Time for my annual “state-of-the-union” address. We’ve been sailing SeaDream yearly since 2010. Since every trip has been memorable and there aren’t many reviews posted on Cruise Critic, I’ve tried to write a review for most of our trips. This years vacation stands out as one of our favorites for many of the usual reasons - great itinerary, great crew and service, great fellow passengers, great food - and as luck would have it, great weather!
We started our vacation by staying at Caneel Bay on St. John for 3 days prior to the cruise. We like to take a few days to get into vacation mode before boarding SeaDream. Caneel Bay has always been on our bucket list and we were quite pleased with our stay. It has some similarities to SeaDream in that the rooms are not modern and slick, but more retro and quaint. We loved the laid back vibe and gorgeous grounds and beaches. Definitely a place we want to return to. The resort runs a ferry taking guests back and forth to St. Thomas. It was very easy leaving Saturday morning and getting to the dock to board SeaDream. Highly recommend it as a pre- or post-cruise stay.
SATURDAY | Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas.
SUNDAY | Sopers Hole and Norman Island. Anegada was supposed to be our first port, but because of swells the captain moved Anegada to Friday as the weather report showed a better chance of tendering later in the week. We took a quick walk around the shops at Sopers Hole and then headed back for lunch. At Norman Island we took a quick trip ashore to Pirates Bight and quickly returned to the ship to enjoy the pool.
MONDAY | Anguilla. We took a taxi to Shoal Bay, rented lounge chairs and enjoyed the beach. We stopped in at Elvis’ bar at the dock for a beer before taking the ferry back to the ship.
TUESDAY | Philipsburg, St. Maarten and St. Barts in the evening. We took our only ship excursion on St. Maarten. We thoroughly enjoyed the America’s Cup Regatta. Great fun and well run though, if you suffer from seasickness, it might not be for you. Got a relaxing poolside massage while we sailed from St. Maarten to St. Barts. We stayed onboard in the evening, though many guests went ashore to have dinner.
WEDNESDAY | St. Barts. We have a routine we follow for St. Barts. Shopping in he morning, Nikki beach and lunch midday, and then a late afternoon trip to Gouvernor’s beach. Usually we have lunch at LaPlage, but this year we decided to try Eden Rock. SeaDream’s concierge made the reservation for us. Lunch and service was excellent and we will probably make it our “go-to” lunch spot on future trips.
THURSDAY | Jost Van Dyke (Champagne & Caviar Splash) and Foxy’s in the evening. Because of the change in itinerary the Splash was moved to Thursday. As always, it was a highlight of the trip and I think we prefer having it on Thursday. There was no worrying about rushing back to the ship to pack. Instead we wandered down to Soggy Dollar and people-watched until the last tender back. That evening we felt obligated to take a trip to Foxy’s. It was extremely crowded and we couldn’t even get through the crowds at the bar to get a beer. In the future will probably pass on Foxy’s if it’s offered.
FRIDAY | Anegada. This was the only island on our trip that was new to us. After a treacherous (but fun) trip onto the tender and a bumpy trip to the island, SeaDream had a complimentary shuttle waiting to take passengers to Cow Wreck beach. The beach was spectacular and went on for miles, great for a long beach walk. We tried the famous lobster lunch and hate to admit it but was totally unimpressed - maybe it’s just us as the others guests were raving about the lobsters. Service at the bar/restaurant was good, and we would rate this as the prettiest beach of the trip.
CREW - as always the crew was top notch. Some that really stand out:
Captain Holmsteinsson. This was our first trip sailing with him and we were lucky enough to dine with him one evening. He was a very nice dinner host and great captain. Keeping us informed all week of weather situations and going the extra mile to make sure we were able to experience Anegada.
Hotel Manager | Christophe. What a professional! We try to be low maintenance, and because of the great service, we really don’t have much need to request anything extra. But it seems Christophe is so good that he anticipated what would make our vacation better. For example, while we were eating lunch at the splash Christophe came over to say hello. One of us mentioned how the coconut macaroons that had been served all week were fabulous, and the only way to improve upon them would be to dip them in chocolate. That evening at dinner a plate full of chocolate dipped macaroons appeared, followed by a visit by the pastry chef. Another special touch, on the last day of the cruise we were on the pool deck waiting to see our last Caribbean sunset for awhile. Again Christophe stopped by to say hello. We mentioned how this was our favorite time of day and how absolutely perfect the weather and day had been. He asked if we would like to dine outside that evening. We were thrilled. I know this is something that we can request, but we feel that the waiters work so hard at all times that we don’t want to add to their workload. With Christophe’s blessing our last meal was perfect with the added treat of dining under the stars.
Waiter | O’Neil. Poor guy was the “lucky” one that served us breakfast, lunch and dinner most days. Such a nice man and perfect waiter. He was always checking to make sure we were happy and everything was prepared properly.
