You too can cruise like a rock star in the Caribbean
For the ultimate millionaire experience, why not hire your own ship for a mere $100,000 (around £75,000) a day? For this, you get the 112-passenger SeaDream I or SeaDream II, the services of a 95-strong crew, an open bar, water toys including kayaks and water skis – and 4lb of caviar.
All the guests can fit into the Dining Salon in a single seating and evenings can be spent on the pool deck watching a concert or movie on the outdoor big screen with pillows, blankets, fresh popcorn and bar service.
One of the highlights of the trip will be a day on a private beach where uniformed staff wade into the surf to serve champagne and caviar before your guests enjoy a gourmet barbecue on china plates.
EVEN the most-seasoned travellers could be forgiven for ’fessing-up that they’re not quite sure where to find the island of Jost van Dyke – one of the best kept little secrets in the Caribbean.
Because 400 years after the Dutch pirate was plundering ships in the Caribbean, this little speck in the British Virgin Islands that’s named after him, and is just 14 square kms in size, is home to fewer than 300 residents and still accessible only by sea. And while he had a home and some minor fortifications on the island, with a motley assortment of fellow Dutch, French and British pirates, Jost van Dyke also grew tobacco and cotton between pirating duties.
It was another century after he moved on before his island would next be settled, this time by Quakers who started sugar cane plantations, and despite their public campaigning against slavery, worked these plantations with – you’ve got it, slave labour.
But when slavery was abolished in 1830, the Quakers’ quickly went belly-up, the island virtually hibernated for 100 years, and the population dwindled to around just 100. Towards the middle of the last century tourists, however – mainly cruising yachties – started to take notice of little Jost van Dyke, and the population began slowly rebuilding in response to the demand for facilities to cater for these visitors.
Today it’s Party Central amongst those in the know, visits by SeaDream Yacht Club, coupled with inter-island ferries and visiting yachts, can see the locals easily outnumbered on any one day by visitors. And little wonder: here the beach sands are soft as talcum, there are just three quaint village-like settlements, and just one main road, which despite being built in the 1990s, the locals have never quite got around to giving a name to. It’s still simply The Road.
And in one of these villages their “road” through town is actually the beach, which probably explains why locals call Jost van Dyke “Barefoot Island.” (There’s even a sign outside one bar proclaiming “No Shirt, No Shoes, No Clothes, No Problem.”)
Another oddity in the village of Great Harbour is the Stress Free Bar: here guests pour their own drinks, write their purchases in a pad on the bar – and settle-up at the end of the day.
And at Foxy’s bar-on-the-beach, long-time resident Foxy Callwood’s Old Year’s Night (New Year’s Eve) party lasts three nights, his bar boasts a ceiling with enough T-shirts and donated underwear to run a garage sale, and his barbecued ribs, grilled lobsters and flying fish sandwiches are to die for…
Conversely the smallest bar on the island is called the Soggy Dollar – from the condition of banknotes handed over by sailors who swim ashore from their yachts for a drink and a meal. To dry them, staff peg the soggy dollars to a clothesline out the back in the sun. And no, no one’s pinched one yet. The Soggy Dollar Bar also has its own House Cocktail called Painkiller, a potent mix of dark rum, pineapple and orange juice, and a splash of coconut cream.
Like the rest of the island, the Soggy Dollar Bar is all very laid back. As a barman tells us: “No one’s in a hurry to get anywhere. The fastest living things on the island are the goats, and even they aren’t in a hurry.” And a visiting yachtie adds: “Live by the adage of the Caribbean – how beautiful it is to do nothing all day, and then rest up afterwards.”
- This is my island in the sun
- Where my people have toiled since time begun
- I may sail on many a sea
- Her shores will always be home to me.
And don’t expect high-rise hotels, casinos or even big marketplaces on this Island in the Sun. It didn’t even get electricity until the 1990s. There are ferry services from the larger St John and St Thomas Islands in the US Virgin Islands, and your local travel agent can tell you how to join SeaDream Yacht Club in the Caribbean and Jost van Dyke seasonally.
