My wife and I have been on more than 30 cruises including Seabourn, Crystal, Cunard, and Celebrity We looked at the Berlitz Guide to Cruising to get advice on the best small cruise ships. Douglas Ward, the author of the Berlitz Guide 2019, rated the SeaDream 1 yacht as 5 stars, which influenced us to take a cruise with them. However, in our opinion SeaDream 1 only warrants barely a 4 stars rating. See below our reasons why we think this.
The staff were mostly very attentive and helpful.
The embarkation procedure was quick and efficient and well organised by helpful staff.
The yacht is old and the furniture and fittings are tired and dated now. The walls were scuffed with black marks. It was very dusty under the sofa suggesting it hadn’t been vacuumed for a long time. The white sealant on the outside of the stateroom windows had yellow/brown stains on it.
Food and drink. On our first night on the cruise we went to the main salon to order an aperitif before dinner. We asked a waiter for an Appletini and a Peartini, our favourite cocktails. The waiter looked puzzled and went off and then the bar manager came over to us and explained that he could not make a Peartini as they did not have the ingredients. We were surprised at this given we were on a 5 start yacht and asked whether these could be obtained at the next port of call. He said he would look into this. He was very helpful, but said that Grey Goose pear vodka was a premium drink and we would have to pay extra. We were surprised at this as we had paid £12,000 for the cruise and did not expect this to be the case as other cruise lines we had sailed with. eg. Celebrity offer these as part of their inclusive drinks package. The Appletini arrived which was ok but was not made correctly in a cocktail shaker with ice and did not include the ingredients we were used to so it was very disappointing. The next evening the bar manager said he had tried to make a Peartini and gave my wife the drink. It wasn't very nice being made with macerated pears, but we were pleased he had tried to make one. He said he would try to get the correct ingredients at the next port of call. We decided to have gin and tonics that evening instead. The bar staff brought them over with a dish of nuts. I was about to eat a nut but on looking at the nuts we were horrified to see that they had many small ants crawling around in them. I asked one of the bar staff if I could see the Hotel Manager. He went off to get him. The Hotel Manger came over and I showed him the nuts. He was also horrified at seeing the ants and immediately apologised and said this was unacceptable and took them away. (we have video footage of the ants and we could not believe what we saw). He came back over to apologise again and saw two ants running across the table which must have escaped from the nuts so he used his finger to squash them. Needless to say we did not eat any nuts on any subsequent evenings. The next evening the bar manager had made another Peartini and this time it was quite nice and my wife was pleased that he had gone to the trouble of trying to make this for her. However it was still not correctly made.
The breakfasts consisted of a good selection of fruit, nuts and cereals. However, there was no dry muesli only oats soaked in milk with dried fruit. The banana bread was delicious. However, one morning as I opened a jar to get some walnuts a beetle flew out. Hot dishes were cooked to order but were always placed on cold plates. There was a very poor selection of teas and if we wanted a cup of tea during the day we had to order it. The tea was never made to our liking, sometimes being too strong and others too weak. If we asked for weaker tea it was too weak, but then asking for it to be stronger resulted in it being too strong. There is nowhere to get a pot of tea for yourself or kettle in the stateroom. On a couple of occasions flasks were set up in the main salon but the water soon went cold and there was rarely any fresh milk.
The barbeque lunch on deck was very good with a good selection of food. Another lunch was fish and chips and this was very good.
When entering the dining room or having lunch on deck none of the guests were asked to sanitise their hands, something which is mandatory on other cruise lines(eg Celebrity where a member of staff stands at the door to the restaurant with a dispenser of antibacterial gel). This is not hygienic, particularly because some guests were going directly from the tender up to lunch and helping themselves to foods from a buffet. Sometimes the tongs provided ended up with the handle being put into the food dishes. Loaves of bread were available at breakfast/lunch time with napkins available to hold the bread while slicing it. Unfortunately quite a few guests didn’t bother to use the napkins. Both my wife and I had upset stomachs on one day.
Sitting on the right-hand side of the main dining room is unpleasant due to the vibrations and noise from the ship’s engines which led us to ask to be moved to the left-hand side where the noise and vibrations were not noticeable However, we were then shown to a table next to a work station which was not a relaxing experience. Waiters were frequently passing back and forth by our table in a relative narrow gap between the table and the work station. The next evening we asked to be seated in a window seat for two which was very good. Many of the chairs in the dining room were old and stained. In the middle of the dining room was a large table around which 8 people were seated. These had clearly been drinking heavily before dinner. Throughout the meal, they talked very loudly, laughed loudly, whooped and shouted. My wife and I found it very difficult to have a conversation, or a relaxing meal, even though we were at one end of the dining room. We did not expect this kind of behaviour on a ‘5 star’ yacht. However, nothing was done about their behaviour and it continued most nights throughout the cruise. Some guests went into the dining room wearing old ripped jeans. For people who want a relaxing, elegant and sophisticated dining experience (as Douglas Ward states in the Berlitz Guide) we suggest this is not the cruise ship to sail on.
The sommelier was very helpful, but there was no wine menu for wines which were part of the inclusive package. Each evening the sommelier showed us the two wines available for that evening which amounted to one red and one white. The alternative was to pay for a bottle of your choice.
