Sea Dream Part 2
A trip across the Atlantic on SeaDream
Jude and I have told you about SeaDream’s yachts and the personal service that they offer. As promised, we took some notes during our last trip about the day-to-day experiences, and thought that we’d share some of the highlights with you. This trip was a 13-day trans-Atlantic voyage, from San Juan, Puerto Rico to Malaga, Spain, with a stop for one day in Funchal, Madeira (Portuguese island territory).
But before we describe the trip on SeaDream, let’s share a little general information about “repositioning cruises”. Since many cruise lines operate in various locations depending on the season (for example, Caribbean in the winter months and Europe/Mediterranean in the summer months), they must move the ship from one point to the next at the change of the season. The prices on these trips are usually significantly discounted because the line must reposition the ship, and many lines view the revenue generated on these ships as an incremental offset to the inevitable cost of moving the ship. The fares are sometimes discounted as much as 50% on a per-day basis, and this is true on SeaDream Yacht Club’s ships.
Here's a general look at our most recent crossing, including details about the menu and activities..
We typically arrive at our starting point a few days ahead of embarkation to: a) visit some of our favorite restaurants and water holes; and b) to make sure our luggage arrives before setting out for the middle of the Atlantic! So, after a few fun days in San Juan, we arrived at the terminal at about 1:30 PM, in anticipation of boarding at 2:00 PM. We soon met up with "cruise buddies" from prior voyages, and learned that there would be only 21 passengers on board! This meant that we would have more than 3 crew members per passenger – an outstanding ratio! (A typical crossing has 40-60 passengers, and SeaDream can have no more than 110 passengers). And although the service on SeaDream is always superb, it was even better on this voyage because of the unusually low passenger count. Talk about feeling like you owned the yacht!!
Upon boarding we were, as always, greeted by the Captain and the Cruise Director, who welcomed us “home,” and then were handed a cool towel and a glass of champagne. (We had several glasses and a few snacks, got a quick neck & shoulder massage, proceeded to check-in and were escorted to our cabin.
Our luggage was quickly delivered to our cabin on Deck 2 (Note: We always stay on Deck 2 as it is less expensive, and also less subject to the motion of the seas. The only difference in Deck 2 is that the rooms have two round portholes, instead of a window. This isn’t an issue to us as we are seldom in the room anyway.) We unpacked, and headed up to the Top of the Yacht Bar for the sail-away party at 4:00 PM. Afterwards, we quickly changed to attend the pre-dinner cocktail party. There is a cocktail party each night on the ship from 6:30 to 7:30. Light snacks and drinks (often caviar) are served.
Bob always has a Kettle One or Stoli’s martini and Jude usually has wine or Honey Jack Daniels whiskey, which they stock when possible, or custom "create" for her. (Remember I said that cocktails and wine are included in the price of the voyage.) Toward the end of the cocktail party, the Cruise Director always gives a review of the next day’s activities; the party is often attended by the Captain.
On our first night, we had dinner with a friend from other voyages. The selection that I had on that night was anti-pasta with Prosciutto, Mushrooms, and Tomatoes, Lentil Soup, an excellent rare pepper-crusted Filet Mignon, followed by a Vanilla Soufflé. After dinner, we went to the Piano Bar (Jude’s favorite hangout), for after dinner cocktails and entertainment. Other guests went up to the Top of the Yacht Bar for fresh air, drinks and after dinner conversations.
There was no feeling of movement on the ship, and it seemed as though we were still. I had the SeaDream daily omelet (today's had truffles, mushrooms, and herbs) with English Bacon and an English Muffin. Afterwards I brought Jude her usual breakfast to the room (bread, cheese, and fruit) and then went on deck, found a shady spot, and began to read from my Kindle. Jude's not an early riser - she's a bit of a "night owl" instead. I spotted a few sea birds, and Jude met me around 11:00. At noon, the Captain gave his daily update. He announced that we had traveled 248 miles, and had 2567 miles to go until we would arrive at our first and only stop, Funchal, Madeira (good news -- we had a long, relaxing trip ahead). The morning pass-around snack was tempura-battered shrimp. There are typically two pass-around snacks each day, one around noon and the other in mid-afternoon. The pass-around usually also includes a sample of a daily signature drink. The pass-arounds are always tasty, and one of our favorites is the handmade ice-cream sandwiches.
