SEADREAM I HEADS FOR GERMAN REFIT

After a few days being showcased to travel media and press alongside HMS Belfast in London, the ultra deluxe Seadream I has left London for Bremerhaven to undergo a seventeen day refit.

What a day for a Seadream....

What a day for a Seadream….

The six star luxury yacht will undergo a complete hull cleaning and repainting process, while some of the public rooms will benefit from new fabrics and carpeting. All suites and cabins will be enhanced with the addition of flat screen television sets, On the technical side, there will be an overhaul of some air conditioning units, as well as some gallery upgrades. The total projected cost of this overhaul is said to be between $4-5 million.

The yacht, originally built as the Seabourn Goddess I in 1984, has been sailing for Seadream since 2003, as one of a pair that have been consistently lauded as the highest rated vessels in the world. With all outside accommodation for 112 guests, both sisters are among the most sought after travel experiences afloat, as well as being very lucrative on the charter circuit.

Post refit, Seadream I will embark on a series of voyages in Scandinavia and the Norwegian Fjords, including a headline, first ever round trip voyage, beginning and ending in Dover this August.  Speaking on board Seadream I during the London stay over, recently returned CEO, Atle Brynestad, stressed that the company was in no hurry to expand, despite being financially buoyant; a surprising show of ‘steady as she goes’ in view of recent expansion by most other lines in the deluxe category.

Despite their age, both yachts are said to be as sound as the day they were built, regular, lavish and sympathetic refurbishments have helped to keep them at the apex of the luxury sector at sea. With an almost one to one crew ration, all inclusive pricing and exquisite food and service- think lamb chops for breakfast- the twin Seadream sisters offer a stylish,highly personalised  smart casual ambiance that is light years removed from the conventional cruise experience.

The aft pool

The aft pool

Following her sojourn in northern waters, Seadream I heads south to the Mediterranean to rejoin her identical sister ship, Seadream II. Both yachts will then redeploy to the Caribbean for their winter seasons, which sees them offering primarily seven night voyages around the smaller, more off the beaten track idylls that still echo the vibe and lifestyle of the ‘old’ Caribbean.

With an emphasis on water activities such as kayaking, windsurfing, and use of the jet skis carried on board, the Seadream experience is quite possibly the most up close and personally immersive on the entire Caribbean circuit. And with her refreshed new look and stance, Seadream I will be in pole position to showcase this market to the full over the coming winter.

SEADREAM IN THE SUMMERTIME MED; THE GOOD LIFE JUST GOT BETTER…..

What a day for a Seadream....

What a day for a Seadream….

Harbours full of idly bobbing yachts. Cobble stone streets and quaysides awash with waterfront bars and cafes, brimming with life well into the small hours. Porsches and Lamborghinis sitting idly under a canopy of gently waving oleander. People wearing sunglasses worth the entire national debt of a small third world country, discreetly checking out the milling throngs strolling past their lunch tables. For sure, it could only be the summertime Mediterranean.

If there is a region more dedicated to la dolce vita, or one more perfectly sculpted to deliver it in spades, then I have yet to find it. There is something so utterly seductive and compelling about those platinum chip, people watching playgrounds that sparkle along the summertime coasts of Italy, France and Spain. They draw people back year after year, like moths to a flame that bursts back into life again with the dawn of each new spring.

And, for sure, there are no shortage of huge, glitzy cruise ships that will show you the ‘greatest hits’ of the Mediterranean. Rome, Florence and Naples. Monaco and Barcelona. All places worthy of your attention and indulgence. All fabled and legendary. And, in summer, all crowded beyond all belief.

If you’ve ‘been there and done that’, then you don’t need to be told that these port intensive, week long ‘Meddy-Go-Rounds’ are great fun, yet anything but relaxing. Especially in the heat of mid summer, they can actually be damned hard work, as you try to absorb whirlwind encounters with a conga line of mind blowing cathedrals, castles, piazzas and shopping plazas. Fabulous and enjoyable it is, but relaxing it most certainly is not.

And that’s where Seadream Yacht Club comes in……

Top of the yacht. Top of the morning. Top of the evening...

Top of the yacht. Top of the morning. Top of the evening…

Imagine a small, 4,200 tons, all inclusive yacht, carrying a maximum of 115 guests, served by a hand picked crew of 90. Now make that yacht all inclusive from dawn till dusk, with free flowing champagne and fabulous, round the clock food that truly is ‘gourmet’, and a casual dress code that is perfectly suited to those balmy Mediterranean climes.

Imagine voyaging along and to all the small, smart resort havens that the bigger ships have to sail past. Tying up literally in the middle of town, just steps from the action. And a schedule that allows for long, lingering stays in those same ports, often overnight.

Sounds dreamlike for sure. But Seadream II is no dream. She is very, very real.