Cuisine OverviewAll cuisine is prepared à la minute and served al fresco at the Topside Restaurant or in the elegant Dining Salon. International menus incorporate local flavors of the region with the freshest, high-quality ingredients, often locally sourced. In keeping with yachting traditions, dining is encouraged outdoors to maximize the SeaDream Yacht Club experience. Each inclusive voyage offers three gourmet meals daily as well as signature culinary experiences and specialty menus delivered with personalized, anticipatory service.
Starting in April SeaDream I and SeaDream II set sail from the Caribbean to make their way to the Mediterranean. Our voyages are known for visiting some of the most colorful and historical ports of the region. Thrillist explored lesser-known gems in hidden valleys and un-cruise-shipped coves to find these beautiful small towns in Europe more Americans should visit and of course, we recommend visiting these two on your own yacht.
SeaDream has a wonderful land adventure in this region not to be missed, a private motor-boat ride! Depart from the Portovenere pier directly to Cinque Terre (“Five Lands”) and marvel at the breathtaking coast with the villages suspended above the sea, almost defying gravity. There they are – five picturesque villages of pastel-colored houses and terraced vineyards alive with the fragrance of olive trees blending with the fresh ocean breeze. Arrive at the village of Vernazza, where you disembark and begin a guided walk of this 1st-century village. Notice the richness of its architecture, which is evidence of a standard of living that was wealthier than the other villages. Following this guided walk, there will be free time to browse the local shops or enjoy a café.
Then re-board the vessel for a stop at the second village – Monterosso, known as the most westerly village and the beach town of the Cinque Terre. This town is divided into two distinct parts San Cristoforo Hill, and the old maritime village protected by a rock spur. Your guide will point out the highlights of the village before enjoying a sampling of the excellent local wine and some delicious focaccia bread. Then free time to explore on your own before returning to the boat for the return journey to Portovenere.
Take part in this unforgettable SeaDream Land Adventure heading towards the Istria Peninsula Hinterland to the village of Paladini where you will meet with the Karlic Family (A grandfather, mother, grandchildren and dogs) at their Farm. At the Farm, your host – Karlic Family – will give an introduction to the truffles and the history of truffles in Istra and their family. You will taste delicious products made of truffles all prepared by the family, including Istrian cheese with truffles, sausages with truffles, truffle patte, honey with truffles, olive oil with truffles. The highlight of tasting is a live interactive presentation of making famous Istrian “fritaja” scrambled eggs with truffles, when you will have the opportunity to join in cooking the fritaja. After tasting, your hosts will take you to a truffle hunt in their own woods where they grow and harvest black truffle. The truffles grow underground and are therefore invisible. However, their strong smell and of course trained dogs recognize them very well.
The jewel of the Amalfi Coast, an incredible romantic atmosphere, which offers excellent shopping, beautiful beaches, and hiking trails in scenery, shopping and sand. Positano, Italy has been a draw for honeymooners and the romantically inclined for years, and it’s no secret why. The town itself is perched on an enclave on the face of a hill and winds down towards the sea. John Steinbeck visited in the 50’s and stated “Positano bites deep. It is a dream place that isn’t quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone.”
The southeast coast of Provence, France, is sprinkled with some of the world’s most popular beaches and destinations, including Monaco, Nice, Cannes, and Saint Tropez.This area is where the Alps meet the Mediterranean and enjoys a wonderfully mild to warm climate all year round. The French Riviera is known the world over for its glamour and beauty. A spectacular playground for the rich and famous.
Santorini is considered to be the most sought-after place for a romantic getaway in Greece, a classic hotspot for honeymooners, since there are not many places in the world where you can enjoy exquisitely clear waters while perched on the rim of a massive active volcano in the middle of the sea. There’s no denying the uniqueness of this destination, a backdrop of white and pastel seaside building make for the ultimate photo-ops, in a word, idyllic.
St. Lucia’s unique natural and cultural attractions set it apart from its Caribbean counterparts. SeaDream visits three parts of this beautiful island Pigeon Island, Rodney Bay, and Soufriere Bay. Beyond the standard lounging on picturesque beaches, you can hike the Pitons or relax at the Sulphur Springs. And on weekends, street festivals are the perfect way to take in a bit of authentic St. Lucian culture and cuisine.
