, and the Main Salon, the largest public room on board, is saved from simplicity by the addition of its bar, a delightful corner nook that often feels like a separate and tres exclusive hideaway.
The true jewel in the SeaDream public room crown, however, is Top of the Yacht Bar, the circular social heart of the yacht. With a partial covering in the form of a canvas ceiling and abundant alcove seating nearby, this open air destination for social evenings is often used as additional breakfast, lunch or dinner seating as it is just steps up from Topside, the yacht's alfresco restaurant.Cuisine
With each dish prepared to order, dining aboard SeaDream I and II is a celebration of regional and international cuisine starring the freshest ingredients, the most creative presentation and the most delectable tastes. While dinner and its 5-course menus is the most gala of the day's dining experiences, don't overlook the buffet selections and full menus available at lunch and breakfast. Pick up a yogurt and fresh fruit at the breakfast buffet and supplement it with eggs cooked to order with, perhaps, a couple of baby lamb chops on the side. At lunch, the buffet might feature fat New Zealand mussels, a choice of freshly made salads, soup, cold cuts and cheeses while the luncheon menu offers hot sandwiches, pasta dishes, burgers and seafood specialties. Low calorie and "wellness" options are available at every meal.Restaurants
Located on deck 3, SeaDream's Dining Salon is a single level restaurant that offers seating options of two through ten. Most often used while SeaDream is at sea or when whether conditions render dining al fresco impractical, the Dining Salon is understated yet elegant, and features beautiful Hadeland Glassverk pieces displayed in spot lit shadow boxes throughout the room.
The most popular dining spot aboard SeaDream is Topside, the yacht's open air restaurant on deck 5. The yacht's breakfast and lunch destination, in the evening, Topside dons its yacht casual best, with teak tables draped in fine linens; china, glass and silver glistening in the moonlight.
Both restaurants offer open sitting dinner, allowing guests to dine when and with whom they choose.Service
Almost immediately, you are known by name by SeaDream's extraordinary staff who also appears to eavesdrop on conversations in order to learn guests' preferences. "I wish they'd have banana ice cream" will, doubtlessly, result in the presentation of a dish of banana ice cream the following day. A verbalized wish for pizza will result in a pie even quicker than that. Should you become engaged or married during your cruise, you might return to your suite to find a riot of rose petals covering the floor and red balloons floating across the celing. This extraordinary team, most from Europe and Eastern Europe, communicate well and exhibit a high degree of professionalism and courtesy while remaining friendly and approachable.Tipping
Gratuities are included in the fare. Tipping is neither required nor expected aboard SeaDream Yacht Club.Entertainment
SeaDream fans shun the formal entertainment of other cruise ships, preferring conversation to production shows, relaxation to pool games. The ship's piano bar and its talented piano player is the extent of the live entertainment you'll find on board either yacht.
Instead of bombarding guests with multi-page daily programs filled with activities, seminars and educational offerings, SeaDream provides the resources that lead guests to create their own personalized forms of entertainment. On select days, the yacht's marina sport platform is lowered and water toys that range from jet skis to kayaks are made available free of charge to those who want to play in the ocean.
On many sailings, the "Champagne and Caviar Splash" is a high point. A decadent celebration that kicks off the ship's extravagant beach barbecue, don't be surprised if you find yourself wading out into the surf, waist deep, to accept offerings of tangy caviar and bubbling champagne from fully dressed-and drenched-waiters who have set up their wares atop a floating surfboard.
Another SeaDream option, and the most romantic one, allows guests to sleep under the stars atop a plush Balinese sunbed, made up invitingly with high-thread Belgian sheets, fluffy duvets and plump down pillows. The perfect opportunity to wear the SeaDream pajamas provided to each guest and embroidered with their first name, of course.Cabins
SeaDream offers 54 Yacht Club Staterooms that measure 195 square feet, 16 of which can be converted to 8 Commodore suites which are, simply, two Yacht Club rooms combined into one. One 447-square foot owner's suite and one 395 square foot Admiral's suite (currently available on SeaDream II and available in June 2009 on SeaDream I) round out the options.
All staterooms include flat-screen TV, DVD and CD, Belgian linens and 100% Turkish cotton robes and slippers. A mini-refrigerator is stocked with a selection of soft drinks, beer and bottled water. Yacht Club and Commodore bathrooms are snug but compensate for their size by offering a powerful multi-jet shower and high-end Bulgari bath amenities. Owner's Suite and Admiral Suite bathrooms are large and include full tubs.
No balconies are available aboard SeaDream.Fitness/Spa
SeaDream's fitness center includes 4 treadmills, 1 elliptical machine, 2 recumbent bikes and free weights. Flat-screen TVs and DVD players are available to make your workout more pleasurable and bottled water and cool, refrigerated towels help you cool down. The fitness center is open daily from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Additionally, Yoga and Tai-Chi sessions are offered free of charge.
The adjacent Sea Dream Spa is a full service one, offering an extensive range of massage, health and beauty treatments. Massage can also be arranged on deck in open air private cabanas.Attire
Leave the tux and the gown at home. While gentlemen might wish to opt for a jacket when dinner is served at the Dining Salon, a tie is completely unnecessary. Relaxed and casual-though not sloppy-is the dress code in the evening and, at daytime, a bathing suit and cover up is the norm.
