We have cruised Regent in the past, and our TA called with a great deal on SeaDream, a line I've always wanted to try based on reviews and the promises made in its marketing materials: flexible itineraries designed to allow more time in small, uncrowded ports; sports marina with included water toys/equipment; excellent service where everyone calls you by name; first-class dining; and sleeping under the stars. Unfortunately, the marketing was better than the delivery.
We boarded easily after a short delay and quickly taken to our cabin. It was not as small as the boards led us to believe, although the bathrooms are tiny, the shower is large and it is nicely done. One of us is 6'4" and while small, not uncomfortable. The bed linens were incredible, unfortunately, we ended up enjoying them on the floor from about Day 4 on of our cruise. Our bed squeaked so badly we could not sleep and we were told it could not be fixed. After enduring another sleepless night, we ended up bolting the bed to the wall and setting up on the floor. Our stewardess said we had the best bed onboard and made it up every night/day just as if it was the norm. It was comfortable and made no noise, but it was certainly in the way and made the dressing table impossible to use. We have since been told we should have escalated this issue to the Captain, but we had figured that since at least three members of the staff knew of the problem, if they could have helped, they would have. Apparently, on SeaDream, the squeaky wheels etc etc. Based on other reviews, you have to get a bit demanding and vocal to get your glasses cleaned at the pool, never have to go to the bar and get your drinks, have your wine service explained to you, or sleep on a bed. The stewardess was very good, with special treats every few nights. Very clean and non-obtrusive cabin service.
The ship was nice and the size is great, many rooms are empty most of the time and you can find plenty of "alone" space. The golf simulator was great fun and seemed unused (except by us). The promised marina and water toys turned out to be offered only on two days, and only for a couple of hours each day. The area you can JetSki in is very limited and it was hard to get enough people together to use the banana boat so it often wouldn't run. Snorkeling equipment, forget it. You consistently have to ask for it, and by the end of the trip, it was obvious that these are not cleaned/disinfected and are really an afterthought. The primary activities on this ship were drinking, sleeping, talking with others, and off ship, shopping. Just not our cup of tea. There were older (1-2 years) movies in the evening, a couple of "concerts" out by the pool, one organized walk, one night of dancing that no one showed up to, very, very limited. No educational talks and the nightly port talk was 10-minutes with the Cruise Director telling us about all the itinerary changes planned and shore excursion cancellations for the next day. That's it. Seriously. Oh, a couple of times the Captain came to further justify the changes. We never went on a shore excursion, all three we booked were canceled either due to "lack of participation" or weather. Never heard much from other passengers, as I said, drink/sleep/eat/visit seemed to be the main activities of this bunch.
The service was very good, but no better than on Regent. We were not called by our name, except for my boyfriend who gained the "respect" of a couple of the bar staff for how well he handled his Captain Morgan and Cokes and our stewardess. Not a problem, but was such a bragging point for SD, we were surprised. As I said, the service was very good, up to the standard we'd expect for a luxury line, but it was no better than we had on Regent's Mariner, Paul Gauguin, or the Explorer II (non-Regent crew). The bartenders were often alone and most times, we had to go to the bar to request a drink (they would bring to us later, but service was very slow most times). They really should have had more help for the bartender as having to do both that and wait was just too much to keep up with demand. At dinner, it was hard to get a table for two unless you went early (and then it was LOUD when everyone else arrived) or late (service slacked off as the dining room emptied, opposite of what you would expect). We were very disappointed that most nights, even with good weather, were in the dining room instead of on deck as advertised. Towards the end, we discovered that there were at least 4-5 tables set up for folks on deck, but apparently you had to be a VIP or maybe you just had to ask? But we didn't know this and ate inside. We chose in cabin service on two nights just because we were so tired of the same, loud venue. Do note that the in cabin menu is VERY limited, we had club sandwiches and cheese/fruit for dinner both nights we dined this way. The Concierge sent us dessert from the dining room menu both times, even though we didn't think this was an option. This was a very much appreciated touch. Wish we could have dined outside more often, or had the choice of either on a regular basis. The food was what you would expect of a high-quality venue, presentation was best I've seen, and the portions were such that you could try a wide variety without feeling horrible after. The chef seemed to just LOVE his job, actually, the majority of the crew seemed very happy with SD. We often observed them out and about in the ports, and they had a special day at the Atlantis so I think they are treated well. (Although this unscheduled stay in Nassau was due to SD entertaining Atlantis folks on board, and we often felt like the itinerary changes were more for the benefit of SD as they explored new ports, venues, and relationships, than ours. At the end, we felt like we had paid for an SD business trip.
Disembarkation: it most accurately reflected our entire trip-disappointing. We left earlier than we expected to because it was obvious the ship had already forgotten about the current passengers and were focusing on the next, and we left without a farewell at the gate (except a curt nod from the Security Chief) and found our own way amongst the luggage, port layout, and taxis as best we could with no fond memory. Our self-arranged post-cruise stay in a St. Thomas B&B was the highlight of our entire trip.
SD might be for some, but it was not for us. If the ship's itinerary, ports, and educational excursions (and include lots of snorkeling in that) are what you are looking for, this isn't it. If you have been to the area billions of times and aren't afraid to be very vocal about every little thing or demanding, maybe your experience will match those of other reviewers.
I hate submitting such a review, I truly do. But, SD was not what we expected based on marketing and past reviews.