Having your Honeymoon aboard SEADREAM is a Dream come true! Together discover the warmth of the Caribbean or the old world charm of the Mediterranean. Whether its un-crowded sugar sand beaches or aged cobblestoned villages you’d like to explore, SEADREAM will provide you unparalleled service, cuisine & amenities to enhance your honeymoon holiday.
As newlyweds, this is your time to have fun and relax. You may spend time alone but also share your excitement and happiness with new found friends aboard. In this casually elegant, yachting experience, it is all about personal choice. Aboard SEADREAM we want every day to be unforgettable.
With only 56 staterooms and 112 guests, our crew of 95 will pamper you to the fullest. Enjoy our award-winning cuisine at a private table for two if you’d like, watch movies in the comfort of your plush Belgium bedding or take complimentary mountain bikes ashore for private exploration. Romance is in the air, from the breezy Top of the Yacht Bar, the beckoning Jacuzzi or sleeping under the stars on a Balinese Bed. Memories are made of this.
Nothing says romance like a decadent couples massage at one of the nicest luxury retreats. Roamaroo scoured the world to find the top 13 places for a romantic couples massage for your next couples getaway. Whether you’re celebrating your honeymoon, an anniversary, or are craving a romantic evening, a couples massage is the perfect way to revel in your love.
SeaDream made the list and is the only cruise line – SeaDream Yacht Club is known as the premier small luxury cruise line. When you’re with SeaDream, you aren’t cruising, you’re yachting. Certified by the Thai Spa Association, enjoy a romantic couples massage at sea. Try an Asian blend or a traditional Thai massage cooled by a gentle sea breeze in their open massage area. Afterwards, enjoy a seaside champagne on the deck.
Did that special someone “pop the question” over the holidays, if so Congratulations, this is a very exciting time and SeaDream would love to be part of this magical adventure. What better way to say, “I do” than on a yacht in the crystal blue waters of the Caribbean or the beckoning charm of the Mediterranean with your closest friends and family.
We know this is one of the most important days of your life, a wedding is a beautiful declaration of love and a sign of true commitment. There is nothing that makes us happier at SeaDream than serving as a part of that special day. Dreaming of a sunrise ceremony or a sunset ceremony all are possible on SeaDream.
The truth is, while a wedding should be a joyous occasion, coordinating all of the dozens of details for the special day of can be extremely taxing. Even if you hire a coordinator, you often find that getting all parties on the same page can be exhausting. Rather than deal with this, why not celebrate the joyous day at sea?
A SeaDream Yacht Club vacation is romantic. No crowds – a maximum of only 112 guests. An award-winning crew of 95 anticipates your every need, delivering truly intuitive and personalized service. Five-star Dream Cuisine is on par with the very best Michelin star restaurants. The most beautiful sunrises and sunsets, along with some of the most picturesque small yachting ports in the region. This is what makes SeaDream perfect for your well-deserved romantic getaway.
SeaDream Yacht Club explores some of the most beautiful and romantic places in the Caribbean and Mediterranean. Here are some ports we know you’ll fall in love with that are perfect for romantic days ashore with a Yachting Land Adventure:
White, brown, and tan sands are the product of years of tropical ocean surf meeting the shores of this volcanic island. Nevis is a charming port of call with plantation-style inns and botanical gardens. Ride through the rolling countryside and pass historic and natural sites. Visit Nelson’s Spring and then a secluded Caribbean beach.
Yachting Land Adventure: Nevis on Horseback
This British Overseas Territory is becoming increasingly popular for its resort-style living and pristine world-class beaches. This beach ranks as one of the top beaches in not only the Caribbean but the world. For an extra-special beach day, have the chef pack a romantic lunch for 2.
Yachting Land Adventure: Day at Shoal Bay Beach
Gibraltar located at the entrance of the Mediterranean on the southern end of the Iberian Peninsula. Only covering an area of 2.3 square miles (6.0 sq. km.) several sites are a must-see! The Rock is one of the most dramatic landforms in southern Europe.