Our favourite wine is an Australian Shiraz but were told by the sommelier that they did not have any as part of the ' inclusive package' and we would have to pay extra. The only one they seemed to have on the wine menu was a Penfolds Australian Shiraz bin 80 which was priced at $795.00 a bottle! We thought this was outrageous given the cost of the cruise and the fact that a decent Australian Shiraz can be bought for approx. £10.00 in the UK. This wine is not a premium wine and it our opinion ought to be part of the inclusive package. The sommelier again was very helpful and found us an alternative - a French Syrah which we had to be content with each evening. This was ok but was not our preference. We were surprised and disappointed that this five star luxury yacht had no Australian wines available as part of their inclusive package.
The food was usually just warm, and mostly not as good as we have had on other cruise ships e.g. Crystal and Celebrity. For example, on different nights we had the following foods: duck which was a little dry as was the chicken. We would rate these as 6/10. The foie gras was good 9/10 the lobster 7/10 and the salmon 6/10. We asked for extra vegetables as there were only very few with the meal on the first evening. These arrived barely warm and al dente. On another evening we had Dover sole and chicken 7/10. We had asked if we could have lobster thermidor one evening and the Maître d’ said yes we could have anything it we ordered it in advance. We did this, but on our third evening when we asked him again when we would get it, he now said rather irritably ‘If it is on the menu.’ However, the next night he informed us that it was available that evening. It was excellent. We rated it 10/10 and we had it again on another 2 occasions as it was so delicious. The chateaubriand, we rated as 6/10, the rib-eye beef, 6/10. One evening the first course was scallops which we rated 10/10 and escargots again we rated them 10/10. The rack of lamb was dry and we rated it 6/10. The tikka masala was mediocre - 6/10.
It was decided by the hotel manager that on some occasions that meals would be served outside on the deck. This is a great idea if the weather is warm enough. We had some breakfasts, lunches and dinners on deck. However, on several occasions it was necessary to wear an outside jacket as it was too cold and windy for sitting outside at the beginning of the cruise. We feel there should be a choice as to whether you eat inside or outside, but we were simply told where we were going to have meals that day and no inside dining room alternative was offered.
Entertainment. There was little in the way of entertainment. There is a tiny piano bar in which a singer and piano player named George performed each evening. He was excellent. It would have been much better however, if he had played in the main salon where more people could listen to him and they could dance if they wished. There was no room for dancing in the piano bar. There is barely room for about 10 people to stand and sit on the bar stools. There was a casino close to the piano bar which was more like a cupboard where there was one gaming table.
Tender service. As the yacht was relatively small (112 guests) we thought it would be able dock in the ports that the larger cruise ships cannot get into. However at every port of call we had to get a tender into port. Sometimes this involved quite journey in a rough sea and strong winds. The reason for this, we were told, was that there were water sports available every afternoon (which during our cruise hardly anyone used due to the cold windy weather and rough seas) and the yacht had to be moored a certain distance from the shore for health and safety reasons. There was just one tender which went back and forth. On one occasion we had to wait over 30 mins at Porto-Vecchio for the tender to first refuel before it set off to us which was a bit tedious as it was raining heavily at the time. To get onto and off the tender it was necessary to go up and down some metal steps hanging from the side of the ship. These steps had very rickety hand rails on either side making the climb up and down rather risky. This service made us reluctant to visit most places more than once due to the distant and unpleasant tender ride.
Facilities – The library was well stocked with books and there were 2 computers for guests to use with free wi-fi, but two of the chairs were threadbare on the arms.. Personal wi-fi was not provided free, but was charged at $35 per day or $198 for the nine day cruise.
End of cruise
We disembarked at 9.50am, collected our cases disembarked and waited for our taxi to take us to the airport. There were seats set up by the side of the ship for guests to sit on while they waited. However, nearby there was a large red 'truck' which was moving rubbish which had been removed from the yacht and had its engine running resulting in foul diesel fumes and unpleasant smells of the rubbish being blown over us all. We felt as if now that we had disembarked we were no longer important to the cruise management.
We do not agree that this is a 5 star yacht. This cruise ship is definitely not good value for money. For the price we paid, we were expecting a luxury 5 star cruise experience. We were bitterly disappointed. In our opinion SeaDream1only warrants a barely 4 star rating. In view of our experiences, we will definitely not be travelling on a SeaDream yacht ever again.
Our stateroom was superficially very nice. Upon closer inspection we found that the feather pillows we had ordered online before the cruise had not been put on the bed. However our stateroom attendant soon sorted this out for us. There were only two electric sockets in the stateroom which were under a cupboard on the wall. We were unable to use these sockets for some of our electrical equipment because the sockets were too close to the bottom of the cupboard.
You could not set an alarm on the telephone as you can on most other cruises. The furniture is very dated chipped and scuff-marked in places. There were dents on the inside of the stateroom door and there were stains on the carpet. The tv had a very poor selection of channels and many of the programmes were repeated every evening. There was insufficient room to keep both our empty cases in the stateroom (usually these can be stored under the bed on other cruise lines) but we had to give one case to our stateroom attendant to store elsewhere. The ensuite was extremely small and cramped. The toilet was positioned very close to a wall and the door which opened inwards! Some of the sealant around the sink and shower had black mould on it. The shower was good but my wife had to ask for a shower cap. The bed was very comfortable and the pillows were good once they had been changed. The was no guide manual in the stateroom explaining for example about the location of various venues and service, with relevant internal phone numbers.