SeaDream II Cruise Review by brittyc: Seadream Falls Short of Marketing
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Seadream Falls Short of Marketing
I was eagerly waiting a cruise with Seadream for many years. I decided to do a Caribbean itinerary as test before sailing them on a longer European tour. I have sailed with several higher end lines such as Silversea, Regent and Seaborn. For the Caribbean, however, I decided that this ship would be a perfect way to enjoy the first rate service and food but have greater access to the water/swimming directly from the ship's marina. I was hoping to avoid reliance on daily excursions to swim or enjoy the sea and avoid visits to ports where the main activity is to herd tourists into knick knack shops. I wanted to get away from cruise crowds into mindless eating followed by mindless shopping. On most accounts, Seadream lived up to the reviews. However, in many other ways they fell very short. In the end, I did not leave Seadream 2 wanting to book with them again.
I'll begin by going over where Seadream lived up to it's marketing and then go over the things that were a real More disappointments on my trip.
Cabins: Yes I knew they didn't have balconies. I wouldn't have cared if the other issues on the ship had not taken place, but more on that later. Most of the other reviews on this site are spot on about the cabins. My cabin was 307, deck 3. I liked this deck due to its proximity to the pool area, concierge and generally quiet location. Cabins are extremely well appointed. There are hooks to hang things, nooks and drawers in every spot and they will store your monster suitcase so you don't have to. Climate control was excellent. I like to sleep in the arctic freeze and sure enough, no problem. Bathrooms are tiny and you have to ride sidesaddle on the throne, however the shower is spacious with good water pressure and lots of it. The bath works where it counts. Beds were fairly small (we had twin config) but very comfortable. Gorgeous linens and it appears they fixed the squeaky beds from previous reviews. Housekeeping was perfect. Tip: there is only one 110 outlet at the desk. If you have a computer or phone bring an extension cord or strip. If you have European 2 prong adapters bring those for additional outlets. Overall, rooms are somewhat in need of a facelift (our carpets had stains and looked a bit rough, but in general they were very practical and comfortable.
Food: The food and food service personnel on Seadream were the best part of the ship. Many of the guests preferred the dinning on the outside decks, however I can tell you the main salon on deck 2 was one of the most beautiful dining rooms I have ever seen; at sea or otherwise, and the food there matched the beauty of the room. For the most, dining times are very structured with limited in room service so if you want anything decent to eat other than a sandwich, you have to get dressed and go to one of the restaurant areas (face people you would rather escape) and sit and "dine." (note: there are limited food offerings poolside after lunch service ends at 2pm. From 2pm to 6:30pm, I only noticed a small case of tea sandwiches (which were usually stale) Pringles potato chips or warm veggies and dip. It's a long wait to cocktail hour from 12:30 to 6:30. Caviar splash was everything advertized and more. There is simply something very cool about stepping out of a zodiac in waist deep water on a pink powder beach and a guy is standing there waist deep as well handing over a glass of champagne.
Now for the hard/ sad part of the Seadream experience that compelled me to publish this review.
Marina: The waters of the Caribbean are some of the bluest, warmest waters to swim and enjoy.
Forget that on this ship. Due to safety issues, they only allow swimming when the "toys" (eg jet skis etc) are not in use. This makes perfect sense to me but it means you can only swim after breakfast till noon at which point the marina closes for 2 hours, the best time to swim mid day. Then the toys come out at 2pm for 2 hours till 4:30 and the day is over. They let you jump in at 4:30 for an hour or so and that is it.....and all this is weather permitting. Usually we were forced o take an expensive excursion to swim. Which many folks did. Very often the "toys" sat off the back of the marina used by 3 or 4 people while the rest of us sat in the hot sun near the pool. (which was out of service and unfilled the 1st 2 days of the itinerary). On our trip they had one jet ski in the water (the other was broken) which was popular with 3 or 4 guests, versus 15-20 other folks, including myself, who would have loved to take a dip in the sea. My suggestion would be that "toys" are alternated every other day to allow swimming in the 2-4pm slot. Especially on days where there are no beach or other water excursions and an alternative.