Yachting Land Adventure: Piano Recital at the top of the Rock
Until April 2018, the ships will visit Jost van Dyke, Virgin Gorda, Bequia, Marigot, Saba and St Barts on seven-night cruises to show off the beauty and culture of these islands. SeaDream Yacht Club’s mega motor-cruisers SeaDream I and SeaDream II are in the Caribbean for the season and are the perfect addition to a ski vacation, New York city break or as a standalone holiday. Being small vessels, with just 112 guests, it is easy to access picturesque islands and quiet coves that bigger ships just cannot do.
A highlight of every cruise will be SeaDream’s signature Champagne and Caviar Splash beach party, with the delicacies served by the crew off a surfboard in waist-deep water.
- Improves Memory Dr. Russell Poldrack, professor of psychology and neurobiology and director of the Imaging Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin explains vacations provide new experiences in a way your daily routine can’t. And when you experience something new and unfamiliar, your brain responds by releasing dopamine into your hippocampus, the part of your noggin that creates memories. This memory boost may even help protect against Alzheimer’s disease.
- Increases Creativity French and American researchers found that vacations improve problem-solving abilities, increase awareness of hidden connections, and encourage people to try new things — all of which facilitate your mind’s creativity.
- Sharpens Mental Focus Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh reported that people with serious health conditions who took time for any leisure activity in the previous month had lower levels of stress hormones than those who didn’t take a break.
- Boosts Reaction Time A study commissioned by Air New Zealand found that after just two to three days on vacation, people got more and higher-quality sleep both during and after their trip. The result: Reaction times improved by up to 80 percent.
- Go far, far away French researches found the more you’re forced to adapt to a new environment, the greater your boost in creative genius. SeaDream visits small harbours and ports around the world, many inaccessible by larger ships in the Mediterranean and Caribbean.
- Plan Ahead A stressful vacation will do more harm than good and while on vacation stress is the last thing anyone should have to deal with. One way to make sure to avoid anything stressful let SeaDream do all the work for you. With our itineraries available far in advance book in advance and sit back and wait to get spoiled.
- Schedule in free time, sleep and exercise An Austrian study found that vacationers who made time for all three felt more recuperated after a vacation than those who didn’t. With the finest Belgian linens and a selection of pillows, blanket or down duvet, a state-of-the-art fitness center, and plenty of places to stretch out and relax, SEADREAM is ideal for all three activities. Don’t forget to spend some free time in the Spa.
- Socialize A study in the Journal of Travel Medicine concluded that making new friends on vacation decreases stress. Our casual, relaxed atmosphere and guests with like interests make an ideal combination for socialization. SEADREAM encourages socialization with hors d’oeuvre and cocktails served pre-dinner and our after-dinner gatherings around the Top of the Yacht Bar and Piano Bar.
We are pleased to share that SeaDream Yacht Club has been featured in the December/January 2018 Issue of World of Cruising. Dream Cuisine – SeaDream Yacht Club likes to offer its guests a taste of the billionaire lifestyle. Learn more about our Executive Chef Andrej Havlicek and what makes the SeaDream experience so special.
Unusual for a cruise ship, SeaDream caters well for vegans, offering what it calls “raw food” at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Award-winning, gourmet cuisine is prepared a la minute with the freshest ingredients and served open-seating in the Dining Salon or alfresco. Sunset, cocktails & canapes are the perfect endings to each day.Click Here for full article.
Fiona Sims tours local vineyards before returning to gourmet dinners on board, hosted by winemakers
“More vegetable juice, Madame?” asks our jovial South African waiter, Robin. Don’t mind if I do. It will wash down the last of my courgette-stuffed egg-white omelette. I need all the brownie points I can get. We’re on a booze cruise, you see. Correction — a wine voyage. And it’s barely a cruise ship, more a very big yacht.
Starting in Nice, SeaDream Yacht Club I (there are two of them) is working its way languorously around the Med to Malaga, dropping in on picturesque ports where it cosies up to winemakers who host wine dinners on board. It also offers wine land adventures — escorted tours to nearby wineries with a few hilltop villages and artisanal food producers thrown in. Add to that unlimited complimentary wine from a selection that changes daily to sip with lunch and dinner, plus a 200-bin list curated by the land-based wine director Ida Elisabeth Dønheim for those who want to trade up, and you get the idea about our dietary dilemma.
