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Cruise Ship Information

SeaDream III is a small cruise ship operated by SeaDream Yacht Club.[1] In service since 1985, she was formerly named Sea Goddess II, followed by Seabourn Goddess II. She is a sister ship to SeaDream I.

Atmosphere on board

"It's yachting, not cruising" has been SeaDream's tagline since the company was launched in 2001, and it's true that the experience onboard continues to be similar to what you'd encounter on a chic, private yacht. There are no schedules, no fixed times, and almost everything is included -- from Champagne and splendid cocktails to gourmet food and water sports. (Spa treatments, premium wines and shore excursions cost extra.) Nobody wears a tie in the evening, and nobody is expected to tip. In a week, the only thing anybody tried to sell me was a shore excursion. The 4,260-ton, 110-passenger SeaDream III is the identical twin of SeaDream II. Both were built in the mid-1980's and were completely gutted in 2002 before entering service for SeaDream. Both were refitted again in 2006/2007. The decks are teak, and the finishes throughout are classy -- no plastic sun loungers here -- but there are no balcony cabins. They'd look wrong anyway on such sleek little yachts.

What really gave SeaDream III the edge for me was the service, which constantly surprised me -- more so than that of any other luxury brand I've experienced. Whatever upheaval the company's head office has gone through (founding CEO Larry Pimentel left abruptly a year ago, taking some key executives with him), it doesn't show on board. The crew are dedicated, proactive and empowered. They think for you -- and this includes the bar waiters -- and guess, correctly, what you're vaguely contemplating, whether it's a table under the stars on Deck Five or an ice-cold beer as you walk up the gangway after a long, hot day ashore. Some have been with the ships since their early Sea Goddess days, while others come from private yachts; the maitre d' on my cruise had worked on the yacht of the Saudi royal family.

So, what are the downsides? If you've joined the cruise with hopes of taking excursions in every port, be warned that they may be cancelled if the minimum number isn't achieved -- hence, the sales pitch we experienced. With only 110 passengers, maximum capacity, to go 'round (80 on my cruise), this can be an issue.

Being small, the ships do bump around a bit in rough seas, as would any vessel their size. Also, although the unstructured environment is great for passengers who like their independence, there isn't much to do if it rains, other than read, play cards, watch movies or drink more cocktails. This product is really designed for the outdoor type. It'll be interesting to see how its sister, SeaDream II, fares in the cooler Baltic in 2011. But, in the Mediterranean and the Caribbean, you can't beat SeaDream III for a relaxing, pampering and somewhat decadent vacation.

Family with Kids/Teens

There are no kids' facilities or services onboard, and though young folks are welcome we wouldn't necessarily recommend SeaDream for families.

Past Passenger Programs

While limited in number, the ship's public areas hit all the bases. The Main Lounge is its indoor all-ship gathering area; it housed everything from pre-dinner cocktails (including a captain's welcome reception) to films. The casino has two tables and a handful of slots. The library is the most gorgeous room on the ship, amazingly large and very well-stocked. A pair of Internet-connected terminals is located there. The ship has a tiny boutique with quite an interesting range of items, from perfume to gorgeous accessories.

Fitness And Spa

We loved the ship's intimate Wellness Center with Asian Spa. Its signature treatment -- and it's not to be missed -- is the Signature Relaxation Massage; by the end I was in such a lull I'd forgotten my own name. One interesting touch is that the spa packages treatments so you can indulge in a day-long mini-spa break. The ship's small fitness facility offers the basics.

The biggest hit was the SeaDream III's marina, and twice during our cruise our captain anchored so we could use it. It's outfitted with the aforementioned "toys" as well as a banana boat. SeaDream III and sibling SeaDream IIII are the only ships whose water platforms also include jet skis.

Food & Dining

Dining was top-notch, from morning to night. SeaDream III offered just enough choice so there was always something that appealed -- and yet not so many options that the quality suffered. First and most important point: All meals, regardless of venue, were all open seating, all the time.

Breakfast was typically served at the Topside Restaurant. Located on one of the ship's top decks, this restaurant was had a "ceiling" of whimsically-shaped canvas so there was always shade, but tables were scattered around the deck as well (we particularly loved a cozy banquette located both port and starboard). At breakfast, you could choose from a small array of cereals, fruits, breads and yogurt at a mini-buffet, and then order hot dishes from a menu. Lunch, too, was served at the Topside and its menus typically consisted of gourmet fare prepared with a light touch.

Dinner locales varied. On hotter nights we dined in the Main Dining Salon. It, like the Topside, featured plenty of options for dining for two, four or more, and was elegant in a low-key way. On a couple of really gorgeous evenings, dinner was served at Topside -- and that was absolutely our favorite venue.

Spa and vegetarian items were offered on all menus.

House-selected wine was copiously poured at lunch and dinner. For those who want to splurge, SeaDream has an excellent wine list.

The 24-hour room service menu was fairly limited but offerings were excellent. One of the best items was caviar with the appropriate accouterments. We don't mind admitting that it became a daily afternoon ritual for us (and quite a few other passengers). And what was really fun was that "room service" would deliver anywhere on the ship -- so we enjoyed our daily caviar treat poolside, on a Balinese bed, as we sailed between St. Lucia's Twin Pitons, and at the Top of the Yacht Club bar.

Entertainment

There was little in the way of entertainment -- aside from rollicking good conversations with fellow passengers -- and nobody seemed to mind at all. The ship features a lounge where movies are shown and there was a resident band (occasionally couples danced). The most convivial nighttime spot was the Piano Bar. SeaDream III also has a pocket-sized casino, with two tables and a handful of slot machines.

Fellow Passengers

For the most part, passengers we met might otherwise have been sailing on Silversea, Seabourn, Regent Seven Seas or Windstar but were looking for an experience that was more laid back without sacrificing service, cuisine and comfort. Folks hail primarily from North America and Europe; age averages in the 40 - 60 range.

Tipping

Gratuities are included in the cruise fare. SeaDeam Yacht Club does not encourage tipping. Crew members are reportedly higher paid and not tip dependent. Many passengers tip anyway for outstanding service or special favors.

Our recommendation

OUR RECOMMENDATION by Julie Crump “‘It’s yachting, not cruising’ is their moto. What that means is great service, food and facilities and only 110 new friends to share it with.”