Social aspects: Even though I had a good time dancing on tables with uncle ED and Aunt Rose at the Sunday rum punch party, I didn't want to run into them for the next 7 days every 10min and at every turn, at every meal asking me to join them for B,L and D. It became uncomfortable to constantly decline and seek privacy on this ship. So if you want a private experience don't take Seadream becuause, as another reviewer points out, you can't hide in the crowd and your stateroom is not geared to retreat to with no balconies. You'd better be fairly gregarious and like the folks booked on your itinerary because you are going to see them every day, at every turn and there is no place to get away. The good news is Seadream isn't cheap so caliber of deck mate is pretty high and most folks are very interesting and a lot of fun.
Pool: Finding shade on this ship isn't easy. There is usually a lot of wind so I saw only 3 umbrellas around the pool area. There were none on the Balinese beds. Once I secured the only umbrella left on deck, I had to muscle them around myself every time I needed them moved so I could stay in the shade. The first 2 days of the cruise, there I was, 58 yrs old, struggling with 30 pound umbrella bases. I think there was a staffing issue at the pool area for the 1st couple of days because on many occasions I had to search out help with my chair or track down someone for a drink. One afternoon, I carried 4 dirty drink cups to the pool bar window that had been sitting on deck for several hours in the hot sun that the bar attendant simply walked past several times. I had to pick them up myself or trip over them..not what I assumed would be Seadream standard. By day 3 I finally said something to the concierge and service at the pool improved markedly.
Balinese beds/Sleeping under the stars: Forget it unless you reserve the front bed in the bow on deck 6. The beds in the stern area are under the smoke stacks and given to diesel fumes, black soot and noise from the bar. They are not private and bright deck lights remain on all night making it virtually impossible to sleep. There are so many distractions, most folks start out there and end up back in their cabins after an hour or two. The front bed is special..no lights and quiet. But reserve it the SECOND you board or you won't get it.
Concierge/ports/admin: Poor. Period. I took 2 excursions during my trip and the concierge was misinformed about various details on all of them. I don't think any of the operators Seadream uses is up to standard that I have experienced on Silversea, Regent or even Royal Carribbean. On this itinerary, we booked a 3 hour snorkel trip (so we could finally swim by the 5th day). I am a certified diver and have been on a lot of dive/snorkel boats over the years and this one was the worst I have ever been on. The boat we were on was too small for the size of our group which was about 30 people on a 35 foot vessel with no bathroom. I don't mind number one in the ocean but the other is not my idea of sanitary much less 1st class with a group of 30. Plus the concierge told me no more than 20 would be on the boat. I guess she can't count. Anyway there were 2 snorkel spots which were subpar with few fish or reefs. They did take us back to a beach hut, which of course, was selling apparel and drinks. We spent 45 min of the 3 hours standing around there. The $200 pp "Dolphin Experience" was a typical short swim / photo op where the primary focus is selling you $125 pictures with the dolphin chosen to work that shift. Most of the guests who had never done this before were delighted. However I had been to several such facilities didn't want to sign up again unless it was something different and I was assured by the concierge it was. She sold this excursion as something it was not. Finally there was one very disturbing issue with the Dolphin facility. There was a walkway over a small bridge from the parking area to the facility that was over a "river" that turned out to be an open cesspool with floating feces and a horrible smell. It was directly next to the swimming enclosure. Needless to say I skipped the dolphin swim and for the $200 cost of this excursion I have no $125 pictures to prove it. Other than the Dolphin experience, Tortola was a depressing mishmash of burned out car/truck junk yards and poverty. A total miss in my opinion, and this was the port of choice location for the mountain bike excursion....?
Finally, the ship was seldom at sail. Other than the nights departing from San Juan and back we stayed at anchor. Most transits were less than an hour or two and took place after midnight. There were no ports to speak of that were interesting enough to stay late to enjoy, except St Baths, and on that night we left after dinner. On this cruise I missed the cocktail hour sail out of port in the evening or the ship under sail after dinner with fresh breeze under the moon. There was none of that. Maybe they avoided sail to keep the ship stable for dinner service or maybe just to save money. I think it the later. But the whole feeling of evenings at sail on open waters or freedom to swim off the marina were all points that were sorely missing that I thought were Seadream hallmarks. Less
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Deck 3 midship (307) was a great spot on these ships. No noise from bars or resturants, lower in ship for motion and good location to Concierge desk and pool deck. Note that this ship has a lot of stairs and I am not sure how someone who cannot climb stairs would easily get around to top decks.
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