We just returned from the Jan. 16 SD I sailing from Marigot to Barbados. We sailed the same week in 2015 out of St. Thomas. While eager to enjoy SeaDream again, we also wondered whether a second trip would live up to our experience last year. Any anxiety/concerns were unnecessary, as SeaDream I exceeded our memory and expectations!
The Ship: Every aspect of the ship was in great condition--remarkable for a vessel 30 years old. The high standards for cleaning, maintenance and care were evident inside and out.
Crew: What maybe surprised us the most was the welcome from members of the crew that we had come to know on our previous cruise. While absolutely a reflection of the excellent training and standards on SeaDream, many seemed genuinely to remember us, and made that a special part of the SeaDream experience. We were happy to see Gareth and Pierre again in their leadership roles, and especially excited to learn that Tomislav was promoted following Enes' departure from SeaDream--a very well deserved promotion.
Stateroom 324: We sailed on Deck 3 again, appreciating the easy access to the pool deck and tender. We definitely like this level. The configuration and amenities were identical to last year, though we felt the difference being at the far forward position on the ship. The anchor dropping got our attention a couple of mornings, and the motion was a bit more pronounced during the final leg into Barbados. We would take the cabin again (it was the only Deck 3 remaining when we booked in May), but if possible would move midship to avoid the anchor noise. Our Stateroom attendant Kat was excellent, friendly and took great care of us. We packed lighter this year, and utilized the laundry service more, which was a good choice. We generally put laundry out when departing the stateroom for dinner, and it was always back the next afternoon.
Food: If possible, even better than last year. This was the first sailing with new Executive Chef Alistair, and he was visible every night at dinner getting feedback and asking for reaction. His enthusiasm was great, and his skill was evident with every meal. Doramus, Robin and Zsambor made every meal a treat, offering great suggestions and perfect timing with every course. Christian was aboard as Sommelier, and provided excellent wine service at lunch and dinner. We thought the quality of wines poured at dinner was very good. We ordered a separate bottle off the list only once this trip, as we were very satisfied with the wines offered. We also enjoyed the opportunity to dine with the Captain one evening, who was a great host.
Bar Service: Francisco, Danny and Martin provided outstanding service, with Martin making great Mojitos in the afternoons at the pool bar. Again, selection and quality of drinks was outstanding during the day and at night. The Piano Bar with Sammy was much frequented on this sailing compared to last year, with a good crowd every night and action at the Blackjack table most evenings.
Land Adventures: A highlight of the trip was the Cat Sail/snorkeling from Mayreau to the Tobago Cays. The crew was outstanding, and the turtles around the ship and snorkeling site was a real treat. The sail back to Mayreau for the Beach Splash was beautiful. We also tried the Clear Kayaks on Ile de Saintes. It was a cloudy day, which limited visibility, though the clear kayaks were great. We stayed in very close to the main harbor. The tour leader indicated it is normally a 3 hour trip they tried to fit into 90 minutes. This excursion would be better if longer.
Marigot: We arrived one day early, and stayed at the Mercure Hotel on Baie Nettle. The hotel was very nice and worked well for a short pre-cruise stay. They provided a very nice breakfast buffet. Guests were predominantly European. We ate dinner and lunch the next day at Dreams Restaurant, about a 200 meter walk from the hotel. The food at Dreams was outstanding at both meals. I would especially commend the selection of pizzas for lunch. The SD I departed from Galisbay Port, about a 15 minute taxi ride from the hotel.
Gustavia: We dined on the ship and tendered over to the port. For a Saturday night, the town felt pretty quiet. We met some fellow passengers at Bar L'Oublie, where we enjoyed live music and dancing from a bar across the street until midnight. The next day we rented a Suzuki Jimny from Turbe rental cars, and spent the day visiting beaches around the island. We enjoyed Gouvernor's Beach the most. Lunch at Restaurant Santa Fe on a cliff overlooking the beach--excellent Mahi ceviche, gazpacho and lobster salad.
Iles des Saintes: A small, quiet port--definitely a different feel in the Caribbean. We did the Clear Kayak excursion here.
Grande De Anse, Martinique: Highlight here was Gareth's hike--a 2 km. rough trail up one hillside then down to Plage Arlot and swimming at the beach. If he offers the walk, do it!
Rodney Bay: We experienced rain showers through the morning here, so after a brief walk, came back to the ship for lunch and enjoyed sun in the afternoon by the pool and swimming off the watersports platform. We would consider renting a car here next time, and exploring more of St. Lucia--there's not much at Rodney Bay.
Bequia: The sail through the Grenadines was a highlight of the trip, and Bequia was a wonderful destination. Perfect weather, and Princess Margaret Beach was a $3 water taxi from the pier. We had lunch at Jack's on Princess Margaret beach, with excellent grilled mahi and grilled local lobster. The beach was crowded as another ship was in port, but the sand and water were outstanding, with lots of palm trees providing shade if you wanted a break from the sun.
Mayreau: Cat Sail snorkeling here, described above. The Beach Splash location was ideal--completely private and an amazing barbeque lunch. Again, Chef Alistair was about ensuring all was perfect. Beach was great with lots of time in the water. Was the ideal end to the trip.
Barbados: We had a late flight out Saturday afternoon, so we arranged a tour to visit the Mount Gay Rum Distillery, Harrison Caves and lunch before arriving at the airport around 2:30. Carson was waiting for us at the port, and provided an excellent tour. The blizzard on the east coast made travel back challenging, but our flight did depart later that evening, getting us as far as Atlanta. Getting home to DC is another story.....
Conclusion: While the SD I had 104 passengers compared to 84 last year, the ship never felt crowded, and service never missed a beat. We've not repeated many trips over the years, and were surprised we wanted to take SeaDream again after only one year. We made an open booking for our next trip on the last night--our easiest decision on the trip. There is nothing about the trip I can really criticize or highlight for improvement--its just that good.