Each summer, Seadream II meanders among those peachy little splashes of paradise along the length of the Riviera and the Adriatic on a series of indolent, hugely inclusive adventures. A small marina at the stern allows her to carry such ‘toys’ as kayaks, sail boats and jet skis. In the more enclosed harbours, these are available to all passengers free of charge. It adds a whole new dimension to your idea of personal indulgence.

A unique outdoor set up means that all guests can dine alfresco- at any time of the day or night- on extraordinary, elegant fare. Imagine breakfasting on lamb chops as you sail into the stunning bay of Dubrovnik, or savour a long, lazy dinner in the fantastic, floodlit bay of Portofino. Peachy, non?

The aft pool

The aft pool

Life on board is totally informal and unstructured. Evenings tend to revolve around cocktails at the sumptuous Top Of The Yacht bar, open to sea breezes on both sides. It’s a causally spectacular little enclave, perfectly proportioned, and just as perfectly served. You’ll find it hard to tear yourself away at any hour of the day or night.

The aft lido deck features a small pool, and a hot tub just perfect for midnight cocktails, after you wander back to the yacht after a few hours strolling the bar and restaurant scene in Saint Tropez. This is one of several ports where Seadream II offers a number of overnight stops and, unlike certain other ports, it really does live up to the hype; a fabulous, fun place just to ‘stroll and roll’ and take it all in.

While the staterooms do not have balconies, all are outside, and come with marvellous, mulit jet showers in a marble lined bathroom, together with top end toiletries by Bulgari. Panelled in gorgeous cherry wood, each one features a sublime double bed, mini bar, plasma screen TV, and a separate living area.

I thought at first that I would miss having my own balcony but, truth be told, Seadream II is so small, elegant and intimate that the entire yacht feels like your own private terrace. And a slew of Balinese Dream Beds on the upper deck can be reserved-again, free of charge- so that you can sleep outside, underneath the stars. in perfectly secluded privacy. At a time of your choosing, a Seadream steward will wake you with orange juice, coffee, champagne or, indeed, all three. It’s a perfect spot from which to catch the first tender, blush pink flush of an early Sorrento sunrise, and a simply wonderful experience in and of itself.

To sum it up, Seadream II is a small, perfectly formed lady, one every bit as elegant as an exquisite charm bracelet. Yet she is big on style, hospitality, and things to do- or indeed, not to do.

The beauty of the Seadream Riviera...

The beauty of the Seadream Riviera…

You can hang out in a hammock with a glass of ice cold champers, or tear up the sparkling briny on an exhilarating jet ski ride. Be as sociable or as reclusive as you wish, and when it suits you. The kind of people typically drawn to the Seadream experience tend to be affable, pretty easy going types that are very well travelled. For the most part, they share a common aversion to the crowds carried on the big ships.

Come the autumn, Seadream II crosses the Atlantic, and relocates to the balmier, more welcoming climes of the Caribbean. From here, she saunters around the smaller, more secluded yacht havens that were once the playgrounds of seventeenth century privateers such as Bluebeard and Ann Bonney.

Whatever, whenever, the same casual elegance is a constant. But I offer you one well meant word of warning; if you once get to savour the Seadream experience, it will quite likely spoil you for just about anything else.

Other than that, enjoy. It’s all good.

SUBLIME ADVENTURES- SEADREAM TO SCANDINAVIA IN 2014

See Scandinavia, Seadream style

See Scandinavia, Seadream style

In something of a departure from it’s normal summer season in the waters of the Mediterranean and Aegean, one of the sumptuous brace of yachts operated by Seadream Yacht Club is coming north, to Scandinavian waters.

For a three month period lasting from the end of May until August 2014, the 4,400 ton, 115 guest Seadream I will be operating a series of nine voyages, varying in length from seven to fourteen nights. Seadream I will showcase the outstanding, high summer highlights of the beautiful Baltic and the stunning Norwegian Fjords in surroundings of casual, unstructured luxury. With all inclusive prices and open seating gourmet dining, both indoors and outside, the Seadream I offers a uniquely intimate vista from which to survey the amazing scenery over the course of the long, almost endless summer Scandinavian nights.

All outside window staterooms and suites feature marble lined, multi-jet showers and luxurious towelling and robes, a complimentary mini bar, exceptional quality bedding, an elegant sitting area. and a plasma screen television. Framed in gorgeous cherry wood veneers, they are the perfect place to relax and unwind. But, truth be told, the real attractions lie outside.

Imagine being able to see amazing Norwegian waterfalls, up close and personal at midnight from a gently bubbling Jacuzzi. Or sleeping on deck at night on gorgeous, private Balinese dream beds as you spend an overnight docked in the centre of epic Saint Petersburg. Seadream I is a subtle brew of casual elegance, invigorating shore adventures, and moments of indolence and individuality that adds a totally new dimension to the idea of exploring cruising’s most fabled inland sea, at exactly the best time of the year.

Top of the yacht. Top of the morning. Top of the evening...