I’m not a cruise kind of person. I’m a sailor — dinghies, small yachts, using an engine only when you have to. However, I do enjoy eating and drinking on board, which is half the fun of sailing for your leisure boater. But elbowing your way around the buffet on a big cruise ship? No thanks. And don’t get me started on having to share a table with strangers.
This one looks different. It’s small, with 56 cabins and 95 staff. In addition to the wine action, the food looks promising, with daily vegan and raw menus to dip into when the going gets tough. But here’s the deal-maker — for my husband and me, at least — you can dine à deux every night if you want to, and outside on deck when the weather is warm enough.
And so here we are, moored off Saint-Tropez, bobbing around in the bay because we can (at about 330ft, the boat can sneak in where larger cruise ships can’t), waiting to step into the tender that will take us to the harbour.
It turns out that a few fellow passengers are yacht owners too, to judge from the talk in the tender. The sailing nerds among us are rewarded with the last day of the famous regatta Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez, where 300 of the world’s most beautiful yachts strut their stuff. We compare notes with a couple from Sydney who sail their 38ft boat to the Whitsunday Islands.
They join us that afternoon on the first of the five wine land adventures offered, to the craggy hilltop village of Gassin and the smart rosé producer Domaine La Rouillère. Provence never fails to seduce, so the only downside to these onshore trips that I can see (apart from the fact that they cost a fair bit extra, about $149pp, or £110) is wishing that we could stay longer. If we had been able to do so we would have lunched at Bello Visto, the best place to eat in Gassin, whispered our guide, as she steered us around the tangle of sun-drenched streets before pointing us towards Marie Thérèse L’Hardy-Halos’ gem of a botanical garden, which she generously opens to visitors free of charge.
We also get to meet the charming owner of Domaine La Rouillère, the entrepreneur Bertrand Letartre, who arrives in his pristine vintage Porsche to guide our tasting session. “Provence’s reputation is rosé, but it’s important to taste the region’s whites and reds too,” he says as we knock back samples of his red, a juicy blend of grenache, syrah and cabernet sauvignon.
Our tour bus winds its way back down the hill into Saint-Tropez and to our waiting tender, past fragrant meadows edged with mimosa, the odd waft of lavender sneaking in through the driver’s window. Craving more of the same, we sign up for the next day’s stroll around Le Castellet, another village in the Var region, and another winery visit, this time in the Bandol appellation. One of my favourite Provence rosés is Bandol’s Domaine Ott Château Romassan (savoury, with a hit of white peach) and the wine is offered on board at $65 a pop, along with Brad Pitt and Angeline Jolie’s Château Miraval rosé ($46) and Château d’Esclans Whispering Angel ($46).
You might be wondering why, three days in, I’ve not talked about any restaurants on shore. Our intention was to eat lunch every day in harbour bistros, where we would linger over local classics, but there’s a reason why we didn’t — the food on board is too good (and included in the price), so blame the Czech chef Ondrej Havlicek for his prowess. There’s always a fish of the day on the lunch menu — we enjoyed cod with sauce vierge and pan-fried swordfish with aubergines and olives, which we rounded off with a wodge of raw-milk French cheese, washing the lot down with the complimentary rosé, Ogier’s decent Côtes du Ventoux.
Eventually we resisted Havlicek’s lunchtime temptations and went in search of the regional delicacy, octopus pies (les tielles), discovering the best at the Sète bakery Dassé. We munched them with a glass of inky Languedoc red in a café next to the city’s impressive market.
We then made tracks to Kaiku on Plaza del Mar, on the waterfront in Barcelona, for its heady, smoky seafood rice, which we washed down with a bottle of aromatic Catalan white that induced such a deep post-lunch snooze on the beach that we nearly missed the boat. That’s the great thing about cruising in my book: easy access to the best food and wine from that region, using homegrown ingredients, scoffed in eateries buzzing with lively locals. The onshore eating-out prize went to Casa El Famós on Camino de la Iglesia de Vera on the rural outskirts of Valencia, renowned for being the place to eat wood-fired, oven-cooked paella.
