The Cruise Line Managing Director Jos Dewing spent a night on-board the Luxury yacht, SeaDream I during her recent visit to London
I’ve never felt more relaxed, yet at the same time, I’ve never felt more awake. And despite this being somewhat of an oxymoron, it’s exactly how I feel having disembarked SeaDream I at Tower Millennium port today. Whilst I have only spent one night on-board this elegant ship, it’s served as both an education and a wonderful retreat.
I’ve often questioned what the term ‘luxury’ actually means, especially in the context of travel and accommodation. And I truly believe that the experience I have had on SeaDream I has answered this question for me. Luxury is a state of consciousness! A glorious awareness and acceptance that you feel truly awake, in harmony with your surroundings, totally at peace in your habitat and at one with yourself. This may seem an interesting introduction to an article focusing on what many would perceive as a small cruise ship, but for me it underpins the experience.
With a travel product and concept like SeaDream Yacht Club, you need to understand the full story as the information you would expect to find in a traditional brochure or delivered over the phone by a travel agent simply won’t do it justice. You need to start with history, then you would feel obliged to state the obvious and then you need to get under the skin of what truly makes this experience so special and so very different. In that order ideally!
The history is straightforward, SeaDream Yacht Club was founded in 2001 by Norwegian businessman Atle Brynestad. The quintessential entrepreneur, Brynestad had sat as Chairman of both Seabourn (which he founded) and Cunard before focusing his attention on a new concept in luxury sea travel. SeaDream would move away from the traditional approach to cruising and focus more on the boutique yachting lifestyle. Two intimate ships would be acquired, the 110-guest Seabourn Goddess I and Seabourn Goddess II and something quite different was born. Perhaps this was indeed the birth of luxury sea travel itself, something that travellers are certainly seeking but may not yet realise exists.
So onto the obvious. Well what’s not to like about SeaDream’s gorgeous twin mega-yachts, SeaDream I and SeaDream II. This is the part you’ll read over and over again from cruise specialists and travel companies happy to sell you one of these voyages.
The experience is all-inclusive, the dining on-board and wine selection is exceptional, both yachts feature private marinas with a full host of watercraft and equipment. You can sleep under the stars on SeaDream’s signature Balinese Dream Beds, watch an outdoor movie on deck and experience luxury champagne barbecues on private beaches. Bvlgari bath amenities are standard and with 8 massage therapists and member of the Thai Spa Association – the SEADREAM Spa is a contemporary and unique destination in its own right.
Add a sauna, exercise room with modern equipment and sea views, a beauty salon, casino, piano bar, library, unexpectedly spacious pool deck, Jacuzzi, 30 Course golf simulator and a wonderfully boutique ‘Top Of the Yacht Bar’ with 360 degree views and expert barman serving you whatever you desire until whenever you wish – Catching a breath now – But little need to continue… This yacht has it all and it delivers the experience as something that encourages outdoor living, in tune with the environment of both yacht and destination.
SeaDream clearly has plenty of components that are obvious from a single visit and assure its place as a truly luxurious travel experience and this is certainly the part where your usual article, presentation or video will end. All the basics covered and a little bit of ‘fizz’ on the top too and it looks great. This is SeaDream it’s true, small intimate ships, attentive crew, exquisite food, gorgeous and lesser travelled destinations and then some… But there is so much more and that is as important as any of the above.
SeaDream Yacht Club is special because it passionately believes in what it does and that passion flows down in energetic abundance from the Brynestad’s themselves. As soon as I arrived on SeaDream I this all became very apparent to me. The owner, Mr Brynestad was one of the first people I bumped into on the yacht. We had met previously and he offered a personal tour of the ship. What I liked so much here was that it began with the ‘crew quarters’. Behind the scenes the yacht was a happy place, there is no other word for it.
There was no awkwardness or the standing to attention routine that you may expect to see when a major company owner appears out of the blue. Conversation was warm, family like, friendly and respectful. I was shown the bridge and looked out from the yacht as the Captain would over the Thames. I felt honoured to have been taken to the bridge by the yachts owner, but SeaDream just isn’t like that, they hold an ‘open bridge’ policy, you are made to feel welcome in these places, it is your home during your stay. This is all about you!
When I had been shown the ships public areas too I went off to discover my accommodation and further evidence of a personal touch was evident. There were bespoke night clothes waiting for me folded neatly on the bed, these had my first name embroidered above the SeaDream logo, it felt personal, a gesture of friendship, a connection. They know me already, they were expecting me, this is my home and I already feel great about it.
I enjoyed exploring the yacht. These are essentially warm water ships, they are at home in the Caribbean and Mediterranean seas and the concept they have created of outdoor living is both genuine and engaging. It’s a small ship, but with just 100 like-minded guests sharing it with you, there really is a sense of space and privacy too. Even if you imagine every passenger in the ‘Top Of the Yacht Bar’ area or on the pool deck together at the same time, it wouldn’t feel crowded and there are private places around the ship where you could dine as two. Doing things how you want to do them is encouraged, its totally informal, nobody is ever going to tell you where to be or worst still, where to go!
And this even translates into the itinerary planning of the yachts too. The planning and destination team actually ask their past guests where they would like the yachts to go next, their views are factored into planning and this is also pioneering too. Take the mountainous island of Capri for example. If you were on a large ship you’d most probably dock in Naples, three miles away. On a smaller luxury ship you may anchor off the Island and tender in. SeaDream will take you straight into the harbour and stay there overnight too. This is not your standard experience.
Dining on-board is special. The service is subtle and knowing, it is entirely evident that the staff care deeply about what you are eating and how you are being served. There is a great value placed on service and satisfaction and this is not superficial, it is entirely genuine. I think it’s true that something as mechanical as a ship can absorb the energy and enjoyment levels of its passengers and crew and I believe this is what can go wrong on other cruise ships and hotels from time to time. On SeaDream I, positive energy and a warm ambiance positively radiated from the yacht, the staff, the owner and the people on-board. Whilst we are on the subject too, SeaDream also offers a “Raw Food” alternative menu; the first to offer this option to their guests, a gesture that shows exactly how important both contemporary lifestyle and choice is on these ships.
It’s amazing what you can see in a day and night and leaving the ship I feel I am leaving as part of a new club. Not a stuffy or formal club, a club that makes you feel a part of something very special and something that’s yours, you feel awake, conscious, happy and ready to get back to the day job, whilst at the back of your mind, planning exactly how soon you will be able to get back on-board too!
Jos Dewing is Managing Director of The Cruise Line, leading UK sales agent for SeaDream Yacht Club. The company has produced a dedicated video (view below) featuring the SeaDream experience and an exclusive brand guide which can be downloaded and saved to your device.
Amazing low fares with SeaDream:
We have some exceptional travel opportunities on-board the two yachts in 2014 and 2015 from just £1,699pp cruise only. The Cruise Line’s dedicated SeaDream sales team, all of who have experience of the yachts can be contacted on 0800 008 6677. Alternatively, please view our latest SeaDream special offers.
© Copyright Jos Dewing 2014