Top of the yacht. Top of the morning. Top of the evening…

You can  feast outdoors on lamb chops and waffles for breakfast as you sail past Copenhagen’s Little Mermaid, or enjoy champagne on deck under the midnight sun as you cruise past the gorgeous coastline of summertime Norway. With a list of options as long as the endless days of a Scandinavian summer, these summertime voyages aboard Seadream I showcase the beauty, style and sheer, historic splendour of Scandinavia in matchless style.

The intimate size and scale of Seadream I means that the yacht can deftly access some of the smaller, lesser known jewels of the region, offering a much more up front and personal experience of these hidden Scandinavian gems than many of the larger ships. Highlights include the stunning Swedish island of Visby, the Danish resort of Bornholm, and the fabled German seaside resort of Sassnitz. In Norway, Seadream I will sail deep into the fabled fjords of Gudvangen, Sognefjord and fabulous Fjaerland.

The yacht embarks guests in ports as varied as Hamburg, Stockholm, Bergen and Copenhagen. There is also a full, fourteen night round trip in August from Dover that goes right up to Saint Petersburg for a two night stay, before another enticing trip from Dover, back down to the highlights of the autumn Mediterranean.

Little Mermaid, Copenhagen harbour

Little Mermaid, Copenhagen harbour

As well as superb cuisine and elegant, attentive service, Seadream I offers the opportunity for many late night stays in some of the more off the beaten track ports, often until midnight or sometimes later. The schedule is nowhere near as rigid and inflexible as that of conventional cruise ships that have to offload, and then reboard literally thousands of passengers at a time.

Definitely one worthy of consideration.

SEADREAM- IT’S A YACHT, NOT A CRUISE SHIP

It's yachting, not cruising...

It’s yachting, not cruising…

They are, without doubt, the swans of the ocean. At just over 4,400 tons each and with a maximum capacity of 112 guests, served by a hand picked crew of 95, Seadream l and Seadream ll are peerless in the realm of intimate, yacht style voyaging that they offer. There may be imitators out there, but that is all they will ever remain.

But what really marks these ships out as special is an all inclusive policy, married to a smart casual dress code. There’s a marvellous lack of structure on display here; each day is like  your own personal smorgasbord; you can add as much, or as little, to your own menu as the mood suits you.

Intimacy is at the heart of the entire Seadream experience. Whether it’s taking an early morning walk ashore with the head chef to watch him peruse the best lobster in Saint Tropez, or the fabulous, surf and caviar ‘splashes’ off the coast of balmy Jost Van Dyk, the yachts offer up a level of interaction that a larger ship could never dream of.

The Riviera afloat....

The Riviera afloat….

That is not to say that the crew are overly familiar, or overstep the passenger/crew boundaries on any level. Quite the reverse. You determine how involved- or how secluded- you want to be. No-one will question your decisions, and everybody will respect them.

Both yachts are stunningly understated. An upper deck, outdoor bar at the top of the yacht acts as the focal point for Seadream guests, especially at night.

And where else could all passengers be seated for all meals at one time, either indoors or outside? The cuisine on Seadream is simply exquisite; imagine cooked to order lamb chops for an alfresco breakfast, as the yacht ambles into the welcoming waters of Portofino, or maybe Puerto Banus. This really is gourmet standard cuisine, and both yachts offer a deft level of attentive service that complements the food to sublime perfection.

While none of the rooms have balconies, all are outsides, with a generous 185 sq.ft of space. There are a handful of interconnecting suites that are bigger, but even the standards- such an inadequate word- come equipped with amazing, multi jet showers and beautiful cherry wood veneer finishes. The bed linens are truly the stuff of dreams, too.

Watch a Michael Buble concert outside by the pool at night? Sure....

Watch a Michael Buble concert outside by the pool at night? Sure….

More? How about if I told you that you can sleep outside at night, under the stars, but in total privacy? Peachy.

Each yacht has a set of vast, expansive Balinese dream beds on the upper deck. They can be curtained off for privacy. Seadream staff will fetch you a goodnight gift of champagne and, if the mood suits you, they will wake you with fresh orange juice and croissants. Or champagne, if you would prefer that.

There’s a small pool and a perfectly shaded Jacuzzi, plus a sprinkling of sweetly sited, upper deck hammocks if the optional on board water sports carried by the yachts- we’re talking jet skis, sailfish and kayaks here- sounds too much like hard work. Seadream takes relaxation and indulgence, mixes them up in a cocktail shaker, and then serves them up as a perfectly garnished art form. Platinum chip indolence was never quite this much fun.

The atmosphere of fun and frivolity on board is utterly infectious, and quite unlike anything else afloat. Both yachts naturally do well on private charters, and yet each has its own, regular contingent of die hards that returns year in and out. It’s a hard addiction to break.

Top of the yacht. Top of the morning. Top of the evening...

Top of the yacht. Top of the morning. Top of the evening…

So why try? Especially when the size of both yachts means you can sail into small, perfect little patches of paradise that the big ships have to bypass. Overnight in Monte Carlo? Sure. Or, overnight in Saint Barts? Now we’re talking in the realm of outstanding.