The wine dinners on the cruise are a chance for the chef to show off. We tucked into a menu that included sesame-crusted ahi tuna, lobster bisque and herb-crusted roast rack of lamb, matched to wines from the rioja producer Finca Valpiedra.
These dinners are a chance for the guests to show off too. We never did get the dress code. Yacht casual, said the pre-embarkation instructions, which translated as slacks and open-neck shirts for the boys, with jackets for some, while for the girls (average age 65, but looking ten years younger) this meant full-on evening wear for event nights, with bodycon dresses de rigueur on other nights — the lot paired with 4in heels, particularly impressive on the choppier sailings.
“It’s known for being one of the dressier cruises,” offered a trim, tanned San Diegan with a diamond ring the size of the caviar-topped blini canapé I nibbled at one of the nightly pre-dinner cocktail parties. And, to judge from the big hair on show, a fair amount of time is spent in the onboard beauty salon. There’s a spa with eight massage therapists from Thailand too, which is one of the only ones of its kind at sea, and a sizeable gym, which took a daily pounding.
We also exercised in the ship’s Tardislike water-sports marina. When the ship is at anchor a floating island is attached to the stern, which we swam to in the swell in an effort to make more room for dinner. This was alongside other toys, such as paddleboards, windsurfers, jet skis and even a sailing dinghy or two. There are also mountain bikes, which came in handy for zipping around the harbour in the larger cities.
A membership card arrived with our pre-embarkation instructions – they’re obviously hoping we’ll come back. Of the 89 passengers on board, 58 had sailed with them before, announced our droll Norwegian captain, Bjame Smorawski, on the last night, prompting a few whoops.
So what makes guests return? The food, certainly. The sleek ship, for sure. But it was the staff who garnered most of the praise in my casual poll. I’ll miss Robin, and maître d’ Tomislav- and Brian, who was always ready with refreshments by the saltwater pool and has been working on the ship for l2 years. “We’re like a family,” he says. Room for two more?
Fiona Sims is the author of The Boat Cookbook, and The Boat Drinks Book, both published by Bloomsbury, at £16.99
SeaDream II is hanging out with the rich and famous today in Bequia, Mustique, at the magnificent Cotton House Beach Bar and Cafe. Next stop is Mayreau, home to our signature Champagne and Caviar Splash™ destination in the Grenadines. Come Join us in the Caribbean.
- 250ml milk
- 125gr Butter
- 140gr Flour
- 8 egg whites
- 8 egg yolk
- 150gr sugar
- 3gr Ginger powder
- 3gr cinnamon powder
- 3gr cardamon powder
- 3gr nutmeg powder
- 2gr clove powder
- Preheat oven to 400° F / 200° C
- Cook the milk and the butter together.
- Remove the pan from the stove and add the flour and all the spices
- Whisk the mixture and bring to a boil over medium heat
- Put the mixture in a separate bowl and add 1 by 1 the egg yolks
- Whisk the egg whites and the sugar until stiff peaks form
- Fold the egg whites slowly into the mixture
- Pipe in soufflé cups which are buttered and sugared
- Bake in a hot oven about 16-17 minutes on 400° F / 200° C
Watersports, excursions, explosive dining – how we found travel nirvana with SeaDream II
14 November 2017
Mini eclairs, canelés, creme brûlée, rows and rows of chaox pastries and chocolate-covered strawberries. In the center, a macaroon mountain, caramelized. It’s an entire rainbow of desserts. And it’s as exquisite to taste as to look at. I’m neither residing in in Homer Simpson’s imagination, nor in a Gatsby party. Neither am I in a French patisserie. Instead, I’m bobbing along the coast of Northern Italy, breathing in the sea-night air, and the scent of sugar…
I am, in fact, on the front deck of the six level SeaDream II mega-yacht, enjoying the after-dinner ‘Dessert Extravaganza’, rubbing shoulders with well-heeled travelers from around the world. It’s a peak foodie moment for me. More important, even, than the strawberry and balsamic black pepper ice cream I gorged on at Salt and Straw in Portland, Oregon two years ago. (I wanted to hate it, but I loved it.) These desserts should be ostentatious. But the scene has been assembled with such delicacy and precision, it’s utterly charming. This is the the SeaDream way. Extravagant but unshowy. From service to scenery to dining – especially dining – everything is a statement of sophistication. We sailed with SeaDream around the Mediterranean back in May. Here are five reasons you should give it a try…
1 The stateroomsThere are 56 ocean-view Yacht Club Staterooms on board. Mine was a comfortable, cozy sanctuary, all warm mahogany panelling and Belgian cotton sheets. Yes, you’re confined – especially in the (marble-lined) bathroom – but welcome to life at sea. It’s unavoidable. And with Bvlgari toiletries, what is there to complain about? Anyway, you soon get used to the size. I’ve actually lived in smaller rooms. At 195 square feet, the staterooms are almost two thirds the size of your average US hotel room (330 square feet and getting smaller, in case you’re wondering), plus space is utilized to optimum effect. My only gripe was I couldn’t see the flip out flat screen TV from my bed properly.
