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!