“It’s yachting, not cruising” the SeaDream Yacht Club proudly states – and on closer investigation, their meaning is clear. At a time when “mega ships” make headlines and seemingly squeeze an impressive number of passengers into a floating theme park / shopping mall, SeaDream presents an alternative that has more in common with owning a private yacht.
With two “yachts” (SeaDream I and SeaDream II) guests have the opportunity to join Caribbean cruises or the Mediterranean cruises, depending on the season (and between seasons there are trans-Atlantic crossings as the yachts reposition). Each yacht has 56 staterooms and the guests are pampered by 95 crew.
SeaDream Yacht Club was founded in September of 2001 by Norwegian entrepreneur Atle Brynestad who founded Seabourn Cruise Line and Larry Pimentel, who was President of Seabourn under Brynestad.
SeaDream has all the hallmarks of luxury small ship cruising and “access” - the ability to navigate into ports and destinations that larger cruise ships cannot - is one of the key elements that attracts guests. Although departure from the first port and arrival and the final port is to schedule, in between the captain has the flexibility to alter arrival and departure times when local opportunities present themselves. In this way the cruise becomes closer in experience to time aboard your own private yacht than a traditional cruise.
Fine Travel clients who are new to cruises, or who haven't experienced small ship cruising, often wonder whether they will run out of things to do onboard. On SeaDream's ships there are no water slides or rock climbing walls (or crowds). Think more of a luxury boutique hotel where the experience comes from a focus on quality rather than quantityand almost every day you have a new port to explore.
Dining becomes a memorable event under the stars (rather than a rush to a buffet). The onboard chefs are award winning and many ingredients are freshly sourced from local markets along the way (and guests can join the chefs to explore these local markets).
That is not to say there is no entertainment onboard. Evenings can be spent at the "Top of the Yacht" bar, watching an outdoor movie or flirting with lady luck in the casino. The onboard SeaDream Spa is Thai certified, a member of the Thai Spa Association. The fitness centre (with daily yoga and tai chi classes) is available to work off any unwanted calories and the golf simulator means your game doesn't have to suffer while you're at sea.
A True Connection to the Ocean
Like a private yacht, the ocean becomes a true part of the cruise experience with both SeaDream yachts offering a retractable water sports marina. Swimming, sailing, snorkling and stand-up paddle boarding are just some of the on water activities that you couldn't hope to experience on a traditional large cruise ship.
With the captain more accessible to the guests, SeaDream cruises often attract sailors and guests who are more nautically minded.
The small ship experience is enhanced by shore excursions that are more intimate and authentic. Smaller groups mean that the best local guides can be found and variety can be offered - from wine tasting to river rafting, hunting for truffles to swimming with dolphins.
Joining a SeaDream Cruise
A SeaDream itinerary can easily be included in UK / Europe holiday or a Caribbean experience. Direct flights from Auckland to Los Angeles with American Airlines / Qantas, Air New Zealand's direct flight to Houston and the Earlybird Specials to Europe all open up the opportunity to join a SeaDream cruise for New Zealand travellers.