Even luxury has its variations in the world of sea travel.
From the big-ship cruises, such as Crystal and SilverSea, with their formal atmosphere, to the laid-back environment of yachting, there are tough decisions luxury-savvy travelers will have to make.
As one guest stated, "If I don't feel like putting on a tie, I choose SeaDream Yacht Club."
SeaDream actually came into being at a very scary time, Sept. 1, 2001. Ten days after taking ownership of two mega-yachts, the owners Atle Brynestad and Larry Pimental had a rude awakening with the events of Sept. 11.
Without missing a beat, Brynestad, once the largest shareholder of Royal Viking Line and also founder of Seabourn Cruise Line, and Pimental, who once worked for Brynestad as the president of Seabourn Cruise Line, forged ahead with a slightly adjusted business plan. They believed there was a market for an ultra-luxury yachting experience. They were right.
The two mega-yachts SeaDream I and SeaDream II sport a "resort-casual" dress code, flexible itineraries, open seating for meals and an unstructured, free form cruise experience.
Basically "yacht-like" means no schedules, no dress code, no bar tab, no tipping.
Each 110-passenger, 4,260-ton vessel has no balconies (because they were not a standard feature at the time they were built in 1984 and 1985), however guests may enjoy sunning on deck or watching the world go by on the Balinese dream beds (for two), which are so comfortable one might choose to sleep under the stars.
Of course one of the crew will be happy to supply a luxurious duvet for your comfort.
The 55 suites are decked with the finest Belgian linens. The bathrooms are marble-lined with multi-jet shower massage, Bvlgari bath products, and plush cotton robes and slippers.
You can watch your flat-screen TV while enjoying refreshments from a well-stocked bar. The on-board spa and gym have all of the great amenities of the larger cruise ships, including a personal trainer and yoga classes. The attached marine dock supplies water raft, such as WaveRunners, Zodiak craft, kayaks and snorkel equipment for your enjoyment.
SeaDream offers seven- to 14-night voyages to the yachting playground and intimate hideaways of the Mediterranean, the enchanting Greek Islands, and the beautiful shorelines of the Adriatic and Black seas.
The laid-back Caribbean itineraries include St. John's, Jost Van Dyke, St. Barthelemy, Nevis and the fine white sand beaches of tiny Anegada to name a few.
In port, the vessel may offer shore excursions with one of the crewmembers, including shopping with the chef. It also provides bikes and Segway personal transporters at no additional charge.
Recently, a client requested information on SeaDream, since he saw it highlighted on the Travel channel and was impressed with all of their accolades (Conde Nast Traveler, Travel & Leisure best awards, etc). He was a past guest on some of the larger luxury liners, but saw what SeaDream offered and wanted to take advantage of the great prices. He was, however, skeptical about how the smaller vessel would fair in the Caribbean waters.
No longer a skeptic, he is now a true believer and a member of the SeaDream Yacht Club.
Once you have sailed aboard one of the vessels, you automatically become a member of the SeaDream Yacht Club and are able to take advantage of significant savings. You can also pass the savings onto friends who have never sailed SeaDream.
SeaDream Yacht Club has become popular for those with discerning tastes.
Many corporations have taken advantage of using SeaDream incentives and have sales meetings on board. Families celebrating anniversaries, birthdays or family reunions have chartered the ship for an unforgettable experience.
You can pretty much chart your own course and feel as though you have your very own mega-yacht, since the 95-member crew is at your service.
Check out the SeaDream nine-night Island Indulgence Cruise, from Dec. 12-21. Ports include San Juan, Puerto Rico; Culebrita; Esperanza; Vieques Island; Anegada, British Virgin Islands; Marigot, St. Martin; Charlestown; Nevis; Saba, Netherland Antilles; Gustavia, St. Barthelemy; Tortola, British Virgin Islands; Jost Van Dyke, British Virgin Islands; and Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas.
Incredible itinerary; incredible savings; prepare to be splendidly spoiled!
Ronnie Robertson is a travel consultant with Gadabout Travel. She can be reached at (321) 253-3674 and firstname.lastname@example.org.