Jennifer Anderson, a luxury travel advisor with Classic Travel in New York, recently sailed with SeaDream Yacht Club cruises and is back with this report.
I must confess, I am a landlubber. My boating experience is limited to day trips on my family’s 22-foot boat on the Cape and I often get sea sick on these excursions, so the thought of sleeping on a boat made me extremely apprehensive. I never really felt compelled to cruise, but as a travel advisor I felt it was important to experience a luxury cruise firsthand. So, when the opportunity arose to experience a three-day sailing on the Sea Dream Yacht Club's Seadream II (344 feet, 112 guests, max), I called a few friends, threw on a motion sickness patch and jumped at the chance to sail from Puerto Rico to St. Thomas.
I had very few preconceived expectations as we embarked (other than my dreaded seasickness), so I was pleasantly surprised as guests began approaching us and introducing themselves even before we set sail. We met people of all ages from all over the country, but what really resonated was how many repeat guests were on board. Following their name each offered “this is my 20th sailing” or “this is my eighth sailing” and I knew immediately we were going to experience something special. By the end of the voyage, we had made great friends and a promise of a visit to our new friends in Rhode Island.
Once onboard, it became clear to me why, at SeaDream, they call it “yachting, not cruising.” We gathered at the Top of the Yacht’s open-air bar and spent the better part of the afternoon enjoying the open bar and lounging on the daybeds. Over the course of the three days we enjoyed the majority of our meals outdoors on the deck, with the exception of dinner our first night, which we took in the dining room.
Speaking of food, the menus were impressive. Each dinner offered three menus: A chef’s selection, a vegan menu and a sampling of basics that remained constant everyday. The owner of the company is a raw vegan and the chefs are very accommodating to dietary restrictions or just plain pickiness (like me). In fact, our new friends followed a vegan diet and the flexibility and choices were part of the reason they chose to travel with SeaDream. They told us how thrilled they were with the food selection and taste. We were able to mix and match from each menu to create our perfect four-course meal. We even opted to choose a few items to share for the table...for example, one night we chose every single dessert on the menu to sample. Clearly, we forgot we were putting on bathing suits the following day!
Our first port of call was St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands. While we chose to disembark to explore the beaches, it is by no means a necessity; there is plenty to keep busy on board. The ship has a golf simulator, an amazing spa and gym and, when the ship is anchored, the marina has many water toys, including kayaks, sailboats, a banana boat, water skis, wave runners and even a water trampoline.
Entertainment-wise we tried it all…from the Top of the Yacht Bar to the Piano Bar and the blackjack table. We did not miss a party. Karaoke was definitely a highlight. As an aside, our rendition of Toto’s Africa may be the reason that page was permanently torn from the karaoke book of songs.
The highlight of any SeaDream sailing is its signature Champagne and Caviar Splash. (Most guests agreed it was one of the best experiences during the cruise.) Upon docking at our second stop at Jost Van Dyke in the British Virgin Islands, we were taken ashore to a private beach club with lounge chairs and, of course, champagne! A surfboard full of caviar was presented, as the champagne continued to flow. The crew followed up this extravaganza with a delicious “toes in the sand” beach barbecue. Does it get much better?
We spent the rest of the day enjoying the beach and the crystal-clear water. Jost Van Dyke is famous for its two iconic beach bars and a visit would not be complete without a “Painkiller” at the Soggy Dollar. Foxy’s is also such a popular spot, the captain repositioned the boat after dinner so that we could tender ashore for some late-night dancing. I can see why so many people call this island their “happy place.”
I would be remiss to not mention the service, which is a SeaDream priority. With a crew of 95, there is almost a one-to-one ratio with guests. When our favorite sommelier, Frank, noticed there was no more rose for my friend Lynda and me, he quickly shuttled back to the boat to get more…we saw him shortly after running towards us waving two bottles!
Due to the short length of our sail, regrettably, I was not able to sleep under the stars on one of SeaDream’s signature Balinese Dream Beds. After donning your sweet SeaDream personalized pajamas left on your pillow as a gift, you can spend a few hours or the entire night in one of the daybeds made up with linens, pillows and duvets.
Tip: Make sure you have clients see the concierge upon boarding to reserve the bed at the front of the boat…it offers the most privacy.
Thinking back to a relaxing afternoon lounging on the daybed with a glass of rose, sun shimmering off the endless ocean, not a care in the world except making it to my spa appointment on time, I think I could get used to the “Yachting Life.” Maybe I am not such a landlubber after all.