Seadream Yacht Club Seadream I Cruising Review

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Seadream Yacht Club - Seadream I - Ship Review

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2005 Seadream Yacht Club - Seadream I - Ship Review
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Seadream Yacht Club Seadream I Luxury Yacht Cruise Eastern Caribbean March 27 - April 3rd, 2005 Cruising the Eastern Caribbean - SeaDream Style For the cruise ship aficionados who prefer to experience a new form of cruising, I highly recommend the SeaDream Yacht Club, which has two ships, the SeaDream I and II. Seadream has perfected the now form of voyaging termed "boutique cruising." The concept is to take a smaller ship with less passengers, and give them a service which is unequaled by the larger lines. The amount of attention that the professionally trained crew can give you is incredible. What you end up with is basically a private yacht, at fairly normal cruise fare. The experience is wonderful, and a refreshing change from the mass-market cruises. Probably the best part of SeaDream I experience is the personalized service, and freedom to do whatever you wish aboard a well-appointed ship. The SeaDream I is just over 400 feet and has a small pool, jacuzzi, plenty of tanning beds, four bars, a casino, piano-bar, lounge, workout room, and a host of other large-ship accouterments in a small ship lavish style. The classy aspects of the cruise include chilled towels when you return from the tender, ice-cream treats served poolside in the afternoon, and always a smile to greet you onboard. When we returned from the cruise, we had a nice photo-book of the ship and staff, something which I have never experienced on any cruise. Again, Seadream Yacht Club has done everything to make this a perfect cruise, before, during and after. I booked directly from the SeaDream website (toll-free number) and was quoted the higher priced (same cabin) price that was on the website. When I mentioned this, the agent matched the advertised price on the website. There really is no difference (except deck level) in the cabins - so choose the lowest price one. The most noticeable part of the cruise was the quality of the food. More so than any cruise line afloat, SeaDream offers the best quality food I've ever had - whether if be land or sea. They have a great supply chain that cannot be rivaled. The chef regularly visited our table to see if the service and quality were up to par, as well as inquire about food requests. I requested fondue and was surprised to have it the following day for lunch. During our day at the beach, a fantastic buffet was set up including grilled steaks, hamburgers, fish and vegetables. A caviar splash was set up on a surfboard just off the beach in waste-deep water serving caviar and champagne. The itinerary was fair to good. I have to admit, that after being in French Polynesia and the Mediterranean, it's hard to have a variety of islands that are more spectacular. The weather and water were both beautiful and warm, along with several great sunsets. If I were running the ship, I would stay at remote islands, to fully enjoy the ship, and the Caribbean. The most enjoyable part of the cruise was our day at the beach in Jost Van Dyke - there the passengers got to know each other (and the staff) better. In all the other ports, passengers disembarked in separate groups. In addition, when you go to a larger port, you're inundated with shopping and other touristy activities which most are trying to get away from. The exception to this is St. Barts, where the classy French have not let tourism, and the hunger for extracting cash from cruise ship passengers get out of hand. For this cruise, like all others, I packed one carry-on bag. This one was even smaller than all others I've packed, and was just fine for a week in the tropics. If you travel with less, you have more time to enjoy your vacation, and spend less time packing and unpacking. Probably the best part is the journey to and from your cruise - you'll never experience lost luggage, and will be expedited through customs. Aboard the Seadream, you'll find a variety of people, from middle-class to the affluent - all very friendly. This cruise is really designed for couples. While there were a few kids on the ship, it is not a family cruise and families with children would be better off on a mass-market cruise ship that has kids activities. There is a small pool, jacuzzi and a variety of water toys from the marina on the back end of the ship. The ship has some great amenities for passenger activities. It has Segway's (which nobody ever used) and bikes. Since you're almost always at anchor, everything you want to use will have to be tendered ashore. This isn't a big deal per se, but it takes extra effort if you want that extra exercise biking. We biked on St. Johns and found the hills to be very challenging - but in the end loved the mode of transportation. After biking to Honeymoon Bay, a refreshing dip in the beautiful Caribbean waters was just perfect. The marina on the back of the ship is set up almost every day. It offers water-skiing, sailing (Laser with cut-down sail), kayaking, banana boat (you'll get dunked) and a sailboard (never got rigged or used except for the board which was used for the caviar splash). A nice event almost everyday was supervised swimming off the back of the ship. We saw no sharks and felt quite comfortable during the refreshing swim. For those not used to swimming ship side, I recommend putting on a life preserver (putting your legs through the arm holes like putting on shorts) and requesting your beverage of choice. When the staff saw us drinking a few beers while enjoying the placid Caribbean waters, they even brought down ice-cream. Again, the service is amazing aboard this ship. The tours they offer are pretty much standard shore-side cruise ship tours. Since I have traveled this region before, I knew what to try, and what to stay away from. Any bus or van based tour of the island will probably include too much shopping (or stops at tourist shops). Walking tours (we did a rain forest tour in Nevis which was great) are good. I highly recommend the 12 metre yacht race in St. Martin. Because you're relaxing alot aboard ship, it's always good to do a walking tour (guided or by yourself). I always ask the staff aboard the ship where their favorite spots are on the island, and just go exploring. You'll find that you'll meet more of the locals, and have a much better experience than going on a bus load of tourists seeing the island. We had a funny experience on St. Johns - after spending about 30 minutes biking, and then finally walking up a small mountain with a vista that overlooked Honeymoon Bay, we were just admiring the fantastic view. Just then, a huge tourist bus stopped at the lookout point and the passengers, too lazy to get out and take a picture of the fantastic view, asked us to move aside ! I just stood there and looked at them, and a minute later the bus scurried on to it's next destination. The dress aboard the ship is country club casual. I love this terms - and wonder who ever thought of them. Basically, you don't need a tie or tuxedo. Nice looking tropical shirts and pants work well, and a suit coat or jacket is optional. For women, a tropical dress or skirt combo work well for dinner. For the day, T-shirts and shorts are fine. You are provided with robes and customized pajamas in your cabin - very classy. Tipping aboard the ship is included in the cruise fare. I always ask about the tipping policy aboard this more exclusive ships (the mass-market ships automatically include tips as part of your charges). The response I usually get is, "your tips are included..." but if you keep asking, you'll find that for service that is above and beyond, you can make a donation to the crew fund. You do this with the ships purser (or hotel director) and it is either charged to your cabin, or you can pay with cash, etc. This is a great way to show your appreciation to the crew - and everyone gets something (including the crew you don't see, like those doing the laundry, dishwashers, etc.). My overall impression of the Seadream Yacht Club is fantastic. The concept of small ship cruising, with exceptional service works very well. The quality of food was amazing - the best I've every had anywhere (land or sea). The service is unparalleled. This is definitely a cruise you should add to your list of travels. Fair winds, and calm seas... Greg "Pepe" Giese Note: A full review, including thousands of photos and video clips are available at http://www.cruisingreview.com

 

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