A handful of excursions are available in each port. They range in price from $59 for a snorkel trip to $169 for a zipline excursion and $299 for a two-tank dive. These are all subject to cancellation if minimum numbers do not sign up or if the weather would adversely impact the tour. However, there are also free guided walks and bicycle rides available with the tour director; on our sailing these were always fun and well attended.
One nice touch: A crew member hands you cold towels on hot days as you come off the gangway. In certain tender ports, a crew member will set up a table with cold drinks and cookies for passengers waiting for the tender to arrive.
We had two minor complaints about activities ashore. One was the Club Director and Activities Director only informed passengers about crew-led hikes and bike rides the night before, making advance planning a bit tricky if you were interested in these pastimes. Also, we received conflicting information on occasion when trying to find out about options for catching a cab in some of the smaller ports, and felt like independent exploration was discouraged in select ports --whether that was an effort to sell tours or protect inexperienced travelers we're not sure.
One of the highlights of a SeaDream cruise in the Caribbean is the beach party with Champagne and Caviar Splash. Crew members set up a bar and extensive barbecue lunch (with mouth-watering ribs, roast beef, salmon, burgers and more) beachside, and bring ashore snorkels and other water toys for passenger use. The spa team set up an alfresco massage tent. You'll be handed a Painkiller or rum punch nearly as soon as you show up. Before the feasting begins, fully dressed crew members float a surfboard into the water and serve Champagne and caviar to the swimmers and splashers. (On our cruise, the surf was too rough so the drinks were served on a table in the sand; on some sailings, the party will take place around -- and in -- the ship's pool.) It's the height of decadence, especially when a waiter starts spraying the revelers with Champagne rather than serving it, and some passengers do their best to get their cruise fare's worth of free caviar.
Daytime and Evening Entertainment
You won't find many scheduled onboard activities or entertainment on a SeaDream II cruise. Most passengers prefer to explore in port, lounge on a Balinese bed or play in the water by day and enjoy leisurely dinners and convivial drinking at night. Daytime activities are nonexistent, unless you're on a transatlantic crossing. On some evenings, the crew will set up an outdoor movie or DVD concert on the pool deck. Otherwise, people gather at the Top of the Yacht Bar on Deck 6 or in the Piano Bar on Deck 4, where the musician has a second mic to pass around to the enthusiastic guests. Adjacent to the Piano Bar is the casino -- essentially, one blackjack table that can seat eight and commands quite a crowd on the right evening.
One of the lovely things about being on a ship that's more like a yacht is that you get to do fun things like sleeping on deck if you want. This being a SeaDream ship, though, you sleep on very comfortable Balinese beds, which are used as seriously luxurious sun loungers during the day.
There are nine of these blue cloth-covered beds on Deck 6 -- eight two-person beds by the funnel and one eight-person lounger all the way forward (which is only available for two to sleep in at night). Each is made up for the evening with fresh linen and duvets; ask for an egg crate mattress topper for extra comfort. While the forward deck is roped off when people are sleeping there, the eight aft beds (four on each side) offer little privacy from each other and from the adjacent bar area.
SeaDream pajamas (embroidered with your name) are provided to ensure everyone is decently covered up. There is a bathroom forward of the Top of the Yacht Bar if you need it during your overnight.
These beds have to be booked in advance, and the one forward sun lounger always books up first. Opinion is mixed on whether nights at anchor or nights under sail are the better choice, but don't be surprised if you're woken up by and driven back to your room by a middle-of-the-night rain shower. Also, be aware that deck work nearby begins around 5:30 a.m. and the safety lights around the deck don't completely turn off. Bring an eye mask and earplugs for the best sleep.
You won't find any guest lecturers, bridge seminars or arts and crafts classes on a SeaDream cruise. The only exception is on the transatlantic crossings, when speakers are brought onboard and daytime activities are planned to give cruisers something to do during multiple days at sea.
SeaDream II Bars and Lounges
SeaDreamers like to take advantage of the cruise line's all-inclusive alcohol policy, but the atmosphere remains festive rather than debauched. (The hardest drinking generally occurs on beach party day.) The bars are the social hubs of the ship, and most passengers are eager to make new friends and chat with shipmates and crew alike.
The bartenders are friendly and charming, will seek you out on a daybed and at out-of-the-way tables to take care of you if you're thirsty, and can make you any drink you ask for as long as they have the ingredients onboard. If they don't, let them know early in the cruise (or in advance), and they will procure your favorite beer or liquor. (For example, the head bartender went on an IPA run for my husband in our first port call after we discovered the only beer on tap was Heineken.)
If you prefer top-shelf liquor or expensive wines, ask for the premium drinks menu -- the only drinks you'll need to pay for on SeaDream.
Main Salon (Deck 2): This is probably the "cruisiest" room on the entire ship, with seating areas on several levels around a small stage and dance floor and a small bar in a back corner. You'll wait here on embarkation day, instead of in a cruise terminal, to snack on hors d'ouevres and drink Champagne before being called to show your passport and collect your room key. When the weather is cool or wet, the Main Salon hosts the nightly cocktail hours and occasional movie screening or live music. Order at the bar or from a passing waiter.
