I first experienced the magic (and it is magic) of SeaDream in 2014, when I directly worked for The Cruise Line, and I am thrilled to come back as a guest blogger to update my view of what makes a SeaDream voyage so different from the average luxury cruise.
At The Cruise Line, we sold a lot of luxury cruises to some very discerning travellers and we also sold SeaDream. I don’t group these two together as SeaDream was quite clearly different, this I was told from the very beginning by our Chairman Robin, who is without a doubt a global authority on luxury cruising, having been in the handful of people that saw its potential from the very beginning.
SeaDream should not be labelled on the wrong shelf. SeaDream in short, required its own shelf.
Six years later, having been running a cruise line in the cultural sector, I have recently joined the SeaDream family myself, so I am now, officially, a ‘Sea-Dreamer’!
SeaDream you see, has become a verb in its own right. To go ‘Sea-Dreaming’ has been described to me by leading luxury agents, journalists and guests alike as the very pinnacle of luxury sea travel. The ultimate luxury voyage, avoiding the word ‘cruise’ and focusing on this highly alluring but equally hard to define (from a marketing viewpoint) concept of ‘yachting’ as a voyage. And to have experienced a SeaDream yacht first-hand, is essential it seems to fully understand the meaning of this eponymous verb. A product that has, without doubt, created its own category of travel.
What is it to ‘Sea-Dream’ and what makes it so special to everyone fortunate enough to know? The secret is not necessarily obvious and near impossible to convey in a travel brochure or marketing piece. The secret is simply not definable by facilities, photography or even video, it’s deeper than that.
In a blog I previously wrote for The Cruise Line and in solid, university instilled essay structure, I sought to answer the question of what made SeaDream special. I approached this question with an investigatory style and in doing so, sought to answer the question of ‘what is luxury anyway?’ at the same time. And ultimately my conclusion was this:
“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.” (Cruiseline.co.uk blog 2014)
And this I concluded was what made SeaDream, or SeaDreaming, so special in the context of luxury travel. SeaDream was an authentic imagining of luxury in the setting of travel with a full palette of every possible indulgence, sensation and experience on offer, but entirely at your own choice, at your own pace and to your own taste.
To understand SeaDream, you first need to understand the private yachting experience and its unique ambience. In 2018, I was fortunate enough to borrow a friends’ private motor-yacht for a family holiday. It was a classically designed and elegant yacht, with 5 guest cabins and 3 service crew and it measured in at around 40 metres (130 feet). As we walked up the gangway for the first time, in Beaulieu-sur-Mer on the French Riviera, to be greeted by the crew, we knew this was going to be a very personal experience. One dictated by us and delivered in our way, to our preferences, our detail and our memories. Something different from the multiple luxury cruises I had been fortunate enough to experience in my line of work.
A key principle of yachting is the ‘truly’ personal touch. Personal service is an easy claim to make in marketing, but when you receive true and authentic personal service, you know about it. There were 4 of us and there were 3 service crew. They get to know you, your preferences, what you want rather than what you need. This is possible with small guest numbers and a crew to match. Not something you would expect could be matched on a larger vessel. But the guest to crew ratio on SeaDream’s yachts is, in fact, 1:1, way surpassing your average cruise ship.
Yachting is very much about the enjoyment and celebration of life itself. Not only being outdoors and the notion of outdoor living but really embracing just how glorious this can be, in the right setting. Whether it be to dine, relax, watch movies or even sleep under the stars. This is your experience and this is the best way to take advantage of the exquisite places you visit. Places that become so much more accessible due to the size of your yacht. Going alongside and being able to walk straight into town for a meal or land experience via the gangway rather than anchoring half a mile offshore and waiting for tenders to become available. When passenger numbers reach multiple hundreds (or thousands), the queue is simply something you accept. A yacht guest does not need to accept anything like this. They would not accept it.
Being on a yacht means you can influence things. A particular meal you may like or a cocktail they don’t appear to offer on the menu. Things are different to cruising here, it is so much more personal and often you won’t even have to articulate your desires, your crew will hear something in passing comment and the next day, it’s on the menu of course. Yachting makes for the most personal experience in travel and you are at the very centre of it.
One thing you may hear in the luxury cruise community is that luxury cruise guests want a balcony. And this may well be the case, if the need is there to escape from the rest of the ship. With a 112-guest yacht, you really would not need a balcony. Private yachts rarely have balconies for cabins, why would they need to? The yacht itself is your private balcony with broad teak decks and so many places to relax, dine, exercise or simply hide away. This is a social experience, but only if you want it to be.
SeaDream Yacht Club was founded in 2001 by our Chairman, Atle Brynestad and remains to this day a true to its word, family-run business. Mr Brynestad had founded luxury cruise line Seabourn and sat as Chairman of Cunard before focusing his attention on a boutique yachting lifestyle concept onboard two intimate yachts. Many now regard this as the birth of ultra-luxury, small ship cruising itself. This founding history and family values have created an atmosphere onboard where guests do indeed feel like part of a family. Where service is intimate, caring and friendly. You will never feel like a number, your name is even embroidered into your complimentary cabin wear. You are an ‘owner’, an integral part of a product that thrives on repeat guests and extraordinary service.
You have not simply embarked on a voyage, you have embarked on a journey, joined an exclusive club. Chosen a new path in future travel experiences.
Of course, the SeaDream experience can too be described in more standard terms of product. Our two mega-yachts, SeaDream I and SeaDream II are multi-award winning. Rated in recent years by prestigious judges as the ‘Best Boutique Ship’, ‘Best Luxury Cruise Line for Dining’, ‘Best for Romance’, ‘Coolest Cruise’ and many, many more. The yachts do feature private marinas with watercraft and equipment. You ‘can’ sleep under the stars on a Balinese Dream Bed, you can also watch a movie on deck and experience luxury champagne barbecues on private beaches. Bvlgari bath amenities and a leading Thai Spa. That’s just the basics.
But this company and product are so much more than amenities and facilities. It’s about a passion for what it does and an authentic commitment to delivering the ultimate voyage every single time. It’s about a crew and service level that really puts the guest first, that genuinely cares about making this voyage special, about adding that magic. It’s about a connection with where you go, how you see it and ensuring that your memories make you loyal to that unique feeling to the point that not coming back onboard in the future, is simply out of the question.
To me, that’s what it is to SeaDream and that’s what makes it special. And to return to the very beginning, this is indeed why!