Dining This vessel had some of the best food I have eaten anywhere. For breakfast, don't miss the fresh squeezed OJ. The cheeseburgers at lunch are great on their sesame seed buns. The ribs are some of the best ever. At breakfast and lunch, it is waiter service AND a buffet for things other than entree items. At dinner, I didn't have an entree I didn't like; they were all delicious (creative soups, too, like pumpkin seed). Breakfast features "made to order" eggs, omelettes and pancakes (to name just a few items). Breakfast and lunch were served outside on the upper decks. Dinner was either in the dining room or, depending upon the night, on the upper deck outside, which was terrific. HINT: Eating outside on Deck 5 is great...sit at one of the "cutouts" (for two people) on each side of the yacht, or one of the tables forfour in each back corner of Deck 5 to get a great view.
Entertainment The entertainment was very low key, with no mega-performances each night! Instead, gather in the main salon for drinks or movies, the small casino for games, or (my favorite) the "Top of the Yacht" Bar outside on Deck 6. HINT: Take advantage of all the technology SeaDream offers. For example, at check-in we borrowed an MP3 player with music already downloaded. It was great! My favorite was sailing through the British Virgin Islands while listening to Andre Bocelli (what a voice) on the MP3 player. It was a magical experience, combining spectacular sights and sounds. You can borrow CDs and DVDs from the reception desk to use in the CD and DVD players in your cabin.
The Cabins The amenities (Bulgari toiletries, waffle robes, mini-refrigerators loaded with beverages, flat screen TV, very comfortable beds with great duvets) and outstanding stewardess service, along with their ample size (including sitting area), make these relaxing and comfortable cabins. I thought I would miss the balcony, but you can get to the outside decks in a matter of seconds and find the same privacy and comfort you'd have on a balcony. In fact, not having a balcony was a reservation I had about SeaDream, and I am happy to report that it was not an issue at all. See "The Decks" for more information! HINT: There is 24 hour room service, including popcorn to go with the movie DVD you can borrow from the reception desk.
The Staff In a word, outstanding! They really go out of their way to ensure you will have a great vacation experience. You will get to know them much better than on a bigger ship, and without exception they go above and beyond...even with special requests! We really enjoyed their company! HINT: It is hard to single out one or two people, since the service all of them provide is so good. You will get a survey to fill out at the end of the trip.
The Islands We visited the British Virgin Islands, Isles des Saintes, Guadeloupe, Antigua, and St. Martin. I only got off the yacht to see St. Martin (for an hour) and for a beach visit in the BVI. So I can't really speak to the islands, except that people seemed generally pleased with the itinerary. While you are anchored some days, the "marina deck" turns into the water sports area (sailing, banana boating, jet skiing, water skiing) and it really is a lot of fun. They also let you swim off the marina deck. I was impressed with their safety measures (e.g. life jackets always required; there was always a zodiac floating around during water sports). HINT: If you miss the water sports one day, they should be repeated on another so don't worry.
The Yacht Don't expect a cruise ship (their slogan is "it's yachting, not cruising," and it is so true!). I am a huge fan of cruising, and this was my first experience at "yachting." Bottom line is I love them both, but really, this was over the top. The difference is like staying at a nice hotel vs. a mansion. Both are great, but very different. HINT: Make time to stop by the bridge and engage the crew. We learned a bit about the night sky and stars, which were spectacular on one really clear night!
The Decks You will spend time on Decks 2 to 6. Cabins are on Decks 2, 3 and 4. The dining room is on Deck 2 (open seating from 7:30 - 9:30 p.m.). The main salon (gathering place for pre-dinner cocktails and snacks) and the reception desk are on Deck 3. On Deck 4 you'll find the library (stocked with an abundance of books), small casino (two tables), boutique and the spa and gym. Moving outside, the pool deck is 3, the outside restaurant is 5, and the Balinese Beds (my favorite) are on 6, along with the Top of the Yacht Bar. One of my concerns about sailing on SeaDream was that there were no balcony cabins. However, this turned out to be no issue at all. My perfect cruise vacation includes a comfortable deck chair in the shade on a balcony so I can read a book. There are many places to hang out on deck, beginning with the pool deck and moving up to Decks 4, 5 and 6 from there. Even on the pool deck, there are tables with umbrellas so you can get shade. The Balinese beds (Deck 6) are semi-private double beds with big umbrellas and a small table (to place your drinks). They come with over-sized pillows so you can prop yourself up and look out to the sea (or read a book!). There are also deck lounges and even hammocks available. There was never a shortage of places to go on deck and there was always space available. HINT: The hammocks are very comfortable, but bring a rolled-up towel to use as a pillow!
The Spa and Gym I used the treadmills every day. There are four treadmills and never a wait (in fact, there were always one or two available when I was there). The gym is small, but certainly adequate. I had massages, too, which were relaxing and great. The ladies who work there are extremely nice and polite. And there's no pressure to buy spa products as is sometimes the case on ships. HINT: Bottled water is in the small refrigerator with the glass door (built into the shelves) at the back of the gym. It took me a couple of days to find it!
The Passengers Because there is capacity for only 110 passengers, you have an opportunity to become friends with other passengers. We made a bunch of new friends, and really had a great time with them. So much so that we'd like to take another SeaDream trip together. It is a very social environment, with people onboard who are fun and lively. (On the other hand, if you want privacy, you can have it.) Toward the end of the week, SeaDream does something great (it's a surprise) and I observed everyone having a fantastic time with one another. It was a highlight of the cruise, quite honestly.
The Bottom Line Focus on the value you get for the tariff vs. the actual tariff itself (it may seem expensive at first). It is all-inclusive: gratuities, drinks, water sports, cabin amenities, gourmet (really!) meals, and a lot more (there are some things that are best left to the element of surprise). Sometimes, if you're like me, you need to get away, relax and decompress....I did, and SeaDream was just what I needed! They also have cruises to the Mediterranean in the summer, and next fall they start in South America. So for me, it's not a matter of IF I will sail on SeaDream again, it's just a matter of WHEN!