Pool Bar (Deck 3): The pool bar is really just a window behind which bar staff mix drinks for the lounging crowd during the day and for happy hour (with a changing roster of canapes) when the weather is nice enough to be outside. Again, waiters will make the rounds, or you can stop by the bar on your way across the deck.
Piano Bar (Deck 4): Passengers perch on stools surrounding a glass-topped piano (i.e., the lid has been removed so you can see straight to the strings) and lining the adjacent bar counter, as they belt out "Sweet Caroline" and "My Girl" over after-dinner drinks. If you'd like to enjoy your cocktail somewhere quieter, bring your drink into the library next door and sink into a plush chair or couch.
Top of the Yacht Bar (Deck 6): The Top of the Yacht Bar is probably the liveliest evening venue if the weather is fine. The sociable horseshoe-shaped polished-wood bar has high wooden bar stools around it and an awning to protect cruisers from the elements, but apart from that, it is open air, with a few cozy tables and upholstered chairs on deck. Dancing takes place there when the mood is right; occasionally there's live music. Waiters will bring you drinks from this bar during meals at Topside or when you're relaxing on a top-deck Balinese bed.
SeaDream II Outside Recreation
SeaDream II has a retractable marina that offers banana boat rides, Jet Skis, kayaks, small sailboats, water skiing, and standup paddleboards. Swimming is also allowed during specified times, and you can up the fun with floating mats, pool noodles and a trampoline island. The cruise line tries to plan itineraries where the ship is tendered as often as possible, so passengers can use the marina facilities, but weather and port logistics will ultimately determine where and when sports are offered.
Snorkel gear is available to borrow, both for swimming off the ship but also for passenger use in port. The gear is well-used and not always in the best of shape or the right size, so consider bringing your own if you're an avid snorkeler.
The main (and only) pool on SeaDream II is located on Deck 3. Metal and mesh sun loungers around the pool are padded with blue cushions and the footrest can be removed if you'd rather sit up. The small pool is 5-feet deep and surrounded by a teak bench and wading area for those who want to fraternize by the pool but not get truly wet. A hot tub and shower are adjacent. The main pool deck is also where you'll find the gangway (and bins of cold water and clean towels), as well as the stairs down to the water sports marina.
Deck 6 is the other main sun worshipping area. Aft of the Top of the Yacht Bar are the eight much-hyped Balinese beds. They face outward, toward the sea, four on each side. These double sun loungers have solid wooden frames topped with thick pads (almost like futon mattresses) and throw pillows and are exceptionally comfortable. A ninth, four-person, wedge-shaped Balinese bed is located forward of the bar, flanked by additional sun loungers. Understandably, the beds are in demand on sea days, but on port days you can usually get one without a wait.
Drinks table are, of course, scattered around all lounge seating because SeaDream's bar staff is committed to keeping your thirst quenched at all times.
At the aft corners of Deck 6 are clusters of two captain's chairs that swivel. A drawer built into the deck rail on each side contains binoculars, so you can spy on the yachts anchored nearby or check out the landmass in the distance.
The cozy nooks and tables at the Topside Restaurant and below on Deck 4 overlooking the pool are also available for outdoor game play, email checking and chitchat when meals aren't being served.
SeaDream II carries a fleet of mountain bikes, which are free to use on a first-come, first-served basis. Not all ports are conducive to biking, so check in with the Concierge or Activities Manager if you're keen. If you're taking them out on your own, and not as part of a crew-led ride, be sure to test yours out before heading away from the ship. We had to swap bikes due to a seat that wouldn't lock into place; luckily, we were with the Club Director who let us use his bike while he tinkered with the faulty one.
A golf simulator on Deck 6, complete with 30 signature golf courses, is free to use. There is no place to walk or jog out on deck.
SeaDream II Services
The main lobby (called the Concierge Foyer) on Deck 3 has glass cabinets displaying the Yacht Boutique's gifts and clothing range. It sells logowear, as well as watches, sunglasses, beach bags and jewelry. Although it's quite expensive, the logo gear is popular.
The Concierge desk is where you book shore excursions, purchase Wi-Fi packages, sign waivers for snorkel rentals or water sports activities and ask questions about activities onboard and ashore. The Club Director holds office hours at a desk in the lobby to conduct future cruise sales. Spa staff also set up tables here to promote services or products.
The comprehensive library on Deck 4 has two computer terminals and a printer; Internet access is available here or throughout the ship via Wi-Fi. Fees to log on are $35 for a day or $99 for a weeklong cruise. Most people use their own mobile devices, but laptops are also available at no charge. Although the Wi-Fi system was upgraded during our cruise, we continued to experience slow speeds and difficulty logging on from time to time. We also got warning messages that the connection was not secure, and were not able to connect on our cellphone (though others did not have the same problem). If you need to do work or reach someone at a specific time while on your cruise, it's best not to rely on the ship's Internet connection.