Casino | Stela. Adorable, funny and entertaining, we enjoyed spending most evenings with her.
Head Bartender | Severin (piano bar). Great guy and great bartender. One of us requested a pickle martini - I know, why would you do that? He didn’t have pickle juice but told us he would try to find some when he went shopping. A few nights later while we were in the lounge for cocktail hour, he came towards us with a tray with a jar of pickles on it! He also made a perfect Lemon Drop, Espresso Martini, B&B...come to think of it all of his cocktails were perfect. On top of that, he is just a really sweet guy.
Top of the Yacht Bartender | Gareth. We usually ended each night with a drink at the TOY Bar. Gareth was game to make anything we requested and quite enjoyable to chat with. He has only been with SeaDream for a few weeks but seemed like a natural fit.
Music | Din Din (guitar) and George (piano). Both are very talented, one night they did a poolside concert that was very enjoyable. We spent many a night with George at the piano bar, it was quite lively on this cruise and always fun, though I think some current music additions would be welcome. We also enjoyed spending time with Din Din on the America’s Regatta.
Tender Crew. Unfortunately I don’t know their names but they did a great job all week. There were a few times when the seas were rough and they were able to get us on and off the tenders safely.
FELLOW PASSENGERS. We had originally booked a cruise a few weeks later on SeaDream I, but because of a work conflict of one of our group we needed to change the date. When we called SeaDream to change we were told that the 3rd and 4th floor for this itinerary had been purchased by a group and they didn’t have any information about the group. We’ve read all of the horror stories on this board about groups taking over the ship and were a bit hesitant. Since this was the only trip that would work for us we crossed our fingers and booked. It turns out a travel agent who has sailed on SeaDream for many years had booked the 2 levels. His guests were very inclusive and quite fun. I’ve always thought that one of the biggest selling points of SeaDream is that the fellow guests are so down-to-earth and friendly. Last year was a bit of an anomaly, as quite a few guests seemed to have a superiority attitude, and I was scared this might be a trend -- I’m happy to report that it didn’t carry over to this year!
FOOD. The food, as we’ve become accustomed to, was superb this year. There seemed to be a lot of new items on the menu, but enough old reliables that we weren’t disappointed. Chef Thomaz was very visible and his usual happy self. The desserts seemed better than ever - and the dessert extravaganza was outstanding.
ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT. Just to be fair and balanced, here are a few areas that could be improved upon:
Pool Bar Service. This would be my only real complaint. The pool service seems to have suffered a cut-back. In the past there seemed to be 2 bartenders during the day. On this cruise, there was only one server at most times and he seemed overworked. On a Caribbean cruise the pool seems to be the most popular area during the day, cutting back on service here doesn’t make sense.
Wine. The wine at dinner is generally pretty bad. We purchased wines most evening. I’m not a wine snob and there are quite a few inexpensive wines I drink that I enjoy. I think the complimentary wine list could be easily improved on.
Bring back the pistachio cookies! I know, how can we complain when there is so much to choose from, but the pistachio cookies seemed like SeaDreams signature cookie. They were missed, but I didn’t gain as much weigh on this vacation, so there was a silver lining.
Cocktail Hour hors d’ouvres. Lots of repeats and not very exciting,
House Plant in the stateroom. This is my crazy nit-picky thing. If you read my review a few years ago I was appalled at the 1970 style plant in the staterooms. The next year it was replaced with a grassy looking plant. I of course envisioned the change as the heads of SeaDream reading my review, sitting back and saying, “what an astute passenger, she’s right - let’s replace it with something modern”. Well, flash forward to this year and the 1970s style plant is back. So much for my influence
THINGS WE LOVED. Overall we loved everything about the week. Some of the extra special things we loved that I haven’t listed above:
- Love walking up the ramp when we first arrive and getting a glimpse of the crew we’ve had the privilege to sail with before.
- Love that every year our list of “favorite” crew gets more and more names added to it.
- Love the new and improved monogrammed PJs. The new cotton pants are very nice.
- Love coming back to a beautifully made stateroom every evening -thanks to Jesse our room steward.
- Love sitting at the TOYB in the evening enjoying a cocktail, each other’s company, listening to the waves, and star-gazing.
- Love watching (and sometimes love listening) to the singers at the piano bar each evening - always entertaining.
- Love crispy bacon each morning.
- Love that they grate chocolate over the cappuccino -- it's the little things!
- Love swimming off the back of the boat -- this trip the captain even had a surprise sunset swim available one evening.
- Love the “voila” every evening at dinner. It never gets old.
- Love taking the tender to the beach the morning of the splash.
- Love knowing that we will be back on-board next year!
SeaDream really is a special vacation for us and one we don’t take for granted. We visit places that are breathtakingly beautiful, while being treated to impeccable service by a crew that works so hard, but always with a smile. Thanks for another week of wonderful memories. Happy to report the state of SeaDream is better than ever!