Speaking of, all ice cream is made fresh onboard the ship, and since Chef Tomascz knows that Jude LOVES his cherry ice cream, he had a batch made especially for her (and anyone else who wanted some, of course) and kept it available and fresh for the entire cruise.
There is no such thing as a crowded buffet line on this ship. For lunch, as an example, the menu offered Chilled Crab Claws, Tomato basil soup, snapper, burger with truffles, fries, pasta Alfredo, mussels, a curry dish, a veggie dish, and lots of desert choices. How does one choose? But if, by some rare chance, you didn’t see something that you were in the mood for, you could ask and they would try to accommodate, just as if you owned the yacht. And if you can’t decide between several things, order both, as many of us occasionally do. After lunch, we went back to our shady spot and tried, futilely, to stay awake. (Feels like you're a baby rocking in a cradle!) Some guests played triva and others did scrabble, or other relaxing activities, but we just enjoy reading and "chilling" most days.
After a short nap and the afternoon pass-around snack, and some more reading, it was time for the “Walk a Mile” at 5:00 PM. (On the crossings, the Cruise Director organizes these walks twice each day – one in the morning and one in the afternoon. 16 laps around the upper deck equals 1 mile, so each session consists of 32 laps. I did these on many days.)
Dinner was al fresco on many nights during this voyage because the weather was excellent for most of the trip. On this night, I had escargot, a wedge salad, lobster and cheesecake.
Jude enjoyed an outstanding corn and crab soup that was very light and tasty, along with lamb lollipops.
The next morning, the weather was a bit overcast and we had a few showers. My breakfast was eggs over medium, bacon, hash-browns, sausage, and multi-grain toast. I brought Jude her “usual” after to the cabin, and then went up to read for a while. Later I attended the morning lecture. (Note: On the crossings, SeaDream has one or two lecturers giving talks on various topics. We have had historians, authors, a psychologist, and a rocket scientist on previous trips.) This voyage had a speaker who had a simple topic – How to best use your IPhone and IPad. Carl was one of the most fun and most "practical" speakers! We learned a great deal about how to get the most out of our devices. Carl was also kind enough to take questions anytime we saw him. The Captain updated us as usual at noon. Sea conditions were moderate, heading was 72 degrees, we had travelled 598 nautical miles, and had 2226 to go. Nearest land was 390 miles away.
Tonight’s dinner was in the dining room, and we enjoyed black bean soup, prime rib, sorbet, and chocolate fondant. Afterwards we headed again to the piano bar, and I also tried a few hands of Blackjack at the casino table.
The next few days were similar to the above: Breakfast, Reading, Lecture, Lunch, Reading, and some exercise. As always, it was a decadent, relaxing trip with outstanding service along the entire voyage.
On noon of day three, the Captain (an awesome guy with a great sense of humor) announced that the nearest land was 3 miles – straight down.
The seas were very calm for most of the trip. (In fact, most voyages are very calm and we’ve only had rough seas on one trip out of the eight that we’ve been on.)
A few days later we docked in Madeira. Madeira is a small Portuguese island and is typically our only stop on the crossings. We had docked there on several voyages prior to this one, and sometimes have just stayed on the ship. However, this time we left the ship and took a cable car ride to the top of one of the mountains.
And while Madeira is a beautiful island, the "bad news" about the visit to Madeira is that it signals that our trip is soon coming to an end. Two days later, we crossed through the Straits of Gibraltar and then docked in Malaga the next day. We spent one night in Malaga, and then flew home the next day through Paris and Atlanta.
Until we meet again!