When we receive our documents, in an elegant leather wallet, we will soon realize that we are dealing with an special company. Sometimes you will be afraid when we check cruising fares, but after getting on board, I knew that dreams can´t be measured in terms of money. Any of these two ships, are designed to make any sailing, a sublime experience. Something like travelling on a private yacht without having one.
The perfect choice was going the Greek Islands in May, when temperatures were benign, and the Aegean had a delightful light. After an overnight in the Athens Intercontinental Hotel, the day was really hot. I felt uneasy when I saw rows of people, like flocks, at the Pireo ready to boad in huge ships. ¿Is this the best way to start a vacation?. Definitely not.
I was going to get on a tiny but appealing vessel called SeaDreamII with just 100 passengers, less than 10.000 tons and a crew ready to make real our wishes. ¿boarding waiting times?. Not at SeaDream. In five minutes I was getting on board like a gente breeze.
The captain welcomes and calls us by our names; at the same time two gente Thai girls, refresh our waiting time, giving us soft franganced wet towels. Afterwards, a delicious welcome buffet where caviar and champagne were a must. ¡Get used to it¡. Liters of it flowing everywhere. After ten minutes I was taken to my suite.
You won´t find any inside cabins. Just reasonable big suites, according to the ship size with all frills and facilities one may need. Splendid matresses, sublime bed cothing, marble bathrooms, all stocked with Bulgari amenities, minibar replenish according to our wishes.
Of course, champagne, champagne and more champagne. Solid wooden furniture, fresh flowers, fine glass in the minibar, world atlas, a huge walk in closet with fine Egyptian cotton bathdrobe and dozens of other suite delicacies. Life can´t get any better. Individualized vacations, intimate and relaxed. I was soon going to get sticked to the company slogan. “It´s Yachiting not cruising”.
We shouldn´t expect a huge amount of facilities. There are not dozens of lounges, and not a big display of options. Who cares¡. SeaDreams is not a cruise ship; it sells “dreams at sea”. Being a migration bird, both yachts are always searching for sun, and benign climates.
SeaDream ships are specially designed, to offer pleasant days under the sun. Before setting sail, Jinny my personal cabin stewardess, had brought me the distinctive SeaDream gift. A lovely personalized pyjamas with my name on it. I would classify the ship as a boutique vessel. A dinning room decorated with valuable Norwegian glass items, very intimate, with a dedicated service in the lower deck. In the main one, a huge swimming pool, a welcoming lobby and small lounge which has several functions.
In the upper deck, the library, gym-Spa, and on the open decks, there a big space for “al fresco” dinning with wicker chairs, and wooden tables everywhere. I did love the Top of the Yacht Bar, perhaps the liveliest area of the ship, and epicenter of social rendez vous under the stars. Big deckchairs which can be turned into full size beds, and delicate lining to sleep under the stars on both sides of the open decks. We have to phase out the traditional vision and idea of a traditional cruise.
No shows, noisy and tacky parties, and although there´s a small casino, and piano bar, the virtues of the SeaDreams are others. I could define the experience as making one felling special at every single moment, in a private elegant environment. That´s to say tailor made vacations. ¿How could be the perfect day at SeaDream?. After a smooth navigation, and a magical dawn in a sweet like honey Aegean sea, sailing in an almost furtive way, we get to impressive destinations like Santorini. The friendly crew are ready on deck, to take me to a beautifully set table for breakfast.
I wonder how they are able to say good morning adding my name. I do feel really pampered. I choose the perfect one by the Santorini clifts. Fine Norwegian china, luxurious tableware, and a perfect breakfast buffet is the perfect way to start my day. Perfect cappuccinos, freshly baked pastry, and fantastic service. As I am having breakfast, and I feel quite tiny contemplating the Santorini landscape, thousands of passengers from other ships should be waiting in their ships lounges. The cable car will be too busy. But we don´t need to hurry in SeaDream.
Our ship anchors really close, and she will be staying in port until late night, which make it perfect to get ashore, after the cruisers had left. We can enjoy the sunset, have a glass of wine in an empty Santorini local bar, when it´s quiet. No rules, just pure enjoyment. While I get ready to go ashore, some passengers are already at the pool. There are always deckchairs for everyone. Being an all inclusive sailing, all drinks, food will be served any time you wish. Excursions on SeaDream are special, individualized, and even sportive. We have some mountain bikes on board as well.
We may go back to the ship as often as we wish. It´s always a short hop. So short that we can touch it physically from the port. We have a special tent with wicker chairs, cookies and drinks, and an exclusive waiter, for us to be relaxed while we wait.
Other ship passengers should queue under the heat. Many people come back to have lunch or to enjoy the Marina Deck. ¿Marina Deck, pardon me?. There´s a door in the ship stern which opens for the sea to be enjoyed. All inclusive as well, prepared for us to practice any water sport: swim in the open sea, motor skiing, floating bananas, snorklings. The ship usually calls at unusual bays, and some ports of call are out the beaten track which is perfect to enjoy unexpeceted sights.
The most important time of the day, is the daily cocktail by the pool. Forget about the dress codes, dress as you wish. No tuxedos, no ties, only smart casual clothes, as we were in our private yacht.
On the second day, we will know anyone on board. The company philosophy is clear: casual days and nights, no rules. Perhaps we want to spend a few hours in the cosy library, or be being pampered at the SPA, with Balinese orientation. The Jacuzzi is great, and many people love to get ashore to have a local dish or glass of wine after the other cruise passengers had left. It´s simply perfect walking around in Mykonos virtually empty after five o clock.
If we are looking for the perfect experience, go for the night under the stars on the deckchairs. The crew will prepar a bed for you on deck. Although the ship is not particularly lively, bars are always a big fan, and the piano bar offers delightful melodies every night, with the perfect drinks.
Food and crew are simply perfect. That´s for sure. Your whishes for the crew are orders, not only offering at every second, an universe of details, but excceding your expectations. They will know your preferences immediately, what´s your favorite drink, or simply making their very best you are happy while on board.
Always with a warm smile. A world of details, which you don´t expect. Someone will wipe your glasses while you are reading by the pool, having a treat in your cabin every night, or simply memorizing how you like your cappuccino. If we are treated in a personalized way, and are spoilt at every second, the whole experience will be just perfect.
Food is second to none, and perfect all the time. Fresh ingredients, perfect presentations, and quality which matches any prestigious restaurant ashore. Desserts are something hard to resist. Menus are different everyday, and range from traditional continental recipes, to the most sophisticated creations.
Appart from the regular meal times, a 24 h room service, “delicacies” and afternoon cocktail at the pool are always available; we can even order everything we wish any time. Meals are usually served “al fresco”, which sometimes is disappointing if one prefers the smart ambiance of the main restaurant. In my sailing, it was only used once. But it´s a minor complaint.
A few lines about ports of call and disembarkation procedures. As I had told before, the company usually offers “exotic” ports of call in its programs.
Of course mixing them with then with more traditional destinations, like Santorini, or Mykonos in the Aegean. In our case, apart from these two above mentioned, we had Paros where big ships can´t go. Just a white, clean, cosy, greek town with just a bunch of tourists. As I was sipping Ouzo, in a quiet “tavern”, the ship was really close. Similar to a private yacht. I have to mention the Caribbean, where the company usually explores really hidden corners, and the yachts even anchor in isolated deserted islands, where its famous “Caviar Splash” is served. Thats to say, a caviar feast with champagne into the water by the beach. ¡that´s luxury¡.