2 The diningI was amazed at the quality of the cuisine on board. Furthermore, the choice, particularly at the low lit, elegantly-decorated Dining Salon. I’m sure some London restaurant kitchens are comparable in size to the yacht itself (remember, this cruise liner clocks in at just 344 feet). But the food here was better than most. Before reaching our final destination, we made three stops – Portofino, Porto Venere and Livorno, more on which later – and each day, the freshest, most superb local ingredients are collected from the port.
I ate crab, caviar and enough smoked salmon to sink a ship (or yacht). But my favorite dish was a simple one: spaghetti. The balance of vine ripened tomatoes, mozzarella and intense pesto was immaculate. I’ve tried it at home since and sadly my pasta dishes still look like the handiwork of a hungover student. Speaking of alcohol, as it’s all inclusive generally, SeaDream operates an open bar policy. To avoid wasting time through hourly indecision, I stuck with Aperol Spritz (when in/near Rome) and reluctantly declined the quality wine options. (There are specific wine voyages available, FYI). Be warned: drunken behaviour and nasty hangovers aren’t becoming of the environment. Nevertheless, I typically dined al fresco in the day to clear the head. To make up for evening indulgences, breakfast was mainly fruit, while lunch was self-assembled soft leaf salads, bursting with fresh produce: alfalfa sprouts, blanched asparagus, raw carrots and broccoli. Raw, organic and vegan dishes are also available at dinner.
3 The service, the staff, the peopleDuring our four-day voyage from Nice, France to Civitavecchia near Rome, Italy, there were only 112 guests on board, and 95 crew. (To state the obvious, that’s almost one crew member for every guest). As such, yachting in this context is extremely intimate. Thoughts of pulsating cities, busy beaches and gargantuan cruise liners are a distant memory. You make new friends, and bump into them at every turn. When you and three elderly Swedish women storm a cocktail lounge by belting out ABBA hits, all but reclining on the accompanying piano, as I did, you share memories you’ll never forget. You also get to know the crew pretty well. Everyone we dealt with was faultless. In luxury hospitality environments, staff radiate thinly-veiled stress and fear: not so with SeaDream. You get the sense it’s a well-oiled machine, that the hard work goes on behind the scenes. That, publicly at least, the staff can breathe easily, chat away. When I got one deckhand talking on the subject of luxury watches I couldn’t stop him! There are a lot of smart young men in crisp, starched uniforms, and I was charmed by how politely and jovially they referred to my boyfriend and I as ‘gents’. (‘Good morning gents!’ we heard each morning in a different accent). Everyone seemed fully aware that we were a same-sex couple and went out of their way to make us feel comfortable.
4 The activitiesThe retractable watersports marina is obviously amazing. If you’re a jet ski/banana boat novice, you’ll inevitably find yourself asking ‘Why not?’. (I also felt that way about the karaoke). Except, of course, these activities are weather-dependant. Furthermore, although they were technically available the week of my trip, as it was unseasonably cold and overcast, I didn’t fancy the temperature of the water. This also meant sunbathing and the swimming pool were mostly out. But there’s still so much to do on board, from the salon to the spa to the casino to the golf simulator. I even enjoyed a tai chi class first thing in the morning – albeit in the library! It’s probably the quietest part of the yacht. I later found myself wiling away an afternoon here, reading books and magazines without a care in the world.
