Overview of Small Cruise Ship
What makes this small luxury ship so special? It doesn't have cabin balconies, Las Vegas-style entertainment, multiple dining rooms, or glitzy lounges. What the SeaDream II does have is 95 well-trained crew for the 112 guests who excel in anticipating and providing the right level of service. The ship also has some of the finest cuisine afloat, and the onboard all-inclusive pricing eliminates pulling out your cabin key card every time you want a drink or a bottle of water.
The SeaDream II appeals to active, well-traveled clients who might not enjoy a larger resort ship, but who appreciate the service and love the water sports platform and onboard country club atmosphere. Men don't need to bring a tie, and women can leave their gowns and panty hose at home. Guests also love the diverse itineraries that include a mix of popular ports along with some smaller, charming ones that are inaccessible to larger vessels.
Indoor Dining in the Main Dining Salon
The SeaDream Yacht Club 112-guest luxury ship the SeaDream II has one indoor restaurant--the main dining salon on deck 2. This elegant venue is used for most dinners and for breakfast and lunch in inclement weather. All dining is open seating, with dinner usually scheduled for 7:30 to 9:30. Tables are set for 2, 4, 6, or 8, and are not packed into the room as on some ships. The service is efficient and exceptional, but unhurried. Dinner is the main event each evening, so guests linger over their courses, getting acquainted and sharing travel stories. The waiters quickly learned everyone's name and personal preferences, which adds to the comfortable dining experience. The ship has a nice list of complimentary wines, but also offers a premium selection for those willing to pay extra.
Dinner starts with a selection of two or more appetizers, followed by a middle course of soup and/or salad, homemade sorbet or frozen yogurt, and a wide variety of main courses that always include several items such as an international flavor (often pasta), beef, pork, seafood, or chicken. Some of the main courses can also be served as a small appetizer portion.
On a small ship that cooks the food as it is ordered (like on the SeaDream II), the servers and galley can be more flexible. Many who like to cruise crave familiar foods sometimes, and the SeaDream II has consomme, Caesar salad, linguini with pesto or tomato sauce, broiled salmon, chicken breast, and grilled New York Strip steak available at every dinner.
Those with dietary restrictions or preferences will easily find foods that appeal to them. The SeaDream II even has a "Gourmet Raw and Vegan Cuisine" on the menu every night, with a salad, soup, main course, and dessert all classified as "living food". In addition to homemade ice cream, sorbet, and frozen yogurt, the chefs always have some interesting dessert options available, plus the waiters always bring out a tray of bite-sized delicacies like truffles.
When the weather permits, dinners are served outdoors. It's very romantic to sit in a cozy booth and eat under the stars. Since the SeaDream Yacht Club ships only sail in warm weather locales, all breakfasts and lunches are served outside at the Topside Restaurant.
Outdoor Dining in the Topside Restaurant
For those who love dining outdoors, the SeaDream Yacht Club ships have the delightful Topside Restaurant on deck 5. Both buffet and menu breakfasts and lunches are served there each day, and dinner is served at the Topside when weather allows. Since the small ship often doesn't sail until after 10 pm, it's very comfortable to sit outside, even in the evening.
Breakfast at the Topside seems to feature everyone's favorites, with eggs to order, perfectly-cooked extra-crispy bacon, omelets, sausage, French toast, and pancakes available from the menu. A nice selection of fresh fruits and yogurt is on the buffet bar, along with cereal and homemade breads and pastries. Fresh juices and specialty coffees are included in the basic fare.
Like breakfast, some lunch items are on the buffet while others are on a menu. Fresh salad fixings, a sandwich of the day, and a homemade soup are always available, as are hot dogs, hamburgers, fries, vegetarian options, and something different like grilled lamb chops. Complimentary wines or beer are a nice treat at lunch for those on vacation.
Outdoor Sitting Area in the Topside Restaurant
The Topside Restaurant has table seating, plus these cozy booths. Having an elegant dinner under the stars is very romantic!
