Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships 2017 (Berlitz Cruise Guide) (2016)
Ship: 427 out of 500
Accommodation: 173 out of 200
Food: 355 out of 400
Service: 370 out of 400
Entertainment: 84 out of 100
Cruise: 344 out of 400
Overall Score: 1753 out of 2000
SeaDream II Statistics
Size: Boutique Ship
Cruise Line: SeaDream Yacht Club
Former Names: Seabourn Goddess II, Sea Goddess II
IMO Number: 8203440
Builder: Wartsila (Finland)
Original Cost: $34 million
Entered Service: May 1985/Jan 2002
Length (ft/m): 343.8/104.8
Beam (ft/m): 47.9/14.6
Draft (ft/m): 13.6/4.1
Propulsion/Propellers: diesel (3,540kW)/2
Passenger Decks: 5
Total Crew: 95
Passengers (lower beds): 112
Passenger Space Ratio (lower beds): 37.9
Passenger/Crew Ratio (lower beds): 1.1
Cabins (total): 56
Size Range (sq ft/m): 195.0-446.7/18.1-41.5
Cabins (for one person): 0
Cabins (with private balcony): 0
Cabins (wheelchair accessible): 0
Wheelchair accessibility: None
Cabin Current: 110 and 220 volts
Casino (gaming tables): Yes
Slot Machines: Yes
Swimming Pools: 1
Hot Tubs (on deck): 1
Self-Service Launderette: No
Dedicated Cinema/Seats: No
Onboard currency: US$
Like having your own mega-yacht for stylish cruising
Overview. SeaDream II is best suited to sophisticated and well-traveled couples who are typically over 40 - in fact anyone looking for a small ship with excellent food approaching gourmet standards, and fine European-style service in surroundings that border on the elegant and refined while remaining trendy.
The Ship. SeaDream II (and sister ship SeaDream I) were originally funded by about 800 investors, and operated under the Norske Cruise banner as Sea Goddess I and Sea Goddess II. They have a sleek profile, with deep blue hull and white superstructure, and the ambience of a private club. After they were bought by SeaDream Yacht Club in 2001, they were completely refurbished, with many changes to public rooms and outdoor areas, and several new features added to create what are contemporary, chic, and desirable, if aging, vessels.
These ships are popular for small company charters, so you may find that the date and itinerary you want will not be available (you may be asked to change to the sister ship and a different itinerary).
A ‘Top of the Yacht’ bar, crafted in warm wood, was added to both ships. So were eight special alcoves set to the port and starboard sides of the funnel, equipped with two-person sunloungers with thick pads (and two equipped for one person); however, there is quite a bit of noise from the adjacent funnel. You can sleep under the stars if you wish (cotton sleep suits are provided).
At the front part of the deck there are more sunloungers and a couple of large hammocks, as well as a golf simulator with a 30 course choice.
Inside, there is unabashed but discreet sophistication, and the public rooms have flowers everywhere. The main social gathering places are the lounge, a delightful library/living room with a selection of about 1,000 books, a piano bar (more like a karaoke bar at times) and a small casino with two blackjack tables and five slot machines.
SeaDream II really is like having your own private yacht in which hospitality, anticipation, and personal recognition are art forms practiced to a high level. The staff is delightful and accommodating, and the dress code is resort (no tie) casual. Fine-quality furnishings and fabrics are used throughout, with marble and blond wood accents that make it warm.
SeaDream II is for you if you don’t like regular cruise ships, large ships, glitzy lounges, a platoon of people and kids running around, or dressing up - no tuxedos or gowns are allowed, and ties aren’t needed. It’s all about personal indulgence and refined, unstructured living at sea, in a casual setting akin to that on a private mega-yacht. One delightful feature of each cruise in warm weather areas is a ‘caviar in the surf’ beach barbecue.
All drinks (with the exception of premium brands and connoisseur wines), farmed sevruga caviar, and gratuities are included, but port charges and insurance are not. The price of a cruise is just that: the price of a cruise.
SeaDream I and II were the first of the mega-yacht-style ships when built, and none of the cabins has a private balcony - ships with private balconies made their debut just a couple of years later, and, anyway, yachts don’t have balconies (they are too close to the waterline). One not so positive item is the fact that the reception desk is now called the Concierge, although it is doubtful whether the staff has the kind of in-depth knowledge that is expected of a concierge. Embarkation never starts before 3pm, in case you are eager to get aboard.
Accommodation. There are four types, and six price categories (depending on location, size, and grade): Yacht Club (standard) Cabin, Commodore Club Suite, Admiral Suite, and Owner’s Suite.
Yacht Club Cabins. Incorrectly called ‘suites’ in the brochure, the standard cabins are, more correctly, fully equipped mini-suites with an outside view through windows or portholes, depending on deck and price category. Each measures 195 sq ft (18 sq m), not large by today’s cruise ship standards; however, it is large compared to cabins aboard many private motor yachts, and extremely large when compared to oceangoing racing yachts. The sleeping area has twin beds that can be put together to form a queen-size configuration; the beds are positioned next to the window or porthole so you can entertain in the living area without going past the sleeping area; a curtain separates the sleeping and lounge areas. All cabinetry and furniture is of thick blond wood, with nicely rounded edges.
A long vanity desk in the sleeping area has a large mirror above it, but there’s no three-sided mirror for women to check the back of their hair. There are two small drawers for cosmetic items, and a brass clock is positioned on one wall. A mirror is placed opposite the bed, which won’t please those who follow feng shui principles.
In the lounge area, a long desk has six drawers, plus a vertical cupboard unit that houses a sensible safe, refrigerator, and drinks cabinet stocked with your choice of drinks. There is also a 20in flat-screen television, CD and DVD player, and an MP3 audio player with a choice of more than 100 selections. The beds have the finest linens, including thick cotton duvets, and hypoallergenic pillows are also available. There’s little room under the beds for luggage, although this can be taken away and stored.