One activity I was gutted to miss was the open air film screening due to rain. Instead we picked a movie from the yacht’s collection – The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, of all things – and watched it in our room.
5 Land adventuresSeaDream’s slogan is ‘it’s yachting, not cruising’. But in both cases, the USP of boat travel is the opportunity to take in multiple destinations with minimal organization. The company offers a wide array of onshore excursions. Think gondola rides in Venice, flamenco shows in Seville, helicopter rides in St. Lucia. However, they only go ahead if enough people sign up for them, as we discovered to our disappointment. This is perhaps the only drawback of such exclusivity. Nevertheless, you can borrow a mountain bike with no fuss – the deckhands even carry it onto the passenger ferry for you – allowing you to explore the shores at your leisure. Here’s what we got up to… On day two we stopped in the lavish Portofino [above]. Once a fishing village, this picturesque harbour, population 439 (!), is now the epitome of the Italian Riviera, luxury boutiques and all. We couldn’t take our eyes off the opulent cliffside mansions. When really, we should have been looking out for errant sports car drivers. (There are plenty of them). We attempted the two-hour walk to the gorgeous-looking San Fruttuoso abbey but got up too late. Fortunately, we had a fuller day in Porto Venere on day three, which I preferred. This UNESCO World Heritage Site has a population of 3,763 and plenty of tourism infrastructure. It’s worth checking out for two main reasons. Number one: the rugged natural wonder that is Byron’s Grotto (a former rumination spot of Lord Byron) pictured above. Number two: the flavorful olive oil samples available at every turn. Porto Venere is famous for the stuff. Finally, rather than hang around the port city of Livorno on day four, which has nothing on Porto Venere or Portofino aesthetically, we jumped on a train to Pisa. We were there in 20 minutes. It’s about 40 in a taxi. Obviously we didn’t have long (long enough to be overcharged for a pizza and an Aperol Spritz, though – I couldn’t wait to get back to the yacht), we did have time to experience the Tower of Pisa, built in 1173. Climb those 284 iconic steps for a breathtaking view of the city and the mountainous scenery thereafter. Given this is something we hadn’t actually planned – it happened spur of the moment – the Tower now has a special meaning for me. It no longer simply represents otherworldly Italian architecture, so beautiful it defies comprehension (yes, it really does tilt 4.5 meters at the top). It now also represents the surprises in store when you travel by boat. SeaDream spends the summer months in the Mediterranean and the winter months in the Caribbean. Prices start from £3,519 per person based on based on double occupancy for a seven night Mediterranean voyage in 2018.
SeaDream has made its way to one of our favorite spots in the Caribbean, St. Barts. Some of our SeaDreamers spent the day on an ATV Island Adventure while others took to shopping at all the shops that are now open! Warm sun and blue waters what more could you ask for, Come Join.
Sweet wines have an undeserved weak reputation. Partially, it is because people tend to advance from sweeter, simple wines like a blush zinfandel to a better quality dry wine. But this is comparing apples and oranges. In saying you don’t like sweet wines, you miss some of the best wines in the world!
These seriously sweet classics are not sugared to mask faults, like a cheap off-dry or semi-sweet wine can be. They are sweet because the grapes have been dried on racks, harvested very late or attacked by something called “noble rot”, which leads to a much higher concentration of sugars in the wine but also an amazing intensity, concentration and complexity. It must be balanced by freshness, and when it is, it’s just a burst of flavors in your mouth!
The very best sweet wine in the world is a prestigious bottle of Sauternes from the castle Chateau d’Yquem. Of course, we sell this aboard SeaDream. It is a pricey tipple, but worth every penny. Try it with a good cheese, a gruyere or blue cheese, or a dessert. However, when you pick a dessert wine, make sure it is as sweet or sweeter than the dessert itself, to keep the balance right. Our sommeliers aboard SeaDream can help with that!
-Originally posted 02/12/2015