Staterooms and Suites
The SeaDream II staterooms on decks 2, 3, and 4 are all identical except for the windows. The cabins on deck 2 have two portholes, while those on decks 3 and 4 have a large picture window. These stateroom cabins measure 195 square feet, which may seem small for the price of this luxury cruise, but are quite large when compared to other yacht-sized ships. Although these staterooms are called suites, only a curtain separates the sleeping and sitting areas. One feature I really like is having the beds (two twin that can be converted to queen) near the window and the sitting area near the bathroom and door to the hallway. This design lets one occupant sleep in without disruption while the other can have access to the bathroom, sofa, and hallway by just closing the floor-to-ceiling dark curtain. The comfortable beds feature marvelous high-quality linens and a selection of pillows.
These standard cabins feature a large mirror, vanity, and lighted make-up mirror at the foot of the bed, two nightstands, reading lights, hair dryer, safe, flat screen television, CD/DVD player, stocked refrigerator, and quite a bit of drawer and shelf storage space. The ship is mostly very quiet, except for the area near the piano bar aft on deck 4. Those who like to go to bed early or are light sleepers might want to ask for a stateroom forward on deck 4 or on another deck.
All accommodations include personalized stationery, 24-hour room service, Bulgari toiletries, and evening chocolates on the pillow. One unique feature included is a monogrammed set of pajamas for each passenger, perfect for sleeping outdoors on the sun beds.
Commodore Club Suites
The SeaDream II has 16 of these suites, which are almost double the size of the standard staterooms, with 380 square feet. These suites are actually two of these staterooms combined, so have two full bathrooms and a door connecting the separate bedroom and lounge/sitting area. This was a great idea for reconfiguring some of the suites to provide more space for those who desire it and are willing to pay.
This suite is found midship on deck 4 in the space formerly occupied by the ship's boutique, and is near the elevator, library, and piano bar. It has three large windows, separate sleeping and sitting areas, and 1.5 baths.
The Owner's Suite is the SeaDream II's largest, with 490 square feet. It is the only accommodation with a bath tub and separate shower. The Owner's Suite has separate sleeping and sitting areas and 1.5 baths.
Stateroom Sitting Area
The sitting area in the SeaDream II staterooms has a sofa, cocktail table, chair, lots of storage space, and large desk area.
Bathrooms in the Staterooms
The bathrooms in the standard staterooms have lots of storage space and a glass shower with multiple shower heads.
Onboard the SeaDream II is much like being on your own yacht with a group of new friends.
The SeaDream II has one large indoor lounge on deck 3 called the Main Salon. This room has a small bandstand, dance floor, and bar. The salon is in a good location with ready access to the swimming pool and outdoor deck.
This Main Salon is mostly used for a cocktail party each evening before dinner and daily briefings from the cruise director on the next day's schedule. Movies (with popcorn) are also shown in this lounge after dinner, although many guests select DVD movies to watch in the privacy of their own cabin since popcorn or other snacks are always available from room service.
Bars and Lounges
The SeaDream II has four bars--this one in the Main Salon, a Pool Bar by the swimming pool on deck 3, a Piano Bar next to the Library on deck 4, and the Top of the Yacht Bar on deck 6. Each serves an excellent variety of complimentary cocktails, wine, or beer. Even Champagne and Prosecco are included in the basic fare. The bartenders have even developed a few "SeaDream Specials", and I was obligated to try a few of them. They were all interesting and fun to taste!
The Pool Bar and Top of the Yacht are busy during the daytime, the Main Salon Bar is busy before dinner, and the Piano Bar is packed in the evening after dinner with those who love to sing along, play blackjack, and socialize.
The Library is an inviting indoor locale for guests. It has a nice selection of books, daily newspapers, and two computers with Internet access for guests to use. The SeaDream II also offers ship-wide WiFi at a reasonable rate for those who have brought along their own notebook computers, tablets, or smart phones.
The Piano Bar is on deck 4 next to the library and the blackjack table. It's often a very popular place after dinner for those who love to sing along with the piano, dance, or just socialize with new friends. On our Mediterranean cruise, this bar was busy until midnight or later every night.
