Just returned from 1 week Caribbean cruise on Sea Dream II - first time with Sea Dream. Traveled with my husband and 86 year old mother. We all had a great time. Our prior cruise experience was on Regent Seven Seas. First cruise for ... Read More
Just returned from 1 week Caribbean cruise on Sea Dream II - first time with Sea Dream. Traveled with my husband and 86 year old mother. We all had a great time. Our prior cruise experience was on Regent Seven Seas. First cruise for Mom. Here is general info for folks considering a Sea Dream cruise:
1) Mix of ages, from two ladies in their 80's to even a few 30 year olds. Bulk of guests are 45 to 65, I'd guess. Primarily would call this a rest and relaxation cruise, vs an active cruise. Guessing that is why most people choose a Caribbean vacation.
2) Open bar attracts some folks that like to drink and party, but there was no negative impact on the rest of us. I'd say approximately 15 - 20% of guests on our sailing fit the partying stereotype, but they didn't impact our ability to go to bed at 10:30. We were on deck 2 and Mom was on Deck 4 and none of us heard any partying noise that kept us awake. Another guest indicated he had the room nearest the piano bar and could hear bar noise that did keep him awake, so if you like to retire prior to 3 am it is best to choose a room further down the hallway. Loved getting up at 7 and going up top to start the day. Super quiet/peaceful at that time.
3) Our room on deck 2 was one of the rooms that can be combined into a larger suite. We didn't hear any noise from our neighboring room. There was a some creaking of wood/furnishings when sailing, but it blended into engine/ocean noise. Don't know if creaking was more in a room that has the folding wall or not. I slept super well on the boat, better than I usually do at home! Being on deck 2, the noise of the waves against the boat lulled me to sleep.
4) Limited smoking areas provided on ship for smokers, but smoke was never an issue as it blows off the ship (and I'm very sensitive to second hand smoke).
5) Beds super comfy. Showers very nice. Though, overall bathroom is small, but small size is to be expected on a yacht/smaller cruise ship.
6) Water sports platform was probably the only disappointment of the entire trip. Only opened in the afternoons for 2 hours most days and allowed all types out at the same time. As a result, jet skis, sail boats, paddle boards, etc were all in the same area. Allowed area for water sports is very constrained/limited (2 safety motor boats keep everyone corralled), as a result actually very dangerous with jet skis zooming alongside paddle boards and sail boats. Plus not too much fun to paddle left for 15 strokes, then right for 15, then back the other way and repeat. Paddle board equipment, what we like to do, was very old/beat up, with only 2 paddles ... neither of which was adjustable - only correctly sized if 5'6" or 6' 2" tall. Adjustable paddles are a must. Would have been better to have water sports equipment taken to the beach each day vs using off the back of the boat.
7) Trip on Sea Dream compares very favorably to our prior cruise on Regent Seven Seas. Lack of balcony off our room wasn't an issue, as we truly spent all but sleeping/dressing time up on deck or on shore. The whole ship is your balcony when you are on a yacht trip. Service was excellent, with much more personalized nature vs Seven Seas. Everyone calls you by name from first day on. Food/dining was fabulous. Every dish is wonderfully presented - works of art. Serving size is smaller, which is great for allowing for multiple courses. They go out of their way to make guests happy, even to point of adding additional chocolate desserts after I commented how great the chocolate dessert was at dinner one night. Dream Cookies are wonderful. Always a cookie/beverage table set up at the tender dock, which is a very nice touch (never had that with Seven Seas). Only thing you miss out on vs larger cruise ship is the entertainment/enrichment activities, but our days/evenings were full so don't know when we would have had time for entertainment/enrichment activities. With Sea Dream yacht sized boats you gain on not going into a dock for each port, but anchor off of the actual beaches that you came to the Caribbean to visit. Made it great for my elderly mother to stay on the boat and enjoy the beautiful ports/scenery vs staring at a pier.
8) Loved the Balinese Day Beds for lounging. Raised up high enough to see over the railings, which affords a great view. All 3 of us would lounge together on the double wide. Signed up to sleep outside, but isn't really feasible unless you stay up late, as the bar creates a lot of noise close by.
9) Sea Dream shore excursions we did were great. Kayak/snorkel trip in St John - excellent equipment, closed deck double kayaks with rudders. Motor boat/snorkel trip in Anguilla to the most beautiful sandy island. Also, did the group tour to The Baths on Virgin Gorda, but that could have been easily done on our own via taxi.
10) Excursions we did on our own: We rented car at St Barts and drove the whole island, plus hiked Crispeen track on our own on Saba (hiked from tender pier all the way up ... very steep!). In retrospect, we would have hired more taxis from tender piers to take us to other beaches on the islands. Can be easily done for $20 or less, based on feedback from other guests.
11) Post 2017 Hurricane Irma and Maria still have visible impact on all islands we stopped at. Old Town San Juan and St Barts were the most repaired - perhaps only 5% of buildings still damaged. All other stops had 50 to 75% of buildings still damaged/unopened. Virgin Gorda was probably most impacted, which was very sad to see. Our guide told us that all 9 resorts on the island were still closed/undergoing repairs (re-opening ETA's in Feb 2019 at the earliest!), as a result the island population has declined by 50% due to loss of jobs/housing. You can feel good that your tourist dollars are helping in a small way.
12) Dining al fresco with Sea Dream was a huge plus. I didn't realize in advance how much we would like that aspect of Sea Dream's ships. Only 3 dinners served in the dining salon, but in the end I'd have preferred all dinners to be held on the upper deck, open dining area. On final night we had rough seas and I got a bit sea sick in the enclosed dining salon. I left dinner early and went outside. I noticed a small group of several tables where guests were dining outside. I didn't ask about it, but I'm guessing you can request to dine al fresco even if dinner is scheduled for the dining salon. I think that would have kept me from getting sea sick at dinner that night. No issue not having multiple restaurants on the ship, as always a variety of food offered on the menu.
13) Little gifts left in your room multiple times on the trip. The infamous pajamas, which are XXL for all men and XL for all women. Stitched monogramming with our names on the night shirts. Sizing seemed a joke til we got home and washed them. Hot water and drying made them fit quite well. They are now shrunk to size and we both find them a comfy, soft cotton reminder of our wonderful vacation. Other evening room surprises included chocolate covered strawberries, eye masks, ditty bags and Sea Dream mints. Small, but nice touches!
14) Itinerary was changed vs what we were provided prior to sailing. That was a bit of a disappointment initially, as I'd done research on the islands/ports we were to have visited. Captain indicated we should have been notified by email, but no one we talked to had been told of the change in advance. The new itinerary was great, so no complaints at the end. May have actually been better, as had full day at each location we stopped at vs 2 islands on several days for the prior itinerary.
15) Gym is very nice, with large windows. Pleasant place to get some exercise.
16) Embarkation and disembarkation a breeze. Off the ship and through immigration in 15 minutes of less! Read Less