We found the ship, crew and fellow passengers delightful. And we loved the small size of the ship, which made it easy to get around, find places, meet people, talk to crew, and relax.
Food was very good, but just a tad short of what we have enjoyed on Crystal, Regent and Seabourn. But the dining room service was the best we’ve seen afloat.
The relaxed dress and casual atmosphere aboard SD was wonderful. Officers and crew were extremely friendly, and got to know our names from the first day. We felt at home, relaxed and having fun faster than on any other cruise ship.
The itinerary – Costa Rica – was very good, but not great. The rainforests and beaches are lovely, but CR did not have the charm or infrastructure of the Caribbean. After a few national park visits, we were wishing there was more to do. And absolutely no shopping.
As the company’s motto goes, “This is yachting, not cruising” – and this is both good and bad depending on one’s expectations. SD’s ships are old and small, which means there are fewer amenities and staff than on large ships, things sometimes get confused, and items sometimes break. For example, on our cruise the toiled didn’t work on 3 occasions, and the water didn’t work on two occasions (all were fixed quickly). The daily newsletter had several errors – e.g. one day it said we were tendering ashore when we were actually taking the zodiac. On another day the order of tours was mixed up, which left us waiting on land for an hour until we could depart on our excursion. If these kinds of things bother you, then SD is not your best choice. However, if you want to really relax and won’t get uptight if the occasional thing breaks or goes wrong, you’ll love SD. The crew have a way of quickly making everything right, and making everyone feel good.
By the same token, SD is more yacht than cruise ship, and delivers an intimate and special experience that is not available elsewhere. This really is a lovely small ship that stands out as wonderfully different in an era where everyone is building bigger ships.
The bottom line, would sail with SD again? Yes, but we hope SD management will consider building a new ship in the near future. SD has the right formula for creating a very special cruising experience that is unique in the industry. But as the current ships age, it will become increasingly more difficult for their crew to deliver that experience. There is a market for small ship luxury cruising, but SD will need to invest in its future to remain a leader.