Those who love gaming and casinos might be disappointed in the one blackjack table on the SeaDream II. Although several guests played each evening, gambling is not a reason for selecting a SeaDream Yacht Club ship. These mega-yachts are destination-oriented, and the onboard activities revolve around dining, socializing, water sports from the retractable marina, or just relaxing by the pool or on one of the sun beds.
Upper Deck View of Swimming Pool
Although the SeaDream II is a small ship, it has a good-sized swimming pool, with lots of comfortable seating near the pool. The pool is also visible from seating on the two upper decks, as can be seen in this photo.
Swimming Pool Close-up
In addition to the pool, the SeaDream II also has a hot tub. Many guests love to sit by the pool and read or nap, while others soak in the tub. The bar staff frequently circulates around the pool, taking drink orders and cleaning sunglasses (a nice treat).
Water Sports Marina
The water sports marina is used almost daily, weather permitting. Guests can use the water toys like jet skis, kayaks, and paddle boards, or just go swimming in the brilliant blue Mediterranean. All these activities are complimentary. The Zodiacs are used to go ashore on beaches where there is no dock, so guests should plan to take along shoes to wade in the water, even if they don't plan to go swimming.
Fun in the Water from the Retractable Marina
Here's another look at the retractable water sports marina. On our Mediterranean cruise, the marina was used almost every day. Guests loved to swim or use some of the water "toys".
These sun beds are a signature item of the SeaDream ships. They are very comfortable and near the Top of the Yacht Bar on deck 6. Some guests even put on their complimentary SeaDream pajamas and arrange to sleep outside on the beds. The only drawback is their proximity to the funnel, which makes a lot of noise.
The SeaDream II does not have constant onboard activities like large cruise ships do. The itineraries are destination-oriented, and the small ships often spend more hours in port than the large ships do. For example, on our Mediterranean cruise, we stayed at several ports until 10 pm and were anchored off Positano and Sorrento until after midnight. Staying later in port allows guests the opportunity to have drinks, dinner, or even check out the night scene and bars ashore.
Many of the onboard activities revolve around food. The SeaDream ships have a "Champagne and caviar splash on the beach for their Caribbean itineraries. On the SeaDream II Mediterranean cruise, we had Champagne and caviar poolside while anchored off beautiful Positano. As seen in the photo above, we all enjoyed the Dessert Extravaganza when anchored at Sorrento. The desserts were delicious, and we were even treated to two different fireworks shows from weddings being held ashore! Every evening, guests are treated to heavy hors oeuvres in the Main Salon before dinner, and snacks are available all day at the pool bar or near the Topside Restaurant.
Not all activities include food. DVD concerts or movies are shown almost every evening either outdoors or in the Main Salon. After dinner dancing can be found in the Top of the Yacht Bar or poolside. One evening is a crew show, which is great fun for everyone, especially since guests get to know most of the crew. The ship also has a golf simulator, where guests can hone their skills. Complimentary bicycles can be used ashore. The activities staff lead some bike rides, or guests can take them out on their own. As noted on a previous page, the retractable marina is open most days (weather permitting) for swimming or water sports.
The onboard spa and fitness center are also popular onboard locales. The spa has all the treatments you would expect on a cruise ship, and use of the steam room and sauna is complimentary. The activities staff on our cruise had a Tai Chi class followed by a Yoga class each morning. They also led hikes ashore, so there are plenty of activities to help burn some calories.
Itineraries and Ports of Call
Interesting, unique itineraries and shore activities are a highlight of a SeaDream Yacht Club cruise. The SeaDream II returns to the Mediterranean for the late spring, summer, and fall, sailing a mixture of cruises that include both well known and off-the-beaten-path ports of call. The SeaDream II then repositions to the Caribbean for the late fall and winter. The ship does not repeat itineraries, so many guests who have the time often book back-to-back voyages.
As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary cruise accommodation for the purpose of review. While it has not influenced this review, About.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our Ethics Policy.