One drawback is the fact that the insulation between cabins is not particularly good, although rarely does this present a problem as most passengers aboard SeaDream I and II are generally extremely quiet, considerate types who are allergic to noise. Incidentally, a sleep suit is supplied in case you want to sleep out on deck under the stars in one of the on-deck two-person beds - but more of those later.
When the ships became SeaDream I and II, all the bathrooms were totally refurbished. The new cheerful decor is more hip and trendy, with softer colors and large (beige) marble tiles. The former tiny sit-in bathtubs were taken out - these are missed by some passengers - and replaced by a multi-jet power glassed-in shower enclosure. A washbasin set in a marble-look surround and two glass shelves make up the facilities, and an under-sink cupboard provides further space for larger toiletries. Bulgari toiletries are provided. Gorgeously thick, plush, 100 percent cotton SeaDream-logo bathrobes and towels are also supplied.
However, despite their having been completely rebuilt, the bathrooms really are small, particularly for those of larger than average build. Also, the bathroom door opens inward, so space inside is at a premium. The toilet is located in a somewhat awkward position and, unless you close the door, you can see yourself in the mirror facing of the closets, opposite the bathroom door.
Commodore Club Suites. For larger accommodation, choose one of 16 Commodore Club Suites. These consist of two standard cabins with an interconnecting door, thus providing you with a healthy 380 sq ft (36 sq m) of living space. One cabin is made into a lounge and dining room, with table and up to four chairs, while the other becomes your sleeping area. The advantage is that you get two bathrooms. One disadvantage is that the soundproofing between cabins could be better.
Admiral Suite. Added in 2008-9, this suite occupies space previously devoted to the ship’s boutique, and adjacent to the piano bar/library. It’s a little smaller than the Owner’s Suite, but is well laid out and extremely comfortable.
Owner’s Suite. For the largest living space, go for the Owner’s Suite. This measures a grand 490 sq ft (46 sq m). It’s the only accommodation with a bathroom that incorporates a real full-size tub; there’s also a separate shower enclosure and lots of space for toiletries.
In all grades of accommodation, passengers receive personalized stationery, a personal email address, a 100 percent cotton sleep suit, Bulgari toiletries, 24-hour room service, and ‘sweet dreams’ chocolates.
Dining. The dining salon, called The Restaurant, is elegant and inviting, and has bird’s-eye maple wood-paneled walls and alcoves showcasing beautiful handmade glass creations. It is cozy, yet with plenty of space around each table for fine service, and the ship provides a floating culinary celebration in an open-seating arrangement, so you can dine whenever, and with whomever, you want. Course-by-course meals can also be served out on deck.
Tables can be configured for two, four, six, or eight. They are laid with a classic setting of a real glass base (show) plate, Porsgrund china, pristine white monogrammed table linen, and fresh flowers.
Candlelit dinners are part of the inviting setting. There’s even a box of spare spectacles for menu reading in case you forget your own. You get leather-bound menus, and close to impeccable personalized European service.
The SeaDream Yacht Club experience really is all about dining. The ships will not disappoint, and culinary excellence prevails. Only the very freshest and finest quality ingredients are used in the best culinary artistry. Fine, unhurried European service is provided. Additionally, good-quality Champagne is available whenever you want it, and so is caviar - American farmed Hackleback sturgeon malossol caviar, sadly - and not Russian caviar, whose purchase and supply today is challenging. The ice cream, which is made on board, however, is excellent.
In addition to the regular menus, some beautifully prepared and presented ‘raw food’ menu items have been introduced, in cooperation with Forida’s Hippocrates Institute, with nothing cooked at a temperature of more than 115°F (46°C).
SeaDream II provides extremely creative cuisine. Everything is prepared individually to order, and special orders are possible. You can also dine course by course in your suite for any meal, at any time during meal hours. The dining room isn’t open for lunch, which disappoints those who don’t want to eat outside, particularly in hot climates.
Good-quality table wines are included in the cruise fare for lunch and dinner. Real wine connoisseurs, however, will appreciate the availability of an extra wine list, full of special vintages and premier crus at extra cost. If you want to do something different with a loved one, you can also arrange to dine one evening on the open (but covered) deck, overlooking the swimming pool and stern - it is a rather romantic setting.
The Topside Restaurant is an informal open-air eatery and has roll-down sides (in case of inclement weather), and is open for breakfast, lunch or the occasional dinner. Teak tables and chairs add a touch of class.
Entertainment. There is no evening entertainment as such (it’s not needed), other than a duo or solo musician to provide music for listening and dancing in the lounge. Dinner is the main event, and videos are available to take to your cabin.
Spa/Fitness. The holistic approach to wellbeing plays a big part in relaxation and body pampering aboard SeaDream II. To this end, when you enter the Asian Spa/Wellness Centre, which has a good-sized gymnasium and a small beauty salon, you enter another world. There are three massage rooms, a small sauna, and steam shower enclosure.
The spa, located in a private area forward on Deck 4, is staffed and operated as a concession by Universal Maritime Services. Massage on the beach is available when the ship stages its famous beach party.
For golfers, there’s an electronic golf simulator, and choice of several golf courses to play. There is a small, retractable, water sports platform at the stern. Equipment carried includes a water-ski boat, sailboat, wave runners (jet skis), kayaks, wake boards, snorkeling equipment, and two Zodiacs - all included in the price of a cruise.
The sea conditions have to be just right (minimal swell) for these items to be used, which, on average is once or twice during a typical seven-night cruise. Ten mountain bikes are also carried, and these can be used on shore visits.