We were on a seven-day cruise on Sea Dream 1 going out of San Juan, Puerto Rico
and calling at various small islands. My wife is mobile, but was suffering
from a bad knee, so we were dismayed at the amount of physical activity that
was needed on this ship.
We were not allowed past the gate at the dock in San Juan at 1:20pm, as the ship said boarding was not until 2:00pm. That meant we had to stand outside
in the hot sun as there was no place to sit down or any shade. The ship did
not provide a waiting area inside the dock building, which every other cruise
The big clue to the amount of physical activity needed to enjoy this ship was
the first time we boarded, up a very steep gangway ladder with open slats which
were curiously slanted. My wife needed help to get up it. This same ladder
was used anytime one got on and off the ship including boarding tenders.
Tenders were used at every port call, and zodiacs at two of them. My wife was
unable to use the zodiac and thus missed the "highlight" of the cruise, the
beach bbq with caviar and champagne. This was also a "wet" landing. The
tenders tended to pitch quite a bit when being loaded and unloaded at the ship
and were very tricky, even for the young and agile passengers.
I knew it was a small ship, but I was surprised that entertainment was only
one piano player/singer, one guy with a guitar, and one cabin stewardess who sang a couple of times. The casino was one blackjack table.
This was a Caribbean cruise with good weather. The ship seemed to think that everyone wanted to eat every meal up on deck with some wind and lots of sun. The main dining room was NEVER open for breakfast or lunch, and they really
wanted to serve every dinner outside, but fortunately the weather made them
serve inside twice. They do not seem to realize that some folks do not want
to dine outside all the time. Also, in order to get to the outside tables, one
had to climb stairs, as the one tiny ship's elevator did not go all the way
up to where the food was.
They also insisted on service pre-dinner drinks and snacks outside on the pool
deck whenever they could, instead of in the much more comfortable main salon.
One night they had a dessert buffet extravaganza outside on the pool deck. It
was so dark one could not see what the items were, so I went and got my flashlight so I could differentiate the chocolate cake from the apple strudel.
Yes, the service was very good and they learned your name right away. I criticized something with the maitre 'd the second day, and he never was really
friendly to me again the rest of the cruise, just professional. I criticized one bartender the second day that the beer was not cold (which he then put on ice for me, but which after 15 minutes I had to go get myself) and after that he never smiled at me again, but was jut professional. I did feel that certain groups and passengers got preferential treatment, especially when seats were assigned for evening dining. I got the unfortunate impression that if you
made a complaint, they remembered it and you for the rest of the trip.
There was no actual dress code, but the women usually dressed up a bit the
two times we were in the main dining room. The men spruced up a bit these
two nights, but apparently if one dined on deck, the men took it as OK to wear
baggy utility shorts, uncollared shirts, and shoes/sandals without socks. Even
on nights with open-air dining, the women did dress up more than the men. There
was a definite more spruced-up look from the European guests than the American
I was very surprised by the free wines served at meals. Only one white and one
red and of mediocre quality. The catch was that they served the same wine until it ran out, so you would get the same rather rough Cianti for two or
three days. Other ships I have been on which served free wines usually had
two whites and two reds and changed them every day. They must have had limited
refrigeration space, as the beer was not served very cold, and they poured the
soft drinks out of warm cans. The bar Scotch was Johnny Walker Red, rather than
the Black served on other six-star ships.
So, this ship is for those who do not mind lots of stairs, tendering, zodiacs
with wet landings, etc. They must like to dine outside rather than in the main
dining room. The cruise line seems to like to fill the ship with groups which
makes it difficult for a couple on a ship with only 100 passengers (our week
there was a very rowdy and loud group of 20 Texans who liked to sit together).
I thought that for the six-star ultra-luxury rating they were a bit cheap with
the wines and spirits served. Caviar is strictly rationed but always available
at $100 an ounce.
They seemed to push the sale of premium wines and spirits. The daily free wines
were never listed on the menus, but they always prominently featured premium wines which could be purchased. I noticed that when they served the free wines
they always just said we have a cabernet or we have a chardonnay. They were
reluctant to volunteer where the wine was from, and the label was usually
not made obvious unless one asked to see it.
Yes, there were a bunch of little things that were somewhat annoying about
this ship but the vast majority of the staff was very friendly and helpful,
especially the lower-ranking staff. On a ship with only 100 passengers, one
would think that every couple would be invited to dine with officers or staff
at least once during the trip, but we were not, although I saw at least one other couple at an officer's table twice.
We will not be back on Sea Dream 1, or 2, for that matter, but do acknowledge
that most of the guests seemed to be having a very nice time aboard.
I would also mention in closing that we were in a cabin that had a door which
opened up to form a suite for those who wanted to book it. This door, while
closed, allowed sound to come through to such a point that we were able to
judge how often the couple next door enjoyed a romantic interlude.
The gym was small with only four treadmills, but I always found one available.
There were always fresh towels and water provided at each treadmill.
The cabin was small, but adequate. The bathroom was small and it was hard to
get inside and close the door to use the toilet.
On this very small ship, there were only two good indoor places to sit and read,
in the main salon and in the library, both of which were quite dark. So, the ship was great if you were young and active, but did not really appeal
to us and was just too small, too informal, too many outdoor meals, etc, with
a bit of favoritism shown on board. They really need to do something about that
rather hazardous gangway ladder.